My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman

At TEDWomen, Tony Porter makes a call to men everywhere: Don’t “act like a man.” Telling powerful stories from his own life, he shows how this mentality, drummed into so many men and boys, can lead men to disrespect, mistreat and abuse women and each other. His solution: Break free of the “man box.”

This is such a powerful and speech by Tony Porter! So powerful that I needed to watch it again straight afterwards. To be fair I first heard about it on the NPR TED hour.

So many great parts but this sums it up and is exactly why I am a feminist… and its a perfect answer of why its feminism not equalist. or whatever...

I need you working with me and me working with you on how we raise our sons and teach them to be men – that it’s OK to not be dominating – that it’s OK to have feelings and emotions – that it’s OK to promote equality – that it’s OK to have women who are just friends and that’s it – that my liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.

So profound a point and ever so elegant and simple!

I don’t quite know when it happened to me, but at a early age I could see and smell the macho hierarchy bullshit. It generally drove me a little nuts. I mean how dare people tell me I can’t have female friends who are not simply potentials. This honestly was said to me multiple times over my life. Either they are potentials or they are not worth investing time in! Seriously! This warped view for what? The dream of being alpha king kong of the jungle?

It might have been strengthen by the film 187 with Samuel L Jackson?

187 film
Your whole way of life is bullshit! Macho is bullshit!

Trevor Garfield: Your whole way of life is bullshit! Macho is bullshit!
Cesar: It’s all I got!

I could literally pull out many parts of the macho bullshit out of many pickup/selfhelp books for men. For example AMOG

AMOG
1. noun [alpha male of the group or alpha male other guy]: a  socially comfortable male who competes with a pickup artist for a woman or interferes with a pickup artist’s game.
2. verb: to remove a potential male competitor—through physical, verbal, or psychological tactics—from a group of women. Also: outalpha. Origin: Tyler Durden

Some key points of the macho bullshit…

  • Don’t cry or openly express emotions
  • Do not show weakness or fear
  • Demonstrate power control
  • Show aggression and dominance always (be the alpha)
  • Do not be “like a woman”
  • Do not be “like a gay man”
  • Make decisions, do not ask for help
  • Don’t ask questions?
  • View the oppose sex as property or objects

You can see this stuff play out in books like the game. Its something I have battled against many times, as I’ve seen too many good men around me hold themselves to similar rules, unknowingly buying into/clinging onto some type of old fashioned/myth of what makes a man?

I hate certain situations when I don’t have the energy to battle against this macho bullshit or manbox if you prefer? I feel like those Manchester couples at Salt and Paper in Eyespy, wanting to say something but not having the energy or enough fight in me to do so. I’ve taken a slightly more manipulative approach now, as that doesn’t put me directly into competition/conflict with their own view. It takes longer but I’ve seen glimmers of a break through.

Update

I had a chat over brunch in VividLounge with Chris, and he recommended via RosieDoctor nerd love. I did say it sounded like a blog I read called the rules revisited. The one which originally Valeska pointed me and I mentioned earlier  So I had a look and found on the front page a post titled How Toxic Masculinity Hurts Everyone.

Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression. It’s the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness; where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly “feminine” traits – which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hypersexual – are the means by which your status as “man” can be taken away.

Sex, in particular, is an important part of “being a man”. Sexual conquests (and believe me, that word is chosen deliberately) are part of how men establish and reaffirm their manhood. The need to “get” sex is all-encompassing because the more of it you have, the higher “status” you have as a man.

I was actually going to post about the horrible rapist who got off (words used deliberatly) extrememly lightly mainly because of some messed up privilage. I watched the video of the news reader reading out the letter from the victim. I simply couldn’t help but shed some tears for such a tragic and nasty thing to happen to somebody/anybody!

But on the idea of how to stem the toxic masculinity I found this interesting when considering what I said earlier.

