How toxic masculinity makes women feel unsafe

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Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.

I was reading Paging Dr Nerd Love on the tube during the time I was in London for Mozfest (blog post coming soon), I actually missed my stop by one. I was engrossed in listening and reminded me of the blog post I wrote a while back about Toxic masculinity.

There is so much to say but here’s some of the key parts…

Following Trumps grab them by the pussy comments

It’s ok to talk about women this way, as long as women don’t overhear it. It’s guy talk, meant for other guys and thus women shouldn’t be offended. The problem isn’t what Trump said, it’s that what he said escaped the privacy of the “locker room.” Nobody should take it seriously, because it’s not that big of a deal. And besides, women shouldn’t be shocked; all guys talk like that. Right? Right?

Get ready for the cringiest “Yeah boiiiiiii” ever.

The constant refrain of “it’s guy talk” diminishes the impact of what’s being said. It turns the description of sexual assault into mischievous behavior by a puckish rascal, something we should find charming in a roguish sort of way. The chuckles and encouragement offered by Stern normalizes, even encourages, this behavior. Insisting that “all” guys are like that is part of how we excuse the behavior with a knowing laugh and a wink. Boys will be boys after all. Of course guys are going to act like this. Everyone knows that guys are dogs.

It absolves men of any responsibility for their action or the need to control themselves. After all, it’s just “how we are”. And in doing so, we teach others that this expected, even desirable behaviour among men. After all, how awesome is it that this guy just goes up and starts kissing beautiful women? Who among us wouldn’t want to do just that? Why shouldn’t we try to get as much action as we can?

I recently one night was talking to a few people during Mozfest and made reference to the quote from Hackers (yeah it comes to something when you are quoting hackers), but its stuck with me for many years.

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God gave men brains larger than dogs’ so they wouldn’t hump women’s legs at cocktail parties

Unfortunately it seems a large number of men want to over-ride their evolutionary process; and like Dr Nerd Love points out… Why wouldn’t they try to get as much action as they can?

There’s a lot more interesting points but the one which really got me was the confronting toxic behaviour. Its something I have tried to do but sometimes its really hard, so bloody hard. I don’t tell men that I approve but as Dr Nerd Live says…

Everything that isn’t a refutation becomes validation

I certainly have been accused of white knighting and who could forget being called a traitor to the male race for exposing harmful/toxic behaviour. But this is makes a lot of sense…

That ongoing silence from others serves to isolate people who disagree. You don’t necessarily want to speak up only to find yourself alone with your metaphorical dick flapping in the wind. This is why it’s so important for men to speak out – not just publicly but in those “male-only” spaces where men like this assume that everyone agrees. Open dissent sends a message, not just to the assholes but to the others around you – they’re not alone. They have support. They can speak up too. And those men, once empowered, signal to others that they aren’t the minority.

Just as importantly, it sends a message to other men that they don’t have to pay lip service to bullshit ideas of manhood. It encourages men to be better, instead of allowing the default state of man to be “asshole”

Absolutely!

I need to personally, be better at cutting off toxic behaviour and calling attention to the nonsense. We all do! In the Dr Nerd Love’s words…

It’s time to start being better than we are

#ALSIceBucketChallenge not accept…

#ALSIceBucketChallenge

To be clear this isn’t an attack on ALS the charity, and you can choose to do what you personally like. However these are my views and opinions, what you have is a choice…

Shane nominated me and Chris for the ALS Ice-bucket challenge on Twitter and Facebook.

I heard about the challenge but that was about a year ago, so I looked it up on wikipedia. And also looked around the web to find out what people were saying about it.

I personally hate and reject social pressure, it tends to bring out the   rebel in me. The Icebucket challenge on the surface of it seems to be harmless but deep down it seems to have the same tones as a pyramid scheme and a whole dollop of social engineering. Strong words but as I said this brings out the worst in me.

As of Thursday the “Ice Bucket Challenge” had raised over $41 million. And yes, it’s probably true that this kind of cash would not have been raised if a long list of famous people hadn’t videoed themselves dumping ice water on themselves.

