Social Cons and the Lure of the Seduction Community

What Women Really Think
Feb. 12 2010 4:50 PM

Social Cons and the Lure of the Seduction Community

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The oddity of Charlotte Allen’s entertaining Weekly Standard cover story begins, well, on the cover , in which we learn that "thousands of years of human mating rituals are vanishing." ( Thousands of years? What ritual popular in year 10 are we on the cusp of losing?) The article proceeds much as one would expect. We visit with Tucker Max. We get long, lurid descriptions of sexual encounters, which we are then invited to denounce. We confirm my long-held hypothesis that if anyone associated with the Independent Women’s Forum goes 10 seconds without mentioning a middling play called The Vagina Monologues , she will effect a rip in the space-time continuum.

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It’s a whirlwind journey through the landscape of the traditionalist mind, and perhaps inevitably, we alight upon the subject of the "seduction community." Allen is sympathetic; loose women reap what they sow. In this Allen agrees with the more subtle Kay Hymowitz, another social conservative who has written about angry, undersexed men and the game to which they turn. There is a confluence at work here between the pick-up artists and the social cons. The seduction people are taken as evidence for something that social conservatives very much want to believe-that a world in which women are free to sleep with whom they choose is a world in which women are necessarily treated with scorn and derision. There is a shared vocabulary based on primitive notions of evolutionary psychology: dominance, alpha, hunter. There is the kind of mechanistic logic traditionalists love to deploy in these discussions: cows, milk.

Among the many bizarre statements Allen makes is the following: "No woman, alpha or beta, seems able to escape the atavistic preference of men both alpha and beta for ladylike and virginal wives." The world I live in is not so homogenous in its preferences, but Allen does have enough journalistic integrity to source her statement. She delivers to us a quote from a single anonymous blogger who fancies himself a master of seduction. That guy thinks wives should be virgins, ergo, every male is out for a parasol-wielding, intact maiden. We are overhearing a breathless conversation between tongue-clucking older women and disaffected young men. It is an orgy of confirmation bias, more vulgar-but perhaps more entertaining-than anything Allen can tell us about the depredations of modern dating.

Photograph by Photodisc/Getty Images.

Kerry Howley's work has appeared in the Paris Review, Bookforum, and the New York Times Magazine. She is currently finishing a book about consensual violence, ecstatic experience, and the body.