Amanda Marcotte on Pickup Artists: 'I Don’t Like Charlatans, And I Definitely Don’t Like Sexists'

Mar 12, 2012

While it's easy to forget in the hubub of South by Southwest, it's college Spring Break this week. So as thousands of college students get ready to party, and perhaps try out their pickup lines, one local blogger is warning women to be on the lookout for dubious techniques.

Amanda Marcotte spoke at SXSW Interactive over the weekend. Marcotte, who runs the liberal feminist blog Pandagon, was part of the panel “Sex Nets: Pickup Artists vs. Feminists,” which delved into tips and tricks men share online – and charge money to teach in seminars – on how to "pick up" women.

“I felt like a lot of men are attracted to this [concept] for somewhat of the wrong reasons,” Marcotte told KUT News. “That they feel it’s frustrating for them to be told that women can say no, when men are given a lot of entitlement in this world. … I think pick up artists sort of prey on that in men, and use that to get money from them. And I don’t like charlatans, and I definitely don’t like sexists, so it’s sort of a combination of two things I really hate!”

None of the pro-pick up artistry panelists appearing with Marcotte said they engage in what she called two of the worst pickup techniques: “negging,” or negative attacks on a woman's appearance in an attempt to make her more vulnerable to a pickup; or boundary pushing in attempts to “destabilize” a prospective conquest. (“They use all this silly lingo, which is another red flag,” Marcotte says.)

“But no matter how nice a pickup artist is, or bad or whatever, they all have this in common,” Marcotte said. “They treat women as if they’re the big boss in a video game. Like, ‘I’ve achieved this level, I’ve achieved apartment level, but I’m really struggling with girlfriend level!’ Like, ‘Can you just give me the secret to beating this level?’ And it just doesn’t really work that way.”