With all this in mind, we’re forced to ask just how we can start fixing men and repairing the damage done by toxic masculine ideals. And the answer is to speak up. The answer is to push back. The answer is to take responsibility. The answer is education.

We need more men to step up and be counted. We need more men to call out others for their shitty behavior, to refuse to let sexual assault be “get some action”, to intervene when we see harassment or assaults going down regardless of the gender of the victim.

I have been told… I need to push back more.

A traitor to the male race?

According to some old friends, I am a traitor to the male (race)* their words not mine.

Why?

Because I actively introduce my female friends (and male friends to be fair) to the game. I explored this live in Lovegrumps 2 recently.

Yes…! Who would have thought it?!

This kind of backwards thinking deeply worries me and puts us all back in the dark ages. Traitor is a harsh word and I kept checking with them, to be clear they understand the use of the words they have chosen.

If this is true, then Neil Stratus is the biggest traitor of all once he wrote the book the game and shone a light on the seduction societies. What about the many RealSocialDynamics videos on youtube. Don’t even get me started on Mystery and the VH1’s pickup artist.

I would argue this type of flawed logic from a two pickup artists (they like think of themselves as more than that) is exactly the trick of mind they attempt to pull over women. They call it a reframe.

Its exactly this type of brainwashing nonsense which leads to wider (as Ryan mentions in the lovegrumps podcast) dumping in the sea or poisoning  the well) and even deeper routed damage. Ryan is also right its not a zero-sum game!

The fact is these pickup artists are the people holding back the mankind full stop. (I won’t even touch on the new world manifesto stuff... Yes even talked about the media, religion, Scientology and Mr lizardman) Not only that, they are the same people who claim women don’t know what they want and men only want to sleep with as many women as possible. Through-out the discussion I kept mentioning, its a spectrum and the simplistic approach they have to the complexity of relationships and peoples wants and desires.

Frankly I called bollox on their statement!

Luckily the pickup artists (remember they class themselves as something more) have agreed to one day do a discussion about it. I asked if they would come on the Lovegrumps but they said they prefer in real life. So look out for a live lovegrumps one day soon maybe? Maybe the Manchester Flirting weekend will come back in some form or another?

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…

Geeks talk sexy: The flirt and pickup workshop

I was always nervous about the concept of doing a Geeks talk sexy workshop. However I pushed on with the help of Hwayoung Jung and Simon Carter.

The Concept was simple, take a bunch of geeks on one of Nicole’s Flirt and Walk tours in Manchester instead of London. But then afterwards have a couple of pickup artists talk to the group and maybe take them out.

After finally getting everyone on board (we had to switch from 2 pickup artists to 1 due to scheduling) the day finally came. The number of places also filled up at the end. We quickly filled to 12 people on the day before and unfortunately we had turn people away via the eventbrite signup. In the end we ended up with about 10 people through out the whole workshop.

It started in Madlab at 6pm, once people started turning up Nicole greeted them on the ground floor. Everyone sat around wondering what they had signed up to but we keyed them into the schedule for the evening and made people comfortable, before jumping into the first task/workshop as they walked up to the top floor of Madlab.

Nicole in her most charming way, ran a few workshops upstairs including staring at a person, sitting next to you. The idea was to get people thinking about body language. A nice little debate started up about length of time to stare at someone, depending on city and area. The suggestion was that if you stare at someone for 2 secs in London, you might end up getting your head kicked in. While in outer Manchester, it wouldn’t be such a big deal.

Geeks talk sexy flirting workshop

After a few more exercises, it was time for the walkabout. On the way down to the Cooperative supermarket (just off market street, near the Arndale shopping centre) we were told to meet eye contact with people on the street and maybe even wink at one or two of them. I don’t believe anyone achieved the wink but catching people glances seemed to work, specially when a smile was added.

