Please Don’t Try Again Later

Please Don’t Try Again Later

TW for Sexual Assault & Sexual Coercion

If you haven’t yet heard, Kickstarter was used as a platform to launch a so-called “seduction guide.” Not long before the Kickstarter ended (and funded well above and beyond its goal, to boot) some of us started to notice that there was something very, very wrong with what was being said by the author of the work. The feminist blogosphere blew up with posts on the matter and outrage pervaded, especially as the project ended. While the calls to Kickstarter to cancel the project were not heeded in time to prevent the project from funding, Kickstarter issued one heck of an apology.

The book is happening, which is what the author and his defenders want, but Kickstarter made steps towards bettering itself as a platform, which is what the pro-consent side wants. As an added bonus, he’s working with anti-rape orgs to ensure that his book is less rape-y than his posts made it sound. That’s that, right?

Wrong.

Apparently, the idea of grabbing someone’s hand and placing them to your genitals is perfectly okay “in context.” Furthermore, some people started to defend him against charges of writing a rape manual thanks to this gem:

If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know. If she says “STOP,” or “GET AWAY FROM ME,” or shoves you away, you know she is not interested. It happens. Stop escalating immediately and say this line:
“No problem. I don’t want you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with.”

 

Memorize that line. It is your go-to when faced with resistance. Say it genuinely, without presumption. All master seducers are also masters at making women feel comfortable. You’ll be no different. If a woman isn’t comfortable, take a break and try again later.

 

All that matters is that you continue to try to escalate physically until she makes it genuinely clear that it’s not happening. She wants to be desired, but the circumstances need to be right. With some experience, you will learn to differentiate the “No, we can’t… my parents are in the next room… OMG FUCK ME FUCK ME HARD” from the “SERIOUSLY GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME, YOU CREEP” variety of resistance.

 

Of course if you’re really unclear, back off. Better safe than sorry.

Hold the fucking phones. This, to me, is way worse than advocating the moving of a hand to a dick (in almost any context), since it’s an obvious ploy. This was someone straight-up advocating trying again after being very clearly rejected, i.e. not leaving someone alone who had just told him to do so. When I talked about how appalling the Kickstarter was, I was most focused on that notion, not the hand-on-dick line. It plays into the woman-as-other narrative that poisons male-female relations and leads to pick-up artistry as a phenomenon on the first place. Women are mysterious bizarre creatures who lie and deceive so men have to figure out formulas and tricks and coercive strategies to make sense of them, dontchaknow.

it's not like they have facial expressions or distinct features or anything

it’s not like they have facial expressions or distinct features or anything

Except I don’t. What I do know is that enough men don’t take no for an answer that many women I know completely ignore or shut out most men who attempt to make any kind of contact with them because they fear that a “no” or any other kind of resistance will be read as a challenge. Better to give no response, they reason, than any that might be used against them. PuA guides like this one prove their point: any kind of interaction with a man is apparently fair game for him to try all kinds of non-consensual things.

It’s hard to say “yes” to anything at all when you know that a single “yes” you issue can be taken to be a “yes” to anything and everything at all. More frighteningly, it’s hard to say yes when you know that any “no” you issue, even one as dramatic and clear as a “STOP”, “GET AWAY FROM ME,” or a shove, would be taken seriously. That’s the world in which we live and it sucks. It sucks for women and for men. I’d like to imagine we can build a better world than one where straight men and straight women are pitted against each other in some kind of epic battle where one side thinks the other doesn’t want them while the other feels it has to constantly fend off unwanted advances.

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So yes, Esther Tung, I did read the actual posts on Reddit. They disgusted and appalled me far more than the hand-on-dick thing. I’m just glad that, despite having so many defenders, this guy is revising his wording and the strategies he advocates. As cliche as it had become now, it bears repeating: yes means yes and no means no.

Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

24 Comments

  1. Avatar of Rebecca Harbison

    Only if ‘later’ is ‘when I say you can’. ‘My parents are in the next room’ is not a ‘keep pressing’, it’s a ‘maybe when circumstances change’ at best. The excerpt shows a three year old’s grasp of ‘not now’.

  2. Avatar of Sean Sherman

    Telling that he never mentions talking out loud?

  3. Avatar of Improbable Joe

    Why is it that women can own property, but some people don’t think they can own their bodies? No one would defend this behavior if we were talking about someone’s car. Could someone get away with saying “grab her car keys and get in the driver’s seat and start to drive away. If she screams NO! or STOP THIEF, then park the car and try to get her car keys later”? How about “Look for an unlocked window or door, and if you find one go ahead and make yourself at home. If the homeowner yells GET OUT or WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU then leave and come back and try again later.”

    • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty

      I hate to defend this guy, but that is taking things out of context. Not to suggest it’s not as bad as it sounds, because it is. He’s not talking about doing this to strangers, he’s talking about doing this to someone you’ve had multiple dates with and have just retreated somewhere private with. At that point, there is implied or even stated consent, although whether it’s consent to make out or have sex is often not stated.

