When reality conflicts with wish-fulfillment fantasies

I’d almost forgotten alt.seduction.fast! That was one of those pariah newsgroups back in the 90s that I filtered against because you knew anything emanating from that quarter was going to be poisonous garbage that needed to be alt.kill.it.quick. It makes a brief appearance in this comic about how pick-up artists morphed into the alt-right, which rings true. Yeah, online misogyny rapidly evolved into the whole toxic stew that afflicts us today.

These two panels struck me as particularly insightful.

Damn you women for not fitting into the ridiculous playbook developed by stupid PUAs! It’s all your fault!


  1. says

    Reactionaries like to concoct straw versions of anyone who’s not on their team, and then they criticize them for not living down to the cliched behavior they decided should be expected from women, liberals, other ethnicities, or whatever. Numerous times, I’ve been assailed with some variant of “Why don’t you act like the make-believe version of you that I pretend is real?”

  2. says

    Kip @1

    That’s the big reason fake progressives/feminists/minorities get found out VERY quickly on social media as they tend to act and talk the way they tell each other is the way such people act and talk as opposed to anything approaching reality.

  3. says

    Those ideas are just extensions of more common attitudes. I don’t know how many times over the years I’ve seen “How do you handle women/Does anyone understand women?” kinds of posts in all sorts of places, as if all women are all the same, and you just need that “One simple trick” to make a relationship work.

  4. patricklinnen says

    Lewis’s Law; “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.”

    And right out of the starting gate.

  5. F.O. says

    How do I write this?

    I used to be on alt.seduction.fast.
    It made me hurt and damage people and I wish I could take my actions back.
    It was my fault and I take full responsibility for it.

    I am writing this, because last time I asked help here on this blog I was covered in strawman.
    (I spent one week arguing with WithinOneMind or whatever her name was than when I said X I mean X and not its opposite.)

    Please understand that I am not going to write this as a justification, as I said there is no justification for the things I’ve done, but I do hope to provide a bit more of understanding.

    None ever taught me what is the correct behavior for a man: I had no models other than those in the media, I was moving from one crush to another, I knew no one that could help me beyond platitudes, I was convinced I was “born wrong”, I hated myself and I was planning my suicide.
    I saw my father stuck in a loveless, toxic relationship.

    My mother was aware of my situation and (despite being a feminist, albeit “unschooled”) sent me a newspaper article about alt.seduction.fast
    I could ask questions and get answers that were (allegedly) based on actual experience.

    For example, I learned that running away whenever someone I fancied appeared was not conductive of creating a relationship.
    They taught me that I wasn’t “born wrong”, it’s just that I lacked the necessary social skills.
    How to acquire those skills and which skills exactly to practice was a lot more problematic.

    But that was all I could get.
    That was my only chance at ever learn my way out of suicide, of accepting my own existence, of making sense of my continuous, hopeless crushes.

    When PZ posted about his asking out a girl and that girl accepting and later becoming the love of his life, that made me feel horribly hopeless, massively disconnected from humanity so far it was by my experience.
    On that post I asked help.
    I asked on this blog to teach me how to be a better person, and all I got were insults.
    When I wrote “I want to be a better person” I meant “I want to be a better person” and on this blog that was interpreted as “I want to manipulate someone into giving me a blowjob”.

    PZ posted often about how atheism can’t be limited to only criticize religion, but instead it must offer an alternative, as a community and as a moral system.
    And here I mean the same: criticizing the manosphere in all its awful forms is right and important, but it’s important that we think about an alternative, something that teaches men not to run away when they see someone they like.

    I think things are changing, feminism and misogyny are in the news and there is some effort (hello Gillette ad!) to show men not only what is wrong, but also what is right.
    I think it’s important we push harder in that direction.

  6. lanir says

    “Wait, the book wasn’t written by women as a prescription for the things they want guys to do?
    Wait, there is more than one woman out there? They’re not all identical fembot clones presumably pumped out from some factory somewhere?
    Wait, everyone other than me is still actually a real person and not a trivially programmable system for me to take advantage of?”

    … Sorry, the only way I can deal with that level of willful ignorance and self-dealing scumbaggery is sarcasm. So many logic holes, so barely worth the time to snark at.

  7. lanir says


    Ok, my previous reply was a generic one to a generic, problematic concept. For what you’re asking for, I’d pick a type of media and start from there. If what you’ve read, watched or heard taught you all the wrong things, look for something that can show you better ideas. I’d pick a particular media and ask around for recommendations there.

    Media to a varying degree depending on it’s length can take shortcuts when showing relationships but if you get good recommendations you’ll have someplace to start a conversation. As long as you keep that in mind and that an author tends to wrap things up more simply with less loose threads than real life does you can learn things. Sorry I don’t have any off the top of my head but I’m sure someone else can think of some.

    For more detailed, personal help see a counselor. This is really the kind of thing they’re great at helping with and you sound like you could use one – it’s hard to unravel what you grew up with and in some ways it never really leaves you no matter how wonderful or awful it is. But a counselor can help you stop tripping over it constantly and grow as a person.