But a couple of points. First, wasn’t the original idea that you were challenged to EITHER dump water on your head OR make a charitable donation? Because that’s what President Obama did when he was challenged by Ethel Kennedy. (Which was, admittedly, a pretty big guilt trip. Ethel Kennedy is 86 years old and she’s also, well, a Kennedy, so ignore that challenge at your peril.)

Guilt trip…! Yes and because its public and in the open, it adds social pressure.

At a recent dinner party, I discussed with friends and Shane why I hated the idea and compared it to things I mentioned before. Most seemed to think it wasn’t a big deal, why was I getting so worked up about the whole thing? Just do it or don’t? To which I started to go off on one comparing it to the confidence tricks and the problem with compliance (complete story)!

Well to cut things short, I decided after reading and sleeping on it. I’m not going to take part, not because I’m scared of getting ice cold water over my head (although its been suggested someone like me may pass out?). Not because I don’t want to donate money to charity and not because I don’t care.

Cornering me into a corner and saying pay or/and put ice water over your head is not something I recommend. I can already imagine all the other charities trying to come up with their own versions, although you can suggest the no make-up selfie was similar? Guilt tripping and social engineering the general public into going along with the flow for a quiet life. I wonder how many of them, actually paid the charity? Did Shane? He did. But have we sunk to such a level that charity can only get money by social engineering and compliance techniques ? (I imagine yes but this feels a step further that I’d like to think)

As I said its not about the money, so I have paid an extra sum to the open rights group (the UK  equivalent of the EFF) instead of to a charity which uses social engineering to convince people to donate to them.

I imagine there will be backlash against my decision but I’m sticking with it and leave the question to everybody getting involved in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge, are you doing it because you care, think it will be a laugh or feeling the social pressure? Deep down, if nobody recommended you for it, would you do it?

Think about it and don’t take the easy way out, do what feels right to you! Donate if you want to, take the icebucket if you want, but don’t be a sheep, think about it!

Those bloody Facebook like scams

Virtual Bagel Facebook scam

Where ever there is people being social there’s room for social engineering? Welcome to the Facebook Like scams… A little old but still a pain!

As you may have noticed I’m not exactly a fan of facebook but seeing a few of those crappy “do this now” posts in my timeline irritates me even more. As you can imagine these are just social engineering scams. One of the most common is ‘Press Like if you hate cancer, ignore if you don’t’? but theres many more… Heck even the BBC did a scam to prove it can be done.

The ‘my sister Mallory’ scam
This post stated that someones ‘sister’ Mallory has down syndrome & doesn’t think she’s beautiful. It then asked for ‘likes’ it to show her she is. The REAL story about this little girl is something much different: Read about it here

As usual you can tell by the call to action and social pressure being layered.

So how does it work?

  1. A page is created.
  2. This page put out a constant stream of heart wrenching and/or mildly amusing images that are shared publicly with a call to action to click, share or comment.
  3. These posts are initially shared by a big group of people all in the same network who have all built up their edge rank over a period of time that then results in the posts eventually leaking into the newsfeeds of real-life accounts.
  4. These people share, like or comment which then spreads.
  5. Eventually a friend of yours hits that little thumbs up button
  6. It’s in your newsfeed.

And within 3 days a post like this one has 70,000 likes, and someone somewhere is about to make a nice little profit by selling the page to a business wanting some quick wins.

The buyer then changes some of the page details. BAM! Instant fanpage with a big following, lots of likes and an in depth edge rank, capable of pushing out content to a pre-built list of thousands of Facebook users. (edit: Page name cannot be altered after 200 likes, just details of the page).

And there you have it… Facebook scammed

Thanks to my friends who stupidly fell for the scams on multiple times. I’ll be sending them this blog post in future.

Flirting versus pick-up. Where to begin?

Buyin the game

Since the moment the concept of doing a flirting and pickup workshop was kicked about, there’s been a silent backlash from different quarters… One of the people most vocal has been @Maznu who’s been writing about the whole thing on Twitter quite a bit. In actual fact, we’ve been going back and forth for a few nights on twitter. But Maz also wrote on Simon Carters blog and my own. After reading her (I’m assume shes a she) reply I had to blockquote it as its a very well executed argument, and crystallizes a lot of what I don’t like about the game and pickup.

