The essential feminist’s guide to Pick Up Artists

By Kate Smurthwaite

True story: I’m sat on a high bar stool in the entrance to an empty pub function room. So you don’t think I’m weird, an hour later I would be MCing a comedy show in the venue and in the meantime I had offered to keep an eye on things while the doorman went to smoke. This is what is known in the comedy industry as “living the dream”.

A guy approaches, in his late twenties, obviously petrified, in a long dark coat and a haircut probably approved and executed by his mum.

“You’ve got a really cool look about you.”

I’m still not conveying fully just how awkward this was. There’s another detail I’m missing: he read this sentence off a piece of paper.

This was my first encounter with ‘The Game’ – a rather culty world of dorky young guys, like our young hero, being encouraged to part with hard-earned cash for the promise of a magic elixir that would have the effect Lynx usually does in adverts.

So I thought I’d write a nice witty piece on the subject of these PUAs (self-styled “pick up artists”) and maybe some tips on shaking one off from a seasoned PDA (self-explanatory). Ten minutes of Internet research later and I can say I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier in my adult life. Scratch the surface a bit further and it emerges the “movement”* is even more sinister. It’s based on a series of semi-formalised rules and principles, many of which wouldn’t look out of place in the the latest Wiley and Sons title Rape for Dummies.

Of course men have been hanging round bars and clubs pretending to be firemen and trying to get women to sleep with them since the Stone Age. And how fickle we women are – back then we were impressed if you could start a fire, rather than put one out. If the underlying message of ‘The Game’ was “go on, talk to her, women are human!” I’d be actively in favour of it. But it’s not; ‘The Game’ is no laughing matter for men or women.

Most feminists are regularly accused of not caring about men’s issues. Probably the Cat’s Protection League get a lot of mail demanding to know what the hell they’re doing to help dogs. Regardless, the truth is I am against cults that prey on lonely and vulnerable men. Like UKIP, Abrahamic religions and ‘The Game’.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 16.06.51

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 16.09.42

These men are assured that for a mere £500 they can be taught SIMPLE techniques that will GUARANTEE them HUNDREDS OF GIRLS. And there’s nothing like CAPITAL LETTERS to let you know you’re being RIPPED OFF.

Standard advice includes: get a woman as drunk as possible, undermine her confidence with minor insults and order her about (to show how “alpha” you are). Men are advised to “stop asking for permission” before kissing** a woman they fancy. And one guy who calls himself Roosh (author of Bang, “The Pickup Bible that helps you get more lays” – seriously mate, just be honest and call yourself “Douche”) has even published an article entitled ‘It’s Time To Start Delivering Death Blows To Feminists’, which could have been in The Taliban for Dummies. He advises immediately walking away from any women who describes herself as a feminist.

To ward off these dickheads, I recommend all women have pictures of bel hooks and Emmeline Pankhurst tattooed on their forearms. If a guy uses a crap line and follows it up with a weird minor insult, hold both arms up, fists clenched and firmly say “Game Over”.

More importantly: men; men who might be thinking about getting involved with The Game… If you use the same shit chat-up line on a hundred women in one night, one will probably say yes. The least interesting and least intelligent one out of all one hundred women. Do you want to date that woman?

The only advice you’ll ever need on finding a relationship is this: Go on, talk to her, women are human! But walk away if she’s not a feminist cos everyone knows we have the best sex.

*I also use the word movement in polite company to describe a massive stinking shit. Like Neil Strauss, or anyone who calls themselves Mystery or Gambler and isn’t a Batman villain.

**Yes I know, without permission the term is less “kissing” and more “sexually assaulting”.

Kate Smurthwaite is a comedian and political activist. Follow her @Cruella1

We are 100% crowdfunded, with no advertising, so we only survive if people join as Members or donate. If you enjoyed this article and want to support this site, become a member by clicking the badge below…


Or donate a one off amount…

flattr this!

11 thoughts on “The essential feminist’s guide to Pick Up Artists

  1. Kerrie

    The Eaton’s Centre in Toronto recently had to put an all out ban on pick-up artists because women were being openly harassed and in some cases assaulted by these douche bag losers.

