Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The card table paradigm.

Since the PUA post seems to be stirring discussion, I want to talk about just one small part of the whole wacky mindset: card tables.

There seems to be this idea that meat markets consist of women setting up card tables, which men then line up at and submit applications to receive sexual favors. The men make formal approaches, and the women then make the decision whether to accept or reject each man. Any woman present in a social situation without a male secort has her card table out, and any woman not rejecting a man's social overtures is at least considering accepting him as a sexual partner.

There is no, absolutely no, such thing as a "friend," or people who go to bars or parties to "enjoy themselves."



I'm not going to make a point-by-point rebuttal just now. Instead I'm just going to list how I met some of my partners.

-Long-term friends since high school, we turned out to have had long-term crushes on each other.
-We were assigned adjacent rooms in the dorm, and my roommate was horrible, so I took refuge in her room.
-He was an actor in one of my student films, and after the project was over we kept hanging out together.
-On OkCupid, he was my very highest ranked "match," so I sent him a message inviting him out for Phad Thai.
-We were members of the same online BDSM community, and started trading private messages that became increasingly more intimate.
-After talking to each other at a BDSM munch, we kept talking outside the venue after it closed, then decided to go home together.

If this just sounds like a big random pile of coincidences--good. It was. And yet they were deliberately encountered coincidences in a sense, because I made friends, met my dorm neighbors, worked on films, joined online and real communities, and so forth. In the course of living a full life, I happened to meet people, and in the course of meeting people I happened to discover sexual chemistry with quite a few of them.



Oh, and when I go out to a bar with a group of female friends, it's usually because I wanted to spend some time with those friends. FYI.

22 comments:

  1. Woe betide the man siding with PUAs, but I don't think your examples counter your analogy. You must have been receptive to finding partners, so in a sense you were taking applications. How significant is it that you weren't standing passively behind a card table? And even if all you want to do is spend time with your friends, how should I know that?

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  2. Bruno - The "applications" thing doesn't really account for my tendency to lust after certain guys. I was taking an active--sometimes even a frustrated--role in developing a relationship with someone I found attractive. I was as subject to his judgement as he was to mine.

    Also, we tended to have aspects to our relationships other than the sexual/romantic, where in most of these cases we were already enjoying each other's company in other ways.

    And even if all you want to do is spend time with your friends, how should I know that?
    I think--I could be wrong--that it's generally the case that girls' night out is for the girls, and not an attempt to extremely passively troll for men.

    Maybe for some people it is? I've just never met those people.

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  3. Plus it kinda doesn't matter if you don't know/aren't psychic if you don't immediately assume that not going to bed with a random girl in a bar means that she rejected you sexually because your application was turned down because you weren't enough man for her, and that's what happens each and every time you talk to a woman that doesn't subsequently sleep with you.

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  4. There seems to be this idea that meat markets consist of women setting up card tables, which men then line up at and submit applications to receive sexual favors. The men make formal approaches, and the women then make the decision whether to accept or reject each man.

    The hilarious part is that PUA guys simultaneously believe that all women hold this tremendous power to make or break men...and yet these same guys will only pursue women of a very specific appearance/age/social standing. So, hello? This tells us that women and men both have specific things they look for in a partner and both reject people they're not into.

    The card table analogy has this irritating implication that men go around begging for scraps when in fact everyone wants to go out with someone they, y'know, like and find attractive and stuff. If there are proverbial card tables (and there may be, in the sense that a lot of women wait to be pursued by a guy rather than do the pursuing), it's more like all the women are standing at their tables and the vast majority of men are lining up at two or three tables (of young and conventionally attractive women) while the other women go "Hello? Helloooooo? I'm here, too..."

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  5. I was as subject to his judgement as he was to mine. Of course, but that's not inherent to the limited fact patterns in your examples.

    Also, I'm not sure this is a PUA-specific delusion. The coultural script seems to be boy meets girl, boy pursues girl, girl accepts/relents, boy and girl date. I can't think of an example of "girl meets boy" -- maybe Juno?

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  6. I think what's going on is that, for het guys without much of a mixed-gender social circle (it happens), daily life *doesn't* provide them opportunities to befriend women. Thus the only way they know how to actively meet new women in a context where they feel flirting is appropriate is to go to a "meet market," and the media (and PUA) depiction of a meet market is pretty much that "card table" situation.

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  7. I'm not sure this is a PUA-specific delusion. The coultural script seems to be boy meets girl, boy pursues girl, girl accepts/relents, boy and girl date. I can't think of an example of "girl meets boy" -- maybe Juno?

    Maybe not specific to guys who actively practice PUA, but specific to guys with that general mindset: they've been romantically rejected and have decided to bitterly focus on that rejection to the exclusion of everything else (conveniently forgetting the times when they've been the rejector...), they feel entitled to sex with whomever they want, and they quite likely try to pursue women who would generally be considered out of their league.

