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Influence = Manipulation

It's been a long time since I logged into LW; I just saw this. Actually, I released a book this year in which I analyze manipulation fairly extensively through the lens of the pickup artist subculture. It's called Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser:

Influence = Manipulation

It seems to me that once we get away from obviously problematic situations (such as blackmail), the distinction is going to be in intent, which is never uncontroversial.

[LINK] Ethical Pick-Up Artistry (Clarisse Thorn)

He has this post about the "dark side of game":

This post from him really flipped me out:

because of this quotation: "yes we still had sex on Friday night (she squirted), Saturday night (she cried), Sunday morning (she tolerated it) and Sunday night looks good too (she's gonna go for the handjob option when I offer it). "

which, uh, doesn't sound like his wife is all that into the sex. On the other hand, she later asserted that she has no problem with their current setup in this post:

so the problem I think is more with careless phrasing than careless treatment of her feelings. At least, I hope so. She sounds pretty ok to me.

[LINK] Ethical Pick-Up Artistry (Clarisse Thorn)

I know! I heart my commenters! Many of them are sooo amazing.

The peril of ignoring emotions

I've been working on figuring out how exactly I establish intimacy through conversation, and getting better at it. One thing HughRistik once observed is that "expressing interest in their reality" is absolutely key, but that's pretty basic.

[LINK] Ethical Pick-Up Artistry (Clarisse Thorn)

I am tickled to be referenced as "Clarisse Thorn herself". Since that conversation, though, I have to say that I've thought about Kristen's Feministe comment a lot, and I think I understand it better now (though I'm still not sure I agree).

(1) shows a guy who is trying to exert dominance by telling her what to do. "You have lovely eyes, they'd be remarkable if you wore makeup" includes a proposed "solution" to the "problem" he's outlining. (3), on the other hand, is just mockery. "That guy will rot your brain" doesn't tell her what to do.

I see the distinction now, but I'm not convinced that the speakers did, nor am I convinced that most hearers would.

The peril of ignoring emotions

My problem with this model is that sexuality is extremely important to me and a guy pretty much has to prove that he's sexually interesting in order to be worth my time. This is difficult to accurately gauge through conversation -- even men who are in my sexual subcultures/etc can be less-than-ideal sexual matches. It might be good for me to follow a more strategic drawn-out pattern than sex on the first date, but that would require me to spend a lot of time on men who may not end up being sexually awesome (and also it removes the pleasure of having sex with them from the first few dates). I am currently working on ensuring that I hit emotional hookpoint with men on the first date, and then having sex on the first date. I seem to be relatively successful at this, but I'd like to be better at it.

A Rationalist's Account of Objectification?

I recommend the movie "Filming Desire" for what I found to be a very interesting and nuanced feminist analysis of objectification, and what happens when women try to represent sex for ourselves rather than buying into how the dominant culture represents sex (i.e., how men with stereotypical desires represent sex).

Here is an edited version of a comment I recently wrote on my own post "Ethical Pick-Up Artistry" [ ], which I think is tangentially relevant:

I don’t really like the idea that men’s sexuality is generally more focused on stereotypically “hot” women, and that it’s some kind of inherent difference -- beyond cultural influences -- that it's more unusual/more difficult for men to be attracted to non-conventionally attractive women than to conventionally attractive ones, as opposed to the way attraction works for most het women. But it could be true, and if it is then I don’t feel comfortable shaming men for that. (It seems like gay men frequently exhibit similar attraction patterns to straight men, in terms of being considerably more attracted to younger partners and more, shall we say, sculpted partners. I seem to recall reading somewhere that lesbians have written critiques of ageism in gay men’s attraction patterns.)

There’s evidence for sexual fluidity but there’s no evidence for being able to consciously change sexuality. Maybe changing culture can change sexuality. There’s no evidence for this and I’m extremely reluctant to police art, porn, whatever based on a weak hypothesis, especially if the goal is to police sexuality even more than it is already policed. All the anecdotes (and sexuality scholars) I’ve encountered have said that sexual fluidity appears to happen in a way we can’t control and don’t understand. The ex-gay movement shows us that even people who are very motivated to abandon homosexuality simply cannot meet with success, and will become disillusioned witnesses against the programs that tried. What good is shame for influencing such a force?

But is it such a problem that attraction patterns are like this? Well, it sucks for conventionally unattractive women in particular. I have a lot of sympathy for this (as my frequently-noted fears of aging show). On the other hand, a lot of things about sexual attraction just aren’t fair, and if we start insisting that people are obligated to have sex with people they’re not attracted to, that’s not right either.

I think the real, and important, problem comes in when people (especially women) who are attractive are given more social power in other areas: more likely to be promoted, more likely to be seen as competent, etc (studies show that blonde hair is most universally attractive to men and that blondes make more money on average than other women). Some famous misogynist, I can’t remember which one, is on record as saying that feminism is about giving unattractive women more power in society (even leaving aside its massive misread on feminism, this statement assumes that unattractive women don’t deserve any power in society, which is obviously fucked up).

People aren’t very good at watching their biases in general, and so when I say that men generally suck at watching out for how biased they get about attractive women, I’m not trying to say something specific about men. It may be that women are less biased by conventionally attractive men because our hormones just work differently. It may also be that attractive men would be able to get ahead through their attractiveness more if women had the same amount of overall power in society as men. Regardless, it seems like the focus should be on de-biasing people to think that attractive people are better at things that have nothing to do with attraction, rather than on attempting to change men's attraction patterns.

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