Came across this post on the Rachel Rabbit White blog, where she writes about an interview with a Pick-Up Artist. I have lots of thoughts on PUA culture, and will leave all that for another time, but a comment there by a fellow named Xakudo summed up some thoughts I’d had about power inequities when a guy tries to strike up a conversation with a girl:
There are different areas of social power…. But I think the kind of social power he is talking about is more along the lines of what Norah Vincent describes in “Self-Made Man” when she posed as a man and tried to approach women:
“We don’t have to do the part where you cross the room and you go up to a stranger that you’ve never met in the middle of a room full of people and say the first words. And those first words are so hard to say without sounding like a cheeseball or sounding like a jerk.”
From the male perspective, women have a great deal of power in that kind of interaction. Being the initiator is actually a role of submission by default (think: applying for a job) and you have to be particularly confident and have a lot of social chops to break out of that. As as guy, you are put in the position of having to prove yourself to her (not necessarily by her, but at least by social norms/indoctrination).
To which some girl LoriA responded:
The idea that ‘being yourself’ doesn’t work can be disproven by any man who’s hooked up with me…
This last comment (by Lori A) is particularly senseless. For one thing, LorA has no way of knowing whether or not those guys were actually “being themselves.” Second, of course guys will occasionally score by “being themselves.” What LoriA fails to mention–unless she’s a particularly unattractive girl–are all the guys who tried “being themselves” and she turned down! I can bet there were far more of those. I don’t give a rat’s ass about LoriA’s distaste for pick-up artistry (and I have plenty qualms about it myself). But this is just sheer stupidity. No one–no one!–is ever him- or herself when seeking out romantic or sexual encounters. We calculate our actions for likability and desirability. Women do that as much as men. The “just be yourself” advice is either absolutely moronic or disingenuous–and probably both in equal measure.