    And since it's mostly men who make movies, of course the whole "women sit back and decide men's fates" myth is gonna seep in there.

    'Course Juno was written by a chick...

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  8. I think--I could be wrong--that it's generally the case that girls' night out is for the girls, and not an attempt to extremely passively troll for men.
    I agree with this...I have never gone out with my friends (or alone) looking to meet guys. When we go out, it's to hang out with each other and have fun as a group. I've also gone through periods of "time out" (like years at a time) when I was not dating or looking to date, just taking some personal time to make transitions in my life or put other things first. I wasn't "rejecting" any guys who approached me, I just politely thanked them for the flattering attention (if they weren't creepy) and explained that I wasn't dating at the moment.

    And being a sort of shy geek girl who is attracted to quirky sort of awkward geek guys, I've almost always had to be the one who was more outward in my interest and made it clear that I wanted to date them. But I've never been on or agreed to "go on a date" with a total stranger or even an acquaintance. I've met my partners much as Holly described...by hanging out in groups of male and female friends and getting to know their friends, by being actively involved in my hobbies and interests and getting to know people in those same same circles, and at some point I started hanging out more with a certain person, then one on one, and eventually at some point we decided we were "dating." At least with all the people I know, this is the norm rather than meeting strangers in singles bars and clubs or being approached by a total stranger in a cafe or public place.

    The card table analogy has this irritating implication that men go around begging for scraps when in fact everyone wants to go out with someone they, y'know, like and find attractive and stuff. If there are proverbial card tables (and there may be, in the sense that a lot of women wait to be pursued by a guy rather than do the pursuing), it's more like all the women are standing at their tables and the vast majority of men are lining up at two or three tables (of young and conventionally attractive women) while the other women go "Hello? Helloooooo? I'm here, too..."
    Yes...this! The good thing is that this situation sort of naturally falls apart as you get older and people get more comfortable with themselves and their personal interests, tastes, self-esteem :)

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  9. Hershele OstropolerJanuary 20, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    I was taking an active--sometimes even a frustrated--role in developing a relationship with someone I found attractive. I was as subject to his judgement as he was to mine.
    I don't want to side with PUAs either, but (for various cultural reasons) I've never had to turn down a woman I wasn't interested in*, whereas I have been turned down. So it's easy for men who don't put any thought into it to overlook that women do have to worry about rejection.

    * There's someone who shown vague ambiguous signs of interest whom I would have turned down -- primarily, because she's half my age -- but it never came up. And it's highly likely it's just wishful thinking on my part anyway.

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  10. Perversecowgirl

    "Maybe not specific to guys who actively practice PUA, but specific to guys with that general mindset: they've been romantically rejected and have decided to bitterly focus on that rejection to the exclusion of everything else (conveniently forgetting the times when they've been the rejector...), they feel entitled to sex with whomever they want, and they quite likely try to pursue women who would generally be considered out of their league."
    1) Have you participated in the PUA community? There are all kinds of people there.
    2) I can show you lots and lots of men who have never been the rejector but who have plenty of experience being rejected.
    3) Your advice is very very close to the old just be yourself, maybe that will yield a different result this decade then it did this decade.
    4)Who are you to judge what peoples leagues are?
    5) How is this entitlement?


    "And since it's mostly men who make movies, of course the whole "women sit back and decide men's fates" myth is gonna seep in there."
    Like it or not, we still live in a society where men are expected to be the initiators and women are the ones expected to turn down or accept an offer.

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  11. Anon 1:42:

    1. The PUA community is predicated on the notion that a certain rigid code of behavior yields social and sexual success, with a large helping of unexamined and generally untrue stereotypes about gender relations in general and women in particular. That means that most of the people who take it seriously are manipulative sexists, however they might vary in other regards.

    2. I can show you lots of women for whom that's true as well.

    3. No, it's more 'be a friendlier, more outgoing version of yourself, develop some interests that get you out of the house, and don't go into every conversation with someone of the female persuasion with the sole intention of embarking on a romantic relationship.' But that's actually work, whereas PUA is more 'push button, get pussy.'

    4. PUA is freaking based on minutely defined categories of status and fuckability. Don't be sophistical.

    5. Because a woman not fucking you is not an act of rejection. Not fucking you is the default resting state of every other human being on the planet, women included. Treating other human beings as pussy vendors that occasionally malfunction is pretty fucking entitled.

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  12. 1) PUA if anything is strictly based on trial and error. If it doesn't work it's dropped and others things are tried instead. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

    2) So? The statement was that these kind of men never recall when they were the rejector, only the rejected.

