Wow, you’re sexy for an older reader! Catch what I did there? I ran game on you.
I made you feel good about yourself by undermining you. Depending what I went on to discuss you may have gone away still thinking – I AM pretty sexy for my age, and where’s the harm in that? Except it is harmful. I’m not only playing on insecurities you might have about the way your body is changing as you get older but its also the perpetuation of the cultural belief that ageing is unsexy. It’s a manipulation designed to make you more prone to bad decision making. If I was trying to sleep with you I’d have massively improved my odds by simultaneously making you feel both sexy and like a ticking time bomb the clocks about to run out on.
In 2005 an investigative journalist, frustrated with his own love life joined a community of “romantic” players to learn how to get women into bed. The resulting book ‘The Game’ rather than reading like an exposé became a best selling dating handbook, in which men were taught how to gain the upper hand.
Women’s rights have improved massively in the past 120 years. We have this newly empowered ‘we can do anything men can do and do it bleeding’ attitude. We work like men, dress like men, thanks to the Shewee we can even pee like men, and most importantly in the context of this article – if we want to, we can have sex like men, and if we really want to save time we can have sex without men, with no make up, wearing our intensely comfortable, ugly pyjamas before making a cuppa and binge watching Netflix.
Then comes this book and instead of teaching men to form partnerships, uplift and empower women, its reinforcing all the insecurities women have after years of oppression and lousy product marketing telling us we aren’t enough, it fortifies the idea that women exist for sexual gratification, it teaches men to identify physical attributes a woman could be self conscious about and exploit them to make her more susceptible to sexual advances.
I get it with my hair – wow you’re beautiful for a ginger / its not for everyone but I’ve always had a thing for a feisty read head, or possibly my favourite, you know when they lean in really close like they’re letting you on in a secret and tell you they know that red heads are freaky between the sheets and that its okay because they like it, as if its shameful to be a bit kinky or as if the colour of my hair in any way determines my sexual preferences. I also get “oh you’re so tiny I could keep you in my pocket” and I’m like was that a compliment or a threat? Because it would not be the first time I’ve been carried away from my friends by a complete stranger – which I assume comes under the chapter on isolating the target.
The overarching problem with this technique is that it leaves everyone feeling alone. It seems shocking now but this is a book that was liked by 87% of readers on Goodreads, and has a 5/5 rating from Waterstones, and its not just damaging women its damaging men! We are living in a time where the leading cause of death in men between 35 and 49 is suicide.
It’s based on the idea that people can be beneath you, you’d be ‘dating down’ or ‘punching above your weight’. Are we not each of us just flesh and bones trying to hold a heart together? Can you truly believe that a person’s looks or job elevates them? It also works on the assumption that everybody has the same physical preferences. She’s really fit so she won’t like me – why not? you’ve never even spoken to her how could you know? It also discredits the possibility that sexual attraction for women especially, has less to do with physical appearance and more to do with chemistry, one of my exes was six feet tall, the rest wouldn’t let me wear heels, nor for the possibility that that intelligence or a sense of humour is sexy, I’ve asked on instagram and you know what’s REALLY sexy…
By creating a dating handbook designed to undermine a woman’s self esteem we inadvertently have a generation of men believing that being themselves isn’t good enough, its taught them the only way a woman will pay them attention is if they trick her. There may be a temporary high that comes with initial sexual success but this prolonged behaviour means we find ourselves in a society where everyone feels cheated and damaged, putting up walls that cut them off from feeling vulnerable and establishing real human connection.
I can’t tell you I have some genius way to fix it, I don’t. But what if the next time it happens you let him know that running game won’t work, then pay him a genuine compliment. Even if he’s not your type you can find one thing to say. You walk away feeling empowered and he feels noticed. Then maybe the next time he approaches someone he simply says “hey I noticed you from across the room and I’d really like to talk, can I buy you a drink?” maybe people start paying attention to the details of each other, maybe they don’t have to ‘blast last minute reservations’ and maybe at the end of it all we develop a culture where we feel valued enough for it to be safe enough to just walk home.