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The Nerd and His Discontent: The Seduction Community and the Logic of the Game as a Geeky Solution to the Challenges of Young Masculinity

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Abstract

This article explores the worldview of the “seduction community” operating within the homosocial spaces of North-American “Guyland.” This community provides seduction workshops catering mainly to men stereotyped as nerds who are situated at the bottom of the social–sexual hierarchy despite their privileged position in the postindustrial workplace. Based on content analysis of the community’s self-help literature, the article argues that the community offers a “geeky” solution to the dilemmas of young masculinity and fosters a pickup model based on gaming logic. Courtship is construed as a standardized, rule-governed social skill and is characterized by hyperconsumerism and objectification of women. As part of his self-empowerment, the pickup artist adopts an avatar persona and employs teasing and make-believe techniques. As trainees aim to accomplish control over self and others in compliance with hegemonic masculinity, the strict reliance on gaming logic culminates in the dehumanization of all parties and suspends moral considerations.
Original Article
The Nerd and His
Discontent: The
Seduction Community
and the Logic of the
Game as a Geeky
Solution to the
Challenges of Young
Masculinity
Ran Almog
1
and Danny Kaplan
1
Abstract
This article explores the worldview of the ‘‘seduction community’’ operating within
the homosocial spaces of North-American ‘‘Guyland.’’ This community provides
seduction workshops catering mainly to men stereotyped as nerds who are situated
at the bottom of the social–sexual hierarchy despite their privileged position in the
postindustrial workplace. Based on content analysis of the community’s self-help
literature, the article argues that the community offers a ‘‘geeky’’ solution to the
dilemmas of young masculinity and fosters a pickup model based on gaming logic.
Courtship is construed as a standardized, rule-governed social skill and is char-
acterized by hyperconsumerism and objectification of women. As part of his self-
empowerment, the pickup artist adopts an avatar persona and employs teasing
and make-believe techniques. As trainees aim to accomplish control over self and
others in compliance with hegemonic masculinity, the strict reliance on gaming logic
culminates in the dehumanization of all parties and suspends moral considerations.
1
Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel
Corresponding Author:
Ran Almog
Email: almogran@hotmail.com
Men and Masculinities
1-22
ªThe Author(s) 2015
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DOI: 10.1177/1097184X15613831
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Keywords
college, United States, sociology, social movements, sexualities, performativity,
identity, hegemonic masculinity
This article examines a unique self-help community known as the ‘‘seduction com-
munity,’’ whose members aim to develop and improve their skills in picking up
women. This community is active in contemporary homosocial spaces of young
masculinity, particularly within US college culture. This setting, studied extensively
by Kimmel (2008) under the term ‘‘Guyland,’’ is characterized by patterns of hedo-
nistic masculinity free of obligations and driven by a sense of loss of male privilege
in the social gender order. It also legitimizes the engagement in intimate interactions
based on casual sex, referred to as ‘‘hookup.’’ Success in hooking up is seen as a sig-
nificant status symbol in the masculine social hierarchy in Guyland. The seduction
community markets its material especially for those who find it hard to cope with the
social challenges of this culture, particularly regarding interactions with women.
The men targeted by the community are generally stereotyped as nerds or geeks.
Further along their career path, these men are likely to be the main beneficiaries
of the postindustrial labor market which rewards technological skills and thus have
an advantage over other men in Guyland. In light of the discrepancy experienced by
these young men between their potential for future success and their failure to inte-
grate socially, the seduction community offers a ‘‘geeky’’ solution for developing
the skills required for seducing women. As an alternative to the hookup culture, the
community proposes the ‘‘pickup’’ model based on the logic of gaming. According
to this model, interaction between the sexes which is to lead to a sexual encounter is
perceived as a game with predetermined rules that may be learned and practiced.
Through systematic content analysis of the self-help literature written by seduction
community teachers, we explore this solution and examine how it negotiates and
complies with the norms of hegemonic masculinity.
The Politics of Masculinity in Guyland
Guyland (Kimmel 2008) refers to a generational and developmental unit of white,
middle-class men in late adolescence, who share similar experiences and life
opportunities in education, employment, consumption, and social life. These
experiences shape their outlook and expectations concerning their adult lives.
They are in a liminal period between youth and adulthood, with expectations of
parents, employers, partners and children, and other aspects of adult life in abey-
ance. In this space, a form of masculinity develops, characterized by a hedonistic,
obligation-free lifestyle and by a culture of recreation and consumption emphasiz-
ing sexuality, alcohol, and sports.
These patterns of young masculinity in Guyland partly differ from the stereoty-
pical characteristics of ‘‘traditional’’ masculinity as well as from contemporary
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models of therapeutic ‘‘new masculinity’’ and consumerist, ‘‘metrosexual’’ mascu-
linity. Traditional masculinity, whose roots lie in the industrial era and the impera-
tives of the male breadwinner (Gilmore 1990), is characterized by aspirations to
status and competitiveness, toughness, and the avoidance of emotional exposure
(Brannon and David 1976; Pleck, Sonenstein, and Ku 1993) and associated with
sexist views (Leaper and Van 2008). In response to this model, which remains hege-
monic in most Western societies, two main alternatives developed in the postindus-
trial era. One, the new masculinity, rooted in therapy discourse, extols holistic self-
awareness and authenticity and is associated with pro-feminist views (Kaplan,
Rosenmann and Shuhendler n.d.). The other is ‘‘consumer masculinity,’’ this too
emphasizes unique self-expression but does so through a metrosexual lifestyle, laud-
ing body-care practices and aesthetic awareness (Clarkson 2005; Kaplan, Rosen-
mann, and Shuhendler n.d.). Patterns of masculinity in Guyland work in a
postfeminist context and as a response to both the new and the metrosexual mascu-
linity. As such, they should be seen not merely as an expression of traditional mas-
culinity but as an updated, more radical version of this masculinity. This response
has been extensively researched in the context of popular culture, in particular men’s
lifestyle magazines, using the British concept ‘‘laddism’’ (Attwood 2005; Jackson,
Stevenson, and Brooks 2001). Laddism refers to a lifestyle that negates the connota-
tions of equality or feminism latent in the new masculinity. It exalts a culture of
hedonistic consumerism and a singles lifestyle which entails indulging in stereoty-
pically male interests such as alcohol, sport, and cars accompanied with constant
objectification and sexual conquest of women. Laddism emphasizes a lightheaded
and spontaneous lifestyle freed from obligations and responsibilities and as such
encapsulates much of the male practices described by Kimmel in Guyland. We pro-
pose, therefore, to see laddism as the hegemonic model of masculinity in this
context.