    3) Can you please show me feminists that say these kinds of things. Instead of the single sentence. Just be yourself.

    4) One persons 10 is another persons 1 is antother persons 4 and so on. I think league talk is utter nonsense.

    5) Ok, so it is entitlement to be honest about the question, and then accepting the response, without any hard feelings? I don't follow you at all.

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  13. Anon - I think you need to separate the concept from "PUA" from the concept of having a sex life. Aebhel and I, and various other reasonable people, are not telling you not to have a sex life.

    "PUA" and "solitude" are not your only options. (For one thing, they usually overlap. I get a lot of people here arguing "PUA is great, it's based on solid principles!" but absolutely zero arguing "PUA is great, that's how I met my girlfriend!") Don't buy into that false dichotomy and then act like we're telling you to accept eternal solitude.

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  14. I don't do PUA. I find my time better invested in things that can actually succeed. However, I am put off by feminists lambasting the PUA culture.

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  15. Uh... what?

    "I don't like this, and it doesn't work. But God I hate it when people criticize it!"

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  16. No. I don't try to attract women anymore. I have chosen to invest my efforts into things that have a probability of succeeding. However, it seems to work quite well for other members of the PUA community.

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  17. So it doesn't work for you, and in fact after following or at least learning about PUA you've given up on women altogether, but you're positive it must work for someone.

    Meanwhile, my roommate gets laid, and he's not just not a PUA, he's a greasy stoner who delivers kitchen appliances for a living. I don't think he's magically won the Pussy Lottery; I think he's just in the same situation as the majority of straight guys--which is to say, at least occasionally hooked up with the majority of straight women, not because he's the most desirable man in the world but just because he made it work with someone as humans so often do.

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  18. Can you please show me feminists that say these kinds of things. Instead of the single sentence. Just be yourself.

    Well, yeah, it was their fault for assuming you are a decent human being. If you're an asshole, being yourself is indeed a bad idea.
    If that is the case, you should try to work on that first.

    I also agree with the sentiment that you should try environments where it's likely to find people who share your interests.
    Bars do strike me as a bad choice since I always thought most people are only there to have fun, not to find long term relationships.

    And can somebody explain this:
    Like it or not, we still live in a society where men are expected to be the initiators and women are the ones expected to turn down or accept an offer.
    to me?
    Is that an american thing or something (Judging from what Holly says, that doesn't seem to be the case)?
    According to what I've seen and heard from other people I know, it's pretty even here in Europe.
    After all, the likeliness to find someone you want to fuck is a lot higher if you actually approach the ones you are interested in instead of waiting for them to appear and ask you.
    But here I am, using earth logic again! Silly me!

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  19. @Anon -

    "5) Ok, so it is entitlement to be honest about the question, and then accepting the response, without any hard feelings? I don't follow you at all."

    No, that's not entitlement. Entitlement is the presumption that you are owed a positive answer to the question, which you so obviously feel, you entitled twit.

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  20. "Just be yourself" really isn't much in terms of advice. As observed above, if your self is a reasonably friendly, outgoing self with a reasonable variety of interests, then your self can probably meet a lot of women and connect with some of them without an elaborate pseudo-scientific Spanish-School method to follow.

    But if your self is abrasive, or obnoxious, or even just shy or introverted, your self might have more trouble with that. And if your self doesn't like itself much, it might say things and do things that make other people steer clear.

    But there are two holes in the argument that all this makes PUA the answer to the old "Just be yourself" chestnut:

    First, women get that advice constantly, too. It's not a lot better for them than it is for men, but it's not an anti-man conspiracy code phrase.

    Second, I'm no expert on PUA, but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with making your self any "better" according to any standard--just keeping your old self and speaking the magical incantations. Maybe I missed it, but losing weight, getting advice on dressing better, having your hair styled a couple of times (if you've got it) taking a few classes if you've got diction or education gaps, devoting yourself to finding a better way to make a living if your job is a miserable grind that makes you complain . . . . those are ways of changing the "self" that everyone tells you to be so that you can spend more time just being yourself and people will find it more attractive.
    But they involve varying amounts of hard work and patience, while PUA amounts to the sexual version of a get-rich-quick scheme.

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  21. What if there was some kind of space, without the dumb and/or patriarchal PUA bias, and which was not a bar, that served as a designated place for flirtation and hooking up (Both the casual sex sense and the pairing off sense)?

    If there was some place where this was expected, and people not interested were not there, I think that a lot of people would have a much better time. Plus it would serve to quarantine the PUA - always hitting on everybody types from women who want to go clubbing with their friends..

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    Replies
    1. It's impossible to completely contain the "people not interested were not there" thing, though, because someone can always decide they're not interested in anyone who showed up. And if you don't make that a comfortable choice, you get skeevy dynamics again.

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