So, a man called Gunwitch, who is internet famous for running a pick-up artist site has allegedly shot a woman in the face.* My first reaction to reading about this was to be… horrified, but not extremely surprised. Which is so, so cynical—but if you ever stop by pick-up or “game” blogs, you quickly realize that most of the guys who are well known in those circles project seriously hateful, dismissive, and entitled attitudes towards women, and that a lot of the attitude that gets spoken about is a mindset where women’s only worth is found in their fuckability—women are discussed as objects to gain access to, whose feelings, desires, and humanity are nothing compared to a guy’s desire to get laid. It’s disturbing.
I have to think that most guys who read those sites are probably not that messed up though, because otherwise, it’s just sad. A lot of the men who read pick-up sites are probably just insecure and bad with women—and if all the sites taught men was how to be their best selves, I wouldn’t have a problem with them. But they don’t, and the men who spend a lot of time on those sites come off as terrible human beings. Their tactics seem aimed at focusing on women with low self esteem or reducing a woman’s self esteem, on lying about themself, on projecting threat, and on physically getting her away from her friends. Gunwitch’s pickup strategies seem to be focused on threat—escalating physical contact, projecting animal sexuality (which—what does that even mean? It seems to mean, treat her like an object you own), and ignoring any body cues or language that a normal human being would interpret to mean stop. His catchphrase seems to be “make the ho say no”—an idea that a man shouldn’t leave a woman alone until she flat out directly refuses him. In American culture, at least, women are taught from the time we’re girls that we’re supposed to be “nice”, that we shouldn’t flatly turn guys down because it will hurt their fragile egos, and that we need to sort of finagle are way out of being hit on. Problem is, if you’re stuck in a corner while some guy keeps putting his hands on you, and you’re trying to get out while saying “I really don’t think this is a good idea” or trying to put him off with a phone number so that you can politely ignore him later without the direct esteem blow—well, this guy’s advice is for men to ignore all that and just touch her more. Until she either actually says not, or just stops trying to escape.
I can totally see a woman stopping her escape attempts in this situation, not because she’s been seduced, but because the man is acting so outside of the normal bounds of human behavior that she’s afraid he’ll become violent if she doesn’t just shut up. And sure, that might not lead to sex, but it’s going to lead to her dealing with a lot more touching than her comfort zone is ok with. Plus, we all know that not all guys interpret no to mean no—I remember running around a club one night in college, trying to avoid a man who kept groping me, even after I’d told him thatn o, I did not want him touching me and no, I had no interest in him whatsoever.
So with all that—I find Gunwitch’s methods to be horribly creepy and morally deficient. But the phrase “make the ho say no” has another problem—ho.
It seems that a lot of men in the pick-up (and men’s rights) community view all women as—or at least, all American women—as morally devoid sluts… who still need to be seduced to get them into bed. (There is a blog post somewhere on the ridiculousness of this doublebind. I thought it was on Figleaf’s blog, but can’t find it. You should check out his blog anyway.)
I know, the two concepts don’t make much sense together. The amount of cognitive dissonance going on in some people’s heads must be staggering. And it will seem really odd if, like me, the men you know in real life are all good human beings who treat women like people and yet who still manage to have self respect and earn the respect of others. But the truth remains—there are women who go out to bars or other locations, who live relatively chaste lives, and who are not going to go home with some random PUA no matter what his “game” is like. There are also women who go out to bars looking for someone to go home with—and who might go home with a PUA, not because he has good “game”, but because he happened to be there and interested, and not too bad looking at the right time. Pick-up treats women as if we’re all the same creature though, and as if we’re all able to be manipulated in the same easy X number of steps.
But a lot of guys will admit that pick-up is really just mostly a numbers game. Which means that the pick up itself, for most people, is probably not what’s getting them laid—the fact that they asked ten women, and found one of two or three in the bar who was already looking to get laid is. (Sidenote: I think it’s interesting how many guys in pickup talk about the “number close”, where they get a woman’s phone number. When I was single, giving the phone number was usually a good way to get a guy to leave me alone when he wouldn’t listen to me telling him I wasn’t interested. Then when you get a chance, change his name in your phone to “Do Not Answer”. You’ve already told him you aren’t interested, and since he’s begged for your phone number “in case you change your mind”, he’ll be able to tell that you…. Haven’t changed your mind)
So yes, I’m horrified, and honestly surprised that a pick-up artist actually (allegedly) shot a woman, even though my first instinct was to not be surprised. But in a way, it makes a sick kind of sense—if you’re part of a culture that views women as only good for sex, and you are in fact someone who teaches others how to dehumanize women, then it makes sense that eventually you might internalize it to the extant that you end up shooting a woman. I don’t know that the shooting was intentional, of course—other’s have pointed out that in his most recent videos, Gunwitch seemed mentally unstable, and managed to shoot a bullet into his wall with a gun he thought was unloaded. Even if he was just trying to be cool and do an idiotic form of show and tell, he’s still responsible for shooting her in the face. I’m just saying that, at this point, shooting a woman in the face is a disturbing, but slightly logical, extension of some of the thought in pickup blogs that treats women as interchangeable and less than human.
*Because I’m not a court of law, or even a lawyer, I’m going to say that I think he’s very likely to be guilty. Because, contrary to some people’s understandings, innocent until proven guilty doesn’t mean that individuals can’t have their own opinion as to someone’s guilt or innocence. So no, I don’t know that he shot her in the face. But I think, given what’s been reported, that he probably did.