Friday, October 23, 2015

Lockdown Artistes

"Spendin' all your money on me and spending time on me
I'ma make make make make you work
Make you work-work, make you work!"

The Black-Eyed Peas - My Humps

Pickup artists have been making more and more appearances in pop-culture, mostly as the butts of jokes, which position they have earned in spades. Their emphasis not only on "lines" but on preset behavioral performances, skits almost, to elicit a response from their audience is downright vaudevillian past the point of self-caricature. On one hand this is little more than a continuation of males' inferior role in sexuality from the dawn of time. The burden of effort in securing mates falls by default entirely on men (uterine real estate being a seller's market; sperm very much the opposite) and the image of the preening, strutting peacock of a man attempting (and by default failing) to woo a woman who repeatedly slams him down as cruelly and self-servingly as possible from atop the pedestal of her femininity has been one of the most common features of pop culture throughout history. We don't even need a Brunhilde or Penelope to remind us of women running their potential mates through the wringer. Suitors are default targets for abuse.

On the other hand, pick-up artists earn their vilification by a historically novel approach, plucking the most rotten fruits of the social sciences to level pop-psychological analysis at women's heads - territory heretofore inaccessible by design to men. By a handful of gimmicks inherent to female evolutionary psychology they aim to trick their target into evaluating the potential of a sexual encounter with the pick-up artist much more favorably than she normally would - methodology which by all accounts fails as often as not, but then hope springs eternal, don't it puppies?

Here's where the dominance of feminist rhetoric in public discourse skews our response to what should otherwise count as no more than comedia dell'arte buffonery, staged suit complete with (I'm guessing often literal) slapstick. Women, in politically correct parlance, did not evolve from apes. Men, sure, we can heap any amount of ridicule we wish (and are in fact encouraged to do so by feminists) on men for their instinctive behaviors. No-one wonders if it's correct to lambaste any man or men in general for desiring sex or for voicing or displaying any interest in sexual cues like breasts. We meekly accept our social punishment for the caveman part of our brains which dictates so much of our behavior without ever asking our opinion on the matter; we know that every time our eyes track a particularly cleft display of cleavage, it's not by our own volition but a response built into our species from prehistoric times.
Women, on the other hand, are presumed holy. Their behavior, no matter how ludicrously pre-sentient, is never permitted scrutiny by the political correctness police. Take the most shameless, brainless gold-digger acting out her prehistoric impulses to entrap a male of high social rank who will dedicate all his material resources to her, and you're expected to word her simian behavior as "liberation" or some sort of humanist enlightenment. We are not allowed to admit that women are no more evolved than men.

The first half of pick-up artists' great crime in the public eye is addressing the cavewoman, acknowledging that most female behavior, just as males', consists of inborn automatic patterns which can be triggered while sidestepping the rational mind. There is of course a very real ethical objection to be raised here. Treating a sentient individual as a machine to be manipulated for one's own purposes, carrying out social interactions not through equal conversation but by tripping automatic switches in their primate brain, is the vilest sort of degradation short of physical torture. The second half of the puppies' crime lies in trespassing on female power-mongering and head-games... because this is exactly what women have done to men since humans became human.

Subverting your interlocutor's instinctive responses, playing on another's insecurities, giving out false, self-serving subliminal cues, we view it all as so very despicable when used by men against women. So tell me again why women paint their eyes and lips. Feigning interest in a man via wide, interested eyes has been so prevalent a tactic during human history that even before make-up took off as its own industry, women were willing to pour poison in their own eyeballs in order to bypass men's defenses. As for ruby-red... labia... let's not even get into it.... repeatedly and ecstatically. Of course those behavioral changes are nothing to the physical. Women's lips are unnecessarily shaded by default, after all. Adding a second set of buttocks on your chest to constantly advertise sexual availability whether you're coming or going and keep men constantly on edge is probably the most obvious alteration, but the more insidious is not sexual but the large array of neotenized features and behaviors: falsetto voices, crying, babyish facial features, etc., all lowering men's guard, inducing a desire to protect and provide for. Women's manipulation of men is built into them.

The oddly vociferous revulsion to puppies' antics stems largely, I think, from a sort of "uncanny valley" perception, a funhouse mirror reflection in a few men of women's own arsenal of behavioral modification. A pick-up artist's performance is a rehearsed, stilted reiteration of what comes so naturally to women that it interweaves all male-female interaction without ever being noticed. If you consider "negging" reprehensible, watch a woman gently wrinkle her nose or pout at her partner's behavior and see him immediately squirm, or see her alter his appearance in some minor way, straightening his shirt, any minor pretext to find fault with him, to set herself up as a benefactor "putting up" with him and himself as a dumb slob who should be thanking his lucky stars she looked his way. Negging is nothing to nagging and nit-picking. In an odd way, pick-up artists, through their desperation to be better equipped romantically, ended up looting the opposite sex's armory. They're some of the most feminine men in history.

As a last point, consider that the two mirrored crimes against sentience (the recent behavioral modification used by pick-up artists and the time-honored, all-pervasive, perpetually controlling female attitudes toward men) have different goals. Pick-up artists mainly seek an evening of sex, a mutually pleasurable act costing any modern woman a couple of hours and a few calories of energy. The threat of unplanned pregnancy which underscores so much female instinct no longer applies in any civilized society. Women's manipulation of men on the other hand still pursues marriage, enforced monogamy and lifelong servitude, a surrender in perpetuity of his material resources to her and the offspring which she's much more likely to want than he is... because planned pregnancy is another destructive, unanalyzed, primitive impulse which afflicts the female more pervasively than the male of the species.

Yes, it is important to teach women to protect themselves from such control... and much more important to teach men to protect themselves from it. Both sexes should be more aware of their instinctive weaknesses, but that awareness cannot be reached while we feel obligated to treat men as instinctive brutes and women as enlightened innocents.

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