Guilt by association with the pickup artist community?
September 5, 2012 10:50 PM   Subscribe

I have been offered a freelance writing gig and it seems pretty awesome, but the company publishing it is run by a guy who is affiliated with the "pickup artist" community. This makes me uncomfortable. Am I nuts for considering not taking it because of this?

I guess I should explain I'm a woman, I already have a job that pays the bills, and I write in an area where there are few female writers. The person in question running this company does not write or publish PUA stuff, but he speaks at their conventions.

The deal seemed really awesome and a lot of people got excited for me. But this whole pickup artist thing makes me feel really gross. Some people tell me "they aren't all bad," but I am familiar with them though real life and through the internet and I largely find the whole thing disgusting and misogynistic. I've occasionally snarked at them on reddit, but this person hiring me probably does not know about it.

When I think about writing my stuff and getting it to a greater audience and paying off my student loan (not big, but I've been paying it slowly) with it...that seems so cool. But when I spend my late nights googling about some of these PUA conventions and forums, especially some of these writings by people who also speak in the same lineups( who talk about modern women being sluts, feminism being poisonous, misogyny not existing etc.), I feel disgusted and like I want to reject the whole thing. Am I being totally difficult and crazy? One part of me is "It's not him who is saying this stuff", the other is "why would anyone who is actually a good person associate with these people?"
posted by ponytime to Human Relations (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
would you only work for someone whose political or religious beliefs were the same as yours? would you only work with someone whose sexual orientation was the same as yours? whose race was the same as yours? who only had the same hobbies or was social interests as yours? because that would rule out a lot of companies for whom you'd be willing to work.

yeah, the PUA stuff is gross, but as long as it's not informing or influencing how he runs his company, this wouldn't be a dealbreaker for me—particularly if, as you put it, the gig is an awesome one.
posted by violetk at 10:57 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've written for Murdoch-owned properties in the past because I wanted to work with a specific editor. And I think Murdoch is the worst.

If the person in question is Tucker Max, though, he's worse than a pickup artist.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:59 PM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

The only concern you should possibly have about this would be in working directly with this guy. Maybe (?) he'd have less respect for you, seeing as you're a lady? But, generally, better to not make assumptions about people until their actions toward you or someone you know are affecting you negatively. And, if you'll never meet him? Think of it this way: this PUA dude is inadvertently furthering a smart, put-together, ambitious woman who'd never fall for his own manipulations. What could be sweeter than that?
posted by Miss T.Horn at 11:11 PM on September 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

"why would anyone who is actually a good person associate with these people?"

That's called a pre-supposition -- you say it like a question but you've already decided the answer, which is "a good person wouldn't associate with these people."

Even though you've tried to soften it by using a question, in fact you've clearly stated your position. It's OK, we all do it (although once you know about pre-suppositions you start to catch yourself).

I'm only pointing it out because pre-suppositions are often clues to our unconscious beliefs. Maybe you don't think of yourself the way the pre-supposition comes across and therefore examining the words you use might lead you to some insights.

At the same time, using the exact same words but treating it like a real question would open you up to unimaginable possibilities. The fact is, you don't know why a good person would associate with these people but just writing about it has me curious to find out.

The real truth is that most people who do things of which you disapprove are not, in fact, evil, while some who do things of which you do approve are, in fact, evil.

I have a hard time seeing a downside for a writer to get to know a (pre-)supposed enemy. Either these people are hideous creatures or they aren't, and either way you get something interesting to write about. I mean, do you think your writing can be interesting when you only hang out with people like you?
posted by trinity8-director at 11:43 PM on September 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

Joan Rivers once said, "For $500, I'll write for Hitler!"
posted by Nomyte at 11:58 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

It really depends on whether or not it's going to affect you personally or your ability to do your job.