  2. Wyn Williams

    These people give men a bad name, actually a lot of men give men a bad name unfortuantly.
    If a women described herself to me as a femminist they would seem more not less intresting, it means they are intrested in the world and human rights which is cool.

    I am still suprised why anyone goes for this shit but you made an excellent point about there target audeince being vulnerable young men, that and douche bags who don’t understand why they have trouble finding a date (hint, it’s because there wankers) – nice write up, just found your site and look forward to checkling out more!

    1. Calum

      If checkling something out isn’t a thing, it should be.

      On the vulnerable young men thing, it is human nature to be drawn into groups and to fit into the group culture. So if the opportunity is presented to them and they lack any other compass it’s almost inevitable they will succumb to it. We’ve had several thousand years of evolution training us to do this. There is one way out and that is to put a different culture in front of these guys before they have the chance to go down this road.

  3. Eddie

    The “game” has gotten quite complicated. If a guy doesn’t know someone, he is subject to be ripped to shreds if he attempts to to make conversation with a girl he is attracted to. Unless the guy is a muscle bound gorgeous moron, then excuses for their ignorance will always be made.
    I was really cute when I was younger, or so I thought, but I am older now. (50) And even though I don’t have an ounce of fat on me, I don’t dye my hair, and it is still free of grey, and full, and people mistake me for being 35, all the time, I have decided to tell the “game” to “Go to hell”.
    I never wanted to play in the first place.
    Sex is like a drug, it is nice, and it makes you feel good, like cocaine I suppose, (endorphins and all that) but there are lots of things in life that are better, and they last longer. Sure I miss sex, but all addicts to drugs miss their drug of choice forever, even if they know it destroys them. I think it is like smoking, you miss it, but it really does fade through the years.
    I haven’t gone on a date since the 90s, and I don’t ever see myself putting myself out there again. Being alone is actually pretty awesome.
    I agree that it must be tiresome for girls that get “hit on” several times a day, and I know that many of the people are just jerks, but it is all a big joke. You want a man who is sensitive, and communicative, but a guy that shares his feelings is considered a wimp, not just by his friends, but by women too. And God help a guy who’s eyes get watery during a love scene in a romantic movie…
    I still get women who flirt with me, and it makes me feel wonderful that people still find me attractive. I don’t care if they aren’t gorgeous, or young, or they have horrible personalities, it is a compliment to me. Imagine if no one ever bothered to talk to you again. If the people you were attracted to, just acted like you didn’t exist.
    We aren’t perfect, but neither are you. It was supposed to be a partnership, but everyone is wrapped up in how their partner looks more than how much they love their partner’s mind. Everyone is terrified that the person they are with, will make them look bad. Life is just too “F”ing short for that garbage. I still talk to women all the time, and if I think someone is beautiful, I still feel it is ok to let them know, but that is where it ends. If they take offense, I just laugh at their arrogance, for thinking I complimented them because I want something. I am an artist so I find beauty in almost everything. I don’t know if there is a woman who I couldn’t find something beautiful about. But if it means dealing with insecurities, or being insulted for trying to make conversation, there is no woman who is worth having your self worth destroyed.
    I think that everyone is going through a similar change, and maybe someday humanity will get it right, but for now, we should all just drop the ball, and be ourselves.
    And then I think that maybe it is something deeper that is a natural response to overpopulation that makes people want to stop forming relationships… I don’t know…

    1. angela

      Yes thanks Eddie for speaking for all woman kind. when anyone sinks too to much value into how sexually attractive they are (perceive themselves to be) to the opposites sex it is a recipe for sadness and hurt feeling.

      Being angry at someone for not being interested only speaks to ones lack of maturity and intelligence. this quote really sums it up hopefully one day the worst we woman will have to worry about i s just hurt feelings…

      Margaret Atwood
      “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

      ― Margaret Atwood

    2. Derrington

      Oh … get over yourself Eddie. There are loads of us that have suffered rejection – then there are loads of us that have been raped as children, or adults or both. There are those of us that have been thrown out of windows for having the cheek to point out a male is lying to us, there are those of us whose male relatives make up false rape allegations in order to undermine testimony about male family abuse … the list is endless … and as for the millions of women all queing up to ridicule a male for crying in a movie – well they’d be patriarchal women – and you won’t find many of them round here …

  4. Kate Smurthwaite

    As an incredibly sad addendum to this piece I might add that it now seems clear that Elliot Rodgers, the Santa Barbara gunman who killed five women and one guy this week was a member of several online PUA communities and overtly discussed sex making it clear he felt he had a right to sex and wanted to punish women who turned him down.

