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March 4, 2013 | by  | in Features |
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Pickup Artistry

Everyone else is having more sex than you. The first years are having more sex than you. Your siblings are having more sex than you. Your ex is having more sex than you, and with a more varied group of partners. No need to crywank too much though, help is only a Google away.

Some truths are eternal. There will always be a whole lot of people who are worried about the amount of sex they are having, and these people will always be on the lookout for advice. Our insecurity knows no bounds. I’m sure the first fully formed cavemen sentence roughly translated to “she non-verbally implies just friend.”

That was then of course, and this is now, so we go to the internet. An entire industry has sprung up solely committed to teaching guys seduction, or, ‘Pick-up Artistry’. This ‘PUA’ community is vast, as in, active chapter in Wellington vast, so a member has probably already hit on you. They discuss and distribute seduction literature and tips, mostly online, full of their own codes and assumptions. We’re talking a strategy guide to human interaction here; a Lonely Planet to the small of her back; the How to Talk to Women with the Sole Purpose of Sleeping With Them for Dummies.

Many of these routines are just categorising the kind of things that lots of us do on impulse, like starting a conversation with a compliment, while others are more complex. Entire scripts of “charming” banter are written out, with assumed responses from the ‘target’, who will supposedly feel much more comfortable with you after you say things like “I LOVE girls with great smelling hair” and then literally smell their hair.

PUA is much more than just scripts to drop into conversations though—it’s an entire approach; a secret club with a whole litany of ideological instruction (and acronyms!) guaranteed to get you your ‘target’. This advice always treats males as the dominant party, whose calculated actions are needed for a ‘full close’ to occur. Males should ‘lead’ a ‘target’, using tactics such as ‘isolation’, ‘negging’ and ‘cavemanning’, in order to reach a high level of ‘kino’.

Obviously, this doesn’t sit well with everyone. Former head of Wellington Young Feminists’ Collective and self-described ‘feminist killjoy’ Nicole Skews explains that she finds nothing wrong with people going out explicitly to find sexual partners, but finds the community problematic. “At [their] best, I think Pick Up Artists prop up problematic stereotypes about women and play on women’s insecurities for personal gain. At [their] worst, I think the ‘Artists’ cultivate a sense of entitlement which can be really dangerous.” A casual perusal of the Wellington PUA forums † (the “Wellington Lair”) doesn’t exactly prove her wrong. “This is the time to bring out the ‘I want, I take’ mentality,” writes one forum user, finishing with “If you have to be logical, make it your inner caveman logical progression: ‘Woman. Hot. Want. Take. Now.’ ” More specifically, Skews has a problem with their tactics. “A community that promotes the idea that women can be ‘worked’ a certain way in order to put out is incredibly misogynistic, and obviously attracts men who […] view women and sex as a game to be won.”

Derek Adams, a member of the Wellington Lair forum, doesn’t see PUA as a game. “PUA gives things you can do, but when PUAs try these things we don’t do this as a lifeless robot.” Asked whether turning a female into a sexual “target” was dehumanising, he naturally disagreed, since “…evolution has already made humans into sexual objects, lusting is very natural for both genders whether you like it or not, just like objectifying a plate of roast lamb, sniffing it and tasting it and biting it, because of its value.” He reframed one of the more controversial tactics, negging, as teasing, and argued that PUA was the equivalent of more physical female tactics. “Objecting to this kind of behaviour would be like me objecting to women wearing make up or putting on a sexy dress and acting bubbly, fun, playful and sexual.”

Skews sees this argument—focusing on women’s appearance, and assuming this appearance is in the service of males—as representative of the basic sexist assumptions the PUA community makes. “It furthers the idea this community sees women as prizes and men as natural predators, […] basically no-one is attracted to the concept of someone feeling entitled to them.”

Some truths are eternal—people don’t like other people feeling entitled to them—but most aren’t. Cavemen may have had rather formulaic and sexist methods of seduction, but they were cavemen. Human interaction: spontaneous, unplanned, and agenda-less, is more than just a developed skill or a means to an end. It’s—sorry, unavoidable cliche—part of what makes us human. Turning it into a game with rules, agendas and formulas is turning relaxation into an exam. Sex isn’t fun enough to replace that. Nothing is.




Cavemanning: Suddenly and non verbally ramping up physical contact. 

The Claw: Like Cavemanning, but used more as an opener.

DHV: Demonstration of High Value, a type of tactic which shows how ëalphaí you are.

EV: ‘Eliciting Values’.

Full Close: Banging.

HB: Short for ‘Hot Babe’. Used with a number from one to ten to refer to targets and indicate physical attractiveness. Usage: “íll take the HB7 you take the HB4″. 

Kino: Short for kinasthetics. Refers to physical contact that establishes intimacy, like holding hands or grinding. Usage: “Escalate that kino!”

Negging: A backhanded compliment intended to make a target feel worse about herself, and therefore more open to validation via seduction.

Set: A group of people, because ìcalling them ‘a group of people’ would just be boring, right?

SMP: The ‘Sexual Marketplace’. Used so PUAs can apply economic principles to the totality of human interaction.


Henry Cooke


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