Good Game:
Seduction Communities
and working
at Manhood

Introduction

Don Juan clearly didn’t need any training in flirting skills, but many American men feel they need help. In nearly every major city of North America exists a seduction community: a community of men who train each-other to pick up women. These men are trained by a dating or seduction coach, and participate in rituals to overcome their inhibitions, optimize their seduction practices, and transform their personality.

The point of this is not just to learn how to attract women but also, for these men, about how to embody empowered masculine identities. Along with digital means for meeting strangers, these communities have emerged over the past 10 years from a subculture to become a globalized industry in seduction spanning from Brooklyn to Beijing. Hundreds of thousands of men participate in these groups at different levels of engagement—from online forums and subscription-based clubs to week-long intensive training courses known as bootcamps—and at a personal cost of hundreds, often thousands, of dollars.

How To Use This Site

This digital book presents you with a second-person journey into the life of men's seduction coaching. You follow the course of a trainee as he navigates myriad environments and situations - sometimes touching, comical, sometimes outrageous - in the process of becoming a seductive man. Your experiences are a composite drawn from many people I met, interviewed, and spent time with during my ethnographic research over the course of 12 months in real-life seduction communities in New York City.

In the style of game-books like Choose Your Own Adventure, you will be asked to make choices and engage with events in ways that alter the experiences you have along your journey. This can sometimes feel like being lost in a maze, running through twists and turns only to find switchbacks, disappointments, dead ends, and unexpected discoveries. Facing down uncertainty, and choosing how you want to play the game, brings you into the perspective of seducers. This may be uncomfortable.

Along the way, you will also find places to explore the social, cultural and historical dimensions that inform key events that happen or predicaments you will face. These pages will lead you to a critical discussion of these phenomena (sample pages cover things like online dating, hookup culture, and the so-called "manosphere") that are informed by academic research. You can read these sections; avoid them; return immediately to the main narrative; or, if you need a break, skip along to the next research page (just remember, you'll be skipping important sections in the plot if you do!)

This project asks you to step into positions that will make you uncomfortable, even repulsed. Seeking to understand why men are learning seduction skills is not the same as legitimizing their behaviors. Empathy and understanding for their motivations should not be taken as justification. Quite the opposite. I posit that empathy and understanding are vital if we are to understand transformations in male power today, from cyberbullying to the #MeToo movement. The experience of finding a new home in one’s self is, as I explore at various points in this dissertation, an experience as central to intimacy and creativity as it is to radicalization and extremism.

Finally, a trigger warning. The views of the characters are not necessarily reflective of the author's views. Instead, they are composites drawn from the author's research with men in and around seduction communities who take this training.

While this book doesn’t directly talk about sexual intercourse, with one or two exceptions, it deals with everything that happens around it from the perspectives of a large demographic of American men: flirting, swearing, bragging, horniness, offensive speech and behaviors, sexual harassment, general obnoxiousness, and sexual assault. These materials can be upsetting. Some of my informants freight their stories with a palpable sense of fear, depression, anger, sexism, racism, and even trauma. Some of these stories may make you remember things that happened to you. This might be scary, uncomfortable, or distressing. If you feel that reading these stories and anecdotes may cause you distress, then consider, with all due care for yourself, whether it’s worth reading onward.


©Anders Axel Wallace 2018