Monday, August 25, 2014

What would your ideal sex life look life? If you could pick up a new lover every night, would you?

Man demonstrating "The Takeaway"
I just finished* The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artistsby Neil Strauss. Now my head is swimming with questions about what men and women want, male/female mating habits and what sexuality might look like if there were no societal constraints. I have a bunch of questions for you--maybe we can muddle through this together.

If you haven't read the book, it's about this nebbishy guy (shy, skinny, glasses, thin smattering of frizzy chunks of hair) who studies pick-up artists to learn their secrets. First, he shaves his head, gets Lasik, goes to a tanning salon, and starts going by the moniker of Style. Despite going by the name Style (and even worse, giving himself that name) soon he can pretty much pick up whoever he wants. Seriously.

Style gets deeply involved with the pick-up community, an online group of pick-up artists (PUAs) who--with the laser-focus characteristic of their geekdom--have broken down all aspects of social interaction into identifiable and repeatable chunks. PUAs work with manipulation, an understanding of natural human tendencies (seeking approval, wanting unique experiences, etc...) and sometimes a bit of waking hypnosis to work towards an "f-close," that is, a fuck close.

PUAs have developed their own jargon honed over years of "field reports," that is, sharing what worked or didn't work during nights of "sarging" (picking up chicks). Going over and talking to a group of three people is "opening a three-set." The girl you want is your "target." To get her, you must become the Alpha Male of the group by entertaining the group at large while--at first--pointedly ignoring your target. When you finally decide to gift her with some attention, you toss her a "neg" or sort of meanish comment-- "Do you always interrupt people like that?" or "You would look good if you wore your hair up." In other words, you start fucking with her mind, playing on her insecurities, making yourself the arbiter of what she's doing right or wrong, and soon she'll be pressing you for an f-close.

You might, for example, make use of the "push-pull," a technique identified and named by Style (though judging from my dating past, most assuredly not originated by him.)

Push-pull (noun): a technique used to create or increase attraction, in which a man gives a woman indications that he is not interested in her followed by indications that he is. This sequence can take place in a few seconds--such as taking a woman's hands and then dropping them as if you don't trust her yet--or over time, such as being very nice during one phone conversation but then very distant and abrupt during the next.

Oh, there's more.
---False time constraints: Creating a false time constraint ("I can only talk to you for five minutes") relieves a woman of wondering how she's going to get rid of a PUA, yet also gives her a sense that she must vie for the PUA's attention so that he won't leave.
--Demonstrating Value: A PUA will carry around a pre-selected group of photos designed to portray him in a flattering light. (Picture with beautiful woman = desirability, picture on a boat = sporty, etc...)
--The Takeaway: If a PUA is making out with a woman, but she changes her mind about progressing things further, a PUA hops out of bed, and ignores her by checking email or something. The woman, feeling she has screwed up and lost the PUA, will try to lure him back to bed.
--Chick crack:  Chicks love fortune telling, ESP games and other psychological tests.

I really can't believe that it actually works because a lot of it seems indistinguishable from...well, what jerky losers do. PUAs "peacock," that is, wear outrageous clothing to attract attention like "bright shiny shirts, light up jewelry, [or] colorful cowboy hats." PUAs say cheesy things. For example, if the target inadvertently brushes against them, they say, "Hey, hands off the merchandise." And part of "opening a set" might consist of doing magic, for god sake.

So how does it work?

Have PUAs really hit upon a particular sequence of moves that can work on anyone? Or are the women they pick up drunken bar chicks, the sort of easily impressionable types who are always whipping out their boobs for Howard Stern?

Or more frightening, are we women so precarious that, with a few "negs" tossed our way, we too would be begging for affirmation and angling for an f-close? I have totally fallen for such tomfoolery in the past and--who knows?--maybe that stuff would still work on me. Or anyone. In her maligned/beloved book, Vagina: A New Biography, Naomi Wolf  posits that women are more likely to become biochemically addicted to love and, thus, highly motivated to attain their goal. Get those chemicals activated, gentlemen, and you're golden.

Also on my mind: Style seems like a smart and thoughtful guy, but armed with his new pick-up powers, he's sarging all the time. Everything he says and does is part of the game and human interaction is reduced to a series of moves to be parried. The girls are a blur, known only as Jennifer 2 or the blonde with the pixie cut.  He and the other PUAs only go for "10s," which invariably means fake boobs, blonde hair, 19 years old and preferably a stripper or porn star. Which is sort of depressing for every woman who is not like that. That is, 99.999% of women. Even 19 year old strippers only get to be that for one year.

The supposed happy ending of the book is that Style "wins" the game by finding a girlfriend, a hot blonde rocker chick who played with Courtney Love's band The Chelsea. But I googled his girlfriend (indeed quite beautiful) and discovered that they broke up after two years. Style is back in the field, sarging and hawking pick-up lessons.

If a seemingly nice, smart guy like Neil Strauss so easily turn into a disconnected heartless asshole, would any other guy do the same if given the chance? If men were unfettered by societal norms, is this how male sexuality would look?

I'm asking in a serious way. These guys are going through the same routine--even down to using the same words--to pick up different women every night. According to Sex at Dawn (quite thought-provoking--read it at once!) men generally like to do the same thing sexually but with novel partners. Is this the epitome of that desire expressed? And--this is probably hopelessly naive--but would men, with the exception of that Iron & Wine dude, be perfectly happy with new-chick-every-night relationships? And do most men really want that 19 year old fake boobed stripper? And if so, is that a natural inclination or a societal construct of what is hot?

I'm not asking in a judgey way, I'm honestly curious. Are men and women really so fundamentally different?  Because I would be completely disinterested in the new-dude-every-night scenario. A guy who was the physical equivalent to the blonde stripper, say, some extremely buff dude, would not be an immediate turn-on for me. (Unless he was wearing a shiny shirt, light up jewelry and doing magic!) I would care about his sense of humor, his intelligence, how his voice sounded and how my body was responding to him. There would have to be some sort of backstory to create/fuel my desire. Women? Is this true of you as well, or not?

And if an ideal male sexuality would be new chicks all the time, what would an ideal female sexuality look like? (Obviously everyone's different, blah blah blah, but I'm talking in general terms.) What do women pick when they are allowed to design their sex lives?  Women with financial stability, desirability and the balls to do whatever they want--someone like Angelina Jolie--seem to opt for a version of serial monogamy. Is this what we'd opt for as well? Women, what would your ideal sex life look like?

And if men want a new girl every night and women prefer serial monogamy, why would nature fuck with us so much by giving us largely incompatible mating styles? Or maybe there isn't a gender divide and we do want the same thing?

So curious to hear what you think. Answer one question or all of them. And feel free to comment anonymously if you don't want everyone knowing your business.

xoxox
jill

*"Just finished," meaning "read two years ago" because you are performing the miracle of time travel via this rerun.  Enjoy! I'm putting you all on the honor system for this trip to 2012, so don't fuck with the space/time continuum or anything. Although if you come across the 2012 me, don't tell me how it all looks for me in 2014, because that will just bum my $%#$ out.

If you commented in 2012, see if you agree with your 2012 self....

 Rudolf Koppitz - Sculptor and Nude, 1926

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Things I Learned From Books, and Other Product Placement

Image bears no resemblance to my actual life. Which is not ideal.
Having been through several weeks of working solely for pay, I can report from the midst of it that it is no fucking way to live your life. I am currently humorless and dull, without passion, spark, and creative outlet--that is, anything that makes life worth living. People need Art and Love and Fucking--whatever it takes to give you your glimpse of the divine.

What I am getting at is: feed your soul, motherfuckers. This is not negotiable.

At least I've been been feeding my literary soul and tearing through Philip Rothas well as a stack of vaguely smutty books I got at the library. (With no mishaps. True: My friend K checked out the Jenna Jameson book How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale which she of course has every right to do, and the librarian quickly wrapped it in a plain brown bag for her. Unasked.)

Here's what I'm thinking on:

--According to Debra Ollivier's What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind little girls in France don't say "He loves me, he loves me not" when pulling off flower petals. (Which is sort of cruel, now that I think about it, but perhaps such cruelty is appropriate for matters of love.) Instead they say: "Il m'aine un peu, beaucoup, passionnement, a la folie, pas du tout" which means: "He loves me a little, a lot, passionately, madly, not at all."

"How unfair," writes Olliviers. "While we American girls are stuck in the absolutes of total love or utter rejection, the French girl is already primed to think in nuances and in an infinite gamut of romance. While we lust after happy endings and closure, they're comfortable with emotional subtleties and ambiguity."

Hmmm.

--Esther Perel has talked a lot about marriage and passion and the struggle between the strong desire for intimacy, comfort and stability with the equally strong drive for excitement, passion and unpredictability. (Here's her TED talk and a link to her book Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence)

In Kosher Sex: A Recipe for Passion and Intimacy Shmuley Boteach, offers a Jewish spin on how to work the comfort/passion balance. "Every month, there must be two weeks devoted to physical love, and two weeks devoted to intellectual communication and emotional intimacy," he writes. When the women starts her period, you abstain for two weeks. The original idea was probably about women being "unclean" during that time (bosh!), but the on/off plan does neatly correspond with most women's monthly swings of desire. Plus you get to build up lust during the abstinence weeks.

Maybe it would be kind of hot. What do you think? Has anyone tried this? Or are you willing to try it and write about it?

--A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam examines internet searches to figure out what men and women are actually into. It's all completely fascinating--Why men want to see other men fucking their wives! Why men like to look at other dude's penises in porn in a totally not-gay way! Why the hell women flash their boobs in "Girls Gone Wild" videos! It's all very scientific and smart.

Women, for example, tend to have an arousal cue for "competent" men. In romance novels (i.e. female porn, for some), the hero is always some dude at the top of his game. "Men who don't know what to do with their life, who are midlevel bureaucrats, or who sit around the house watching TV are never heroes," they write. (Problematic since that also = most men.) Men, by contrast, don't seem to have the competence cue. What a woman can do (aside from presenting their various holes, "fuckyeah"ing and such) is totally irrelevant to their arousal.

The very different drives and desires between men and women (in general--relax) makes me wonder yet again, how we manage to ever find ourselves in bed together in the first place.

--And finally, in Emily Southwood's memoir Prude: Lessons I Learned When My Fiance Filmed Porn Emily--as the title kinda spells out there--has a fiance working as a camera man on porn reality show. She was not especially a porn watcher in the first place, and becomes a bit unhinged by a comment Fiance makes about a porn star named Cytherea and her prowess at squirting. It is real? Fake? What the hell? She gets one of C's films and watches it. Then watches it again. And again.

"By viewing number five I'm turned on, despite myself. I decide to tire myself out with some angry masturbation.  Five orgasms later, I've discovered that it's entirely possible to hate-fuck yourself, all the while mentally reapplying someone's eye make-up," she writes in an incredibly beautiful sequences of sentences.

****

Fuck, I feel so much better now.  Now go do your thing that you do. This is an order.

xoxox
jill
 
 P.S. If you want to see a wee compendium of my stuff, do see my new page on Contently.

 P.P. S. Thank you, thank you (!) for your orders via the Amazon link. Though I an now needing to know--and am possibly concerned about--the back story with the following purchases. Sequential? Cause and effect? What do you make of it?
1.  Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
2. How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful
3. All American Whopper Vibe 8"

(image via Lady Cheeky, just cuz)
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