Do you enjoy negging?

Since Clarisse Thorn is celebrating her new book, “Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser,” I thought I’d help things along by posting the relevant xkcd comic:

Direct link to xkcd

I don’t know why pickup artists have been in the news lately. This kind of stuff has been going on since the 1960s, and probably before that. Is it because the internet has made it easier for these guys to trade tips?

Here’s my own tip: “Negging” is not to be confused with “pegging.”

She looks like she’s about combine “negging” and “pegging.”
More on Tumblr, of course.

About Tom Allen

The Grey Geezer Dauntless defender of, um, something that needed dauntless defending. Dammit, I can't read this script without my glasses. Hey, you kids, get off my damn lawn!
This entry was posted in Blog Candy, Negging, Pegging, Pickup, satire, Sexuality & Relationships. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Do you enjoy negging?

  1. Clarisse Thorn, not Clarice Thorne ; )

    Thanks for the plug! I really appreciate it!

  2. DD says:

    I do love the XKCD take on that. I know that technique does work, which is why they discuss it on the sites, etc. but
    WHO
    WHO are these women that go for it??

    I am not in the market for a man but as a general rule, I have no time to waste on men who aren’t pretty damn fabulous and who think I am pretty damn fabulous too. If I were shopping for date I can’t imagine wasting time on a man who behaved like that.

    • Tom Allen says:

      Sometimes I think that there was something wrong with me – I never treated women like that. Sure, I might not have been the ideal boyfriend, and I certainly had my own issues with things when I was younger, but I never “played” at getting laid.

  3. Sam says:

    To be honest, I think that this comic is rather bad and a great illustration why Clarisse’s book and its critical, yet emphatic and balanced perspective, is so badly needed – for most guys (look it up in her book) the stuff is actually just tips about getting a girlfriend. But the bigger problem, it seems to me, is that this kind – xkcd – of critical narrative buys into some rather problematic stereotypical conceptions of masculinity. It’s reinforcing the notion that it’s problematic to be weak, to look for advice, and not be constantly in control. Shaming guys for trying to improve themselves – even if some of the advice for sale may be questionable at the very least – is quite unhelpful, in my opinion, particularly if done by feminist men, because then it’s running the risk of coming accross as a standard pissing contest: If they say, “Look, just talk to her, she’s another human being”, they risk being perceived by other guys as saying “see, I’m man enough to get laid without all the gender performance crutch, and you don’t. Who da man?!”

    • Tom Allen says:

      This should be interesting...

      I’m going to let that sit for a bit.

    • Tom Allen says:

      It sounds to me that you’re saying that it’s okay to offer some advice (or to seek advice) on dating, even if that advice is questionable, unhelpful, or (IMO) unethical. You don’t same people for trying to improve themselves, you shame them for doing things that they should not be doing – things that hurt other people.

      To me, the idea of “negging” – making a woman feel less self-confident in order to prey upon her insecurities – is unethical because it initiates a relationship based on dishonesty.

      When I read the xkcd comic, what I’m getting is that he’s dissing the idea that you need to approach women as a predatory maneuver in order to get laid. The friend’s suggestion to “talk to them like she’s a human being” is not belittling the desire to seek advice; rather, it’s cautioning the friend to stop thinking in terms of predator vs prey, and start thinking in terms of “let’s make this mutually enjoyable.”

      • Celtic Queen says:

        That depends on what the guy is after though I suppose. Someone honestly seeking a relationship is never going to start in this way. Crushing a woman’s confidence is always a “conquering” type of behaviour that is just about getting sex. Pick up lines can be funny, an ice breaker and if delivered ironically in the full knowledge that they are crap and cheesy, they can be suprisingly successful as they are a sign if humour and sometimes, self deprecation. Aggressive negging will be usually spotted as just being offensive and the guy will get the short shrift he deserves but worryingly, there are courses in this approach for men that means that the manipulation is more subtle and I imagine a lot of women get hurt .

      • Sam says:

        Tom,

        “To me, the idea of “negging” – making a woman feel less self-confident in order to prey upon her insecurities – is unethical because it initiates a relationship based on dishonesty.”

        I don’t plan to defend “negging”. But I’d also question whether “dishonesty” is particularly useful concept with respect club interactions between two people who just met. It *can* be, of course, but I’d rather doubt it usually is.

        “rather, it’s cautioning the friend to stop thinking in terms of predator vs prey, and start thinking in terms of “let’s make this mutually enjoyable.””

        Right, but there’s also another aspect that’s important in explaining why that mindset exists in the first place, and why strategies like “negging” appear helpful: The perception of women having an inherently higher dating value than the/any guy. As long as men don’t really believe they have something mutually valuable to offer, as long as they don’t believe women would *want* to spend time/have sex with them, such strategies will inevitably conform to their worldview and make perfect sense (to them).

