Snippet: today in What Creeps Me Out About PUAs, or Women Are Not A Game

Silly me.

While reading a discussion about a PUA today, I inadvisedly jumped off to a pualingo link (running it through donotlink of course, to deny these creeps the web traffic) and Oh My Dog… the entry on “compliance momentum” reads like something out of a freakin’ interrogation guide. The pseudo-military pseudo-psychologist language (“target”, “compliance”, “rewarding good behaviour”) and ass-covering “you totally shouldn’t use social pressure and all her actions should be uncoerced and not the result of power plays, winkwink” while discussing how to manipulate someone’s emotions and insecurities to gain power over them is disgusting. So far as I can tell “compliance momentum” is a synonym for “establish a basis for guilt-tripping a girl about ‘leading you on’ when she decides she wants to set a boundary.”

Then there’s the entry on Field Reports, which read like a bunch of gamers collaborating on how refine their technique against a particular boss enemy. You’re using the wrong weapon! No, you have to parry first, THEN you can use the Spear! She’s immune to Elemental damage!

These ideas, and from my experience a lot of PUA mentality, share two certain base assumptions:

That women are essentially interchangeable, like the dudes you kill before you get to the Boss

This one is obvious. Any mindset that tells you there’s a “right way” to pick up women is fundamentally flawed and assumes that individual variations between types don’t matter. To extend my further analogy, it’s treating a woman at a bar as an Orc that you have to jump towards, sidestep an attack then backstab! Instead of as Jenny, who works in marketing but is thinking about doing something a bit more meaningful, who likes to chat with people but has a thing about being touched on the elbow, who can’t stand insincere people. So any attempts to “escalate kino” are likely to frustrate the PUA when she recoils at him moving his hand up her arm, and his body language is going to totally tip her off that he really couldn’t care less about her job. Then the Field Report will no doubt pick apart the “tricks” he should’ve used to “close” despite the fact that what actually happened was he went for a backstab and found out Jenny wasn’t an Orc, but an actual person who can’t be reduced to tactics.

That any simple and reasonable idea is still reasonable when amplified and turned into a “playguide”

This one is more insidious. Because on the face of it, and in the shallow end, a lot of PUA ideas seem innocuous and even beneficial. Helping shy guys talk to girls, that’s totally a worthwhile pursuit, isn’t it? Most people do in fact only allow a minimal amount of touch with people they’ve only just met, and become more comfortable with greater tactile interaction as they spend more time together. It’s just common sense that someone will be more agreeable to later suggestions if they’ve found earlier ones agreeable, surely.

Theeeeeeeeen you go starting to think of those ideas as the rules of the game engine rather than as consequences of individual people’s preferences, and it’s a short jump to the idea that “women” are just a particular class of enemy that needs a particular set of equipment or skills to defeat. And then you start buying into the idea that if you’re unsuccessful in defeating them, you just need better equipment or to level up your skills! So you go deeper into the community, and look for cheat codes. This is where we get to ideas like “negging” and “compliance”, which in the PUA world are discussed as just showing you’re a Manly Guy who Knows What He Wants and can Win Women Over With His Force Of Personality. Whereas negging is actually seeing if a woman is vulnerable enough or insecure enough to swallow the mouthful of shit you gave her in order to get the compliment, and compliance is the process of continually disrespecting a woman’s boundaries to see how much she’ll force herself to put up with because of social norms about Not Making A Scene and Not Overreacting and generally questioning her own autonomy.

Then you get to the far end, where these guys have entirely bought into the mentality that Women are indeed an enemy that needs to be defeated, and that any impediment they put up to letting you sleep with them can be overcome if you’re just aware of what glitches to exploit in the game engine. This is where we get truly awful concepts like the Anti-Slut Defence, a construct PUAs have invented to justify sexual assault. The basic premise is that no woman wants to think of herself as a “slut” even when she really wants sex, so when she wants to change her mind about the idea just before the deed is done, it’s just so she can think of herself as a “good girl” and she really wants to go through with it – it’s just another way of playing hard to get, and once you’ve fucked her you won’t hear any more about how she didn’t want it because you’re so good in bed, amirite?

Of course if you think that’s reasonable you’ve swallowed a lot of harmful assumptions – that women have no right to revoke consent, that the fact she changed her mind it had nothing to do with seeing you for the predator you are once you got her naked, that women shouldn’t want sex and will not admit that they do, that women say “no” when they really mean “yes”, that women who don’t complain afterwards were fine with the experience and certainly not raped, that women who DO complain are just regretting the act and really wanted it at the time…. I really could keep going but you get the idea.

This is what feminists mean when they call PUA a “guide to rape”.

Women are not a game.

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