I’m in two minds because I feel Simon Lumb might have been unfairly singled out by people like Maz, when actually he’s a nice guy who happened to dabble with pickup a while ago. Then again, Maz kind of covers that too. Anyway, he’s the comment with my thoughts between

…First I suppose I ought to outline what I believe these two things are.

Flirting: to deliver a compliment to somebody in a way that says, “out of all the people right here right now, I’ve noticed you, there’s something special about you, and maybe we should talk a little longer.” Flirting is something that anyone can do regardless of the nature of the “attraction”: gay guys flirt with girls (who they have no intention of taking to bed), and vice-versa. I flirt with friends, lovers, former lovers, would-like-to-be lovers, people I am not attracted to, anybody. It’s a “compliment++”: it doesn’t mean “I want to have sex with you” (though there can be that connotation). From what I’ve read of Nicole’s presentations, and her website, I think she’d agree with me.

Yes I think Nicole would be in total agreement…

Pick-up: by the definitions of The Game (the book), this is all about steering conversation and interaction with someone as quickly as possible from initial meeting to sex. Don’t get me wrong: I have absolutely no problem with promiscuity. I have no problem with “one night stands”. You and I and Simon and Ian and whoever are quite welcome to shag whoever they want… but there has to be respect and honour.

On respect: The Game (or rather the book “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists”) is about a short-cut. Using techniques such as NLP, reframes and others, the goal is to proceed from initial encounter through seduction to sex in a swift manner. And the people that Strauss writes about in The Game seem to have a secondary goal: validation amongst their peers. This is where The Game falls down for me utterly, and where my offence at Sexy Geeks’ “Flirting Workshop” (as originally advertised) stems from.

Its worth mentioning Simon Lumb did email me after we posted the description for the event and say he wasn’t really happy with the description. Without getting semantical, the description was written by myself with another guy in mind. Originally it was meant to be Simon and Andy but Andy had to drop out at the last moment and so Simon inherited what was planned by Andy. Now to be fair, if Simon had been a little more in touch he could have crafted the session a bit more, but I had to go with what I had on the table, which was mainly Andy’s plan.

Although it hurts me to say, I think your right short cutting people with NLP techniques does bother me greatly, specially when there not shared in a open way. Its gives one person the upper hand and thats not good in my book. Dare I say a lack of respect. But I have to say, Simon’s really not like this.

The pick-up seems (to me) to be more about the PUA’s “self esteem” than something which, frankly, is more equal. The result is that many will see the PUA as sexist, misogynistic, etc. Personally I don’t differentiate on gender, so I just see this smarting of lack of respect: it’s about using someone. I always feel that you should party company with someone — be it saying goodbye or ending a relationship — leaving the other person in a “better state” than when you found them. Pick-Ups don’t achieve this; but further, the behaviour of Strauss and his peers actually distances them from the female company they seek. Theirs becomes a completely male-dominated society: they only ever seem to earn or seek respect from their fellow PUAs. Therefore I find their approach to be completely incompatible with the sort of thing I thought “Sexy Geeks Manchester” is about, namely “helping make good relationships”).

I was once called a misogynist because I didn’t act like most guys with a bunch of (lets say) lovely girls. They expected me to try my luck and I wasn’t having any of it (I think this is about the time when I discovered the Rules). They were the centre of most guys attention at the time and place but not mine. They later concluded that I wasn’t gay, married or in a relationship so I must hate woman. Simply because I exercised control over my feelings and sexual organs.

I guess I’m saying in that example is woman can be equally bad at making the opposite sex feel crap. Not that this equals or squares things off. Just a thought that I imagine a lot of guys may have come cross and so they turn to things like the Game to help them get the upper hand. This is the reason why I bought it up to start with.