In light of the above, it is interesting to consider the place of nerd masculinity in
Guyland. While it is ostensibly subordinated to the hegemonic position of laddism,
one should bear in mind the power relations between alternative masculinities in any
given culture, and particularly the ways that subjugated forms of masculinity can
adopt strategies of complicity in order to enjoy the benefits of hegemonic masculi-
nity (Connell 1995). Nerdiness is primarily a stigmatized social category attached to
individuals who are ‘‘stereotypically cast as intellectual overachievers and social
underachievers’’ (Bucholtz 2001, 85). The archetype of the nerd is a white boy or
young man of middle- or upper middle-class background who does comes off as
‘uncool’’ by his peers (Bucholtz 2001; Kendall 2011). Men who are stereotyped
as nerds may have many intellectual interests and talents (Mendelsohn 2006) but are
primarily associated with computer technology. Whereas traditional men may be
more attracted to gadgets and products of classic industrial society such as cars,
weapons, and power tools, the prototypical nerd is a computer and gaming freak who
likes science fiction and creative role-playing cyberspace interactions (Kendall
2000). As hi-tech technologies become increasingly prominent in the job market,
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these passions become a clear advantage in higher education and the labor market,
potentially granting nerds as a social group certain privileges (Eglash 2002). At the
same time, on an interpersonal level, nerds suffer from a low social status and strug-
gle to form romantic relationships. They are perceived as shy and introverted with a
poor understanding of social situations and appear as slovenly, unattractive, and
weak (Kendall 2008; Mendelsohn 2006).
Thus, the status of nerd masculinity is highly ambiguous (Kendall 2000). It is
associated with several characteristics of traditional masculinity that can be consid-
ered hegemonic in western societies such as rationality and technological profi-
ciency (while lacking in characteristics traditionally considered feminine, such as
emotional expressivity and aesthetic consciousness). Further, evidence for this hege-
monic position is provided by the fact that the category of nerdiness is assigned
mainly to the dominant groups in society in terms of gender, class, and ethnicity,
as women and men of color are consistently excluded from this category. In this
sense, the stereotyping of nerd masculinity reinforces the superior economic and
technological status of white men (Kendall 2011). However, nerd masculinity does
not tally with other significant aspects of laddism and traditional masculinity more
broadly: the late adolescent nerd struggles with physical activities and sports,
appears physically weak, and is unable to conquer women due to lack of social skills.
To conclude, nerd masculinity reflects an ambivalent social location: it is privileged
on the one hand but greeted with derision on the other, and it benefits from the eco-
nomic advantages of hegemonic masculinity but marked also by otherness and sub-
ordination (Bell 2013). We suggest that the frustration which stems from this
discrepancy between privileges and inferiority drives men who are stereotyped as
nerds to seek alternatives and solutions of the kind offered by the seduction
community.
Erotic Capital in the Hookup Culture
One of the social characteristics of Guyland, particularly in US college culture, is the
increasing legitimacy of sexual interactions—from making out to sexual inter-
course—known as hookup (Glenn and Marquardt 2001). There are three aspects
to the hookup culture: firstly, it maintains the appearance of a spontaneous and
chance encounter. This apparent spontaneity comes in stark contrast with the norms
associated with dating, perceived culturally as an older form of interaction (Bogle
2007). While the date is a planned and structured romantic encounter mostly initi-
ated by the man (Bailey 1988), the hookup is unplanned and may be initiated by
either side (Bogle 2007), although in practice is often still initiated by men (Kimmel
2008). Secondly, there are no expectations of any relationship resulting from the sex-
ual encounter (Glenn and Marquardt 2001). Unlike dating, in which the interperso-
nal encounter is seen as a link in the chain of courtship leading to a romantic
attachment (Bailey 1988), in the hookup culture, the encounter stands alone and
focuses on the sexual interaction (Bogle 2007). The perceived spontaneity on the
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interaction assists in reducing any responsibility stemming from the initiation of per-
sonal contact. This can be linked to the fear of obligation and future commitments
typical of the college years (Kimmel 2008; Lyman 1987). Finally, central to the
hookup culture on US campuses is the use of alcohol as a kind of social lubricant:
drinking aims to blur the senses and ease the ostensibly spontaneous encounter; it
furthermore reduces the sense of responsibility over what takes place (Kimmel
2008).
The hookup culture is stratified to a large extent along the lines of what Hakim
(2010) calls ‘‘erotic capital.’’ This concept is based on the same logic as that of
Bourdieu’s (1986) formulation of other kinds of capital and refers specifically to the
possession of beauty, social skills, and creativity in sexual practice. Hakim (2010)
claims this kind of capital can be bought, learned, developed, and improved. As
erotic capital becomes an important resource in the hookup culture of US colleges,
nerds with their poor social skills have the lowest starting point and consider them-
selves to be inferior in the hookup cultural hierarchy. Thus, a unique dilemma
emerges: while they enjoy the economic privileges and social capital embodied in
their prospective hi-tech careers, nerdy men sense their lack of erotic capital in the
sphere of sexual relations. The frustration arising from this dilemma leads them to
turn to an extreme solution provided by the seduction community, one which strives
to replace the hookup practices with pickup strategies accompanied by a radical
worldview, as discussed below.
The Seduction Community
The seduction community is a general term for self-help groups which aim to
develop personal seduction skills. The target audience for such groups is primarily
socially awkward men (Denes 2011), who are often stereotyped as nerds and fail in
their attempts to integrate in the social and sexual life of Guyland. The seduction
community is active in both the virtual and the physical worlds. In the virtual world,
there are many websites dedicated to the issue with a wealth of articles and discus-
sion forums. There are also web-based firms selling products to seduction commu-
nity members such as books and DVDs of seminars in which participants learn
theoretical and practical material concerning the conquest of women. In the real-
world, members attend seminars held by seduction coaches and meet in ‘‘lairs.’
A lair is a social group of men who practice their seduction skills, and usually
includes social meetings, discussions between participants and sometimes even vis-
its from pickup gurus. Most of these lairs are in major US cities, but lairs can also be
found throughout the world.
There is little official historical documentation of the seduction community, but
its inception is usually dated to the publication in 1970s of the self-help book, How
to Pickup Girls by Erik Weber (Clift 2007). In the 1980s, Ross Jeffries developed a
method of seducing women based on persuasion techniques drawn from a quasihyp-
notic method of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and began giving workshops
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and videoed seminars on these seduction techniques (which he later branded as
‘Speed Seduction’’; 2009). In 1988, Jeffries published his book, How to Get the
Women you Desire into Bed. The following years saw the emergence and spread
of a network of web-based forums and notice boards for seduction community mem-
bers. In addition, a Canadian conjuror who called himself ‘‘Mystery’’ developed and
facilitated practical workshops in which participants went out together to bars and
night clubs to practice the strategies and techniques of seducing women. These
workshops, known by seduction community members as boot camps, became cen-
tral to the community way of life. Significant media exposure for the community
came in 2005 with the publication of Neil Strauss’ book, The Game: Penetrating the
Secret Society of Pickup Artists, which became a best seller. Mystery also hosted a
reality TV show in which he coached young men on how to seduce women.
This study is based on six books written by five of the prominent seduction com-
munity teachers, known as pickup gurus, and a filmed seminar by one of them. The
rational for selecting these pickup gurus is based upon the unique status and promi-
nence they have gained in the seduction community as described by Strauss (2005).
The rational for the selection of books and seminars is that these particular texts
address much of the theoretical and practical principals of the community, as noted
in previous research (Christensen 2012; Denes 2011; Hendriks 2012).
