Why is it that cults so regularly collapse into scandals involving sex?
There is always the suspicion that it’s because they are
invariably run by gruesome and sexless old men. The fanatical devotion
they usually demand, combined with the vulnerability of those almost
magnetically drawn to charismatic “gurus” who claim to be in sole
possession of “the truth”, offers perhaps another explanation.
For the uninitiated, pick-up artists, as they call themselves, dedicate
their lives to bedding beautiful women. They exchange ideas in online
forums, arrange meet-ups, visit bars and nightclubs to hone their
“skillset”, and post about their exploits online. As with most cults,
there are rival ideological approaches and theoretical schools. The best
known figureheads in the business – for like most other branches of the
self-help industry this is first and foremost about commerce – bring in
millions of pounds a year selling books, instructing students, and
organising conventions resembling World of Warcraft gatherings on
I actually took a brief interest in the seduction community during my
first year at university. For a young man in his late teenage years and
early twenties, much excruciating time is spent trying to figure out how
to make oneself attractive to the opposite sex during a period when
females seemingly hold all the cards - not to mention have the ability
to destroy a young man’s self-esteem with a flick of the hair or a turn
of the head. The feminist canon about patriarchy holds true for the most
part of course, but rarely acknowledged is the fact that women have a
greater degree of sexual choice. At no time is this more apparent than
during the pangs of adolescence when one’s thoughts turn incessantly to
Like most men my age, I didn’t feel in the slightest bit privileged let
alone empowered because of what was hanging between my legs.
There was always a dark side to the community, however, and this was
what kept my interest in it brief. I managed to get a girlfriend too –
and without any of the various wheezes recommended by the pick-up
artists. This proved to me at least that I was perhaps not as repulsive
as I had feared. I also noticed among friends who took an interest in
“the game” that, as with most cults, once they started to feel good
about themselves they rarely stuck around.
Together with the casual misogyny of the seduction community – women are
regularly referred to as “targets”, “HBs” (hot babes), and “warpigs”
(physically unattractive women) - the most disturbing thing I
encountered was the idea that when a woman says no it doesn’t really
mean “no” at all, but rather “not yet”. Assuming one has executed a
successful “seduction” and persuaded a woman that your lodgings are the
best place to carry on getting to know each another, the next step
according to “the game” is to outflank a woman’s “anti-slut defence” – a
socially conditioned response to the fact that society holds
promiscuous women in low esteem – and take her to bed.
The “techniques” deployed to overcome a woman’s disinclination to have
sex, arguably in some respects, have elements indistinguishable from
date rape. One famous PUA known online as “Roosh V” was even placed
on the Quarterly Intelligence Report of the Southern Poverty Law
Centre, a long-established civil rights organization which monitors and
litigates against hate groups in the United States, after promoting in
books and articles the notion that what no really means is, well, yes. According to
Roosh Vörek (his real name) who says that the SPLA had to “partially
retract their list by stating those on it are not members of a “hate
group.”, “women need to understand that men aren’t robots who can
suddenly stop at the drop of a dime with all that testosterone pumping
through their system”.
“Therefore”, he asserts, “it would be prudent for them not to enter
situations where the average man can’t stop due to his innate weaknesses
as an animal whose entire existence depends on him successfully
Bastardised evolutionary biology crops up repeatedly in this strange
world. Men and woman do not apparently make decisions influenced by
their surroundings as well as by their biological drives. No,
the way they behave in the sex game is entirely “hard-wired” – a belief
which conveniently absolves men of all responsibility when they “can’t
stop” due to their “innate weaknesses as an animal”.
And there was I naively thinking self-help was about personal responsibility.
Ok, so there are weirdos out there. Internet weirdos at that, which is
probably even less of a revelation. Don’t be fooled by the goofball
amateurishness of it all, however. Nor by the nerdy jargon which treats
mating as if it were a level in a particularly enthralling computer
game, with women as “targets”, friends as “obstacles” and other men as
“AFCs (average frustrated chumps)”. Every weekend in London alone, Real
Social Dynamics - probably the largest company teaching pick-up in the
world, and which holds bootcamps
in all major Western cities - will take around half a dozen men out to
the capital’s bars and nightclubs (for the eye-watering price of £1,259)
and will try to instil in them the core principles of pick-up as they
interact with women.
It might not be harmless chivalry that students are imbibing, however.
One delightful thread
on the Real Social Dynamics forum from 2011, entitled “Lie your way
inside a woman’s vagina”, advises readers that, once they have a woman
back at their house, they should not be “afraid to physically force her
to do anything or to tell her no or shut up”. The poster goes on to
counsel readers to “ignore what she says and physically force her. You
must be able to verbally and physically dominate a drunken 18 years old
Another user chimes in: “yeah, and then when you're done with her, you
just like grab all her clothes and then throw ‘em at her, then shout get
out you f***ing whore. Women deserve this because ofwhat they've done
Rather than banning the above posters, or even deleting their posts,
which are still there for all to see, Real Social Dynamics dating coach
Jeff Allen, aka “jlaix” – a published author who teaches students every week in San Francisco and London - is “Loving the responses”.
Be careful out there, won’t you.