        • Tom Allen says:

          I think that you’re missing the main point that xkcd tries to make (in a roundabout fashion). The idea of using a “strategy” is inherently dehumanizing, and it sets people up in an adversarial relationship.

          Yes, there are men who can’t seem to get it together as far as women are concerned. But instead of teaching them tactics and strategies – especially ones in which the women are dehumanized and seen as targets – maybe it would be better for them to learn better social skills. Instead of being coached on how to read random women and to figure out what will make them vulnerable, how about if we had counselors that taught how to “be yourself”, how to make a better impression, how to learn to listen to people, and how to have empathy, compassion, and how to appropriately display those qualities so as to seem more attractive to the women that he person does meet?

          For example, a lot of people sit down with a new or potential partner and try as hard as they can to get as much information about themselves out in an attempt to impress. Ironically, it’s generally better to listen empathically to what your partner is saying; they tend to be more impressed with someone who is interested in them. There’s an old adage that goes “If you want people to think that you’re interesting, show people that you’re interested in them.”

          How much better to approach dating when both partners act as equals instead of as sparring partners.

        • Sam says:

          Tom,

          I don’t think we’d end up disagreeing if we had time to iron out the use of terminology, which is to say, I think our disagreements are mostly/only terminological. I, for one, would say that *every communication is strategic*, just like this one – I’m trying to build an argument that you would have to agree with, that’s strategic communication, it’s saying things to achieve something. If I’d want you to like me, particularly sexually, I’d probably communicate differently, though not necessarily. Point being – your suggestion “to listen to other people because that will make them like you” – is just as strategic as all other strategic communication, in my understanding. Since you *don’t* believe that to belong to the “strategic communication” set, I suppose you’re thinking of a specific subset of problematic communication tactics as “strategic”, and most likely, I’d agree with that.

          There was one female commenter in Clarisse’s manliness/pickup threads who made a very good point about the use of “target”. She said, when she talked to guys whom she identified as PUAs or who self-identified as PUAs, whether the women in their game are PCs or NPCs (which is apparently online gamer lingo for “Person character” and “Non Person Character). I think that’s a great way to deal with the objectification potential of “target”. As for adversarial flirting, check out Clarisse’s book, she’s looking in detail on why and how that *can* also be used in a sexy *and* ethical manner.

          Poin being – it’s all dual use. Social skills can be used ethically or non-ethically. And the comic doesn’t really diferentiate, which is problematic, as I said before, because it reinforces stereotypes and creates adversarial narratives when there’s really need for integration of narratives about gender, so everyone can actually honestly participate.

        • Lumi says:

          Right, but there’s also another aspect that’s important in explaining why that mindset exists in the first place, and why strategies like “negging” appear helpful: The perception of women having an inherently higher dating value than the/any guy. As long as men don’t really believe they have something mutually valuable to offer, as long as they don’t believe women would *want* to spend time/have sex with them, such strategies will inevitably conform to their worldview and make perfect sense (to them).

          The whole the PUA advices are just keeping that perception alive. The guys who successfully “pick up” women have things to offer, and they know it. “Regular” guys who go for that stuff might be trying to get sex, but as it happens, if you aren’t a really hot stud or the woman isn’t up for sex right then, you are going to have to spend time with her and get to know her before sex. It’s not about “higher dating value”, it’s about a culture where women who “give” sex easily are bad, so we try not to be.

          There’s research done about why men find women more attractive than women find men in a regular pick up/dating setting. The one doing the approaching always finds the ones they approach more attractive than the ones that are approached. The sex of the one being approached or the one doing the approaching doesn’t matter. In that sense women have a higher dating value, but it’s because of the position we are in. This, again, is cultural and could be avoided by changing the setting at least in places it could be done. And if guys would stop calling women who are forward whores, that would help too.

          The thing is often that guys are so drunk in the clubs that it doesn’t matter what they say, if you aren’t as drunk as they are, they are going to be rejected. When I started going to clubs I had no idea what was wrong with me when there seemed to be only drunks and guys who insulted me. A man comes to me and says something like “you’d look [better, happier, hotter, more friendly] if your [hair, body, clothes, position, dancing] would be [some other colour, livelier, more or less this or that]. I often left home after otherwise fun evening with friends feeling like shit because someone had said something rude and personal, and then continued to talk to me like it wouldn’t matter, like they had the right to insult me, and even be surprised and hurt that even though I might have continued to talk with them, I wasn’t interested in anything else. They probably thought they were being successful, I thought they were threatening and didn’t want to anger them.

