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“Pickup Artist” (PUA) is a term used to describe a man who utilizes a variety of techniques to attract and seduce women. Online, there are many advice blogs and discussion forums that cater to the PUA community, each with their own unique set of jargon and slang terms.
The earliest known methodological approach to seduction may be credited to American motivational speaker Ross Jeffries, who promoted a series of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) techniques named “speed seduction” in the early 1990s. In 1994, the Usenet group alt.seduction.fast (ASF) was launched by Jeffries’ student Lewis De Payne, which gave rise to the now defunct alternative forum Moderated ASF. On December 25th, 1999, the PUA community entered the realm of popular culture with the release of the drama film Magnolia, in which Tom Cruise plays the motivational seduction speaker Frank T.J. Mackey (shown below).
On April 5th, 2005, the /r/seduction subreddit was launched, gaining upwards of 129,400 readers in the next five years. On September 6th, investigative reporter Neil Strauss’s self-help book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists was published, in which Strauss recounts his experiences shadowing those in the seduction community. The book was subsequently featured on the New York Times Bestseller List two months after its publications and the term “pickup artist” grew in prominence as a result. On August 6th, 2007, the reality television show The Pickup Artist premiered on VH1, starring Erik von Markvok (a.k.a. Mystery) as the dating instructor who coaches the program’s contestants various seduction techniques.
On June 27th, 2008, Gawker published an article mocking the website of self-proclaimed “world’s greatest lover and seducer” “Dimitry the Lover” (shown below). On March 22nd, 2010, the Gawker Media women’s interest blog Jezebel  published an article about the PUAs, claiming that many in the seduction community promoted misogyny.
On March 24th, 2011, Time Out Chicago published feminist blogger Clarisse Thorn’s interview with The Game author Neil Strauss. On April 12th, the Simple Pickup YouTube channel was created, featuring interviews, pranks and instructional videos for approaching and seducing women. The first uploaded video was titled “Internet Trolls Pick Up Girls,” in which women are approached using Internet meme references by the channel creators Kong, Jesse and Jason (shown below, left). Within three years, the video garnered more than 2.26 million views and 7,100 comments. As of June 2013, the channel has received over 936,000 subscribers and their most popular video has gained upwards of 3.66 million views (shown below, right).
On March 9th, 2012, the webcomic Xkcd published a comic mocking the PUA technique known as “negging,” which involves making deprecating comments to women in order to undermine their self esteem (shown below).
Above the Game Kickstarter Controversy
On May 29th, 2013, PUA Ken Hoinsky (a.k.a. TofuTofu on Reddit) launched a Kickstarter page for an instructional guidebook for “getting awesome with women.” By the end of the campaign’s funding period on June 19th, it had earned over $16,300 of the $2,000 goal.
The same day, Salon published an article which criticized the project, using Hoinsky’s Reddit comment history as evidence that his techniques were misogynistic and overly aggressive. A comment was quoted from a /r/seduction post from May 1st, 2013, which gave instructions on overcoming “resistance” from women who refuse to return to a man’s home after a date:
Expect her to offer some resistance when you try to bring her home. Throwing out a “I don’t sleep with someone on the first date.” or “No sex, okay?” will do wonders. It all helps to generate plausible deniability. If it just happened while we were in the moment she will feel much more comfortable knowing she fooled around with you. No girl wants to feel like a slut.