On confidence: personally I believe that the attribute of people that is most commonly “attractive” is confidence. Unfortunately we are all too easily fooled by bravado, mistake it for confidence, and realise this about our new boyfriend/girlfriend/lover/etc too late. Bravado is covering up an insecurity with a projection of confidence, and a lot of PUA techniques seem to be about doing just this. Sadly, as a “self help book”, The Game doesn’t really address the underlying confidence problems. The educated reader might do that themselves — I hope Simon was one! — but what The Game teaches strikes me to be more about “casting a glamour” rather than self-improvement. The strange and subtle thing about confidence is that confident people don’t usually appear confident… because they don’t need to!

Ok you got me… I think your right on this one. Me and other pickup artists (certainly not Simon) have debated this to death. And your right the projection of confidence aka Bravado bugs me greatly. You need to be comfortable in your own skin, if your not no matter what front you put on it, it will still be there when you look in the mirror tomorrow morning. I think Simon’s confidence may have took a serious knock back in 2002 (is when he said it might have been) but I can’t help but imagine what he was like before I met him. I’m sure he was always a nice guy with a passion for games.

I did say to Andy a while back when we were planning the workshop that I’ve always been happy to talk to the opposite sex. It just wasn’t a big deal… This is part of the reason why I find it hard to understand the need to put on a game face or bravado. I am who I am and if you don’t like it, well tough… 🙂

I also wonder about casting a glamour, I mean at what point do you have to give up the bravado and get real? First date, 2nd date, after meeting the parents, after meeting the friends? When your engaged, when your married or maybe even when your dead? If its not really you, then why bother? Is that other person worth that much trouble? Surely doing this must cause massive problems down the line.

But perhaps the PUAs you had speak at Sexy Geeks weren’t “bad” PUAs. You talk of a heart-warming story. I can fully get behind anybody who is pushing through a self-esteem problem, as your speaker Simon says he was after a horrible break-up. Unfortunately I have several questions, or perhaps hesitations, about this. For instance: “Simon talked about it and suggested he also doesn’t really like it but sees what its trying to do,” but in my book if you don’t like it, then why are you doing it? “Finally Simon talked about moving away from the pickup artist title”: is that because he internalised sufficient PU techniques till they became instinctive, or does he now have qualms with the ethics of “picking-up”? While the “lessons learned” by PUAs might be similar to those things that help with flirting (be yourself, confidence, etc), I think context is key: respect is earned not just from what you’re doing, but why you’re doing it.

I have no answers for you on this one… Only Simon could really tell you whats in his head (besides Halo and Djing). I would only suggest that maybe internalising pickup techniques could be handy in certain suitations like interviews for jobs. I would be a liar if I didn’t admit to using NLP techniques in interviews and to be fair I’ve only been turned down for one or two jobs in my life when I’ve gotten past the CV/application stage.

We can moralise the PU techniques as “ice-breakers” and say “they just help level the playing field” or “but I have low self-esteem, I need something that works.” But at the same time, the presenters at your talk were labelling themselves as “pick-up artists” — to speak of someone as “wingman” very much suggests a PUA lifestyle as per Strauss’ initial meeting with Mystery — and this comes with trappings and potential anti-feminist connotations. Perhaps they would protest, “We’re pickup artists, but we’re nice people! We don’t exploit women!” — but I have trouble believing that, because I can’t imagine someone using that “negative” label in such a manner. Maybe I have it wrong, maybe Chris and Ian are reclaiming the words “pickup artist” in the way that some of us are reclaiming the word “slut”, but if so, that hasn’t come across at all in any of the blog posts I’ve read about their talk; and it’s not part of a wider movement that I’m aware of either.

Yes I think Simon might be in a bit of hard place due to myself again. The description was hard to write and was written in a rush without talking to Simon (he was busy at the time) and once again he did ask me to change it, as he wasn’t happy or even comfortable with pickup artist (I kept because I couldn’t really think of another term).

I would also add Simon is the only person who would not admit to being a pickup artist in the past (I only found out because Andy let slip one day). Maybe there is a fear of the pickup artist stigma but Simon (and total respect to him) did it anyway with a slight push from me.

