It’s a beautiful spring day in Vancouver. I feel pretty as I walk down West Cordova Street to meet a friend for coffee in Gastown. I’m wearing a light beige peacoat and a burgundy scarf as I head outside after getting off of the Skytrain at Waterfront Station when a man immediately approaches me.
“Hello Miss, where are you headed?”
“To meet a friend.”
“Can I come with?”
“Can we be friends?”
”Can we go on a bike ride sometime?”
After several more failed attempts by the man to ask me out or even get my phone number, I finally have it in me to start storming away and as I do, I see another young woman being verbally harassed. I quickly realize these men are pick-up artists catching women off guard on their commute in an attempt to take advantage of them.
Pick up artists are one misogynist subculture of the Internet’s “manosphere”. The manosphere is comprised of a virtual network of blogs, forums and communities dedicated to men and masculinity, most of which are explicitly anti-women and anti-feminist. One example among many: the website Return of Kings was created and is managed by one of the most notorious pick up artists Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh and on it, he publishes articles, and sex travel guides dedicated to teaching men how to exploit women for sex.
One Valentine’s Day, I’m walking through Toronto’s Eaton Centre when one man out of a group of three stationed near the bottom of an escalator approaches me with a flower. I simply tell him “No” and move on with my day. Turns out there is a Toronto city pick up guide that suggests men practice their pick up artistry in the Eaton Centre given hundreds of women frequent the huge mall every day.
The guide tells men to try the mall’s busy Queen Street entrance and food court and to prey on women sitting alone on couches or walking slowly through the centre. It also suggests attempting to court women in the nearby Yonge-Dundas Square and at Ryerson University. YouTube user “SquattinCassanova” films his encounter with a woman near an escalator in the Eaton Centre. She responds to his advance asking if he’s part of a group because she had a similar interaction with a man in the same spot a week prior.
While these men’s miserable attempts to woo me have failed, many women have fallen victim to men who are using systematic and manipulative tactics to lure women into having sex with them.
Equipping yourself with an awareness of these tactics can help you protect yourself against these unwanted advances.
“Negging” is a term coined by the pick up artist community. It describes a common tactic used to undermine women’s self-esteem in an effort to make them more vulnerable to their pursuer’s advances by providing them with backhanded compliments.
According to Seduction Science, a website created by pick up artist Jessie Charger to share what he calls “attraction technology” (and to advertise his workshops and bootcamps) negging is used to “lower a girl’s social value in relation to yours” by making women feel embarrassed, inauthentic or common, and therefore vulnerable in a man’s presence. Huh. Isn’t that nice?
Examples of negging include:
- “Are you a lightweight? Looks like that one drink is already getting to you.”
- “Nice shirt. Seems to be the fashion nowadays. I see woman wearing them all the time.”
- “What’s with the nail polish? Looks like you’re in need of a manicure.”
- “Cute nose, except for the booger hanging out of it.”
- “You’re so short you could be on reality television!”
Each of these negs is supposed to demonstrate to a woman that a man is not interested in her and that she cannot use her good looks to influence him. If you find yourself being negged by a man, reassert that you know you’re smoking and his attempts to diminish the fact haven’t gone unnoticed. Men who do not respect women’s autonomy will be thrown off by one who is self-assured.
The False Time Constraint (FTC)
Men will approach women who have their guards up with a false time constraint in an effort to disarm them. The False Time Constraint (FTC) is false comment made by a man who alleges he has to leave quickly and wants to have a short conversation. Since he’s pretending that he won’t be sticking around for long, he believes you will see him as less of an overall threat.
- “I have to meet a friend but…”
- “I have to go in a minute but…”
These are examples of FTCs that men use to initiate conversations with women and that are usually paired with more manipulative tactics such as ‘openers’ and ‘kino.’
Pick up artists love a good opener – an opening sentence that begins a conversation with a woman.
Examples of openers include:
- “Hello. I need a woman’s opinion. What do you think of…”
- “Hi there. My friends and I were having a debate and I’m wondering…”
Openers can be especially effective when paired with an FTC.
- ‘“I have to meet a friend but I’m wondering what you think of…”
- “I have to go in a minute but I really need a woman’s opinion on…”
Using open-ended sentences like these allow men to provoke a conversation that will catch you off guard and leave you scrambling to answer.
If a man tries to use one on you, tell him you have no insight on the matter and that Google is free.
“Kino,” short for kinesthetics, is light sexual touching used to groom women for further sexual advances. Men are supposed to use kino the second they meet a woman, often by gently touching her arm or shoulder. Some websites suggest that men learn the basics of palm-reading in order to touch women’s hands or break away from a hug to put their hands on a woman’s hips and make eye contact.
A man might use an opener paired with an FTC as an opportunity to sit down at a woman’s cafe table, then proceed directly to kino.
“Hello Miss. I only have a minute but I’m learning how to palm read and I’m wondering if I may I try reading yours?”
It’s a terrifying prospect to consider that men use negging, FTCs, openers and kino to systematically manipulate women into sleeping with them. An awareness of these pick up tactics can arm you with the knowledge to stop them dead in their tracks.