The analysis was based upon texts by the following pickup gurus. The first is
Ross Jeffries, considered to be the modern ‘‘founding father’’ of the seduction com-
munity (Strauss 2005). He published his teaching in writing and through videotaped
seminars. The second is Neil Strauss himself, a leading figure in the community
known to members as ‘‘Style.’’ Strauss began as a music correspondent, but an offer
to investigate the seduction community led him to write a number of articles and two
books on the subject. The Game, from 2005, describes the transformation he under-
went as a result of his journalistic work and his acquaintance with leading commu-
nity figures. His second book, Rules of the Game, from 2007, is a guide to practicing
and applying pickup methods and developing an attractive persona. Later, Strauss
became a personal coach in a wider sense, beyond the world of seduction.
Mystery, whose real name is Erik von Markovik, is another prominent figure.
Mystery began writing on seduction community web-based forums and became a
well-known seduction guru. He wrote a number of books on the art of seduction,
which he called the ‘‘Venusian Art,’’ after Venus, goddess of love (Mystery
2007). A fourth source examined in the current study is David DeAngelo, originally
Eben Pagan, who became one of the most popular coaches for seduction seminars as
well as a personal coach and business consultant. Finally, we address the teachings
of Richard la Ruina, known in the community as Gambler. He is the head of a major
pickup company that attracted much media attention in the United Kingdom, and his
book, The Natural art of Seduction (2007), is popular among community members.
In what follows, we analyze key processes and pedagogies in the seduction com-
munity related to the negotiation of masculinities. First, we describe the central
transformative process expected of participants. We then turn to the metaphor of the
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‘game’’ that forms the basis of the pickup pedagogy and analyze it through the lens
of the power relations between men and women. We further illustrate how the image
of the Avatar is used in the seduction literature as part of a masculine identity build-
ing project. Finally, the pickup game is examined as a homosocial endeavor in which
women are used as manipulable objects in the power relations between men. In con-
clusion, we discuss the position held by the seduction community in the world of
Guyland and its relation to hegemonic masculinity.
Transformation of Identity in the Seduction Community:
From Average Frustrated Chump (AFC) to Pickup Artist
(PUA)
The men targeted by seduction community writers are perceived as needing direc-
tion and empowerment. To achieve this empowerment, interaction between men and
women is structured in the community literature such that one side (the man) gains
freedom of choice and influence, while the other side (the woman) is described as an
object that may be manipulated by playing on inherent biological–evolutionary
mechanisms. The gurus of the community are described as ‘‘reformed’’ geeks
(Mystery 2007; Strauss 2005), and the audience of the seduction texts are considered
to be geeks who need to be reformed, as Mystery points: ‘‘Not only was I myself a
geek, but I’ve also taught the Mystery Method to other geeks!And you know what?
They’re not geeks anymore and neither will you be’’ (2007, 7–8).
The nerdy characteristics of most men who turn to the seduction community, such
as introversion, lack of social understanding and skill, and feeling of masculine
inadequacy (Mendelsson 2006), are reframed as Average Frustrated Chump (AFC).
On the one hand, the AFC acknowledges that he is a chump and acknowledges the
frustration he feels in the face of past failure in his relations with women (Strauss
2005). On the other hand, this incompetence is reframed as normative and marketed
as ‘‘average,’’ to give the prospective trainee a sense that his concerns are not
unusual and are shared by many men (except the few defined as ‘‘naturals,’’ able
to seduce women effortlessly). Moreover, this notion of common frustration points
to the expectation that men should not feel powerless in their relation to women. In
this regard, the feelings of both inferiority and entitlement experienced by members
are heavily exacerbated by the actual marketing techniques of these guidebooks. The
gurus work to create a sense of entitlement as means to legitimize the pickup tech-
niques that they are endorsing. We argue, however, that although the expectations
for sexual accomplishments that the AFC is dealing with are presented as normative
and not a unique problem of nerds, the strategies offered by the seduction commu-
nity are targeted first and foremost toward those inclined to favor nerdy or geeky
solutions.
The central narrative emerging in this literature is the process of personal devel-
opment from an introverted, deficient AFC to that of a PUA, a man who is
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knowledgeable and competent in the ways of attracting and seducing women. As
Strauss asserts, ‘‘social retards go to pickup school’’ (2005, 15). Whereas the AFC
may perceive himself to be ‘‘only half a man’’ (Strauss 2005, 16), directing resources
to success in sexual relations is considered a step toward establishing an integrative,
coherent, and successful masculine identity, both in the sphere of economic-
professional success and in the sphere of love and sexuality. The desire for a PUA
identity can be seen as an attempt to form a subject with agency, free to act and
express himself in the social sphere. Such a subject is formed, among other ways,
by constructing women as generic objects that can be manipulated and by a reread-
ing of the relationship between the sexes as a collection of methodical procedures
which determine both the way men approach women and the range of possible
responses to this approach (Christensen 2012). The fact that community members
choose this worldview and the radical practices that stem from it reflect the discre-
pancy experienced by nerd masculinity between the privileges it enjoys in the sphere
of employment and the inferiority it feels in the interpersonal and erotic sphere.
Pickup Pedagogy: The Inner Game and the Outer Game
A central metaphor used by the seduction community to describe how men can deal
with the challenges of the hookup culture is that of ‘‘the game.’’ The game proceeds
according to predetermined, decipherable, and commonly accepted rules, and parti-
cipants are expected to develop tactics to maximize their achievements within the
framework of these rules. Within the seduction community, the coaching process
is comprised of what is known as the outer game and the inner game. The outer game
is a set of practices which are supposed to help the AFC to approach women more
easily, start talking to them in more a relaxed manner, and more successfully achieve
the desired interaction. The inner game is a process of building up a range of beliefs,
objectives, and values which the AFC wants to develop in order to increase his self-
confidence and become known as a PUA.
A prominent aspect of the outer game is the tease. This mode of communication
involves giving misleading and confusing messages, sometimes drawing the object
of desire closer, sometimes pushing her away, and emphasizes the power relations
between the teaser and the teased. DeAngelo (2004) offers an example of behavior
according to the tease idea:
When I first met one particular girl, I took her hand when she got into the car and held it
for a few seconds ... then took it away saying, ‘‘No hand holding this early,’’ as if it
were her idea ... then at lunch, I put out my hand for her to take it and then when she
went to take it, I moved it before she touched me ... then did it again ... and again
saying, ‘‘No, really ....’’
Finally, after the meal was finished, I reached out for her hand, and she wouldn’t take
mine because I had teased her so much. So, I actually grabbed her hand and held it and
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massaged it. This was teasing and teasing ... and when she finally gave up, I gave it to
her. (p. 75)
Stimulating attraction according to the art of teasing is presented in terms of power
struggles and control. The behavior described by DeAngelo is intentionally confus-
ing, intended to weaken the object of desire by creating an aura of mystery around
the PUA, so it becomes impossible to foresee his moves or understand his intentions.