So generally I think Simon has never really been comfortable with the idea that he might be a pickup artist as such (sure he’s the only one who knows). No one’s certainly try to reclaim the word, although I did try and reclaim “serial dater” away from a player to someone who just goes dating a lot…

Yes, there is a place for discussing these “chat-up techniques” and debating them. I think this is a very interesting topic, and attitudes such as The Rules and The Game should be discussed.

To be honest, I was planning to do “The Rules” at some point in the next geeks talk sexy season because just like “The Game” (and your so right grouping them together). I did allude to it in geeks talk sexy part 2 but the whole debate got hijacked by the notion of the game as so many people hadn’t heard of it.

However, I still feel very strongly that the billing of “Flirting Workshop” alongside “Pickup Techniques” did a disservice to what I believe you’ve been trying to do with Sexy Geeks Manchester. All your speakers up till now had been about forming relationships in which equality, fairness, happiness, passion and fun are a huge part; and some of the “types” of relationships discussed have been quite diverse. I wasn’t there, I might not be reading well enough between the lines, and for these reasons and more perhaps it’s not my place to be so offended…

I totally understand the outrage but also I have to be honest, I’m balancing freedom of information / open information (because I still believe people should know about this stuff) with my distaste of it. The Flirting workshop was always on the cards from the start but after the outrage of geeks talk sexy 2, I decided to push this into the limelight.

As I said on the techgrumps podcast, I’m taking a anthropological view on it all. Its like being Louis theroux I imagine. Never was I promoting the pickup lifestyle, but I do think people should be informed so they can make there own decision without social bias.

As Simon said, some people take this knowledge and use it for there own means, screwing over most of the people around them. Others (like myself and I would suggest Simon) take it and use positively to help people around them and improve relationships. I will admit not only have I read the game, the rules but also as Simon said Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people” and one of my favorites Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Although not dealing with relationships exactly, there also a source of NLP and other techniques. But likewise I’m choosy when I use these techniques and I find them handy for protection when your being social engineered by someone else.

What bugs me is the tons and tons of books and articles on Sudo-NLP techniques which I’ve witnessed in the dark corners of the internet. Anyone who thinks the game is shocking should have a look down the Piratebay’s top 100 ebooks.

  • How to analyze people on sight?
  • How to blow her mind in bed?
  • The Game
  • The body langauge rules: A Savvy Guide to Understanding Who’s Flirting, Who’s Faking, and Who’s Really Interested?

If we don’t cover these type of things, people who might lack the social skills seeking a way to understand the whole process better. I’d much rather someone learn about it in this way that from sudo crappy shadowy book, tutorial, etc…

but I think this combination overstepped a line of taste, somewhere. As I said in my first tweet, “what next? someone talking about The Rules to Geek Girls Manchester?” — and that is still how I feel. Interesting material, but somehow — to me — it seemed the wrong combination of time and place for it.

First up I wouldn’t do the Rules to just girl geeks, it would be open to everyone because it would be interesting for men to know too.

Maybe we did overstep the mark, but to be honest I was planning to push back on Simons talk but it totally surprised me, as it was enlightened and not like some of the other people I know who use the term pickup artist as a proud badge. Geeks talk sexy was always going to be touchy for different people. We’ve had people moan at us about our binary notion of relationships, our over indulgence (there word not mine) in non-monogamy and finally our look at the art of pickup (can’t find a better word)… Locking pickup and flirting together might not have been the best idea but I got to say everyone walked away from the event positive.

Maybe Maz, Josh and others would have felt different if they had come on the workshop.

We are all ears for the next season of geeks talk sexy… I look forward to the feedback…

Enchantment or Social Engineering?

Guy Kawasaki at front of USS Nimitz

Guy Kawasaki was talking on Itconversation’s Tech Nation the other day about his new book enchantment.

The thing which got me going was something Guy said to Moria

The best way to thank someone once you done someone a favor is to say… No no, thank you and I know you would do the same for me some day

When I heard this I instantly shouted "Thats social engineering!"

Now to be fair you wouldn’t really expect anything different from the former chief evangelist at Apple.

The question is where is the line?

