Back in high school, you knew a young lady I call the Swoop Girl. Someone said that high school is taxpayer-subsidized dating, and that observation was probably hard to dispute back then, as you threaded your way through corridors blocked by kissing, cuddling couples. When a stable couple hit a rough patch – perhaps he wanted to dance horizontally, but she wasn’t ready – the Swoop Girl would swoop in to collect another pelt, seducing the guy, who was only too mindlessly delighted to be seduced. Her motive was not love, nor even sexual gratification. What she wanted to do was inflict pain – on the other girl. In that way, her sex act was essentially homosexual, girl-on-girl, an act of perverse psycho-sexual sadism. Did she move farther left on the number line than anyone involved, much farther left than the nice girl, and farther left, even, than the not-so-nice guy? You bet. But there was nothing of self-adoration in her motives. She hated her life, clearly, and all she wanted was to spread that hatred to other people.
Men can do the same kind of pelt-collecting as the Swoop Girl, with the same sort of homosexual overtones, boasting to each other about the (mostly imaginary) “notches” they put on their belts. The so-called Pick-Up Artists are an even more perverse symptom of this kind of intellectual perversion. They start by cherry-picking pecking-order ideas from animal ethology. Among wolves and dogs, cattle and certain species of apes, an Alpha male will be dominant over all other members of the community – kind of like a “thought leader,” and just as well thought-out! The Alpha male will either keep all the females to himself, as with cattle, or he will mate with the highest-status female in the group – the Alpha female.
Pick-Up Artists start their sad dance of mindlessness by equating human behavior with animal behavior – the Dancing Bear Fallacy. Human beings are ascended from apes, and you can see vestigial remnants of this kind of pecking-order behavior among humans when they are behaving mindlessly – which we saw back on the playground. But human beings are not mere animals, and so even the meekest of us – the most Omega among us in this crack-pot theory – can behave as Socrates did when he is met by exigent circumstance. But those kinds of inconvenient facts don’t fit the fictional story-line running through the Pick-Up Artist’s fevered imagination, so he invokes the awesome power of mindlessness to ignore them.
And, as you might expect, these Mittyesque Pick-Up Artists jettison every aspect of animal status-sorting they don’t like – including those animal species where a female is always the boss. It is a sufficient Alpha-qualification, for the alleged Alpha male on the make, to have sex with as many different women as possible – “just like” a bull in a pasture full of cow-pies. The notion of taking charge in difficult situations and providing mental and moral leadership to the imputed “herd” is much too much to be bothered with – which is not to imply that these sad clowns would be of any value in actual human leadership roles in any case. Instead, the Pick-Up Artist’s definition of an Alpha male is a guy who is good at tuning in on Mothertongue signals of sexual interest being broadcast by long-in-the-tooth repeatedly-recycled evergreen-ingenues – which is to say, a guy with slut radar.
In other words, the alleged Alpha male is demonstrating his ethological “superiority” not by successfully competing for high-status women – the specious human analogue to Alpha females among animals – women who would not have the first thing to do with him in any case. Instead, like the Swoop Girl, he is simply collecting pelts – not for love and not for sex but simply in order to compete, and even then only numerically, with other similarly self-damaged men. To their credit, the objective is not anyone’s destruction – except for the on-going self-destruction the Pick-Up Artists and their slutty “conquests” voluntarily inflict upon themselves – but there is nothing of self-adoration – nor of mindful self-consciousness – in this behavior.
What is really happening, as a matter of existential reality? The Pick-Up Artist sleeps with the slut-of-the-moment, herself an already-well-used specimen of femininity, because, although her status is much the same as his, pretty low on the socio-economic ladder, and well to the left of the zero on the number line of self-regard, she is nevertheless the best woman who will consent to sleep with him – and neither of them has enough desire for self-adoration to pursue a real relationship with a partner who is not running some dumb-ass game. Consequently, each one of them goes home lonely, even if neither one goes home alone. How sad is that?
There are consolations, though – for me, at least, and I can hope for you, as well. First, this prince and princess and their pantomime of passion illustrate perfectly the self-loathing that is the sole enduring result of indiscriminate sex. Popular artists and their puerile prey – could that be you? – love to fantasize about a world with “no-strings-attached,” but that world is not this one. In the real world of real consequences, the mistake you made last night will never, ever end. It will recall itself to your memory – and to your shame – again and again, unbidden, forever. And may heaven help you if you try to “paper over” it with more and more instances of the same dumb mistake!
And second, by presenting us with such an absurdly distorted rendition of the Dancing Bear Fallacy, the Pick-Up Artists demonstrate that all Dancing Bear theories are nothing more than elaborated arguments of behavioral determinism. The Alpha-in-his-own-mind “conquers” comely round-heeled gals by means of trickery and cunning – he insists. When he is on his “game,” they simply “can’t resist” him – just as female animals in the wild mate with the best rapist, the male they cannot successfully deflect, dismiss or defeat.
But the logical fallacy in play is the same one we can identify in every determinist argument: If I as a human predator can “trick” my human prey into thoughtlessly yielding to me, it could only be because human nature is not bound by the iron laws of animal ethology. Every form of gulling putatively mindless human beings pre-supposes free will – rationally-conceptual volitionality. Without it, the predator would be as much an unthinking slave to behavioral determinism as – he insists – is his prey. The form of the claim is, “I can think of a plan of attack, but you cannot think of a plan of defense.” Those propositions cannot both be true, and, of course, we all know, without any room for doubt in our minds, that human will is free of all deterministic constraints.