This suggests that for community members, the power relations between the PUA
and his target are not predetermined or obvious but must be built up and maintained
by both players together, and thus, the PUA acts on the premise that he does not have
a priori power but must claim it for himself during the interaction. The logic under-
lying the tease is a change in the power relations between the man, the PUA, and the
woman, the object of the tease. Thus, members of the seduction community consider
the man to be the weaker of the two. This perspective does not tally with commonly
accepted interpretations of gender power relations, according to which men are the
stronger party; however, according to seduction community teachings, gender power
relations vary between different social spheres, especially when one considers erotic
capital. Unlike financial or social capital, where distributive inequality benefits men,
it is mainly women who benefit from erotic capital (Hakim 2010) and this becomes
particularly manifest in nightlife, which by its nature revolves around erotic capital
(Grazian 2007). Accordingly, in the nightlife where community members are active,
they perceive themselves as weak and lacking control. The frustration that stems
from this anomaly, and the desire to alter the power relations during social–sexual
interaction, leads members to develop a range of techniques to empower themselves
during the seduction process, at the expense of the women that they target. Thus, for
example, another tactic is proposed, similar to the tease but more aggressive and
vague, known as ‘‘negging’’ (Strauss 2005):
Neither compliment nor insult, a neg is something in between an accidental insult or
backhanded compliment. The purpose of a neg is to lower a woman’s self-esteem,
while actively displaying a lack of interest in her—by telling her she has lipstick on
her teeth, for example, or offering her a piece of gum after she speaks. (pp. 20–21)
Negging makes use of a central aspect of the seduction process—humorous–aggres-
sive communication which suspends the meanings of the messages by ambivalent
provocations (Kaplan 2005). The messages are vague and may be only partly deci-
phered. For this reason, they goad the other party into deepening the interaction in
order to respond to the provocation. Thus, by suspending meaning, the teaser draws
the participants into a stimulating and enjoyable gamelike experience. However, in
the seduction community, this game is not between equals, but a game in which
the seduction trainees aim to undermine the initial balance of power by diminish-
ing the value of the woman. Thus, teasing and negging are deceptive and mislead-
ing techniques aimed at undermining women’s power in the sphere of sexual
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relations—power which is based principally on erotic capital—and reestablishing
a relationship of control.
As noted above, a second aspect of pickup pedagogy is the inner game. This
refers to self-development and altering patterns of thought to increase the PUA’s
freedom of choice while liberating him from restrictive cognitive or emotional
response patterns. Seduction gurus reiterate that a mental transformation is possible
and must be made if trainees wish to succeed in their social lives, particularly with
women (Strauss 2007). To achieve this, pickup gurus offer a range of techniques
drawn, for example, from the world of NLP and cognitive–behavioral therapy,
which serve to examine, challenge and eventually eliminating dysfunctional or irra-
tional thoughts and perceptions. DeAngelo (2004) offers an example of one common
perception that pickup gurus aim to challenge and change:
Most men have a belief that is part genetic and part learned that goes something like
this idea: ‘‘An attractive woman is a rare and valuable thing. It’s worth putting aside
my self-respect, honesty, and personal needs and wants, while gambling my time,
money, effort, and energy for even a CHANCE at getting love, approval, affection and
sex from her.’’ (pp. 35–36)
This position, which can be perceived as a kind of extreme romanticism, holds that
even though an attractive woman is so unusual, and the chance of gaining love
and sex from her is almost zero, the need for these ‘‘commodities’’ makes the risk
worthwhile. Moreover, in the sphere of sexual relations, most men act on the
assumption that women are the center of the world, while in fact, according to
DeAngelo, this perception is not unique to specific men or even to any specific
group but rooted deep within Western culture as part of the romantic ideology.
Romance, DeAngelo (2004) holds, is irrational and must be corrected and
replaced with a view of interpersonal relations based on the idea of an economy
of abundance, in which the object of desire is perceived as replaceable, like a
product or service provider:
The thing to remember whenever dealing with a woman who is behaving badly is
that she is easily replaceable. You can quickly find a woman who either doesn’t try
and pull negative stuff on you, or who can accept it when you reject her little games.
(p. 50)
In this way, the supremacy of the object and its uniqueness, which characterize the
romantic economy of scarcity (Illouz 2007), is exchanged for the supremacy of the
subject who chooses from the wealth of products which characterizes the economy
of abundance. This position of instrumental rationality and hyperconsumerism trans-
lates in the community’s internal discourse to extreme objectification of women. A
telling example is the grading of women as objects on a scale, such as ‘‘HB8’’ where
HB stands for ‘‘hot babe’’ and 8 is her score on a scale of 1–10.
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Framing Pickup as a Game
According to pickup gurus, one of the misleading messages with which AFCs have
to cope is, ‘‘To figure out what women want, just ask them’’ (Strauss 2007, p. 13).
This message reflects a liberal view of enlightenment rationality in which the other
is a conscious, reflective subject. In contrast, seduction gurus claim that a woman’s
words are not intended to be understood verbatim but must be interpreted and read
between the lines, as reflecting subterranean emotional currents. As Jeffries puts it
when coaching community members:
When you hear a woman speak, you have to think, ‘‘For that to be true, what is the pro-
cess she has to undergo inside subjectively? .... What is she doing with the flow of
feelings in her body? What is she doing with how she’s imagining and visualizing?
What is she doing with herself energetically?’’ (2009)
The held assumption in the community is that the seduction sphere has certain inter-
nal laws for the evocation of attraction that make it like a game in which rationality
and subjective freedom of choice as in daily life (especially for women) are not
valid. On that basis, the use of seductive and deceptive language is legitimized. In
community literature, women are portrayed as ‘‘creatures of sentiment’’ (Mystery
2007, 22), and communication with them must not be logical or analytical. Thus,
when addressing women in this game, their emotions must be stirred using various
techniques intended to mislead and convey confusing messages, which sometimes
draw her closer, sometimes push her away. The perception of attraction as something
to be evoked indirectly and not voluntarily is epitomized in the title of DeAngelo’s
book, Attraction isn’t a Choice (2004), which has become a common expression in
the seduction community. The seduction discourse which is characterized by illu-
siveness and evasion has been subject to ongoing criticism in the dominant Western
culture which lauds rationality (Erickson and Thomson 2004). The justification of
the community gurus for advocating a kind of social conduct and discourse that oth-
erwise would be unacceptable relies on a framing of the pickup interaction as a
game. This metaphor is particularly useful for this purpose because of its evasive,
dual association both with rational behavior, as in game theory, and with the sus-
pense of everyday rationality. In his classic work, Huizinga (1955) describes the
game as an act which stands outside ‘‘normal’’ life, in a temporally and spatially
bounded sphere, operating according to a unique array of rules. Participation in the
game encourages the formation of a differentiated group which maintains a cloak of
secrecy and exclusivity (Huizinga 1955).
