The Magazine's review of blogs
By Alan Connor
Seduction guides are making the leap from online to print. But British men aren't sold on the hard sell.
"Women are strange creatures. I don't think I will ever truly understand them. I'm not really sure I want to."
It had just about died, the idea that the web was crawling with nerdy men, milquetoasts and sad sacks.
But with the publication of two books, both of them focussed on seducing women - and both of them putting on to paper tips and tricks which have been exchanged online - the old canard is back. And little wonder, given weblog posts like the above. It goes on:
Ahh yes, the computer. By far the best way to meet people
"I'm certain I've just become something or somebody new. Or maybe I always have been. A mysoginist (spelling?). Yes, I think, part of me hates women and who they are and how manipulative THEY can be. Yet, I still want to be with them, and feel empty without them."
The world of seduction tips recalls the 1920s Charles Atlas adverts targeting wimps on the beach, with the 98lb weakling replaced by an "AFC" ("average frustrated chump"), and with any sense of self-improvement replaced with the idea of tricking women into thinking they like you, backed up with a heady mix of needy self-help manual and credulous business bible.
You learn a new language, and then go out armed with a fake set of personal belongings, an armoury of mild insults (to intrigue your prey) and the support of your buddies - the same guys you'll be reporting back to as soon as the encounter is over.
Weblog Watch is the BBC News Magazine's weekly review of blogs
One of the books which has taken this into the mainstream is called The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society Of Pickup Artists; the other is The Layguide: The Rules of the Game. Both refer extensively to online cabals of determinedly-single men, consolidating the old stereotypes in newspapers sold on the idea of an internet conspiracy dedicated to divining the ancient secrets of What Women Want.
The only problem is that these super-pullers are at best misguided and at worst wholly fictional.
Meanwhile and undaunted, the blogosphere is filling up with accounts of the efficacy of various of these techniques - many undoubtedly fake, but some genuine and intrigued.
To search the blogs for terms like "neil strauss" (one of the authors) or "meeting hot women" is to enter a world of pain. Just as raw as the accounts of the unhappy PUAs ("pick-up artists") are the faux-testimonies doing the same job as the shills and plants of the 1890s snake oil market.
So, with the callow falling for catchwords like THE MOST DANGEROUS MISTAKE THERE IS WITH WOMEN!, is anyone providing a corrective?
Well, there are some. Rainy Coast gives an unromanticised depiction of the pick-up artist, recalling that the "men are really competing with each other" and summing it up:
"Looking back I remember very little about the bedroom. It was more the feeling - of yes, I've gotten a woman into bed."while Yudhisthira portrays the damaged womaniser:
"it was just immaturity, commitment phobia... and the nagging feeling i was missing something.... and here's to finding the perfect 10....... hope she'll be happy with a 5".
However, even this gloom can be turned into a positive for those making money from seductionology - you should embrace the self-pity, for having been through a phase as a predatory would-be Lothario leaves you ready for real commitment. At least, that's the spin.
Of course, it doesn't really matter whether any of this works, since the real targets for a suckering aren't women at all, but the adolescents and kidults who might buy the MP3s, literature and "seminar courses". But again, in some parts of frontiersville, such salesmanship is to be admired, whoever it's directed at: "the rule is simple: use gimmicks and always close."
Who knows, you might actually make friends
So what does it take to puncture this new supply of hot air?
Well, as it turns out, and as it might please you to read, there's a cynicism in the Britblogs that's resistant to this persiflage, as expressed by Innocent Bystander: "it can be done very easily... just pick someone and ask them, if they say 'no', lower your standards slightly and repeat and repeat".
A tale of having scored the phone number of a Playboy Playmate is much more likely to meet with a "chinny reckon" than a high-five on this side of the Atlantic, and the big sell flounders when met with the sort of stoicism exhibited by Artegall:
"I wonder how women feel about all this? Does it make them look stupid and vulnerable? Well, I don't think these techniques work with all women, and are obviously more likely to work in a Walkabout full of drunk young people than a cocktail party. The point is, it's not that hard to hook up, and I guess many people knew that anyway." No Rock has the harshest description of the phenomenon ("the unspeakable in pursuit of the untreatable"); perhaps women can rest easy for the moment, confident that all these tricks - from fake holiday snaps to watered-down neurolinguistic programming - aren't really catching on over here.
Even if it's just that we're not prepared to put our hands in our pockets, that might be a wise response. After all, if a man tries to sell you a con trick, the point of the con is probably to try and get your money.
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