The shopping market task was to strike up a conversation with people in the store as you shopped (or at least made it look like you were shopping). There was extra bonus points if it was someone you fancied. So with that I personally took to the isles looking for the tea & coffee section, logic being you could easily ask someone for there advice on teas and coffees, plus you may get some nice ladies hanging out there or something (made sense in my head). In the end I got talking to a lovely blonde girl of about 25 in the beer, wine and spirits isle. I asked her about the beer she was buying and admitted my hate for beer but the need to buy some for a friends party today (little white lie). She wasn’t very talkative but I kept pushing and backed off at maybe just the right moment.

Geeks talk sexy flirting workshop

Others in the group tried at the Cooperative and the Tesco Metro just down the street. There was a lack of the general public but the task came to a end in the cooperative when security had a word with one of the guys and suggested they would be calling the police if they didn’t leave the store. I was in Tesco at the time, so I came back to find most people standing outside cooperative with the security and a manager standing close to the door way.

It was obviously time to move on, and share stories in a bar over drinks. That was the end of the Flirt club section of the evening. Now was the pickup section with Simon.

After a little while, we enter the photographic studios of Amir Shah, who kindly let us use them for the workshop. Everyone gathered around a table and Simon stood up and gave a really interesting talk about the game and how/why he got into it…

Geeks talk sexy workshop

Simon was frank, honest and open when he talked about a relationship which went very bad and how he had to pick himself up. For him the book the game is nothing more that a self help book. He used it to pick himself up and better himself. Not by abusing his new found confidence but by finding himself. It sounds all very zen/new age but actually its quite touching. In actual fact I’ve found quite a few touching stories in the process of doing geeks talk sexy, including the story of Chris and Simon Carter. At that point I realised I was treating Simon like all the others I’ve known who had read the game, but in actual fact he was different.

Had I been too monochrome about people who read the game? I mean I had read the game too, many years ago and choose not to follow it or practice many of its techniques. Its possible (small chance I know 🙂 that someone else (Simon in this case) had come to a similar conclusion?

In the Q&A which followed, lots of techniques were explored including the highly controversial technique the Neg. Simon talked about it and suggested he also doesn’t really like it but sees what its trying to do. He made a lot of good points about self confidence and meeting your own personal potential. Also a lot of things Nicole talked about fitted really well with Simon’s points.

Finally Simon talked about moving away from the pickup artist title. Like a Limitless which came out just recently, the ability was just part of him now. He was no longer acting and doing, it was just part of his personality now. And it shows… When I first was clued into the fact Simon was involved in pickup, I didn’t really believe it. I just thought that was his personality but then again, I’ve only known Simon for about 4 years and had very limited contact with him at that. I can hardly blame him for wanting to move on from pickup (maybe this is why he was so frustrated with the workshop description and title) There’s been a lot of negativity about the pickup aspect from many corners but Simon’s advice was consistent with my own and Nicole’s. It mainly boils down to,

  • Be yourself
  • Feel confident within yourself
  • Don’t put people on a pedestals
  • Treat people as people
  • Your time is important
  • Be the best that you can be

Mid flow

Before long our time was up and that was the end of Geeks talk sexy season 1. Although we had to change things on the run up to the workshop, it all worked out really well. The people who signed up were willing to push there own boundaries and accept they might need a little help in this area. As Simon said, no one really teaches you how to talk to potential love interests, its just something which your left to figure out by yourself… This also use to be the case for sex, but now there’s reasonable sex education in school… Not that I’m suggesting they should teach this in school but imagine the benefits if they did?

(Btw, its worth listening to this Techgrumps #29 where in the last 3rd, I discuss the Geeks talk sexy workshop and some of the insights and feedback I got from it.)

Geeks talk sexy has been a remarkable series and has expanded by own knowledge and experience. Hopefully its also done the same for other people. I certainly think there will be a second season, and maybe we’ll run the geek speed dating event and of course the flirt and pickup workshop again.

Thanks once again to Nicole, Simon, Amir, Hwayoung, Simon, Samantha and everyone who’s taken a interest in geeks talks sexy, its been one heck of a ride….

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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