Video games are a kind of additional stage in the development of games, combin-
ing an array of rules and a fictive-virtual world (Juul 2005). On the one hand, com-
puter gaming encourages rule-governed interactions and does not allow for complex
emotions that cannot be explicitly defined to interfere with the gaming experience
(Juul 2005). In this, it echoes the common association of traditional male bonding
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with a formal, rule-governed behavior (Lyman 1987). Moreover, because of the
focus on the manipulation of objects, with only minimal place for intimate interper-
sonal interaction, the gaming culture is associated with antisocial behavior (Dovey
and Kennedy 2007). Thus, while many young men play videogames, the image of
nerds or geeks is of men who are deeply involved in computer games and the struc-
turing rules that these games provide as a substitute for interpersonal interactions. In
line with the intellectual overachievement and social underachievement associated
with nerds (Bucholtz 2001), for these men, the kind of instrumental rationality prac-
ticed in gaming culture seems to be a crucial strategy, one that helps them manage
and govern social interactions and emotional situations.
On the other hand, in the gaming world, the conventional ontology is suspended
and reality can be manipulated in a way that opens up a space for experiences outside
the norm (Heim 1993). Gaming figures can be shaped and controlled in unusual
ways; in some situations, they can even die and come back to life. Thus, the logic
of the game transcends the limitations of everyday life and can lead to the creation
of an alternative ethics. This can be compared to what Grazian (2008) calls the ‘‘art
of the hustle’’ in the ethics of urban nightlife, which is also the main sphere of oper-
ation for the seduction community. The art of the hustle is a kind of softer version of
cheating, characterized by greedy, and calculating underhand behavior and is similar
to the way a conjuror manipulates his audience (Grazian 2008, 13). The ethics put
forward in the seduction community literature integrates gaming with the art of the
hustle. It proposes a fictive reality in a spectacular bounded space in which the
player confronts other players, in this case, men competing in the acts of courtship,
and a set of rules which enable the manipulation of objects, in this case, women who
undergo extreme objectification; and it legitimizes the use of deception and a prefer-
ence for pretense over authentic identity.
The framing of seduction as a game enables men to take more control and respon-
sibility for their acts but also reduces the emotional significance of the interpersonal
interaction. This framing dehumanizes the interaction for all its participants, both the
women who are the PUA’s target and the PUA himself. This is no longer a situation
of human beings with feelings and subjectivities, but figures in a video game; if
someone is hurt, there is no need to be concerned—as Mystery puts it, ‘‘just hit the
reload button and play again’’ (2007, 42). At the same time, though they adopt mis-
leading practices, community members report that taking up the rules of the game
makes them more forthright and authentic in their encounter with women. They
believe that adhering to the community’s principles of gaming enables them to be
more open about the aims of the encounter; they no longer need to hide behind the
ambiguity inherent to the hookup culture or pretend they are interested in a mean-
ingful relationship as expected according to the romantic view (Lamont 2015).
Strauss (2005) describes it thus:
I felt more ethical in many ways as a PUA .... Part of learning game was not just mem-
orizing openers and phone game and rapport-building tactics, but learning how to be
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honest with a woman about what I expected from her and what she could expect from
me. It was no longer necessary to deceive a woman by telling her I wanted a relation-
ship when I just wanted to get laid; by pretending to be her friend when I only wanted to
get in her pants; by letting her think we were in a monogamous relationship when I was
seeing other women. (p. 215)
If so, control of the game and the power that comes with this control engender con-
fidence for community members and apparently create the sensation of honesty
and candidness. In this sense, although the seduction process is based on manipu-
lation, ingenuity, illusion, and pretense, adhering to the logic of the game gives
members the feeling that they are acting openly, freely expressing their desires.
Here, then, we see the empowering function of the seduction community as a sup-
port group.
The Player in the Game—Creating an Avatar
The PUA is a skilled, alert, and calculating player in the seduction game, acting
according to its rules just as any game player accepts the rules as a condition for par-
ticipating (Juul 2005). Strauss (2005), who is aware of the antagonism the seduction
community is liable to provoke, offers ‘‘Don’t hate the player, hate the game’’ as the
motto for his book, The Game.
The focus on the player’s identity and persona is a way of coping with what the
seduction literature identifies as a dominant male view in Western culture, namely,
that success with women is the domain of the handsome, wealthy, or famous. As an
alternative to these personal resources, the seduction community gurus propose
‘playing a game.’’ As Strauss puts it, ‘‘simply displaying the desire and ability’
to obtain wealth and fame is no less effective than actually possessing them: ‘‘Like
talent scouts, many women are attracted to men with goals and potential’’ (2007, 12).
Thus, demonstrating interest in obtaining wealth becomes important for itself.
This externalization of desire and aspirations accords with the emphasis in consumer
capitalism on the appearance of value as no less important than actual value. A sim-
ilar stance is held against the dominant cultural ethos according to which authentic
exposure is liberating (Illouz 2008). According to seduction community literature,
interpersonal skills can be learned and shaped; the difficulties faced by AFCs do not
stem from inherent traits but from the way they behave and present themselves
(Strauss 2007). Thus, though most pickup gurus see themselves as essentially shy
(e.g., Mystery 2007), they have become seduction experts through training and spe-
cialization in impression management (Goffman 1959). They see no value in the
authentic disclosure of shyness or introversion but suggest members create an alter-
native persona through learning within the community. The creation of this persona,
they hold, will bring satisfaction to members and open possibilities which were pre-
viously closed to them.
This persona is developed through a process of shaping an avatar, a fictitious
character which represents the character the trainee would like as a PUA. The term
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‘avatar,’’ taken from the gaming world, refers to the character of the participant in a
particular game or in the virtual world and is usually an ‘‘improved’’ version of the
gamer himself, with enhanced personality and physique. The use of an avatar
enables the player to alter his identity and select ideal aspects of the self (Turkle
1999), and its creation requires effort, time, and sometimes also money (Kafai,
Fields, and Cook 2010). In the seduction community, the avatar usually comes with
a nickname by which the member is known in the community, such as Neil Strauss’
nickname Style or Erik von Markovik’s nickname Mystery.
A similar use of an avatar as a kind of ideal self can be discerned in the literature
on masculinity in the postindustrial era. Young men’s extensive gaming reflects a
desire to experience personal empowerment in a changing world via a character with
power and control, free of weakness, or injury (Kimmel 2008). For this reason, many
gaming heroes have exaggerated physiques as a kind of counterpoint to the decline
of the status of physical strength in the labor market and the shift from the industrial
economy to the service and hi-tech economy (Connell 1995). According to Kimmel
(2008), the yearning for physical strength stems from the perceived loss of mascu-
line privilege and control over the past few decades. This loss also leads to anger
which fills the gaming world in the form of virtual violence.
The ideal self formed by seduction community members through their avatar is
based on the idea of the ‘‘alpha male’’ as they perceive it. This term is borrowed
from popular texts on psychology and evolution such as ‘‘The Red Queen’’ by Matt
Ridley (1993). The alpha male is charismatic and domineering. He has privileged
access to the females and thus has an advantage in the struggle for reproduction. The
premise is that among human beings this status is embodied in physical characteris-
tics of athletic masculinity, such as muscular development or wide shoulders, which
is why through the course of evolution such characteristics have become attractive.
