Friday, June 21, 2013

Above the Game: It's Not Abuse.

First off: I'm not here to castigate Kickstarter. They not only admitted to and corrected a mistake, but they also did a Good Thing, in donating a significant amount of money to RAINN.

But guys, let's talk about Above the Game, a Kickstartered "seduction guide" aimed at teaching dudelings how to, well, seduce the womens.

Above the Game has recently been dragged into the internet spotlight for some of its included text which, when read on its own, sounds pretty abhorrent.

Things like (and I'll quote Casey's blog, here, because the original text on reddit has already been taken down:)

5) Get CLOSE to her, damn it!
To quote Rob Judge, “Personal space is for pussies.” I already told you that the most successful seducers are those who can’t keep their hands off of women. Well you’re not gonna be able to do that if you aren’t in close! ”
“All the greatest seducers in history could not keep their hands off of women. They aggressively escalated physically with every woman they were flirting with. They began touching them immediately, kept great body language and eye contact, and were shameless in their physicality. Even when a girl rejects your advances, she KNOWS that you desire her. That’s hot. It arouses her physically and psychologically.”

“Decide that you’re going to sit in a position where you can rub her leg and back. Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.”
Pull out your cock and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick.”

And, yes, universe, this is vaguely weird and creepy. Even when it's in the context (which, in the chapter, it is) of the situation already being one of known mutual interest and attraction (this text is not directed at any ole dude meeting any ole lady for the first time, something which seems to have been lost in all the rabbling), there is something admittedly disconcerting about having these actions and these intentions spelled out so blatantly.

But that doesn't make the book a "How-To Guide for Sexual Abuse," as some petition that I can't find this split second has called it out to be.

Internets, it goes much deeper (and yet, much shallower) than that, and burying this book in a blanket statement of "It's abuse! Get it awayyyyyy!" is doing everyone a disservice.

Let me say it again: THIS BOOK IS NOT ABOUT ABUSE.
If this book were "about abuse," there would be entire chapters dedicated to things like "how to fuck with a woman's head so bad that she will never ever leave you," and "how to make friends with cops so that domestic disturbance calls will never get written up in the ledger." Things like "what to do when a woman doesn't respond to your catcall," and "you have the power: a primer to pushing a woman down the stairs and making her internalize it." There would be an entire appendix on "it's not rape if..."

This is not that book.

If you look at TofuTofu's summary of the book that he has been pushing on reddit, two things become very clear, very quickly:

1, The "no." The author makes it very clear at every step of this book that if the girl is not in to doing something, for the love of god, you clueless male, STOP IT. Forcing a woman is never, ever cool, and even if you're reading this seduction (fun fact: I keep typing "seduction" as "seducation") book, respecting boundaries is still a thing that needs to happen.

2, This book is for dudes who are bad at things. Things like, yes, seduction, but also things like taking initiative, believing in themselves, reading body language - in general, this is a book for the socially inept. (Who I love.)

So. Why does it tweak us all out so bad?

Because this book is saying something that no one really wants to talk about. It's basically a how-to guide for male privilege.

TofuTofu isn't giving out insidious information to dudes looking to take advantage of women. He's spelling out, very carefully and explicitly, how to operate with male privilege; to a group of males who don't recognize that they have it, let alone that they, as males, have the ability to buy in to it, or to use it.

And that? Yes, that is totally squicky. Because when you get down face-to-face to male privilege, it is weird and squicky.

This book is a primer on How To Be A Modern Alpha Male.

It teaches men who don't know any better (otherwise, why would they be reading the book?) how to be "a leader." How to be pushy. How to believe in themselves. And it teaches them to recognize what advantages they can take - advantages that they did even realize were options. What boundaries they can push - boundaries that they didn't know could be pushed on. It teaches them - no, it TELLS THEM ABOUT social norms - norms that they didn't realize existed, and certainly didn't realize that yes, they too, could be taking advantage of.

In short, this book is telling a bunch of clueless dudes how not to be clueless, by telling them exactly how every other clueless dude in society operates, when they're not even thinking about it.

This book is an up close and personal look at the normal social values that the everyday male accepts and undertakes as part of their day-to-day lives. That are like background noise. But in bringing that noise to the surface, TofuTofu makes it visible. And when all that is on the table, in the open, staring us in face? It's not very comfortable.


Calling it that is doing a disservice not only to the work itself, but to women. To feminism. To the idea that we're not just trying to live in a world where people don't have to walk down the street wondering when their rape will come, but to get to a world where people don't think that rape is a valid option.

We're never going to get there by pointing fingers at things that we already know are wrong, and we're not going to get there by hiding things that make us uncomfortable under a blanket of "it feels icky so it must be wrong, the end."

Above the Game makes us uncomfortable not because it's teaching anyone anything new, but because it's teaching people the same old shit. If we don't like it, that's fine. But let's talk about why we don't like it, and why seeing these social norms spelled out on paper makes us want to shake our pitchforks and rabble all the internets.

Let's talk about why "seduction guides" exist at all, or why some men think that there's a "formula" to figuring out women. Let's talk about the male gaze. Let's talk about why these guides teach men to be dominant and controlling in dating situations, or why that's parsed as a universal good to the readers of these books.

Let's talk about every single thing in this book, in all of these types of books, that leave women shaking their heads and feeling misunderstood and preyed upon.

But that's not abuse, internet. That's literally the culture of the society that we live in. So let's talk about that.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. Of course, knowing why it's wrong doesn't offer anyone a viable solution, though discussion could lead that way. So I ask, are you going to write the guide that gives the socially inept some semblance of aptitude? (Please say yes.)