When reading about self-proclaimed “master pickup artist” Mystery’s “fool-proof” method of seducing women, I often wonder who, exactly, is having sex with him and his acolytes. I don’t think I know any woman who’d react well to some clown with a soul patch and a ridiculous hat coming up to her in a bar and delivering a backhanded compliment, disrespecting her personal boundaries, and generally treating her like a recalcitrant animal.
Apparently, I’m not the only one. Jeffrey Hall and Melanie Canterberry from the University of Kansas recently performed a sociological study to determine which types of women respond positively to aggressive courtship strategies, and found that women who hold sexist attitudes about their own sex are much more likely than women with more egalitarian views to go for it. For this study, they asked people a bunch of questions to determine their level of “ambivalent sexism,” which basically means any sexist attitude that falls short of explicit misogyny. Here are some examples of said questions:
Many women are actually seeking special favors, such as hiring policies that favor them over men, under the guise of asking for ‘equality.’ (Agree/Disagree)
Women seek to gain power by getting control over men. (Agree/Disagree)
They also asked the male respondents what kind of pickup tactics they used, and the female respondents which ones they responded to. Unsurprisingly enough, the men who held the most traditionally sexist attitudes were most likely to use aggressive and/or degrading seduction tactics (is there any other kind of “seduction tactic”?), while the women who held sexist attitudes were most likely to respond to them.
According to their research, pickup artist techniques are strongly linked to “men who have negative attitudes toward women and believe women are a threat to male dominance,” guys who get off on “putting women in their place.” As it turns out, women who respond positively to these attitudes tend to hate women, too. “Women who have negative attitudes about members of their own gender find men who treat them in a dominant way during courtship more desirable because it is consistent with their sexist ideology,” Hall and Canterberry found. Apparently both “men and women who believe women can be isolated and teased into sex have a low regard for women in general.”
So that settles that, I guess.
Then again, what’s the harm in people coming together over their mutual belief that male-female relations are a bizarre power game in which sex is a thing that women have, and men want? People bond over all sorts of cockamamie beliefs, no?
Well, as Anna North points out, one possible downside to this is that if the women in question are sexually assaulted, they are likely to blame themselves. When men and women buy into this “battle of the sexes” nonsense, it’s usually women who suffer the most.