There was a storm on Twitter when Elliot Rodger’s misogynistic ramblings and videos were discovered online. Bloggers and commentators pointed out he used language familiar to the “pick-up artist” (PUA) community – an industry dedicated to teaching men the art of attracting women.
The idea of men trying to pick up women is nothing new of course, but the PUA community has developed highly structured rules, supposedly based on psychology, which pick-up gurus claim will lead to unprecedented sexual success.
“I take a guy who – if he met a lady in a bar or saw someone on the street – he wouldn’t know what to do. Or if he did try something, it would fail,” Richard La Ruina, owner of PUATraining.com told BBC Trending. “We teach him how to interact with women… and give him the confidence and ability to date women.”
The community was popularised by the 2005 book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss, which details the author’s adventures in the PUA world. And it has since become big business online with hundreds of books, DVDs and pick-up coaches offering to teach men the latest tricks – for a price.
There’s been debate about whether the PUA industry is anti-women, and attitudes towards the opposite sex vary widely among coaches and PUA followers.
But the movement has also has spawned an extreme offshoot – the world of anti-“pick-up artists”, some of whom blame their lack of success with women on both the PUA industry, and the women themselves.
One anti-PUA site, PUAHate.com, ostensibly warned men away from “pick-up artist” gurus out to make money. It became a magnet for misogynistic rants by Elliott Rodger and others, and was taken down after the attack in California.