I have had red-flag moments in interviews, which I noted at the time and accepted the job anyway, and, later, that red-flag moment turned out to be quite important, and, sometimes, part of why I would move on from a job. But, I also have bills to pay and if I turned down every job offer or interaction with a person just because something seemed off or I disagreed with their personal beliefs, then I'd never be able to do anything.

So, you can walk into that job being fully aware and accepting of what the situation is - but also monitor it and if it starts to affect you personally, make it an issue then.

Of course, the other issue is - will there be any fallout for you by working for them? Will someone look at who you've written for and look down on you for associating yourself with them?

Murdoch is a slightly different kettle of fish because he's omnipresent and it would be hard for many writers to not write for him. Not knowing who you're referring to, it's difficult to say whether it would have an effect, but it's something to consider.
posted by heyjude at 12:12 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Never mind the person, is the website or publication associated with the PUA community? If not, you have nothing to worry about. If so, bail.
posted by LarryC at 12:28 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Take the jerk's money, and set aside 5% for Planned Parenthood or the Girl Scouts or some other worthy cause.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:52 AM on September 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

Everyone here is gonna weigh in with an opinion about whether you should or shouldn't do this. I'm a former freelancer, and I'd have a few observations based on my own experiences:

1. There's always gonna be more opportunities for people prepared to do anything. But there's also always gonna be more opportunities full stop.

2. What other people would do is irrelevant to you; you will always find someone who will compromise their ethics more than you (and someone who will compromise less). It's meaningless; feeling comfortable with your own, personal, choice is the most important - and feeling like you own your integrity, whatever shape it takes, is not something that can be offset by opportunity, recognition etc.

3. If you take this, you will probably feel 85% okay with it, you'll never be able to shake that 15% sketchy/guilty feeling. This may also be the case if you don't take it.

4. As a freelancer, I compromised myself over time: my writing suffered for it, in the final wash-up I'm unsure how much it helped my writing career, and I ended up disliking what the job was making me do.

The luxury of having a day job is that you don't have to make these compromises if you don't want to. Leave them to the people trying to pay the bills with their writing. You get to enjoy it, and sleep easy.
posted by smoke at 12:54 AM on September 6, 2012 [9 favorites]

I'm going to be a bit of a contrarian - but first: there are PUA *conventions*?

I've heard about the PUA scene, but seriously, conventions? I'll chime in with my own pre-supposition. This must be a concentration of wankdom of epic proportions. I can imagine what goes on at the hotel bars, but I digress.

I am assuming that the owner is an active participant in these conventions, and not playing some kind of bizarre subversive game with or on these people while there. In short, I think it's fair to assume that he shares their beliefs.

I'm all for tolerance, but if you're wondering if you're weird to be squicked out - I would be squicked out. And I'm a guy. Not just because he has beliefs, but because he has beliefs that relate directly to how you could assume he would treat a female employee or contractor. And even if you don't deal directly with him, I'm a believer that managers and owners hire people in their own image.

I'd only deal with it if a) you'd be physically isolated enough from this company (i.e. writing from home or another office) b) you weren't required to write stuff that disagreed with your own beliefs and c) there was some chance you could come out of it later with an expose' piece.
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:00 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Is the job in any way associated with PUA, or any kind of dating/romance/lifestyle advice sort of thing? If yes, even if this guy doesn't personally publish on PUA, I would give serious pause.

When I was young and naive about these things, I wrote a review of a museum exhibition for a friend who edited one of those sorta indie/liberal/"woman-centered" pron sites (a la Suicide Girls, but it wasn't Suicide Girls). I was happy for the opportunity to flex my art writing muscles and get published, and she was looking for content for the non-erotic side of the site (the "articles" in the old "I read Playboy for the articles!" joke). I turned it in, felt pretty satisfied with myself, and then when it went live on the site I discovered that she had changed the finished piece to be "sexier" and to add references to the pr0n side of the site without consulting me. I felt really taken advantage by this, and now I'm a lot more careful about the overall brand I'm writing for and whether what they do in general is something I want to associate myself with.