          To me the whole thing boils to that: the men think they have the right to do something like that. I see it as part of the bigger picture, where men say and do things, not necessarily because they mean to be hurtful but because they are used to being able to say things to women without consequences, at work, home, street… they have privilege, as some people call it. Women try to avoid confrontations so we smile and try to please. I experienced this a lot when I was younger, and I think it’s more typical for the PUA guys to try it with success with younger women, because they are more unsure about themselves. At some point I started to say I didn’t need to listen something like that, and definitely never pleased them by trying to act according to what they had commented was wrong with me (like smile more). And at work it made me a “difficult person” that I started to talk back to the men there.

      • Sam says:

        Hey Lumi,

        The whole the PUA advices are just keeping that perception alive.

        To a degree, certainly.

        The guys who successfully “pick up” women have things to offer, and they know it. “Regular” guys who go for that stuff might be trying to get sex, but as it happens, if you aren’t a really hot stud or the woman isn’t up for sex right then, you are going to have to spend time with her and get to know her before sex. It’s not about “higher dating value”, it’s about a culture where women who “give” sex easily are bad, so we try not to be.

        I think it’s both, and it’s a complex interlocked system of social practices, which makes it so hard to disentangle, even if everyone would be better of without.

        There’s research done about why men find women more attractive than women find men in a regular pick up/dating setting. The one doing the approaching always finds the ones they approach more attractive than the ones that are approached. The sex of the one being approached or the one doing the approaching doesn’t matter. In that sense women have a higher dating value, but it’s because of the position we are in. This, again, is cultural and could be avoided by changing the setting at least in places it could be done. And if guys would stop calling women who are forward whores, that would help too.

        I think slut shaming is a horrible thing and I do what I can to end it. Thing is, though, I hardly ever encounter guys who do that. It’s really a little strange – so many female friends tell me they do this and that to avoid being called sluts, because 7/10 guys would call them that or not consider them for relationships if they did x,y, or z. So, I don’t know, I only seem to know guys, 8, 9, and 10, because I honestly so rarely encounter slutshaming from guys that I have to take my female friends’ word that slutshamign exists as a broader phenomenon outside of poplar/mainstream media. – where it certainly does exist. Interestingly, though, women are probably also carriers of the slut-notion: One of my friends complaining about being given the feeling that she’s not relationship material if she “gives in” too soon still completely bought the notion of “slut” as such, suggesting that only women whose “number” is in the double digits (honestly, she said that…) should be considered sluts (and thus, possibly unfit for relationships”)… so she wants more sexual leeway (up to guy #9, apparently ;)), but she *still* wants to use relative sexual “purity” to set herself apart from other women for some reason. Interestingly, she also seemed to consider guys who *don’t* care at all about female sexual history unfit for relationships, as disinterest in her sexual history seemed to indicate, to her, mainly sexual interest, because a guy who’s interested in anything long term *would* care about his girlfriend’s sexual history… a lot of people are really doing all they can to make each other’s life harder in the pleasure department.

        To me the whole thing boils to that: the men think they have the right to do something like that. I see it as part of the bigger picture, where men say and do things, not necessarily because they mean to be hurtful but because they are used to being able to say things to women without consequences, at work, home, street… they have privilege, as some people call it. Women try to avoid confrontations so we smile and try to please.

        I think that’s certainly an important part of the problem. But there’s another aspect that’s impossible to see from this perspective: there’s so many guys who’re scared to death by approaching women at all, and part of apparently not just a few guys’ approach anxiety is rationalized feminism – they’re so worried about the risk of making women even uncomfotable that they don’t even say hello. In Germany, a female author started a national (intellectual) debate about “overthinking guys” this January with an essay about how she hates it that guy’s just don’t seem to be able to initiate kissing anymore. Sure, the way she put it, it is a culturally self-referential phenomenon most likely limited (in the extreme) to a specific demographic that can be found in intellectual environments in larger cities, say Berlin, or San Francisco. But still, I think it’s a useful reminder that the “privilege” explanation isn’t the only problem in the realm of approaching, and that some guys have internalized that aspect to degree that’s debilitating and even annoying to women, like to the German author, or to Jaclyn Friedman, who was interviewed about dating as a feminist a while ago and also complained that guys who are aware of all this gender thing are often intimated.

        So what’s really needed here is an integrative approach. And I’m glad Clarisse tried to put it into words 🙂

        • Lumi says:

          Sam,

          To be honest I think the problem with not knowing when to kiss or even approach at all is in not being socialised enough rather than anywhere else. That’s not only guys’ problem either, there’s plenty of women/girls who know how to be witty in net but know little about how to interact with people. People learn things like that by doing them, and if the person is shy, hopefully the other one isn’t as much.