    Your comments Eddie are very worrying. You talk about what women are doing wrong and what women need to do differently. Well firstly women are an incredibly diverse group, to generalise about women (and, worse, refer to us as “girls”) is not very helpful and perhaps explains why you have trouble meeting and forming relationships with them. And secondly if women are refusing to have sex with you they don’t need telling to “do things differently”, they may be happy with that choice, and in which case you need to get happy with it too. In a hurry.

    You talk about how you miss sex now you dont go around trying actively to pick women up. But you don’t say why you haven’t formed relationships with women who you meet socially through friends or with women who approach you in bars, or who you meet at events and through hobbies. Unless you live in a cave this must happen sometimes and clearly you’re not comfortable with that or you’re closed off to that, or you’re only interested in women who fit a very narrow set of criteria. So that’s still your own choice to shut yourself off.

  5. J Danger

    ‘The Game’ is old. Very old now, it was a set of principles that ‘unclassically looking’ men followed to get around the brainwashing that the media put on women in the early 2000’s. Women were brainwashed into thinking men needed to look like Brad Pitt or David Beckham. The everyman stood no chance and as a whole, men everywhere were being turned down or lacked the confidence to approach women due to their own insecurities because they couldn’t afford Calvin Klein jeans or get hair like Hugh Grant. The game is aimed at insecure/shy men who would otherwise never have the social skills to chat to let alone kiss a woman. Of course women have been subjected to the exact same thing with magazines, movies and models all portraying how they ‘should look’. The Game is a tool, yes some will miss-use it / abuse it / blame it for all the bad in the world, but surely the obvious point here is if that kid had the self confidence in himself to approach a beautiful woman, he would hardly need to learn a guidebook.

  6. get over it

    I think all people use each other to some degree and abuse each other to some degree. I think many women may be rude to men who come on to them because we have a need to be defensive and maybe because we fear being used for sex. Men often come onto women who are way out of their league. Not good. I don’t care for rejection myself, so avoid men who are out of my league …even if they flirt with me, I sense those guys may think of me as good enough for a lay, but not good enough to date.

    We ALL get hurt and no one HAS to date or marry. But, even though I have been rejected by men -when they cheat on me and rip my heart out- I would like to think that one day I will learn which men are likely to do that, so I can avoid them and find the BETTER kind.

    Just as all of us have been hurt, often we are the one who hurt someone else. Go back and find that person – ask for forgiveness. Then, maybe we can find it within ourselves to forget those who hurt US.

    And, we all need to stop setting ourselves up for failure with people who are plain WRONG for us -even if they are good people. No need to lead them on or ourselves on.

  7. Susanne

    I linked out to & read the website by Roosh. According to his philosophy, there are three ways to treat women – 1. Reject for being fat 2. Reject for being a feminist 3. Ruthlessly manipulate into having a “mini-relationship” with you & then throw her out with yesterday’s newspapers. I’m glad to know there’s a way to get rid of PUAs quickly and without compromising my cardiovascular health. Thanks, feminism!

  8. Ellesar

    I read up on these vile men some months ago. I do not blame SOME men for falling for it – if they lack confidence and they are young sadly they might be sucked into all kinds of things. Thing is, PUA culture isn’t just hateful to women, it is hateful to other men too – the ‘ugly beta’ ones.

    But yes, the worst is reserved for women. A woman is a ‘bang’ ie only worthy of being referred to as a specific sex act. NOTHING ELSE WILL DO. PUA advice goes along the lines of ‘if you are wasting time and money and not getting a bang move on’. We only exist in terms of ‘is she fuckable?’ ‘can I fuck her?’ There is literally nothing else.

    I spent about half an hour reading about Roosh and his ilk (started with a link to a charming article entitled ‘when no doesn’t mean no’) and I was actually sicker and angrier than after seeing the Bella Knox video.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *