Monthly Archives: September 2012

A New Spin On “Man Up” Marketing

One of the more irritating and clueless cultural nexuses (nexi?) of the last couple of years has been the surfeit of “men need to man up” articles.

I spoke about this at length in two articles about City Journal writer Kay Hymowitz in response to her hysterical and anecdotally-driven Wall Street Journal piece. She has since been joined in the Pantheon of Man-Up Shaming by Peggy Nance, Bill Bennett and Spinster In Chief Kate Bolick.

Hymowitz is one of a class of commentators who claim to be concerned about the lot of men, but are only concerned to the degree that men’s issues affect the ability of women to get what they want – that is, men to finance and forward their dreams of status and comfort. This assertion is self-demonstrating: despite a generation of evidence that the effete, femcentric society rising in the upper classes was dramatically stunting the development of males, these commentators have only seen fit to bring attention to the problem now that the young women they spend their lives around have begun to complain that there aren’t any men they want to marry or who want to marry them. (Hymowitz uses the Judd Apatow film Knocked Up as an bookend fable to her argument, which really shows how empty her concept is of what young men’s lives are actually like.)

While it began as a male-to-male appeal to teamwork, the “Man Up” concept has long been a cultural default for women to exert leverage on men to do something not in their direct interest, via a dose of shaming. Shaming is an appeal to someone’s sense of being, suggesting that their actions cost them value as a person (or in this case, as a male person). [Double-hat tip to Ricky Raw, whose explicatory work on the human psychological system is without equal.]

Seemingly in keeping with the “Man Up” pop-sociology, there’s been a new surge of ads leveraging the concept. I’ve seen three campaigns in particular that employ the

Weight Watchers

  • Tagline: “Lose like a man”
  • Masculine concept: Using a pun to link sportmanship and competition with a program to drop pounds.
  • Endorser: Former NBA player and “round mound of rebound” Charles Barkley

Dove (the moisturizer)

  • Tagline: “I’m comfortable in my own skin”
  • Masculine concept: Adapting the alpha-male values of confidence and congruence to literally making your skin comfortable.
  • Endorsers: Charismatic retired hoopster Shaquille O’Neal, retired NFL quarterback and confirmed philanderer John Elway, Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III

One-A-Day Men’s Vitacraves (vitmains)

  • Tagline: “Chew like a man”
  • Masculine concept: feats of strength and gluttony
  • No endorsers, just a dweeby white guy

Obviously, these are strong doses of manliness to counter the stigma of female-oriented products. What’s interesting about these is that there is a distinct absence of invective about a man’s “duty” to others (save for a quip about taking out the garbage). Barkley directly engages his own competitive personality – “I hated losing, until now.” Elway is adorned with images of his football accomplishments, when he was one of the game’s best. Thompson tells a story about becoming like his father. Shaq simply shows off his larger-than-life persona.

Thus the key to the spots: buy this and you’ll feel good about being a man – your intrinsic masculinity will be flattered, not your “obligation masculinity” defined by serving others’ interests. We’re being asked to fork over the cash for our own sake, not because we owe it to our wives or children or girlfriends or whatever.

I realized that this motif was pioneered by another very well-received campaign. Most beer ads promote a sort of “drink this beer and women will have sex with you” concept. There’s a notable exception – Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man In The World spots. The Most Interesting Man is surrounded by women – not because he’s a crazy party animal at the time of the swilling, but because he is the end product of an interesting and well-lived life. The women are an extra benefit to his lifestyle of boating rescues, fencing, and lecturing a tiger while cooking. The spots appeal to a high-concept masculinity, like an aging James Bond, rather than a hangin’ with your bros diorama. It ain’t a Viagra ad with Bob Dole talking to other old men, it’s a older man addressing a younger man about how to be like him when he’s grown old.

There’s a context that people need to understand – marketers don’t know how to reach young men. Radio host Tom Leykis regularly emphasized that young men were his core listener base, and after a silly caller he would satirically intone “advertisers, you too can reach this prime demographic.”

Marketers know how to sell to young women…they can make women feel good about themselves by buying an expensive handbag, a pair of uncomfortable shoes, or a poorly-written book about an abortive BDSM experiment (I’m talking about The Hunger Games). But the most elusive consumer dollar is that in the hands of the 18- to 34-year old pre-middle aged male. They buy plenty of stuff, but the advertisers can’t figure out how to influence them.

I suppose it’s another way of saying men are a lot less susceptible to social pressure and social proof in their preferences. And in keeping with what’s been covered already, they are the least susceptible when they are young and single, and have neither a wife and kids they are expected to provide for (the shaming angle), nor a midlife crisis to cause them to hunt for masculine meaning they can no longer capture on their own.

Lots of male-centric advertising appeals directly to the married-father role, suggesting it is his “manly duty” to the family to buy whatever product in on the make. Cf. ads where Daddy is shuttling the family around, or fixing the family’s gutters, or cutting the lawn or something. Subtextual is the idea that his time and pleasures should be sacrificed for the nebulous “good of the family” – more extreme examples were a guy selling his season tickets because they had a new baby, or a guy being browbeaten by his wife and realtor into buying a house he couldn’t afford.

In what is probably a more effective campaign, companies also market products TO wives that are intended to be consumed BY their husbands. With women controlling something like 80% of a couple’s spending, it’s probably a lot more efficient of a pitch in the boardroom.

However, with the marriage rate going down and the age of marriage going up, maybe the marketers are getting ahead of the game and going directly to the large pocket of single men who don’t (and for some, won’t) have wives to buy their vitamins for them.

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The Close Line

One of the typical struggles in the novice gamester’s experiences is getting the number smoothly.

Now, some guys insist that in night game, a number is next to worthless. To be honest, I’ve found that in a bar/club environment when you’re dealing with a woman who is inebriated and acting out of what she perceives to be her character, she may get your call or text the next week and decide she wants to forget that night entirely. Part of the fun of going out for girls is the dressing up in costume and “playing” someone else for a bit. That means she’s going to see whatever bond she may have forged with you as incongruent and not redeemable for further contact.

But if you can’t move the encounter further along (either through a location bounce or a trip home to attempt the seduction), your only option is to get some contact info so you can try to pick up the pickup later. And in day game, escalation is almost always off the table, so getting a number is THE end goal of the day-game encounter.

DON’T ASSUME A FRAME OF MEEK RELUCTANCE

I think guys have frame problems with number closing because in night game, you only go for the number if you’ve been stymied and thus rejected in some way. It takes some effort to keep bad game from leaking out in a dripping, underwhelming “well what if I got your phone number and maybe we can you know meet up later and like have a coffee or something?”

As with other factors of game, it’s important to not take the premature end of the night personally; she could have promised to drive her friend home, she could be ragingly hot for you but had a bad experience with her last SNL, perhaps her friend cockblocked you and she’s going to make it up to you next time she sees you, or maybe she’s just really tired and knows she can’t make it happen that night. A lot of these are bullshit that guys tell themselves to salve the pain of rejection, but no matter what, you won’t get anywhere getting butthurt or angry that you’re not getting laid that night.

It’s important to understand that it doesn’t make you beta to have closing anxiety; lots of guys who are very successful with women do, and in fact the game writer Dagonet (The Quest For 50) said he broke out of a game rut when he started going after hotter women who gave him that heart-pounding-in-his-chest feeling. My track coach had a saying that if you didn’t have some butterflies, you probably weren’t ready to race as you hadn’t properly addressed the magnitude of the competitive event. You get a little nervous? It’s OK. (What DOES make you a beta is if you can’t execute the number close with a woman who is signalling that she is interested in you.)

SOFT BUT BOLD

So, how about that number?

I’ve cribbed a line from Roissy and dannyfrom504 that has brought me much success, and fits well with my “still waters run deep” style of presentation.

After announcing your intention to leave (or receiving hers), say “would you like to continue this conversation later?” This has to be said with outcome-indepedent nonchalance, or she’ll get that trying-to-save-face-from-a-rejection vibe we just talked about. Her body-language reaction will tell you if she’s about to give you a pity number or actually wants to see you again. Then you hand her your phone and have her punch in her number and name (bonus opportunity for some cheap kino at the same time).

This line is great because:

It makes clear what you want without being domineering: There’s no permission-seeking wishy-washyness like “maybe we can hang out sometime?”

It’s overtly non-sexual: Unless you’re talking with a bona fide slut or the sexual boundaries of the conversation have already been breached, you have little to gain and a lot to lose by going sexual in your close like “why don’t we get together again and finish what we started.” And if it’s a daygame approach, a sexual close is a non-starter.

It’s subtle: At the same time, it feeds the hamster – by giving you her number, she’s not committing to a “date” or anything serious and heavy like that, just to “continue the conversation,” which itself leaves her wondering what your intentions are. You both know in your gut that it’s more than just more chatting, but she doesn’t have to rationally acknowledge it, which maintains uncertainty and thus helps keep her anticipation level up. You are already setting up the quasi-spontaneous “it just happened!” frame for your next encounter.

It’s tempting: Rather than begging her to give you a chance to seduce her, you are offering her another chance to roam emotionally with you.

Think of a good saleman’s frame when closing a customer. He isn’t asking for what he wants, he’s giving the customers what they want, which causes them to give him what he wants ($$$) in return. And what they want is not just whatever product is at hand; it’s the sense of comfort and security that life is going to be better, that they have something new in their life to feel good about. That’s where you’re going with “let’s continue this conversation later,” a little piece of hope that she has something exciting and original to look forward to amid all the herbs and betas trying to supplicate their way into her pants.

One final thing for night game: once you’ve locked up the number, excuse yourself politely and tell her “it was nice talking to you.” Then turn your body, face the door, and as you begin to walk away, give her a smack on the tail on the way out. That will get her tingling, introduce rapid-fire contrast game, and most importantly, she can’t shit test you about the escalation because you’re already gone.

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Comfort Game By Stocking Your Fridge

Hat tip to Danger and Play. A great video about having the right food and drink to grease a seduction through its final stages:

It’s really worth watching for the commentary, which includes female drink choice broken down by age, using Otter Pops to disarm the children of single mothers, snacks for zaftig women and an assertion that “black people don’t eat bleu cheese.”

This is brilliant stuff. With even a portion of his inventory, you have automatic variety available when a gal comes over which makes you look cosmopolitan, and when you bring a group back for an impromptu after-party (a key trick in the club-game arsenal) you have a ready-made party spread to keep things going.

Plus, there is an aesthetic appeal to having an orderly, well-stocked fridge and pantry with lots of choice.

COMFORT IS A STEP IN THE GAME

Mystery’s flowchart for closing the deal is attraction->comfort->seduction, in that order, in some number of meetings (he posited seven hours as a reasonable amount of buildup to the final seduction move; results from the field vary wildly, but once attraction is triggered sex is not long in coming).

Unless you’re catching a woman on Spring Break, on a foreign vacation or some other environment where the accountability is low and the windows of opportunity are short, generating attraction is not enough. You have to provide some comfort factors to your nascent romance to create a sense of nonsexual bonding and to allow her mind some time to anneal the concept of being with you. Thus the heavy PUA emphasis on building rapport, on cold reading to imbue a sense of familiarity, on bouncing locations to create the illusion of extended contact, on setting off the emotional adventure in her head, on throwing out some bones of vulnerability. Most guys do not have enough attraction power to totally dictate the terms of the exchange, and need some beta traits to smooth things along. What you’re doing is setting her up with the idea that this is a normal thing that’s happening and that you’re a normal, regular guy (even as your attraction/alpha game is trying to set you apart from all the other herbs that want to get into her pants.)

NESTING AS COMFORT GAME, NOT AS DISPLAY OF HIGH VALUE

When it comes to comfort factors, a little nesting goes a long way. Having your place be comfy and inviting, with some tasty foodstuffs and interesting reading material on the table, is not going to turn on your typical American woman with burning desire. It is, however, going to prevent her from thinking “eww, what kind of place does he live in?” or “hmm, this whole thing is actually kinda trashy” which will happen if your home life is a spartan mess.

If the woman is at your home alone with you, odds are she’s pretty attracted to you and her body agenda is at least willing to hear your body agenda’s seductive offer. She doesn’t need a lifeline, she’ll know her final answer soon enough; that’s why she came alone. Your job is to not screw it up and escalate on opportunity.

It’s all about eliminating worrysome distractions. If she has to consider, even for an instant, whether a roach will scurry under the counter when the lights are switched on, the seduction is at Defcon II.

(I once successfully negotiated past a disaster-area mess in my living room by stating plainly that I was about to move and so all my stuff was laid out for packing. That fact happened to be true, but the important thing was she discounted the negative beta points and we went on with the plan.)

BETA TRAITS KEEP THE GAME GOING

If you had a motto for flexing beta traits in your game, it should be “don’t try to win it, just keep us in it.” Don’t think that you are making her hotter for you; what you’re doing is eliminating reasons for her to say no. Athol Kay had a great riff on this with the L-Spot; he argued that by taking the initiative to do the laundry, you take a big physical and logistical complication off of her to-do list AND you have fresh sheets on the bed. (Obviously there’s a balance point here, if you’re already too beta or failing fitness tests, doubling down is not going to help.)

Mothers have been indoctrinating their sons into comfort game for generations; the mistake they have made is to let their sons think that being clean-cut and well-made at home is going to get girls chasing them. It’s valuable for seduction, but in a certain way at a certain time; the way is not making her want you sexually, and the time is not at the front end of the encounter.

I know there’s going to be at least one person in the comments who is like, “this is bunk, I haven’t cleaned my place since the Bush administration and I still get plenty of tail.” Putting aside the Internet-tough-guy pose, the question for the readers is, is that YOU? Are YOU getting a ton of tail while neglecting key parts of the game equation? If you’re not, you don’t have any margin of error to play with – load the dishwasher and get a broom. Don’t engage in game feats of strength where you try to get laid with intentionally-imposed handicaps. Some guys think they can get away with the slovenly, unkempt frat-guy game that worked in college (which worked because nobody had any money or long-term dwellings). As you age, that style of game yields trashier and trashier women, because beautiful women shift away from pure social dominance and free beer and towards the elevated income and status they can command in men as they move into adult society.

A sidebar: In America today, we are regrettably at a point where the presence of comfort is itself an anti-attraction trait, a Display of Low Value (DLV) to a significant pocket of women. Unless he’s blessed with preeminent good looks or status, a guy who has the time and wherewithall to tidy his dwelling and practice some basic courtesy is presumed not edgy or exciting enough for attraction to today’s spoiled Millenials. (And then after the women go through a few years of rewarding the overconfident slobs and leaving Billy Beta alone with his hand, they are shocked to find that the men they spent their best years on are still drinking cheap beer and playing video games, just like they did in college whatwith no incentive to change. Meanwhile the not-so-hot guys with the comfy beta traits have opted out entirely and won’t sign up to be the “I’ve had my fun and now I want to settle down with YOU” targets.)

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Check Out Roosh’s Interview With Virgle Kent

Manosphere blogger Virgle Kent has been writing about game for a long time – his first posts are from 2007, which makes his online persona as old as Roissy himself. VK’s focus has normally been brilliant exposition on his own game experiences (including a hilarious and intense two-part series about a fling that went bad) and attendant factors like personal style, along with a healthy dose of  bold inner game in a “me against the world” kind of way (plus hip-hop soundtracks to his posts).

RooshV just published an interview with VK in which he riffs on shifts in the mainstream praxis of game, foreign girls and his new male lifestyle website nexxtlevelup.com.

Here’s a sample:

I disagree with the thought that game is the response to modern feminism. Feminism has been around far longer than game. I’ll tell you what, game works best on feminists, girls so assured of themselves and filled with fake confidence based on their education and careers that they never see it coming. Most feminists honestly believe that game doesn’t exist or would never work on someone like them. But in the grand scheme of things most young women are feminist in name only, because they’re alone and have nothing else to hold on to or call themselves so they use feminism to feel a part of something. So if they meet a real alpha or guy with game and it’s between him or dying alone with one cat and two eggs holding on to each other for dear life, what do you think they’ll choose? For most women, feminism is an act of convenience more than a lifestyle of faith.

One part I really liked was this:

Game has evolved into a whole theology on what it means to be a man and feel like one in today’s society. It’s about being a man during the first approach, during a relationship, and even during a marriage. The secret being it’s not really what you say but how you say it. In the future men will have to work on setting themselves apart from other men with individual aspects of their lives that will make them naturally more interesting than most guys in the bar, lounge, party, or any environment they’re trying to pick up. Self improvement will be key.

