NerdLove Book Club

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Re: NerdLove Book Club

Post by reboundstudent on Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:20 pm

ElizaJane wrote:
There is not enough "this" in the world for this comment.  Basically, she seems to suggest that you decide what you want to be, transform yourself into it, and then never let yourself venture outside of it to see if you might like something else more.  I used to be a persona, in high school.  I LIVED that persona.  I was the fantasy-loving girl.  I read fantasy novels.  I bought long flowy skirts, and I had hair to my waist, and I (no joke), braided fresh flowers into it.  I played RPGs, in which I was always a freaking bard.  I dressed up in fantasy garb for weekend parties and school events.  I did yoga.  I listened to harp music and Celtic ballads.  I was intense about that persona.

You are kind of freaking adorable. Though truthfully, my own high school persona would have hated your high school persona, despite having several common interests.

... "Hot-tempered, acid-tongued Bitch" is a persona, right?
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Re: NerdLove Book Club

Post by reboot on Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:25 pm

I think the thing that was really getting to me was that every damned message in our society says women are supposed to always focus on their "seduction" persona, hence the whole fashion and beauty industry. What is she saying that is any different or original?

Now constructing a persona that brings out the best in you emotionally, intellectually, spiritually (if that is your thing), physically, sexually, etc. I could get behind, but I do not feel that that is what her book advocates.
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Re: NerdLove Book Club

Post by Lemminkainen on Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:29 pm

I haven't started reading this yet, but your descriptions make this book sound a lot like standard pickup artist advice for men.  The emphasis on self-transformation and performance is pervasive in that literature, and so is the assumption that you are willing and able to spend a huge amount of time and money to optimize your life for pursuing people.  It sounds like there's also a lot of "taking locally optimal seduction advice and assuming that it's universally useful" going on,-- both in the "It works for my personality and body, so it will work for yours!" and the "It works in the contexts in which I seduce people, so it will work for you!" senses-- which is also common in MPUA advice.

I suspect that these issues-- cost-blindness and overly-narrow optimization-- might be common in seduction advice generally...

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Re: NerdLove Book Club

Post by readertorider on Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:28 pm

reboot wrote:I think the thing that was really getting to me was that every damned message in our society says women are supposed to always focus on their "seduction" persona, hence the whole fashion and beauty industry. What is she saying that is any different or original?

I don't think there is anything new here, and a lot of old slimy stuff that I thought had mostly gone away...

I think I'm also seeing a connection between this book and kleenestar's comment on Paying for the Party?
kleenestar wrote:Second, the book [Paying for the Party] was very enlightening when it comes to the behavior of "party girls." Unlike the flood of bullshit you'll hear from MRAs, the book looks at their behavior from the inside - the authors lived with the girls for a full year, then followed up for five years afterwards. What's fascinating is seeing how MRAs got some very stupid ideas from some very real social phenomena, like the fact that the party pathway is really only workable for upper-class and wealthy upper-middle-class women, who are unlikely to be interested in dating "down" in terms of class. For women who don't fit that profile, the party pathway pushes them to make choices that set them up to be unable to support themselves, which means they are limited in who they can date and marry even if they wanted a broader dating pool. (Though, fascinatingly, the authors conclude that the men these women most want to marry are now starting to marry their high-earning, high-achieving female peers instead.) What's often described as typically female behavior is actually about one strategy for class reproduction and mobility - and it makes me really curious about the class backgrounds of the guys complaining about not having access to the "party girls" they'd like to date.
This book's advice seems fairly similar to the "party girl" style in that it doesn't really help people become self-sufficient and is most successful for people from certain backgrounds (and dovetails with MRA's conception of dating...) Would it be terrible of me to hope that the men in this case also want to "marry their high-earning, high-achieving female peers instead"
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Re: NerdLove Book Club

Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:54 pm

I pretty much agree with everything that's already been said, really.

I got vague suspicions that this was going to be a PUA kind of thing (even though I've never read male PUA stuff either) from the intro.

Then toward the beginning of the first chapter, she talked about her high school experience of wanting to be "outgoing" and doing all the stereotypically outgoing things to become outgoing. She mentioned that she lost a little popularity when the Cool Girls found out that she had interests outside the Cool Girl type, and the reason that was okay with her was, "I never said I wanted to be cool—just outgoing".

She carries this theme throughout what I've read of the book so far—this idea that the majority culture is all there is, and if we want to be successful in it than we must conform to every last expectation in it.

I don't disagree with this premise, exactly. I think we humans are all a lot more malleable than we know, and Arden's not unique in being able to make some fairly extreme adaptations. What I disagree with is the additional implicit premise that this is the only way through, or that we should all want to take such a path.

Arden also makes some fairly sweeping generalizations about men. Nothing I haven't read and heard many times before already, but this seems to be connected in an important way to her argument that this seductive pro-dom persona is the answer. "Men are visual creatures," she says, but while I'll freely admit my interests and beliefs have selected for certain kinds of people in my life, I've heard far more appearance-based judgments from women than men; there are at least some subcultures where that basic assumption does not apply.

I do think the presupposition of disposable income, classist implications, etc. is more than just a general vibe. It took me a while to find the exact line I was thinking of, but here:

Arden wrote:How often do we assume someone with poor teeth is also of poor socioeconomic background?

See, in my case it'd be a more or less accurate assumption: I have shitty teeth, and I also came from a poor socioeconomic background. I've started getting more dental work done, but since I lost my job half a year ago I've also stopped keeping up with that again. Arden claims there is "little excuse for bad teeth". Well, how about being poor? Razz She gets similarly judge-y about accents, posture, and pretty much any other sign of being lower- or even middle-class; she seems to assume her audience can afford to not be.

I don't know if it matters at all, but the closest match in what kleenestar described for what I went through in college is probably the "mobility" pathway (though I'm not sure what my "support structure" might have been, if any), and what Arden's spent these first nine chapters (and probably the rest of the book) describing as an Attractive Woman is not at all the kind of person I'd be interested in, in pretty much any capacity. So I guess I'm echoing some of the women who occasionally show up when dudes complain about their appearance or status getting in the way of dating: everybody has different preferences, and people like me are "out there" too.
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Re: NerdLove Book Club

Post by reboot on Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:22 pm

I sort of feel like her advice is geared towards attracting PUA men, which some women out there probably want to do, but there are a lot of blanket "Men are X", " Men want X" statements that do not sit well with me and are not very accurate in my experience.
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Re: NerdLove Book Club

Post by eselle28 on Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:55 pm

Okay, so I've finally gotten around to reading this! It's not so much that I'm offended by it as that it strikes me as being very much what it claims to be - a book about what men want written by someone who provides them with sexual and emotional services. As such, I think it actually does quite a good job of describing ways to be attractive to men with a certain set of tastes and a certain amount of disposable income for the purpose of very transactional relationships. I don't think it's very helpful at giving guideposts that will lead to productive serious or casual relationships for women who are interested in other sorts of men or who expect emotionally reciprocal relationships. I'll say, specifically, that I've gone out with men who had a history of seeing pros and have found that guys who do it on a regular basis or who do it on an infrequent one but idealize it are fairly difficult to deal with both as sex partners and as boyfriends. That's not to shame sex work or men who see sex workers, just to point out that the kind of sexual and emotional catering that happens during it isn't a standard that an unpaid partner is going to enjoy meeting.

My specific objections are similar to others'. I don't actually mind the idea of suggesting that some people totally reshape their images. I mean, look, this is an advice book. Every advice book in the world is going to tell people to make some changes, because the assumption is that they wouldn't be buying the book if they weren't looking to change some things. I'm not even opposed to the advice to rework one's image to a fairly extensive degree. Some people are very unhappy with their images, and in that case, I'd say it's worth considering a complete overhaul. I feel there needed to be more explicit acknowledgment that some women will want to opt out of the advantages that come with this sort of change, however. I also noticed that the book didn't spend much time addressing what sort of people would be attracted to a particular image. If an image suits you well enough to be plausible and attracts lots of men, all of whom are very different from what you're seeking in a partner, that seems to be its own sort of failure.

My other objection is to the implementation of the advice. I agree with others that there's an assumption that someone can spend both a great deal of money on changes and is surrounded by (or can easily discard) anyone who won't accept them. Changing your accent, for instance, isn't a small matter. That's years worth of paying for voice coaching, plus explaining to your friends and family why you're speaking differently. Somewhat intersecting with that is what I think is a tendency to muddle her own personal brand with the idea of a personal brand that can be catered to a woman's particular personality. Just as an example of that, earlier in the book, I thought some of the advice to women on finding who their idols might be was potentially useful...until a few chapters later, when the book recommended that an apartment should be opulent. Lots of female personas don't match the idea of an opulent apartment at all, which makes me think some of the recommendations there were too directed toward one specific persona (presumably one appealing to a rich urban man looking for fantasy and respite from his daily life...which might not be such an appealing place for a guy who wants to play video games or who doesn't like fussy things usually).
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Re: NerdLove Book Club

Post by eselle28 on Mon Nov 10, 2014 6:20 pm

reboot wrote:I sort of feel like her advice is geared towards attracting PUA men, which some women out there probably want to do, but there are a lot of blanket "Men are X", " Men want X" statements that do not sit well with me and are not very accurate in my experience.

That was essentially my problem with it as well. I might be able to get on board with the dating-as-marketing advice, since marketing is a part (I'd say not all) of it, but it's hard to trust the book when the statements being made about, "Men are X," aren't even the usual ones I'm used to. They're fairly specific, and I would be surprised if some of them applied to enough men to warrant the generalization.

Lemminkainen wrote:I haven't started reading this yet, but your descriptions make this book sound a lot like standard pickup artist advice for men.  The emphasis on self-transformation and performance is pervasive in that literature, and so is the assumption that you are willing and able to spend a huge amount of time and money to optimize your life for pursuing people.  It sounds like there's also a lot of "taking locally optimal seduction advice and assuming that it's universally useful" going on,-- both in the "It works for my personality and body, so it will work for yours!" and the "It works in the contexts in which I seduce people, so it will work for you!" senses-- which is also common in MPUA advice.  

I suspect that these issues-- cost-blindness and overly-narrow optimization-- might be common in seduction advice generally...

That's generally my reaction to it after reading it. There's some universally useful stuff in there too (I think any advice that's popular has at least some core elements that are helpful), but a lot of the specifics seem to be catered to women whose personas can be shaped to match the author's, who are circulating in similar social environments or at least ones that overlap, and who are interested in developing similar kinds of relationships with men who have similar qualities.

The comparison makes me curious at the success rate of this strategy compared to PUA tactics. I almost wonder if PUA tactics might be more successful because they emphasize proactively approaching a large number of women, which makes it far more likely a man will run into the woman who responds to those particular behaviors, while there seems to be more of an emphasis in this book on being so captivating others start to follow you around, which I think could be disastrous if employed in a community where some of the advice didn't apply well.
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