The Distorted Idea That the So-Called "Masculinity Crisis" Is Caused by Successful Women
Continued from previous page
For most men, the characterization of men as “boys,” due to not hurrying through conventional markers of adulthood, is harsh. It’s an almost feminist-style chastising of single men, but it’s ultimately just reconsolidating gender essentialism. Similar to Filipovic, in my experience, a lot of the men that might be cast as man-boys are not that different from me—they are figuring things out in a world that’s constantly changing. The ones who want to be in relationships are in relationships and will be irrelevant of their financial status or their supposed freedom not to have to be in a relationship. And men who respect women and are accountable to their feelings were like that in the first place, and a shifting economy is not going to change who they are.
Also, Filipovic points out something that the Apatow movies and Hymowitz have failed to capture—all women aren’t parading around yelling at men to man-up so they can have their babies. A lot of women are also taking advantage of a new world in which marriage doesn’t happen immediately, and where taking the time to figure out what we want with our lives and careers before we settle down is a good thing. If the supposed crisis in masculinity has shown us anything, it’s that the more natural course of action is to allow for gender to shift with the changing social, economic, and political climate, as opposed to demanding we regress to more traditional gender roles.
The Art of Womanizing: Pickup Artists and the Seduction Community
The responses to the feelings of insecurity that have transpired due to the masculinity crisis run the gamut from the less nefarious rise of “man-boys” to vivid displays of misogyny (as can be seen by the men’s rights activists and other ardent angry decriers of the new vagina overlords) to the less violent but just as toxic rise in men’s dating advice that tells men how to be pickup artists.
Pickup art, or the art of seduction, has been pushed through books, classes, seminars (full-on very expensive retreats), and websites that tell men that they need to use certain psychological tactics to get women to have sex with them. The purpose of pickup art, supposedly, is to support men with their self-esteem. But if you’ve ever survived the advances of a pickup artist, you know that their only purpose is to manipulate women’s insecurities in an effort to get laid. Pickup artists acknowledge power differentials between men and women and then come up with clever and creative ways to manipulate them.
The bible of pickup art for our generation is Neil Strauss’s The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. A quick glance at the chapters gets you familiar with the language and mind-set of pickup art, including Chapter 1, “Select a Target,” Chapter 5, “Isolate the Target,” Chapter 6, “Create an Emotional Connection,” Chapter 7, “Extract to a Seduction Location,” Chapter 10, “Blast Last-Minute Resistance,” and finally, Chapter 11, “Manage Expectations.” This kind of language tells us that men are hunters, women are their game, and the ladies men should be trying to connect with are nothing but targets for the purpose of sex.10 Unfortunately, it also sounds like a manual for date rape.
I perused a few pickup artist websites, too, and found a wide variety of information, from less nefarious advice on how to be confident to violent language about women. One website, “Pick-up Art Mindset,” tells guys what to do when a woman responds poorly to “using a line”:
“If a girl accuses you of using a line . . . she’s not going to fuck you. It simply won’t happen. . . . Chances are she came out to make men feel small and get free drinks, so therefore you must go over the top and put that bitch in her place. . . . Say: ‘Well it got me laid last week with some slut. I don’t see why it shouldn’t work again.’ Enjoy the embarrassed look on her face as she stews in silence trying to think of a comeback. Then turn your back on her. She’ll think twice before saying that nonsense to another man.”