This has come up again recently when I mentioned the game at geek talk sexy part 2. It looks like we may have a couple of pickup artists who are willing to talk to the crowd about why they social engineer women, in a couple of months.

It is interesting that the persona which pickup artists use is something somewhat close to enchanting. A mystery with small subsets of timely information about themselves.

Manipulation of women or just a upper hand in the game?

Rules Of The Game – Episode 1: Be A D–khead

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I'm sorry but as far as I'm concerned its manipulation and I really don't like it. What am I talking about? Well shows like the one above (cheers Dave for the link). The weird thing is its not exactly the show aspect which is the problem, its the pure social engineering aspect of it to trick women into giving out there numbers, going on a date or getting them into bed.

Yes I know its a bloody complex issue because you could say well we all use manipulation to a certain extent but this is something else and the reasoning behind it is for pure personal gain which in my book is not cool. What I don't get is what do these guys think will happen in the future? Are they expecting to keep up the act, show or persona forever? Maybe?

So yes I've opened a huge box of topics in this very short post. And I keep rewriting rants about social engineering, confiedence, social control and ultimatly Neuro-linguistic programming. We should be teaching this stuff in schools so everyone can protect themselves from con artists and social hackers like some people I know. I made reference to the real hustle in a previous blog post educating the masses about these such topics but we kind of need a show to talk about protecting yourself from the opposite sex (or same sex if you prefer). Don't get me wrong I'm not a player-hater as such but I don't feel it fair someone holds an advantage over someone else, specially when it comes to the painful world of mating or dating.

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The boiler room battle of the highstreet retailers

Boiler room

This is a aledged memo to Best Buy staff. Best buy is like PC World in the UK but much cheaper. Even if its not quite real (I certainly think it is) its not uncommon in retail. I remember working at Starbucks, Showcase Cinemas and a few other retailers and having very simular type advice from managers and head office memos. A little while ago Best Buy also got into trouble recently for this and this last year.
Enjoy the “secret to screw you” memo, the boiler room style. Don't forget to check out the comments too.

1) Introduce the PSP (product service plan) in your presentation. Do not wait till the end.

Ex.
Sales Associate: I understand your daughter is going off to college, and while she'll be away we offer a protection plan that will cover anything that goes wrong with her computer/laptop.
Customer: No, I'm not interested

SA: Well it's something that you really should look into. Because if anything were ever to go wrong with your daughters computer she would have to take it in to be repaired. To give you an estimate, we charged $60/hr to decide what is wrong with it and $80/hr to fix it not including additional parts that may be needed.

C: I really don't need that, doesn't the computer come with a warranty.

S: Well that's a good question. This computer comes with a 6 month warranty but does not cover parts. Know here is a side by side comparison of what we cover and what the manufacturer covers.( hand customer comparison sheet and fill it out in front of him/her).

C: Ok, but I'm really not interested I just want the computer.

S: Are you sure, because you are really passing up a great deal here, if something ever happens while your daughter is away she could have no computer for up to a month.

C:No, I'm sure.

*1*At this time make sure to sell at least 3 accessories and if it is a laptop make sure to offer a bundle deal and a Platinum PSP**

*2*Once you have successfully added at least 3 accessories to the sale take the customer to a mobile register away from the floor traffic.**

*3*Since you Have been unsuccessful selling the Service Plan, Have another associate go with you to “help you” ring up the sale.**

*4*The other associate will help you tag team the customer. The other associates job at this point is to point out how amazing the computer is and what a great deal it is. Once you scan the computer/laptop the Kiosk will ask you if the customer wants the Service Plan. The accompanying sales associate will say, “hey did 'Joe' tell you about the Service Plan that covers anything that may go wrong with your computer…?**

*5* If your accompanying associate is unable to get the Service Plan then you must say, “I'm sorry I'm new here and there seems to be something wrong with my kiosk, I'll be right back with my supervisor and he will be able to fix it.”**

*6* You return with your Supervisor, and now You, the accompanying associate and your supervisor Tag Team the Customer Once again until the Service Plan is accepted by the Customer.**

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