      Of course, he also completely discounts nonverbal communication as a tool to figure out if you still have consent. That is incredibly rapey because that is how normal people figure out if they should be escalating or not. Personally, I think a nonverbal “yes” is a prerequisite for getting verbal consent. I’m no expert on sex, but I’m pretty sure that feedback is important for normal, consensual sex even with a familiar partner. Even with consent, sex with this guy must be awful. But not paying attention to whether or not the person is enjoying themselves? That’s going to lead to rape, or regrettable consensual sex. People say yes for bad reasons, sometimes. You shouldn’t consider that a freebie and ignore that they aren’t into it.

      Out of context, it sounds like he’s telling people how to rape strangers in the street. In context, he’s telling people how to commit the kind of rape they can actually get away with.

      • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy

        My piece focuses not on the dick thing, but the “STOP” and “GET AWAY FROM ME” parts. Those are definitely not okay.

        • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty

          I think you gave the piece a fair reading, read it in context, interpreted things charitably. It’s terrible regardless, but a lot of people have been taking this stuff out of context and trying to frame it as a manual for committing, for lack of a better word, rape-rape. That’s the kind of rape that everybody agrees is rape.

          I think it’s really important to make the distinction, because the main problem, in my opinion, is this disagreement about what rape is and what it looks like. I think it’s important for people to know that this, this is how a lot if not most rapists operate. They like to hide in the grey area. They often leave their victims unsure of whether or not they’ve been raped. The line “No problem. I don’t want you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with.” is something that rapists say. I think it’s important for people to realize that “try again later” is rape. It’s the kind of rape that most people give the rapist the benefit of the doubt on.

          Thank you so much for writing this article. A lot of people tried to do the same and did a pretty crap job of it.

  4. Avatar of Moniqa Aylin

    Assumed consent is not good enough. Silence is not consent. Do I really have to pre-emptively announce, “Don’t touch my lady bits!” to EVERY man I meet in order to avoid assault? What the actual fuck?

  5. Avatar of Mestafais

    Read a very good analogy about a this from Kxhara on DeviantArt

    Ken Hoinsky’s Rape Manual Part 2: Did We Win?
    http://kxhara.deviantart.com/journal/Ken-Hoinsky-s-Rape-Manual-Part-2-Did-We-Win-380164807
    The frog in the water bit.

    • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty

      I don’t really like the frog in the water analogy. The frog can leave any time it wants to. You don’t have to not notice that something bad is happening to be this kind of victim. I think it’s a lot more like a telemarketer that won’t let you get off the phone. It’s rude to hang up on someone while they’re talking. Nothing he’s saying is bad enough to justify hanging up on him but at the same time he won’t (and often isn’t allowed to) give you the cue to respectfully hang up the phone. The telemarketer leaves you no choice other than to be rude.

      The way date rapists that use these techniques operate is they don’t give the victims the chance to say “screw this, I’m leaving” without looking crazy. Even if you know they’re escalating, it’s hard to find a socially acceptable way to get out of it. They don’t do anything that most victims could identify as rape, either. They stop when the victim says no and they wait a while before trying again. I remember one infamous piece of advice suggested withdrawing the contact that the victim had consented to when they express a boundary. It’s an ultimatum: More contact than you wanted, or no contact at all.

  6. Avatar of Phillip Hallam-Baker

    “ACHIEVED!! $9000 – Bonus chapter on JUGGLING MULTIPLE RELATIONSHIPS.”

    Having tracked these people for some time, I think I have a pretty good idea about the contents of the book. The title suggests that it is positioned as a followup to ‘The Game’ and ‘The Mystery Method’. Both are pretty horrid.

    The problem here is not just a matter of mere phrasing or making the language a little less rape-y. The whole premise of the book is that the LA seduction community developed a method of picking up women and getting them into bed through psychological manipulation.

    What this guy considers to be ‘seduction’ is what women typically describe as ‘sex’. He sees no purpose in ‘fondling’ or even ‘kissing’ beyond getting to the point of insertion which is the entire context of the sex act for him. No wonder his first three girlfriends all abandoned him for better lovers.

  7. Avatar of George Worroll

    This asshole is apparently from my hometown, or at least was living there at the time he posted this.

    This makes me sad.

  8. Avatar of egalitarianerd

    This is so true. PUAs complain that they need pua bs because women won’t talk to them, but so many of us won’t because of experiences with PUA or other misogynistic jerks. So they create and perpetuate the ‘problem’, and use it’s existence to justify the behavior that was the cause of so many women avoiding them in the first place. And cry foul about not getting that attention they feel they’re entitled to- ugh.

    So many commenters around the internet (not meaning here) so do not get it, like that redditor quoted. At least Kickstarter seemed to actually understand the underlying issue was one of consent!

    (Also I think you may have missed a word or an “n’t” in this sentence: “More frighteningly, it’s hard to say yes when you know that any “no” you issue, even one as dramatic and clear as a “STOP”, “GET AWAY FROM ME,” or a shove, would be taken seriously.”)

    • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty

      I think the problem that PUA is meant to address is a real one. Also, I was wearing headphones to avoid speaking to guys on public transit long before the PUA movement started, but I know what you mean and that is spot on. Nearly all of the things that PUAs are frustrated about are women’s responses to being treated as prey.

      Boys aren’t really taught social skills, however nearly every female targeted TV show, book, or toy is pretty much all about how to make and maintain friendships. I’m pretty sure a large part of the problem is that a lot of these guys have never really had friendships with women. If their preferences are for women with traits that are relatively rare, that lack of connection is even worse. That’s why “chasers” have such a bad reputation. Misogyny is of course, the water we swim in but there are a lot of guys out there that don’t know how to date and aren’t particularly misogynistic but they don’t really have any other place to turn. (If anybody has a suggestion for that I’d love to know) Of course, once they’re in the PUA community they tend to radicalize.

      Personally, I think the best solution isn’t a set of instructions for how to date, but rather adding to the common knowledge information about what dating and being hit on is like for women. You can see that starting to happen and getting a lot of pushback from men with the articles where women speak out about street harassment and guys being creepy. The most frustrating thing about that is that the women that they are shouting down are literally trying to give them the pieces of the puzzle that they’re missing. Then they go pay $5,000 dollars to hear a man tell them why cornering a woman in an elevator at 4 in the morning is a bad idea.

      • Avatar of Phillip Hallam-Baker

        $5000? I’ll do it for $4900.

        • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty

          Do you have a stupid hat? Can you talk for an hour?

          If you go for it, ask Bravo if he’s on the level. He suggested that PUAs on dating sites should use a headline along the lines of “I’m kind of an asshole”. That is exactly what I would tell them to do, too.

          • Avatar of Phillip Hallam-Baker

            I thought you meant $5000 for telling folk not to corner women in elevators. I think the guys are paying $5000 to the douchebags because they are being manipulated into it the same way as the guys manipulate women. If you read the ‘nice guys’ thread you will know that I have dealt with some of the individuals involved in the seduction community professionally. I have not dealt with the author of this book or the other seduction manuals and I can’t be specific for legal reasons. But one of the things I do is design security controls to mitigate Internet crime.

            The same techniques (and whacked out theories) are popular among confidence tricksters. They call it social engineering but its a euphemism for con trick. People should follow the money. This guy has netted a $16K advance for his book. Which is good money for any book by a first time author. He is promising men that he has a foolproof way to pick up girls by conning them. The men part with their money. Who is really being conned here?

            Talk for an hour? Sure, I do conference speaking all the time. Tell people how to be a douche for an hour? Nope.

            Does make me think about maybe doing a podcast. ‘How to pick up girls without being a douchebag’. Only then my wife might ask how I know so much about picking up girls which might be tricky.

            The thing to do would be research. Ask bar keepers which strategies they consider successful. Ask men and women what works for them.

            My hypothesis is that it is all going to come down to listening.

      • Avatar of drken

        They’ll pay $5000 to hear a man tell them, but they’ll freak out if a woman says it. :\. I think the whole PUA thing is a scam that preys upon the insecurities of socially awkward men. Society tells them that everybody else is having casual sex and that it’s an important part of modern life (even the nerds on “Big Bang Theory” get laid once in a while). But society also tells them that since they’re not, they must be total losers. This of course makes them feel more insecure and lonely so they look for some “trick” they think everybody else has figured out. Enter the PUA. He tells them that with his help they’ll be able to go out to bars, parks, and supermarkets (or any other place they’re told people are constantly hooking up) and get any woman to come home with him, just like the cool guys. How much would you pay to not be a total loser? They’re just victims of a culture that tells them their status is based on how many women they’ve had sex with and that women need to be tricked into having sex.

        • Avatar of Phillip Hallam-Baker

          Having watched the PUAs I think you are right. They are scam artists and its not just men they manipulate.

          We should have a better skeptical response.

          There is a major problem with the current rules of social etiquette though. If women are going to wait for the men to chase them and then behave contemptuously when they get advances from suitors they consider beneath them then the natural end result of that game is that only the cynical bastards are going to bother making the approach.

          If women want to set the criteria then they need to be willing to make the approach.

  9. Avatar of delphi_ote

    I always wonder with these online pickup artists, how much of this is real? Do they actually go out into the world and try these things? Or is it all just basically an online role playing game? Sometimes, it all seems so disconnected from reality, I wonder “how could someone ever think any of this is a good idea?”

    Either way, it’s horrible. I guess it’s a bit like asking if a psychic is a true believer or a fraud.

  10. Avatar of Phillip Hallam-Baker

    There is a Boing Boing account that is pretty good: http://boingboing.net/2013/06/22/kickstop-how-a-sleazebag-slip.html

    Like many objectionable documents the defenders can find excuses for each separate statement taken in isolation. But putting them together shows the excuses to be contradictory.

    What this guy advises is to repeatedly step over the line and never take no as being final. To Hoinsky, no is merely an indication the PUA should pause and try again a little later.

    And yes Delphi, there are jerks like this.

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