Plenty of guys (and girls) have weighed in with this “game for self-improvement” meme, and most of them are just trying to avoid looking like they are trying too hard to get laid. VK recognizes that you can build your lifestyle, take the romantic benefits that come along  with it, and not feel like a sellout or a pussy for it. (I had a similar insight in my game journey where I visualized being the kind of guy the girls I wanted would have an affair with, which kept me focused on the still-waters-run-deep kind of understated personality that works best for me - hat tip to Athol Kay for the wordsmithing there.)

He also shows a magnanimity about the typical game-running guy and the manosphere material he reads, at a time when some bloggers are quick to dismiss guys who aren’t getting results as loser herbs.

I think young guys are just being young by their nature. What comes with that is anger, and more commonly, impatience. They’re in denial because game didn’t work fast enough for them. They read the books, followed the blogs, did everything “word for word” and in 6 months, 10′s weren’t falling from the sky…Part of it is our fault. Game bloggers that show the end results. We don’t talk much about our mistakes or times we failed at a pick up, or even the many years trying to crack a certain type of situation, which is where the true lessons are learned.

Go over to rooshv.com and check it out, and read VK’s work here.

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The Mainstream Trains Men In Compatibility, Not In Attraction Where Most Men Need Work

In the peanut gallery at Alpha Game, van Rooinek riffs on the female attraction algorithm and social training therein.

I think Cail summarized it best: the point which the article clearly makes is not that being Godly makes you unattractive to women. It’s that being Godly just isn’t relevant to the process of attracting women

To put it another way:
(a) Attraction is not compatibility. (Surely you know this, you must have at least once in your life been strongly attracted to someone that you knew was a poor match).
(b) Almost all romantic advice given to men, by parents, pastors, and female friends, involves improving your compatibility – eg, spiritual growth, communication skills, dealing with emotional damage, cultivating outside interests, etc.
(c) But, all the compatibility in the world, will not get you a relationship without attraction.

Even when the issue of attraction IS dealt with,
(d) Attraction is one-dimensional for men: Looks (which are a good proxy for health and fertility). This is universally known.
(e) Attraction is TWO dimensional for women: Looks AND Status. (The desire for a higher status mate has a technical name, hypergamy).
(f) Hypergamy is NOT widely known – women themselves, despite the strong effects it exerts on them, appear to be unaware of it, and simply cannot explain why they like one man over another, especially when the one they rejected is clearly of higher quality in every compatibility dimension and may even be taller and better looking!
(g) Most romantic advice given to men, ignores hypergamy and is therefore at best worthless.

A few reactions:

1. We can quibble with tiny pieces, but he’s boiled the whole thing down pretty well: when it comes to mating and dating, there is attraction and there is relationship fitness/compatibility; social factors weigh much more heavily in the female attraction system than in the male; society lacks good advice to give men especially wrt maintaining attraction; and most men who want to be boyfriends and husbands and fathers lack attractive value far more than they lack relationship skills. (This last part is especially true in the educated class, where men have been domesticated wholesale but at the price of neutering their leadership and dominance attraction traits.)

1b. Churchian culture exhibits a strong streak of denialism on this topic, refusing to acknowledge the need for attraction in the open and instead replacing attraction psychology with fairy tales about “the Holy Spirit told me to marry this person” and churning out self-flagellating men whose debasing exercises in boisterous humility are spiritually masturbatory. This is on top of society-wide acculturated misandry that shames and excoriates men for the things that attract them, while defending and encouraging women to chase their own preferences.

2. Much male failure in mating and dating results from trying to build attraction with traits that are just plain not relevant.

3. van Rooinek’s comment dovetails perfectly with the universal Manosphere advice to never take dating advice from women. When a man asks a woman “how do I attract a woman [or this particular woman I am attracted to],” she usually answers a different question, instead listing behaviors she wants to see out of a man to whom she is already attracted. In short, men ask for attraction advice, but receive compatibility advice that presumes attraction – not attraction to him, but to a idealized and usually fictional male. He will have no idea she’s answering a different question, and she most likely will not understand her own mechanisms of attraction to begin with and won’t comprehend that she is answering a different question at all.

In reality, men are giving women too much credit for knowing their own secrets and giving them away – no one asks the prey for advice on hunting itself. Just follow the rule, it will not lead you astray. Besides, those nuggets of good advice you might occasionally get are ones you can get from your male game advisor too, so you lose nothing by following the rule.

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