We’re all aware of the sad, lonely, angry corner of the internet known as the “Seduction Community“, where self-described pick-up artists coach one another on how to “score” with women. We’ve all read the think-pieces linking pick-up artistry and other facets of the so-called “Manosphere” to the radicalization of young white men. We’ve all speculated about how online meninist spaces draw from antiquated and pseudoscientific notions of bioessentialism to perpetuate racism, misogyny, and general anti-social antipathy.
And still: most of us harbour a twisted fascination with knowing just how absurd and ridiculous pick-up artistry and other anti-feminist subcultures are. We all wonder: how seriously can people who label themselves “pick-up artists” — and who do so with no hint of irony — really take themselves? After all, pick-up artistry is a self-styled self-help community that insists they exist to help romantically-struggling men. So, what does pick-up artistry self-help really sound like?
Today, comedian Kristina Wong took one for the team, and compiled a group of powerful and funny Asian American women to find out just how deep this rabbit hole really goes.
For those who aren’t familiar, pick-up artistry is basically what would happen if a self-help motivational speaker had a love-child with a mens’ rights advocate. Pick-up artistry is a system of taught social interactions designed to seduce women. Associated with the self-described seduction community, pick-up artists charge between $2000-$3000 for a multi-day workshop targeted towards single men, and promises to train men to improve their sexual and romantic success. To gauge the degree to which men are improving their seductive abilities, workshop attendees are taught to treat women as targets, and to rank us on an “objective” (not to mention objectifying, and often racialized) scale of attractiveness. Men are taught to value their own self-worth based on the ranking of the women they are able to target (sound familiar?), and the workshops promise to improve the “caliber” of woman they can seduce by several points on this scale: the expert claims to be able to easily seduce women of ranking 9 or 10 under any situation, and this is proposed to be the eventual goal of anyone who adopts the “pick-up artist lifestyle”.
Supporters of the pick-up artist system (which include some of my personal friends), claim that pick-up artistry isn’t about sex; it’s really intended to be about bolstering male self-confidence through bravado. When a (heterosexual) man is able to “pull” hotter women, so the thinking goes, their own self-image improves. Furthermore, pick-up artistry claims that its skillset is applicable to business and other platonic relationships by teaching language and self-awareness, not to mention grooming and eye contact. And, to be clear, a self-help program for socially awkward men and women that teaches a few basics of social interactions like eye contact and how to hold a conversation doesn’t bother me.
The problem is that pick-up artistry isn’t just that. Pick-up artistry is, at its core, about manipulating and objectifying women for the purposes of sexual and/or social exploitation. Period.
Julien Blanc isn’t the exception in the pick-up artist community. He’s the rule.