          On the other hand the discussion about guys who are too careful keeps repeating the same old messages, that men are somehow incapable of reading body language. Also to me it feels like people in general are more afraid of rejection than they use to be plus guys seem to want avoid giving too eager impression. Or maybe they just aren’t really interested in.

          I like the comic in this entry because to me it represents a situation I’d like to be able to pull through, give back as I get and hopefully make the guy notice that he’s being a dick and should go back home to think for a while. Because seriously, if you’ve lived the other end of this whole PUA thing without realising that this really is some idiotic way to try to pick up women, not meant to be taken seriously, you’d feel that way too. It’s rude, it’s hurtful, it’s idiotic, it needs to be discussed, and most importantly, it needs to be stopped.

  4. sunnygirl says:

    Perhaps this situation would be a whole lot better if PUAs more often did confuse negging for pegging.

    Sorry, the temptation to be facetious was unbearable.

    @Sam

    I don’t think that anyone wants to shame men for seeking help with improving themselves or being more socially/romantically/sexually successful.
    But the problem about mixing good advice with misogynistic claptrap is that the those unable to distinguish between the two are likely to accept the idiot stuff on the basis that the good stuff was correct.

    • Sam says:

      Sunnygirl,

      I’m not saying that people *want* to shame men for seeking help, I’m saying that the “pua is shameful”-narrative often employed by feminists who are more concerned with terminology than with actual content is problematic because it inadvertendly shames, and also because it reinforces an adversarial conversation pattern about dating, sex and gender. It is crowding out the center of the conversation – and reinforcing gender stereotypes.

      You could also interpret the xkcd comic as saying “girls are so much better at verbal communication, they will kill you in a negging ares race”.

  5. Ranai says:

    [boastful omnidom mode]

    Sure I enjoy negging! I go to random men and make disparaging personal remarks.

    Hey, when I pester enough strangers this way, I’m certain to encounter a few whose masochistic superpowers get activated by my omnidom approach. I neg them, they get turned on. Oh how delightfully they squirm and blush!

    Who cares about all those men who just experience me as a bloody rude random nuisance! Collateral damage!!!

    [/boastful omnidom mode]

    Negging: Nonconsensual verbal humiliation play with strangers.

    As for PUA in general: I would not waste my time with people who approach human interaction under the premise that the other person is nothing but a means to an end.

  6. Sam says:

    Ranai,

    “As for PUA in general: I would not waste my time with people who approach human interaction under the premise that the other person is nothing but a means to an end.”

    way to bring Kant into the game ;). I applaud here, honestly 🙂 Agreed with respect to the categorical imperative. But all human beings are somewhat strategic in their communication. So, sure, it’s a good point to draw the line at – but whether or not someone fails that criterion has much more to do with intent than with conversational strategy.

  7. Ranai says:

    [boastful omindom mode]

    Yeah, I’m too busy with strategy to reach my goals. Ethical considerations just get in the way. Ethics are fine to discuss abstractly. In practical application ethics are too inconvenient. Everyone and everything else are secondary to my goals of success.

    [/boastful omindom mode]

    That’s why I’m wouldn’t waste my time with anyone who does this.

    Tom, I do get what you’re saying about not dehumanising the persons one is interacting with. It’s dehumanising and unethical to use people as tools to generate some sort of ‘success’ narratives for oneself. It’s also unethical to say ‘Well, some enjoy it’ as an excuse for nonconsensually inflicting verbal humiliation play on random persons.

    Happily, plenty of people do get it. Plenty of people have a genuine interest in other persons, have empathy, want to listen and get to know others as persons. Hey, among the plenty of people are even some who are into consensually playing with dehumanisation and humiliation and brutality and using the partner as a means to an end for one’s pleasure. However, when the SM is over, we are more to each other than just tools.

  8. Sam says:

    Ranai,

    Yeah, I’m too busy with strategy to reach my goals. Ethical considerations just get in the way. Ethics are fine to discuss abstractly. In practical application ethics are too inconvenient. Everyone and everything else are secondary to my goals of success.

    speaking of practical application of ethics – you think that’s a fair representation of what I said above? 😉

    People *do* have goals. When you’re trying to get to know someone, you’re going to want to make them *like* you. How you get there is your “strategy”. Ethics do matter for that strategy, otherwise this conversation would not have taken place. And it’s a conversation that a lot of people have, all over the interwebs. So, it’s not that practical application of ethics are too inconvenient. It’s just not always clear what that formulation of the categorical imperative means *in practice*. As Kant, only *theory* offers the conditions for a contradiction-free solution to that question.

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