That said, I am not only in the tiny minority of people who would turn down work for Fox News, I actually have.
posted by Sara C. at 4:20 AM on September 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

If this guy is involved in PUA stuff in his personal life that's one thing, but if it's the publishing company that you'd be working for that's something else entirely. Did you find this information about him when you applied for the job or were interviewed? Or is it something he manages to keep separate, and you found it only by researching the guy, not the company?

If the publishing company is NOT involved in PUA stuff then I'd say take the job; if there is professional overlap (for instance, the company itself promotes the PUA lifestyle or community in any way) then sorry, no.
posted by easily confused at 4:30 AM on September 6, 2012

Would you be able to work for a person who is against gay rights? For gay rights? A political extremist? Religious extremist? I would treat PUA like one of these.

If still yes, how much of his PUA beliefs are actively discussed? Is it enough to make you uncomfortable while doing the work? Is the work you are doing directly in support of PUA? Or is it simply his own personal beliefs?

If you believe in the work you are doing and the work doesn't make you uncomfortable, I say go for it. If it's simply his personal life that squeaks you out with the PUA stuff, then just keep personal matter aside from the work (which is what everyone should be doing anyway, but I digress). If the work is directly affected by PUA stuff or any proceeds go to PUA, then don't do it if you are adamently against it.

(Also: Conventions? Ughhhh.)
posted by floweredfish at 5:44 AM on September 6, 2012

I'd be more than happy to take this guy's money. I would do what I do, comment on what I comment on and roll my eyes if the smarm ever made it close to me.

Work is work, private life if private life.

Don't cut off your nose to spite your face.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:58 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I freelance. This is a decision you'd have to make for yourself, but here are the questions I'd ask:

What is the company, exactly? This should be concern No. 1. Freelance writing is a HUGE spectrum, from the 1% of awesome, enviable jobs to the maybe 5-15% that can possibly, maybe lead there and get your name noticed, to the rest that just... pays, but might not matter all that much in the grand scheme of career prestige. If it's one of the first two, it's easier to let it slide (god knows some editors are Not Great People). If it's the last, it's easier to see it as interchangeable with another gig.

Pay rate? And how much do you need the money? You have a day job, so you're in a good position here - it might not give you interview leverage, but personal leverage, sure.

Is your byline attached? Another possible moral lapse, but it does make me care a lot more about how up-and-up an outlet is if I know it's going to be associated with me on Google forever.

How much are you going to be associated with this guy? This kind of bleeds into the first question a little, but - is it sort of a mentor/mentee situation? When you go out for other jobs, will people see you as "Douchey's writer?" Or is it more like, for lack of a better phrase, a factory model and you are the cog? Or maybe it's a situation where you are associated with the publication more than any editors involved. This is subtle, and it gets even more complicated when you throw gender in, but it does matter.

Is there an office? i.e. how much do you have to interact with the guy for personal sanity reasons?
posted by dekathelon at 6:08 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have you ever worked for a company before? Are you sure none of the owners, none of your superiors, none of the corporate officers, none of your co-workers, have beliefs or engage in behaviors that you find morally reprehensible? Would you leave the job if one of them did? The only real difference here is that you know that stuff in advance.
posted by kindall at 6:25 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've worked for two truly awful people before>

The 1st time it was not a big deal, he was good at running his company and I had maybe 3-4 exposures to him ever. he was screaming during 2 of those but still: a small impact. I was paid very little but it was worth the aggravation.

The 2nd time. Oh my goodness. His upsetting personal choices bled all over my work, I saw him often and genuinely have difficulty even addressing contacts I met trough him because they think of me as one of 'his guys'. Gah. and I was making a small fortune working for him, but the fact that my work made him richer and therefor gave more volume to his voice in the world just fucking killed me.

posted by French Fry at 7:36 AM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's not private. I would not want to be professionally associated with this person's public identity.
posted by ead at 11:50 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

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