  8. jojo says

    @F.O. I’m going to give you the advice that Captain Awkward frequently gives when this issue comes up. Read books written by women, watch TV/Movies directed by women. Lanir mentions pick a media and ask for recommendations, it’s good advice, especially if you focus on media produced by women. Additionally, you might benefit a lot from reading the archives at Captain Awkward. She addresses men who don’t understand women a number of times, but also read the question from women for a really good idea of what women DON”T want.

  9. says

    @F.O. I sympathise. I wrote a longer answer, but since I am resigned to the inevitable that my life will end in suicide sometime in the future, my post would probably do more harm than good, so I deleted it again.

    In short – blind luck plays a huge role in our lives, especialy when it comes to finding a partner for one who happens to not being born with outgoing and sociable personality.

  10. Akira MacKenzie says

    After reading that cartoon, I can easily see how I could have ended up like those assholes.

    I grew up in a very conservative Catholic family that taught me that any sexual activity outside of Holy-Mother-Church-approved heterosexual marriage was a one way ticket to damnation. I was forbidden to date until after I turned 18 and throughout my adolescence, my parents did their best to keep me out of any unchaperoned interactions with girls my age–not that I was every going to find myself in those situations.

    On top of that, I was a pudgy, in-athletic, sci-fi and fantasy nerd with a brain full of emotional problems My circa 1983 school district’s psychologist declared me “borderline autistic” with ADD in third grade and exiled me to the scholastic ghetto that was “Special Education.” until my Senior year. By High School I had anxiety and depression to deal with on top of that. This made me a picked-upon and bullied pariah among my peers. Along with my emotional issues and looks, my teenage tormentors particularly like to target my sexuality. One of the worst once told me that I would “couldn’t get laid by a $2 whore if you paid her $2 million.” By the time I was 16, I was convinced that even if my god didn’t forbid me from having sex until marriage, I’d never be able to find a mate anyway. To say my abilities to personally interact with other people–especially young women–were severely stunted during my formative years would be an epic understatement.

    Throughout all that time, I was surrounded by the Right-wing politics of my family, fed a steady diet of early Rush Limbaugh and other talk radio goons, National Review, American Spectator, and other conservative bloviators. I was anti-feminist, anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-LGBTQ. When I made it college, I joined the College Republicans on my first day on campus and would soon write for the college’s conservative student newspaper. Even in the early-90s, young-college-right-wingers have the same frat boy/chill girl attitude toward race and gender that we see today, along with the same callous defiance toward anything “politically correct.” So there I was, a lonely, sexually repressed, young adult with a head full of regressive attitudes; a perfect storm for becoming a PUA.

    It didn’t happen, thank goodness. My hyper-Catholic upbringing had instilled enough deep-seated sexual guilt that the idea of pestering women for sex–or worse, forcing myself upon them–was unconscionable. My other mental health issues made intimate social interactions terrifying for me (and still do), so I never hung around bars or night clubs. The Internet was in its infancy so there were no online forums that I knew of where I could stew in misogyny. If I ever came close to swallowing the “Red Pill” it was after my one and only girlfriend (she asked me out) dumped me and I lacked the emotional skills to understand why. I was sad for myself and angry at her and for a time I felt that no other woman would want me because I’m a fat, ugly, loser, but the worst of those feelings would pass with time and help from friends and professionals. Also, by the time I left college, my political and cultural views began to shift Left-ward.

    I can never say I’m “better” than who I was. I’m still a lonely, bitter, mentally-defective, and now OLD loser who hasn’t had a lover since 1997. However, at least I know I can only blame a combination of self-loathing, genetics, and bad luck for my situation, not some vast feminist/socialist conspiracy to withhold the sex I think I’m due. Yes, I’d like very to have some sexual activity with someone other than myself before I die, but it’s not worth hurting anyone else to get it.

    Still, there, but for the grace of prudery and emotional trauma, could have gone I.

  11. Jazzlet says

    The best relationship advice I can give is to learn to listen to other people, not just because you might get laid, but because you might come to like them as people. Most people like people who really listen to them, who prove they are listening by asking questions about what has just been said, who remember what their interests are the next time they meet, who when they do talk don’t talk about themselves so much as about what interests them. None of that will guarantee anyone a sexual relationship, but it will give you friends who care for you and that takes some of the pressure off.

  12. F.O. says

    @lanir, jojo
    I appreciate the offer for help, I should have specified that this was several years ago.
    Eventually I managed out of the hole by myself; learning about privilege was a big part of it, and I learned about it on this blog.
    I am fine and I hope to become a father soon.

    Tried that.
    Turns out, I just don’t like most people.
    Despite the years of efforts I never managed to overcome this and ended up accepting it.

    Breaks my heart to read that.
    It took me two decades of struggling against depression, anxiety, insecurity and ego to bring my brain to a point where I can have a more or less normal life.
    I tried everything I could, I moved countries, I tried different combinations of meds, physical activities, jobs, friends, treatments, CBT, mindfulness, I took part in clinical trials…
    It was horrible. It took me years and years, against false hopes and continuous setbacks.
    The only thing I can tell you, is that from where I am now, I’m grateful I didn’t give up.
    If I can do anything for you, please let me know.

  13. says

    F.O., glad to hear things got better.

    Charly, sorry to see that. Looking at my own situation, all I did was get lucky one time, so loneliness isn’t the crushing presence it once was. Since telling someone else to “be luckier” isn’t good advice, I’m clamming up.