I followed Renegade Evolution over to Feminist Critics Blog, which I'm finding alternately fascinating and disturbing. (If you don't want to be disturbed, stay far away from the comment threads.) There are valuable insights there, often intermixed with moments of shocking cluelessness and/or misogyny. One of the most bizarre things I've discovered so far that there exists a thing called the Seduction Community, usually abbreviated SC. The SC is a collection of men who devote time, effort, and thought to the art of picking up women.
I'm intrigued and ambivalent. Because I enjoy breaking things down into lists, I've decided to schematize my feelings. (Is that stereotypically masculine or stereotypically feminine, I wonder? Who cares, I wonder?)
On the one hand
I see how this could be beneficial. We live in a society that tells men that their worth is measured by how much sex they have (on some highly problematic definition of "sex"). Men with no sexual experience often suffer from low self-esteem, and are clueless about how to interact with women (hint guys: women are human beings, and all of us are different). This situation is neither good nor justified, and we need to change the way sex figures in the mainstream definition of manhood. But while we're changing the definition of manhood, what do we do with all the clueless, unhappy men? One attractive possibility is that we let them train themselves to be more confident and successful with women, thereby saving ourselves work and making them easier for everybody to live with. HughRistik claims that the SC gave him the ability to be friends with women he's attracted to, instead of moping after them in a creepy and self-pitying way. If the SC can turn men into grown-up human beings with spines, rather than entitled whiners who place women on pedestals, then more power to them! I want more men who can deal with me as free and equal human beings, and I'm sure men want to be happy and well adjusted. When people are confident and happy, both they and everyone around them benefit.
Still on the same hand
The SC deals explicitly with nonverbal communication. I wish somebody had taught me about nonverbal communication when I was younger and dumber. Being able to tell when somebody is attracted to you, or when they want you to go away, or when they're trying to bully you, or when they're frightened of something, is a crucial life skill. There should be widely available classes in sending and reading nonverbal messages. The nerds of the world would benefit.
On the other hand
The SC definitely has elements that encourage misogyny. I'm just going to make a sub-list of all the misogynistic things:
Negs: Apparently you're supposed to give women backhanded compliments called 'negs' in order to intrigue them. I don't know if they serve their supposed function, but they definitely serve the function weeding out women who don't take shit from guys. Yuck.
Refusal to take no for an answer: No means no. Why do still I have to complain about this in 2007? Why don't people get it yet?
Alpha males: Apparently, it is a truism that 'women prefer alpha males', where the concept of 'alpha males' is ambiguous enough to perform almost job the user sees fit. Sometimes, it stands for traits that women really do prefer, like good looks and confidence. I dare you to show me the man or woman who doesn't like good looks and confidence. Sometimes, it stands for things that many women tend to prefer, but possibly for problematic and artificial reasons, such as dominance, 'masculinity', and height. (I say 'meh' to all three. Short, femme, subby guys are woefully underappreciated. I've often had more than I knew what to do with, and I have a lot of ideas about what to do with them.) Sometimes 'alpha' is meant to connote success and popularity. It's true that some men and women worship status, but worrying obsessively about this stuff just seems profoundly unhealthy. Finally, sometimes 'alpha' stands in for qualities that women don't normally like, like being an arrogant jerk who disrespects women (I think psychologists use the word 'disagreeable' for this property; how polite of them). The world would be a better place if everyone got rid of the misleading concept of an alpha male and talked about separate traits separately. The topic of alpha males may get a post of its own sometime in the future, because it bugs me that much.
Women as prey: Another common theme, at least in the comments of the Feminist Critics blog, is that women really want companionship, not sex. Men who persuade us to have sex are getting away with something.** This is part and parcel of living in a sexist culture, but really, it needs to go. If the SC is going to be about helping men become attractive to women, rather than helping men bully women, then it has to stop encouraging the idea that sex is only good for men, or worse, only supposed to be good for men.
The SC is a good idea, but the execution is sometimes effed up. This is not surprising, given the sexist world we live in. (Misogny ruins everything.) Still, I expect better from men. In the glorious Utopia of the future, there will be seduction communities for both sexes that teach body language and charm while emphasizing the importance of mutual respect. Also, I should read Neil Strauss's book. (I wonder whether it will sustain much damage from being hurled across the room in annoyance? We shall see. He is rather adorable on The View. Notice how much sexier men are when they're not being all pushy and disagreeable!)
* There are a few guys at Feminist Critics who complain that women don't face the same amount of rejection men do. They clearly don't know any women who are interested in creative writing. I am given to believe that some men are actually able to keep count of how many times they've been rejected. Lucky bastards.
** See the admirable discussion of this topic by figleaf and Kochanie at Real Adult Sex. "The no-sex class" is figleaf's idea, but both of them have said smart things about it.