Pick-up Artist Culture: Feminist critiques

'Pick-up artists' and PUA cultures and communities are hotbeds of misogyny. Pick-up artist culture has been subject to various criticisms:

  • A women-hating, virulently anti-feminist culture.
  • Focuses on coercive strategies: manipulate women, ignore what women say, push past ‘No’, etc.
  • A commodity model of sex. Premised on male entitlement
  • Takes away women’s humanity
  • Treats human interactions as a formula
  • Offers a combative view of gender relations
  • Spreads highly traditional, violence-supportive views of men and masculinity
  • Overlaps with other anti-feminist men’s rights groups and websites

Here are some accessible feminist critiques of PUA ideology and practice.

There is a small academic literature on pick-up artists and communities, as follows:

  • Almog, R., & Kaplan, D. (2017). The nerd and his discontent: The seduction community and the logic of the game as a geeky solution to the challenges of young masculinity. Men and Masculinities, 20(1), 27-48.
  • Bratich, J., & Banet-Weiser, S. (2019). From pick-up artists to incels: con (fidence) games, networked misogyny, and the failure of neoliberalism. International Journal of Communication, 13, 25.
  • Clift, Elana J. (2007). Picking Up and Acting Out: Politics of Masculinity in the Seduction Community. PhD thesis, Department of American Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, May.
  • Guo, C., & Yin, H. (2021). Localized PUA culture and gender politics in contemporary China. Journal of Gender Studies, 1-12. doi:10.1080/09589236.2021.1929093
  • Hambling-Jones, O., & Merrison, A. J. (2012). Inequity in the pursuit of intimacy: An analysis of British pick-up artist interactions. Journal of Pragmatics, 44(9), 1115-1127.
  • Kray, T. R. (2018). By means of seduction: pickup-artists and the cultural history of erotic persuasion. NORMA, 13(1), 41-58.
  • O’Neill, R. (2015) The Work of Seduction: Intimacy and Subjectivity in the London ‘Seduction Community’. Sociological Research Online, 20(4): 5.
  • O’Neill, Rachel. (2018). Seduction: Men, Masculinity and Mediated Intimacy. Polity.
  • Pérez Ripossio, R. N. (2020). Becoming the “Alpha Male”: Heterosexual Seduction Performances at a Coaching School in Buenos Aires. Revista interdisciplinaria de estudios de género de El Colegio de México, 6.
  • Ribeiro, M. H., Blackburn, J., Bradlyn, B., De Cristofaro, E., Stringhini, G., Long, S., . . . Zannettou, S. (2020). From Pick-Up Artists to Incels: A Data-Driven Sketch of the Manosphere. arXiv preprint arXiv:2001.07600.
  • Whitley, R., & Zhou, J. (2020). Clueless: An ethnographic study of young men who participate in the seduction community with a focus on their psychosocial well-being and mental health. Plos one, 15(2), e0229719.