Hoinsky: My language in certain parts was clearly regrettable. Basically, yeah, when you’re writing for a small community of people who are like-minded and take the time to read the context, things can make sense in that context. When you blow it out of context and put it in front of millions of people, which is what happened to some of the quotes in my book, you get extreme feminists who say that any dating-advice book is inherently wrong because you’re objectifying an entire gender.
How do you respond to that criticism?
Hoinsky: I understand that argument but I have thousands of frustrated guys who can’t get dates and are asking for help, so I’m not just going to ignore them. And I’m not going to throw away all of this critique and anger, either. Pickup artistry has not done a good job of dealing with concepts like consent. If you look at The Mystery Method book, which is a pretty popular book, the section on sex is basically blank. People don’t want to talk about it. So here’s an opportunity to talk about consent, rape, these really important issues that pickup artists have historically not done a good job talking about. We can take seduction to the mainstream and it shouldn’t be a dirty word. I’ve known guys that are happily married in their thirties with a wife and kids, and they have that marriage because they read The Game and they are embarrassed to talk about it. They will never admit to their spouse that because they read The Game they got the confidence to start this wonderful life. Let’s fix this problem because the world will be a better place for it.
Leigh: Ken, you know I reacted to your posts by proposing a book on Kickstarter with two co-authors, a matchmaker as well as a burlesque artist, called A Feminist Guide to Picking Up Men, which Kickstarter rejected. But we wanted to make the point that seduction in itself is not inherently misogynistic.
Where I think you went wrong was you really skimmed over microcalibration. Calibration is the way that a PUA knows whether there is consent or not. And you use the word “force” — “force a woman to rebuff your advances and make her reject you, then you’re obviously coming on too strong.” But in your defense, I will say that so much of the propaganda out there tells women to play hard-to-get and not express when they actually mean “yes.” There is so much shaming out there around women who seem too eager or too desirous for sex. Society says, “Don’t give in too soon, don’t give in even if you want to, don’t make it look like you want to, don’t carry condoms, don’t even look like you know what sex is.” If a man is dealing with a woman like that, who is ashamed of opening up about her desires, it makes it difficult to understand where there is actual consent or desire that’s just being covered up by societal shame and not wanting to seem too easy. What I love about female pickup is that I am making a move and I am initiating things and there is no question about my consent.
Leigh: Calibration is a sharp attunement to your target’s reactions in every given moment, literally second to second, so that you can tell whether they’re on the same page with you and whether they want to continue moving forward. We also have something in the pickup community called compliance testing, where if I say, “High five!” and you match me, then I know you’re into me and I can maybe move forward and put my arm around you.
Let’s go over a few situations and see how you would game them. What’s your first move if you’re a guy going to a bar just looking for sex?
Lyons: The number one thing I tell my students: Do not go out looking for sex. If that’s 100 percent what you want to do, then you should really think about finding something where it’s legal to do so and pay for it. Women aren’t masturbation boxes; men aren’t portable dildos with a heater attached. We’re all human beings looking for connection. Just go out to meet people, and if it turns into sex, great, and if it doesn’t, also great. Now, there are signs that somebody’s open to sex. Look for those subtle signs. Actually, women make the very first move. Always. But that first initial move is a sign that they are open to being approached. And a way of seeing that is if you look at a group of girls interacting, you’ll often notice that one of the girls in the group isn’t really looking at the rest of the group, and instead is looking around the bar for people. This girl, almost guaranteed, is ovulating and looking to meet somebody that night. That doesn’t mean that if you approach her she’s going to have sex with you. What it means is she’s much more open to a sexual advance and maybe, if she forms a real connection and trust and everything else that you need, maybe you’ll have sex that night. But that shouldn’t be your goal.