However, although seduction community texts reflect an essentialist approach and
base sexual attraction on deterministic premises drawn from evolutionary psychol-
ogy, the masculinity proposed by the community is performative: since the trainees
are fundamentally not alpha males, it is suggested that they become alpha males by
adopting dramaturgic practices (Goffman 1977; West and Zimmerman 1987), using
gaming strategies which provide the illusion of power and success. These practices
include behavioral and physical elements such as posture, gait and tone of voice, and
adoption of gestures and facial expressions from icons of popular culture who are
perceived as alpha males. As Strauss (2005) describes:
I rented Rebel Without a Cause and A Streetcar Named Desire to practice the looks and
poses of James Dean and Marlon Brando. I studied Pierce Brosnan in the remake of The
Thomas Crown Affair, Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black, Mickey Rourke in Wild Orchid,
Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick, and Tom Cruise in Top Gun. (p. 59)
This project of body language improvement guides seduction community members
in developing and controlling their verbal skills and gestures so as to transmit a
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performative message which conveys dominance and power, in line with the desired
image of alpha masculinity. This is in fact a conscious, voluntary, and accentuated
expression of the process in which young men learn to take note of and demonstrate
signs of masculinity, a process which generally takes place implicitly as part of their
personal development (Schrock and Schwalbe 2009). It should be noted that the
appearances taken up by seduction community members are not characterized by
physical markers of power such as well-developed muscles as in traditional mascu-
linity but rather by a more flamboyant style known in the community as ‘‘peacock-
ing.’’ This term corresponds to the evolutionary idea of the handicap principle
(Zahavi 1975) and asserts that instead of demonstrating athletic masculinity, which
is far from the nerdy, weak appearance of seduction community members, they can
accentuate special clothing, unusual accessories which grab attention (hats, chains,
scarves, etc.), and even men’s makeup. In this way, the pickup gurus try to exchange
the concrete resources of an attractive male body for practices which create a shrew-
der, mystical attraction. It might even be said that the seduction community has a
unique interpretation of the traditional masculine image and that through the perfor-
mative element of the avatar and the gaming principle, it takes this image to
extremes—a kind of male alpha in drag.
The Pickup Game as a Homosocial Space of Cooperation
and Competition
The seduction space is structured in community literature as a game whose rules are
familiar and accepted by its male participants and includes both cooperative and
competitive elements. The pickup itself requires cooperation between community
members, between those who carry out the pickup and those who assist them. Such
cooperation is accompanied by slang unique to the seduction community. For exam-
ple, a member in the role of assistant is a ‘‘wing.’’ This term is borrowed from mil-
itary slang and refers to a fighter jet which circles as part of a larger formation on a
combat mission. During the seduction game, the wing’s role is to assist the PUA in
various ways, such as by talking to the friends of the object of seduction, who is known
as the ‘‘target,’ while the PUA is talking to the target herself. The wing is also
expected to openly compliment the PUA, to raise his value in the eyes of those around
him. In this spirit, a range of dos and don’ts has developed around the wing’s role:
As a wing, occupy the obstacles so that the player gets more time one-on-one with his
target.
Always agree with your wing: Never take the girls’ side over his. He is always right.
Keep in mind that your wing’s feelings are important to you, even more important than
the girl’s feelings. If he approaches your set, you will turn to face him. (Girls do the
same with their friends.) If you disrespect your wing, it will lower your value to the
girls!Never leave him standing around without acknowledging him or introducing him
(Mystery 2007, 107).
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In the importance given to cooperation between the wing and the PUA, we can see
the creation, albeit on a small scale, of a homosocial space. Guyland too, according
to Kimmel (2008), is a kind of ‘‘homosocial paradise’’ in which the main social rela-
tions are among the young men themselves. Not by chance does Strauss (2005) claim
that for him, ultimately, the most beautiful moments in the seduction community
were not necessarily those which included interaction with women but the experi-
ence of exchanging stories with other members of the community at the end of a
night of seduction.
In addition to cooperation, there is an undercurrent of competition and struggle
with other men who are not seduction community members, especially those per-
ceived to be alpha males, successful in every social situation. A man of this kind
is known in the community as alpha male of the group (AMOG). Members’ ways
of coping with an AMOG reflect the hierarchic power relations between masculi-
nities and the desire to gain the pleasures of the hegemonic masculinity (Connell
1995). Strauss (2005) describes how this hierarchy is expressed in the high-school
culture, in which the nerd is publicly humiliated by the classroom jock:
The AMOG is the alpha male of the group ....There’s nothing more humiliating than
having a lumbering high school quarterback who reeks of alcohol pick you up from
behind and make fun of your peacocking gear in front of the girls you’re trying to game.
It’s a constant reminder that you are not one of the popular kids, that you’re just a closet
nerd faking it. (p. 234)
Another seduction community writer, Richard La Ruina (2007) proposes various
rules of thumb to cope with an AMOG, drawing power from the social situation
itself and using irony and cunning:
He might ask you a question about your job, your clothes, whether you work out, or
something else with the goal of saying, ‘‘I’m richer than you,’’ or, ‘‘I’m tougher than
you.’’ If he does this, you should say, ‘‘Oooh no, it’s really cheap,’’ or, ‘‘Oh, you’re
much stronger than me.’’ He won’t know what to say and will look stupid.
If the guy talks about how great he is, agree and say something like, ‘‘Wow, you must
be really proud of yourself!’’ (p. 197).
La Ruina’s suggestions aim to undermine the accepted status symbols of wealth or
physical strength, which are key stratifying factors in the sexual hierarchy. This is
done with a show of interpersonal skill, particularly irony which annuls the value
of these symbols.
The way members cope with other men becomes, then, a central aspect of their
behavior and embodies a basic element of the homosocial order. This order is based
on exchange relations and control over resources in which women become goods,
and the possession of women becomes a status symbol (Lipman-Blumen 1976). The
seduction community works toward the democratization of the hierarchy of
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masculinities, while trying to win the privileges of hegemonic masculinity. This is
done by transforming erotic capital (Hakim 2010) into a consumer item that can
be bought by all instead of being an inherent trait only of the elite. According to
Houellebecq (1998), sex in contemporary liberal society is organized in a hierarchy
similar to that of wealth and income. Those with better access to sexual relations are
at the top of a sexual hierarchy, whereas those lacking erotic capital suffer from
impoverishment that is comparable to economic and social exclusion (Murrey
2009). The seduction community tries to undermine the ostensibly deterministic
location of its members in the male sexual hierarchy and offers strategies for mobi-
lity, most prominently the performative practice of the avatar. At the same time, the
views and strategies propagated by the community literature accept the very fact of a
sexual hierarchy and the importance of ‘‘advancing’’ within this hierarchy as means
to attain hegemonic masculinity. Thus, the seduction community makes no attempt
to change society by altering the basic foundations underlying the relations between
men or between men and women.
Conclusion
Guyland legitimizes casual social–sexual relations among young adults and forms a
hierarchy of masculinities around social practices such as the hookup. If laddism can
be considered the hegemonic masculinity in Guyland, then nerd masculinity unques-
tionably occupies a subordinated position in this context. At the same time, men
associated with nerd masculinity face an inherent tension between their difficulties
in handling social relations, especially with women, and their potential advantage in
life beyond Guyland, such as in prospective jobs in the hi-tech industry.
