I lost a lot of Facebook friends over the month following the UCSB shooting.
Some I blocked. Some blocked me. In either case it was for the best. As I mentioned in my previous post, in the weeks following the shooting I participated in the #yesallwomen hashtag, along with posting numerous articles and thoughtpieces about the events and what they signify in our culture, and I was met with a great deal of defensiveness, derision, and condemnation.
This, for example:
"Arden, I started following you after some interesting comments you posted on a friends thread. Some of your writings are really good, fair, interesting bits. I've appreciated them. Read several, in detail. Since then... watching your rather constant portrayal of men as violent stalkers, and worse... constant, one-side portrayal... I'm convinced you're too biased to listen to anymore. I'm not sour about women based on your bad example. I'm just sour on you, because of your very clear views on men. I'm tuning you out. #notallwomen."
Let me remind you that I wrote this.
I also had other guys on my threads telling me that my #yesallwomen experiences were not all that bad. That being choked against a wall by my ex-boyfriend was a big deal, but that being stalked in my neighborhood and emailed twenty times in a row by a man I'd blocked on Facebook wasn't such a big deal, and that if only he'd brought me roses maybe I would have found it sweet.
The guy who wrote that identified on his profile as a dating coach.
Here's what was scary. These guys were people who had been in my friends list a long time, had maybe commented on unserious things I'd posted, had perhaps enjoyed my modeling photos or given a thumbs-up to my article on how to give a better blowjob. They were, internetly speaking, in my house. And now they were inside it, attacking me or ridiculing me in the midst of a crisis of misogynist extremism for wanting to feel safe.
I'm disappointed. I am deeply disheartened that the compassion toward men that these same guys gratefully accepted when I posted my writings advocating for their own issues was not returned to me in kind when I advocated for those of my own gender. That came as a shock.
I posted this shortly after:
Look, here's the thing. It is literally my job, and my passion, and my calling, to cultivate compassion and intuitive understanding for men. Anyone who's read my work understands that. I teach women how to understand and (if they choose to) appeal to men, through everything from active listening to conscientious blowjobs. I speak out against misandry, I advocate for releasing men from the shame that their oft-too-strictly gendered codes tend to trap them in, I spend every day consciously thinking of what I can do to bring my lovers greater pleasure and how I can teach other women to do the same. I would venture to say I am one of the strongest men's allies I know, no bullshit.
So when I ask my readers, and particularly my male-identifying readers, to show the same compassion for me, and for all women, and for our specifically gendered issues in the same way that I do for them, and I am met with any response that is less compassionate than "Huh Arden, I didn't realize that misogyny is as intense, threatening, and pervasive an issue as you say it is, but I trust your experiences as an actual female-bodied person so I will make a point to stfu and listen carefully to what you have to say, and maybe think about small ways that I personally could help make a difference," then YES, I AM GOING TO GET PRETTY FUCKING PISSED OFF.
Sorry if I'm not being "fun" since the UCSB shooting. Sorry I post about some things other than how to better suck your dicks. Sorry there's a full human being with emotions and thoughts, thoughts that are sometimes angry and political, behind the pretty and carefully-crafted-to-please exterior shell of lingerie model.
You want me? You like me? Like all of me. You can follow or ignore my posts as you choose but if you keep liking my semi-naked photos and reposting my sex articles but you completely shut out my fear and my anger at the physical and sexual assaults, harassment, and hate speech I have received for being a woman, then you aren't seeing the whole picture. You're just jerking off to a fantasy figure.
And that's fine. This is just facebook, after all. But know in your hearts that people who view me in only the dimension that is convenient for them will forever remain "fans," and that the men I choose as my lovers I choose because they see ALL of me.
You want advice on how to pick up women? I'M GIVING IT TO YOU. RIGHT. NOW.
That's the real irony, isn't it? Most of these guys found me through the PUA community. These are guys who joined a movement in order to improve their love lives. They want passion, connection, and intimacy with women. Some might feel I'm being a bit too generous in that phrasing, and that these guys joined the PUA movement to f-close a bunch of HB10s. Certainly that's how many of those men themselves identify their desires. But under that misogynistic dismissal of women as anything other than pretty meat to grind is, I still believe, an insecurity, a panicked loneliness and fear of mortality transmuted into a desire for intimate congress that their rigid ideals of masculinity only allow to squeeze through as a need to fuck. We all need to connect. No one is exempt from that.
Maybe I'm giving them too much credit. Maybe I have a naive view of the world; maybe I still fall prey to the mistake of believing that all human beings, somewhere, possess the capacity for the depth of empathy and passion that I know myself to have. But if I have learned anything from a life of seducing people, it is that hate and meanness are usually just cover-ups for fear. They're signs of our inner animals being threatened. Even the guy who left me when I was in the hospital on my birthday later came back to tell me that he had been afraid I was going to leave him for my ex, that he'd pre-empted having his own heart broken by breaking mine instead. So I look at these guys and I feel bad for them. Who hurt you? What are you running from?
I didn't feel bad enough not to block them. But it wasn't lost on me that these were guys who originally found me because they were looking for material to better their love lives, and how sad it was that they couldn't do the most basic act of seduction, which is to pay attention and listen.
This leads me to disclosing the greatest pickup artist secret of all time: compassion. People all over the world are dying to be heard, held, healed, to be seen in a world that is often too busy to care about them. We see it in their latenight tweets, their Facebook overshares, their vain selfies, their need to reach out and get a response. That month after the shooting, I know I was looking for understanding, for someone to say I know, Arden. The world is frightening and unfair. You have every right to be scared and angry, and you are not alone.
We share a planet, you guys. I look at the hate coming from both sides of the gender war and I am never not perplexed, confounded; I am never not squinting back going WHAT PART OF BEING A HUMAN BEING DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND.
Whether you agree or disagree with what people have to say, their emotions are valid. If someone is feeling scared, there is a reason. There is always a reason, and whether you feel that reason is substantiated has nothing to do with the validity of that person's internal experience.
I have zero time for people who don't possess the desire or ability to see me for all of me. Guys who dismiss my feelings, who don't actively listen, who project a fantasy onto me and then explode in confusion the minute I act outside of it, who fan out on me for my lingerie photos and blowjob articles but balk at the unpleasantly human aspects of me like fear, anger, and hurt -- those guys will forever stay fans. They came to the PUA community to learn how to be intimate with women rather than worshipping them from afar, but here they are, and they're still stuck. They can go jerk off to the nudes on my tumblr.
That's why I look at the misogyny-spewing red pill PUAs who follow me on social media and I'm like LOL YOU GUYS DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT GAME IS.
Wanna know what my lover's response was when we texted about the shooting? He wrote, "It's beyond appalling what you (and so many others in different ways) were subjected to. An eye opener even for me." That's how it's done.
When you make the world your bedroom, you make a promise to see, accept, and hold space for all of humanity. If you want to seduce people, you need to listen to them and honor their feelings and experiences. That's it. There's no way around that. Anything less and not only will you be unlikely to succeed, but you're not getting at the heart of the matter, which is that we need to connect with other people so that we don't feel so alone in the world.