Female Objectification Is Perpetuated by Pickup Artists

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Game" by Neil Strauss. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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What is female objectification? How was the PUA community Strauss was involved in perpetuating the objectification of women?

Neil Strauss learned that the PUA community fundamentally relied on female objectification. Men objectifying women has been going on for a long time, but the PUA community purposefully used gender power dynamics and more in order to achieve their “pickups.” As a result, Strauss learned that they perpetuated dangerous norms of female objectification, and discovered that this made it impossible to form real connections.

The Seduction Community and Female Objectification

When Neil plunged into the seduction community’s online world of websites and message boards, he discovered an entire subculture. People used aliases—Neil’s would become Style—and they used a jargon that included terms such as: 

  • AFC: average frustrated chump
  • AMOG: alpha male of the group
  • HB: hot babe
  • PUA: pickup artist
  • Sarging: picking up women

Members of the community wrote posts sharing strategies, divulging details of their exploits, or asking for advice. Beyond the virtual world, men in cities around the world gathered weekly to share techniques and then go to clubs together to put the tactics to use. 

The community’s leaders were a handful of PUAs who had reached guru status, each of whom taught disciples his distinct set of rules and principles of the pickup game. The gurus used a combination of psychology, magic tricks, and hypnosis to seduce women, despite the fact that these tactics were obvious examples of men objectifying women.

In another example of female objectification, the men often compared the number of women they’d each slept with. Neil had been with six women, Sin with sixty-something women, and Mystery with hundreds. As proof of his credentials, Mystery gave Neil a manila folder containing photos of several of the women he’d had sex with.

Style Develops His Own Techniques

Style had mastered how to pick up women, but he struggled to go any further; he was too nervous to attempt a kiss. 

He posted to the seduction message boards, asking for advice—and he received an array of tips, from holding the woman’s gaze for three seconds to instructing her to take her pants off in order to give her a leg massage. Style took pieces of the advice and developed his own strategy; it worked flawlessly every time. But Style was beginning to wonder if these tactics were forms of female objectification.

Style had cleared another seduction hurdle, and his confidence was growing. However, he began to realize that he was noticing his own objectification of women. Men in the seduction community constantly rated women’s attractiveness, and each man’s status in the community was measured by the quantity and the attractiveness of the women they could pick up. 

Style had begun to view women as benchmarks of his pickup ability, and his interactions with women had become scripted and strategic, substituting for genuine connection. 

Style Questions the Community

Many men in the community had allowed seduction to consume their lives. As a result, they had nothing else—family relationships, outside friendships, professional success—to cushion their self-esteem, so rejection from women rocked their whole world, and they were unable to see beyond female objectification.

A pickup artist (PUA) is only a PUA if he successfully picks up women, which means that his entire value within the community is based on how women respond to him. Of course, basing your self-worth on another person is inherently risky because, no matter how good your technique, you can’t control how she’ll react. 

Many men in the community developed a hard shell of misogyny to protect their egos when women rejected them. 

Additionally, the act of sarging turned human interaction into a game, which inevitably lead to objectification of women.

  • PUAs referred to women as targets.
  • PUAs constantly referred to women based on their attractiveness on a scale of one to 10. For example, they’d call a hot babe (HB) who rated as an eight simply HB8.
  • PUAs sized women up to determine the best approach and tactics, just as a basketball point guard would size up a defender. 

Finally, PUAs almost surely slept with their share of women with boyfriends and husbands. Over time, seeing so many women cheat so often and easily degraded the men’s trust in and respect for the female sex. 

The same skills and knowledge that the men were using to pick up women were inhibiting them from developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with the women. 

Shortform note: In the years after this book’s publication, Neil was treated for sex addiction, among other mental and emotional conditions. While in rehab for this addiction, a doctor told him that his years in the seduction game had deeply ingrained his dysfunctional behaviors, including the normalcy of men objectifying women.

After receiving treatment, Neil got married in 2013 (not to Lisa) and had a son. In 2015, he published another book about his recovery from the seduction community, titled The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships. He no longer leads seminars on seduction techniques, but rather on how to be happier and more confident.

Female objectification is a serious issue that affects women’s equality globally. The PUA community depends on and benefits from the routine process of men objectifying women.

Female Objectification Is Perpetuated by Pickup Artists

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Game summary :

  • The secrets of the Pickup Artist community in seducing women
  • How key Pickup Artist leaders fought with each other and split the group apart
  • What author Neil Strauss took away about women from his years of training

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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