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Your scientist would like to disclose a bias before we begin: prior to engaging in this experiment, I strongly believed that mainstream advice guides were based on little more than misogyny and an eager exploitation of the insecure. I recoiled from materials that treated men and women as irreconcilably alien from one another, and which suggested that little more than snake oil and manipulation is required to bed them.
However, I was also hot off the heels of a number of breakups — one with a person, another with cigarettes — and had no real notion of how to function socially without the latter. I was hard up for a release; this seemed as good an avenue as any.
on the purported "art" of picking up women. Distilled, the ideas are fairly simple — generic, even — and for the more socially uncomfortable could be helpful. They advise being confident (or at least faking it), taking some care in your appearance, smiling, physically approaching people in a way that isn't threatening or invasive, and not feeling completely destroyed by rejection — all fairly sound advice for meeting new people.
More problematic is the culture surrounding these basics, as described in detail in Neil Strauss's The Game. It's a culture that describes women as "targets," that calls a mission to go meet women "sarging" (named after a certain veteran PUA's cat, Sarge. Pussy! Clever!), that refers to a woman's desire not to be approached by strangers as her "bitch shield," that encourages making women feel bad about themselves as they are being hit on, so as to make oneself seem larger and more important (a tactic called the "neg"). It speaks glowingly of men who (allegedly — there is a lot of ego here) have manipulated their partners into plastic surgery and sex work, encourages "going caveman," and provides this gem of an acronym:
LMR — noun [last-minute resistance]: an occurrence, often after kissing, in which a woman who desires a man prevents him, through words or actions, from progressing towards a more intimate sexual contact, such as removing her bra, putting his hand down her pants, or penetration.
So consent is just another obstacle to be humped away into pick-up artist mastery. Rapetacular.
Since much of this advice involves reinventing one's current (presumably flawed) self into a lady-killing stud, I had to develop a suave, clubbin' persona. If Mystery can seriously call himself Mystery, if a dude named Neil can reinvent himself as Style, then for a limited time only I will call myself Cash. I chose it along the lines of Wu-Tang's "cash rules everything around me," but as it happens the name provided a segue into an incredibly cheesy line, courtesy of an acquaintance actually named Cash: "Before I was born, my parents used to say that they had love and they had a home, but what they didn't have was cash."
I worked up some other "openers" — including "what are your thoughts on the banjo?" — then practiced my lines in front of a mirror. It was going to be a very long night.