[Content note: some discussion of rape later in the post.]
I’m actually less anti-pickup than most sex-positive feminists: I think a lot of pickup tactics probably do work. DHVs (the jargon term for “having cool traits”) work. Congruence (the jargon term for “not passing yourself off as something you’re not”) works. Peacocking (the jargon term for “really awesome clothes”) works. (At least, my ex-girlfriend once said that if Mystery wanted to fuck her, all he’d have to do is not say something so dumb that it outweighed his being a skinny pretty pale gothy dude in eyeliner.)
Even the stuff that probably doesn’t work is decent as a Dumbo’s Magic Feather. If you believe the neg hit works, you’ll go hit on more girls. As long as it doesn’t actively turn off women, you’ll believe it’s the neg hit, rather than the neg hit improving your willingness to hit on women.
I think my biggest complaint is that pick-up artists in general are extremely dishonest about what their systems prove– namely, they believe they have a General Theory of What Women Are Attracted To. However, most pickup artists admit they target twentysomething, conventionally attractive women. In addition, the most common forms of game are “night game” (nightclubs) and “day game” (talking to strange women going about their everyday activities); women who like nightclubs and strangers talking to them on the street are almost certainly more extraverted than average, and probably different on several other personality metrics. Not to mention the filtering effects of PUA techniques themselves: some evidence suggests a correlation between women being attracted to people who use PUA techniques and women being sexist.
You don’t have a general theory of women’s sexuality; you have a general theory of the sexuality of Sexist Outgoing Twentysomething Conventionally Attractive Women Who Like Nightclubs And/Or Street Harassment. Which is fine! That’s what you’re aiming for! But generalizing from that sample to all women is about as plausible as me saying that all women are attracted to dudes who make out with each other because that gets you laid at YaoiCon.
Pickup artists’ ideas of what women like have to stay remotely within the bounds of the plausible; if a tactic gets a drink thrown on you every time, you will eventually stop doing it. On the other hand, as regards men’s preferences they may go on the most wild flights of fancy in the world. Thus we get claims like “[the ugliness of older women] is why you will see older women in porn work the penis like a piston with their mouths and hands– hard, firm, and unrelenting tactile stimulation is the only way they can get a guy off,” which is pretty much the most gloriously self-refuting sentence of all time.
(Seriously, did you think I could get through a whole post about pick-up artistry without picking on Heartiste at least once?)
It gets worse when they start trying to explain why their tactics work, because they will inevitably explain it with Evolution, despite not knowing the first thing about evolution. I’m not even asking that they know gender theory. But seriously, basic anthropology (gatherers provide most of the calories in most cultures, hence no such thing as beta male provider) and biology (r/K selection is on a species level, not an individual level, and hasn’t been a popular theory for twenty years anyway; there’s no such thing as an alpha wolf) are not that hard.
My other major beef with pickup artistry, other than it actively making people have dumb beliefs about gender, is that some pickup artists recommend raping women. This is… a pretty huge beef, to be fair.
I feel like to a certain degree that’s a natural consequence of specifically trying to figure out the best method to fuck the most women possible. After all, raping women is a very effective method of getting your dick wet.
Obviously, I’m not saying that everyone who wants to get laid more will inevitably end up justifying rape. What I am saying is that adopting a particular narrow view– where your goal is to collect notches on your bedpost rather than to engage in mutually satisfactory sexual and/or romantic relationships– is likely to lead some people to think “hey, if I just ignored those stupid women saying ‘no’ I’d get WAY more notches.”