The seduction community offers its trainees ways of obtaining erotic capital in
Guyland through a conceptualization of the pickup game, which serves as an alter-
native to the hookup. The pickup game employs tactics of make believe and teasing.
The act of seduction conveys misleading messages and manipulations intended to
gain power over women, all the while undermining and devaluing them. The agency
of the PUA and his ability to regain control in the social situation is structured
through a fictive persona, the avatar, which functions as the ideal self and as a sub-
stitute to exposing the authentic self.
The gaming logic of the pickup is very different from the logic of the hookup.
Firstly, the pickup game comprises intentional acts on the basis of predetermined
rules which may be learned and practiced which stands in contrast to the ‘‘as if’
spontaneity of the hookup (Kimmel 2008). The discourse of the game also positions
men as rational and considers women to be dominated by emotions (which can then
be manipulated). Moreover, it strives to create hyperstandardization of the relations
between the sexes in the spirit of instrumental rationality and negates the romantic
perspective of sexual relations. At the same time, it is characterized by a hyper-
consumerist stance in which the woman as the object of desire is denied subjectivity
and treated as a product that may be graded and quantified or else as a client that
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must be ‘‘bought,’’ not by explicit means of persuasion but through tortuous seduc-
tion techniques.
Secondly, the structured gaming of the pickup serves as a substitute for the numb-
ing of the senses in the hookup, in which alcohol serves as a kind of social lubricant.
The PUA must be alert and vigilant and must avoid alcohol during the seduction pro-
cess. Mastering the rules of the game and the experience of power that comes with
this gives players a sense of self-confidence as they face the woman and anchors
their status in the homosocial order in which the conquest of women is a fundamen-
tal principal in the power relations between men.
In particular, the geeky solution offered by the seduction community is based on
the logic of video games. Video games are common in the world of adolescents and
young men. By and large, they exemplify the association between technological
knowledge and hegemonic masculinity (Connell 1995; Kimmel 2008), and more
specifically with geeky masculinity (Shaw 2010). For these men, the kind of instru-
mental rationality practiced in gaming culture should be understood as both a sub-
stitute for interpersonal interactions and a way to manage and govern complex
social interactions and emotional situations. Eventually, this process of empower-
ment through gaming practices leaves community members with a virtual identity
which, despite the efforts invested has no emotional depth and acts in a world of
female objects lacking all subjectivity.
The performance of masculinity proposed by the pickup gurus entails certain
characteristics that distinguish it from both laddism and the stereotypical traditional
masculinity. On the one hand, contrary to laddism, the seduction community rejects
the lightheadedness and the as if spontaneity of the hookup culture. Instead, it advo-
cates (much like traditional masculinity) the exercise of personal effort, systematic
training and rational learning. On the other hand, contrary to the expectations of tra-
ditional masculinity, seduction trainees attempt to attract women by means of a
shrewd, semi-mystical performance involving both cunning manipulation and flam-
boyant peacocking, practices that are quite removed from their own idealized image
of the traditional alpha male.
The seduction community makes no demand for any deep social change but
rather promises its followers individual upward mobility in the hierarchy of mascu-
linities. In doing so, it aims to accomplish the central tenets of hegemonic masculi-
nity, namely, the exertion of control over self and others, particularly over women.
Success in the game of seduction and in the conquest of women is construed as a
pathway to this ideal of masculinity, a way through which ‘‘deficient’’ men can learn
how to properly perform masculinity. In this, the case of the seduction community
exemplifies how, beyond the theoretical emphasis on multiple masculinities, com-
mon to many acts of masculine performance is the appeal of control and domination
associated with male hegemony (Schwalbe 2014). In the present case, this appeal
lies in the promise of the seduction community to its followers to learn strategies
of complicit masculinity, such that they can enjoy the benefits of hegemonic mascu-
linity without actually possessing it (Connell 1995). Indeed, attaining a hegemonic
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position in society may, at least potentially, confer certain moral obligations on the
‘rulers.’’ In contrast, when the seduction performance is framed as a game that
stands outside of the social order, the acts that such a game allows its nonquite hege-
monic disciples become disconnected from any such moral considerations.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or
publication of this article.
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Author Biographies
Ran Almog is a PhD student in the department of sociology and anthropology in Bar-Ilan
University, Israel. His thesis, which is written under the supervision of Dr. Danny Kaplan, is
titled ‘‘The ‘‘Seduction Community’’ as an expression of current youth culture: Hermeneutic
inquiry in light of masculinity, self-conversion and therapeutic discourse.’’
Danny Kaplan directs the masculinity track in the gender studies program and is a senior lec-
turer in the department of sociology and anthropology at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. He spe-
cializes in the study of nationalism through the prism of friendship and homosociality and has
conducted research on Israeli masculinity, militarism, media, and popular culture. He is the
author of several books, among them The Men We Loved: Male Friendship and Nationalism
in Israeli Culture (Berghahn Books, 2006). His articles include ‘‘Public intimacy: Dynamics
of seduction in male homosocial interactions,’’ Symbolic Interaction 28 (4), 2005, and ‘‘The
Architecture of Collective Intimacy: Masonic Friendships as a Model for Collective Attach-
ments,’’ American Anthropologist 116 (1), 2014.
22 Men and Masculinities
at Yale University Library on November 18, 2015jmm.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Chapter
This chapter provides a theoretical foundation to the book and overviews the Alpha label, notably its salience in North American Anglophone speech communities. Discussion then reverts to the broader field of gender and sexualities studies, focusing on questions of hegemony and power, while also addressing the similarities and differences of the Alpha male vis-à-vis other forms of dominant, exaggerated, or celebrated masculinity. Specific attention is given to scholarship challenging and expanding understandings of masculinities lived out in language and communication. It is shown that Alpha male ideologies and the linguistic and discursive performances of this are both similar and distinct from other uses of this label, including anti-feminist and overtly hostile forms of toxic masculinity that are widely documented in antecedent literature.
Chapter
This chapter introduces the three corpora forming the basis of linguistic and discursive description, interpretation, and analysis in subsequent chapters, each containing a unique manifestation of the Alpha male. These include an online, sociocommercial group targeting younger males, self-published gay erotica, and a pop psychology volume instructing men as to what women supposedly want from their relationships with Alpha male partners. The chapter discusses methodologies of corpus selection and delimitation, as well as the exclusion of other, potentially interesting, sources and provides a general orientation to each textual archive.
Article
Full-text available
This article focuses on the prominence of dirt and excrements in online male subcultures. It offers an understanding of both the computer nerd cultures of the 4chan forum and Incel (acronym for “Involuntary celibate”) forums that is grounded in their displays of anal sexuality. The article traces the development of this sexuality from the sadistic-aggressive acts of discharge characteristic of 4chan to the masochistic displays of self-deprecation in Incel forums. Whereas the former serve to draw boundaries between the subcultural sphere and that of the cultural mainstream, the latter take the provocative performance of sexual immaturity towards a point of catastrophic loss of control. These performances have political implications, in which the fantasy of being out of control in particular moves Incel culture close to right extremism in that, it is argued, it anticipates a fatalistic act of vengeance against those who are given the blame for one’s castrated state. It is in this respect, I argue, that Incel culture must be seen as an extreme variation of online male subcultures.
Chapter
In addressing the question as to whether mobile dating is a fancy way to fall in love, the author of this chapter ignited further interest in examining the issue by reviewing up-to-date studies on mobile dating, examining mobile dating applications and individual users' motivations at different stages of mobile dating. Furthermore, the author also included LGBTQ studies in her investigation. Finally, the author identified various problems related to mobile dating that invite further examination and solutions.
Article
Full-text available
NoFap is a growing online community of mostly heterosexual men seeking to abstain from masturbation. Rereading scholarship on the history of men’s masturbation, I undertake a critical discourse analysis of NoFap-videos on YouTube to investigate NoFap’s interpellative matrix. NoFap offers a specific mode of becoming a man by advocating a particular form of self-relation. To become a man, one needs to reconcile one’s self-government with one’s organismic existence as a body ‘naturally’ built for meritocratic heterosexuality. Reflecting on NoFap as a community connected to the manosphere, I conclude by suggesting that we thoroughly analyze manospherian modes of self-relation.
Article
Full-text available
El artículo caracteriza las performances de seducción masculina en el marco de una academia, ubicada en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires durante el año 2019 (marzo-diciembre), que promueve una pedagogía sobre el cortejo heterosexual basada en los libros The game, Penetrating the secret society of pickup artista (2006) y The Mystery Method: How to Get Beautiful Women Into Bed (2007) que han tenido impacto en la denominada “comunidad de seducción”. Mediante un abordaje cualitativo se empleó el método etnográfico, la teoría fundamentada y la observación participante como técnica de investigación principal. Se halló que la institución estudiada constituye performances de seducción que establecen vínculos sexo afectivos de dominación de acuerdo con una concepción sobre el género asentada en la masculinidad hegemónica.
Chapter
This entry explores men's self‐conscious mobilizations around their gendered identities and the relationship of those mobilizations to broader social contexts such as feminist organizing, anti‐feminist backlash, neoliberalism, and the global resurgence of extreme conservatism. Here we explore the organizing, or “movements,” that have taken place along the ideological spectrum between the feminist/pro‐feminist pole and the anti‐feminist pole as well as some mobilizations that implicitly, rather than explicitly, organize around and politicize men and masculinities. This entry demonstrates the complexity of putting bounds around what is considered to be a “men's movement” as men's notions of their own masculinity are instrumentalized in numerous, often contradictory, movements seeking to recruit and mobilize men.
Article
Full-text available
Much of contemporary self-help discourse and practice revolves around a peculiar intertwining of hedonistic goals and diffused forms of innerworldly asceticism. To illustrate, the present paper will uncover the ascetic tendencies of a particularly "hedonistic" self-help movement: the so-called Seduction Community. In the Seduction Community, dating coaches teach men how to attract and seduce sexually attractive women. This paper argues that in spite of the manifestly hedonistic goal of sexual conquest, disciplinarian and ascetic values permeate the discourses and practices of the Seduction Community. Before us is the work ethic famously described by Max Weber; albeit in a form that is diffused, fragmented, and "applied" to twenty-first century dating.
Article
Full-text available
Despite scholarly interest in changes in masculinity, no study to date offers quantitative measures of nontraditional masculinity ideologies. We identify common denominators of “new masculinity” (NM) ideology rooted in therapeutic discourse, which includes themes of authenticity and holistic self-awareness. A theoretical construct of NM was formalized from in-depth interviews and operationalized as the NM Inventory (NMI). The NMI was tested for structural and external validity in two quantitative samples of Israeli men. The inventory demonstrated discriminant validity with traditional and consumer masculinity ideologies, converged with self-labeling as feminist, and was uniquely predicted by lower levels of modern sexism. This suggests stronger associations between NM and feminist attitudes than previously argued. Lay responses confounded between self-labeling as new man and as metrosexual, echoing ambiguities in public rhetoric of NM. As a unique measure of nontraditional masculinity, the NMI can spur more systematic research into variable outcomes of contemporary understandings of masculinity.
Book
In Manhood Acts Michael Schwalbe offers a new perspective on the social construction of manhood and its relationship to male domination. Schwalbe argues that study of masculinity has lost touch with its feminist roots and has been seduced by the politically safe notion of 'multiple masculinities'. Manhood Acts delineates the practices males use to construct 'women' and 'men' as unequal categories. Schwalbe reclaims the radical feminist insights that gender is a field of domination, not a field of play, and that manhood is fundamentally about exerting or resisting control. Manhood Acts arrives at the conclusion that abolishing gender as a system of oppression will require more than transgressive self-presentation. It will be necessary to end the exploitive economic relationships that necessitate manhood itself.
Book
Computers have dramatically altered life in the late 20th century. Today we can draw on worldwide computer links, speeding up communications for radio, newspapers, and television. Ideas fly back and forth and circle the globe at the speed of electricity. And just around the corner lurks full-blown virtual reality, in which we will be able to immerse ourselves in a computer simulation not only of the actual physical world, but of any imagined world. As we begin to move in and out of a computer-generated world, this book asks, how will the way we perceive our world change? This book considers this and other philosophical issues of the Information Age. With an eye for the dark as well as the bright side of computer technology, it explores the logical and historical origins of our computer-generated world and speculates about the future direction of our computerized lives. The book discusses such topics as the effect of word-processing on the English language. The book also looks into the new kind of literacy promised by Hypertext. And it also probes the notion of virtual reality, "cyberspace" the computer-simulated environments that have captured the popular imagination and may ultimately change the way we define reality itself. Just as the definition of interface itself has evolved from the actual adaptor plug used to connect electronic circuits into human entry into a self-contained cyberspace, so too will the notion of reality change with the current technological drive. Like the introduction of the automobile, the advent of virtual reality will change the whole context in which our knowledge and awareness of life are rooted. And along the way, the book covers such intriguing topics as how computers have altered our thought habits, how we will be able to distinguish virtual from real reality, and the appearance of virtual reality in popular culture (as in Star Trek's holodeck, William Gibson's Neuromancer, and Stephen King's Lawnmower Man).
Article
The language of psychology is all-pervasive in American culture-from The Sopranos to Oprah, from the abundance of self-help books to the private consulting room, and from the support group to the magazine advice column. Saving the Modern Soul examines the profound impact of therapeutic discourse on our lives and on our contemporary notions of identity. Eva Illouz plumbs today's particular cultural moment to understand how and why psychology has secured its place at the core of modern identity. She examines a wide range of sources to show how self-help culture has transformed contemporary emotional life and how therapy complicates individuals' lives even as it claims to dissect their emotional experiences and heal trauma.
Book
Machine derived contents note: Contents -- Chapter 1: The Rise of Homo Sentimentalis -- Chapter 2: Suffering, Emotional Fields and Emotional Capital -- Chapter 3: Romantic Webs.