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Jul 11 2010

Do you mind if I stalk you up close instead of from across the room?

Sure, I’ll smile, if you take this match and light your fucking mustache on fire.

This week’s Sunday Morning Hurl comes from misogynist dude site Askmen.com.

Askmen.com runs a recurring feature dedicated to “pickup lines.” A pickup line is a phrase used by suave movie bachelors and doofus TV sitcom knobs (and, apparently, by dorks who read Askmen. com) to turn unsuspecting women with whom they are not acquainted into hot, wet, pliable meatsocks.

The concept is predicated on the notion that women are morons.

The pickup line is a staple theme in the narrative of male sexual domination culture, where it is believed that, when properly worded and expertly delivered, it has the magical power to completely disarm a woman, flip her “on” switch, and guaran-fucking-tee her compliance. The concept of “the pickup” itself has competetive, jokey, pervy, and, of course, rapey components.

Askmen.com publishes a new pickup line every week. Some are labeled “Funny Pickup Line,” others “Cocky Pickup Line.” Oddly, none are called “Hokey Dipshit Pickup Line.” The editors add a little introductory remark to each one. These remarks support my hypothesis: that to qualify as a pickup line a phrase must contain lies, flattery, bullshit, and cheesiness, which qualities are intended to obscure the utterer’s actual meaning, which is “I want to use you as a receptacle. Open sesame.” Subterfuge, in other words, is seen as a quite normal and integral component of the venerable dudely tradition of sexual conquest.

Here’s a selection of the Askmen introductory remarks, followed by my editorial remarks, followed by the pickup lines themselves, which stand alone as monuments of heteronormative sexist farce:

Whether it’s true or not, you can still give this pickup line a try. We dare you.

Well, the guys have gone and dared you. What choice do you have?
A woman as beautiful as you deserves a man as rich as me.

“This pickup line is virtually guaranteed to make her giggle.”

And lard knows, once a chick giggles, she is legally bound to have sex with you.
“Excuse me, is your name Mickey? ‘Cause you’re so fine you blow my mind.”

“This pickup line is best used in the wee hours of the morning, when she’s less likely to think you’re a creep.”

Being tired and drunk will lower her resistance to your natural creepiness.
“You know, good girls get presents this time of year, but naughty girls get to have fun.”

“Why not try a little kindness the next time you’re trying to pick up a woman?”

Instead of your usual method of roofies and duct tape.
“I’ve had a terrible day, and it always makes me happy to see a gorgeous woman smile. Would you smile for me? “

“Once you’re fortified with liquid courage, try this pickup line on the hottest woman at the bar.”

It is common knowledge that the hottest women at the bar instantaneously give blow jobs to drunk assholes who stumble over and say
“you look like you could use a good one-night stand.”

The denizens of Spinster HQ have a hard time believing that any live dude who isn’t Disco Stu would even consider saying any of this stupid shit to an actual woman. However, whether or not men really use pickup lines is of secondary importance to the perpetuation, on the Askmen website and elsewhere, of the atavistic idea that women are essentially just sex troves, ripe for pillaging once unlocked by a few magic syllables.

51 comments

  1. Mary Tracy9

    It says “Try a little kindness” but I fail to see how kindness translates into “DO something for ME”.

  2. Stella

    The “smile, honey,” thing should most definitely be included in the RadFemWiki.

    I get that one all the time.

    Any man who says that with me is not going to get a blow or a phone number or even an uncomfortable eye-roll as I back away. He’s going to get a punch in the dick.

  3. iforgotmyname

    ah 7 million google results for pickup lines, including a wikipedia entry with categories and examples!

  4. Comrade PhysioProf

    Hilariously, it took serious reflection to distinguish the Askmen introductory remarks from your editorial remarks. The d00ds that write that shit not only think women are morons; they also think their own d00d readers are morons.

  5. jaded

    I dare Askmen to use this line — I want to prong your insides out in a manner most pleasurable to me.

    I hear its a huge hit with the Ladies.

  6. sargassosea

    Hey! This is fun!

    Sure, I’ll smile, if:
    You get hit by a bus, or
    you are struck by lightning, or
    you choke on a sandwich, or
    you auto-asphyxiate in your closet,

    Penisface.

  7. humanbein

    This falls under the category of masculinity training to me. Men are constantly bombarded by propaganda like this in order to ensure that they cease to regard women as human beings like themselves and as objects to be pursued via any method possible.

    It’s more proof that the entire idea of masculinity is either an attempt to claim all human virtues as under the exclusive purview of men (ie, that woman’s thinking like a man, good for her!) or is the justification for crimes of oppression and attacks against half of humanity. Masculinity is a cultural construct that needs to be destroyed and discredited.

  8. Valerie

    I think their tag line is – If you can’t measure it with a ruler, it doesn’t count.

    They make trailer parks look classy and nuanced.

  9. buttercup

    Another salvo in the ongoing “get people to understand how messed up this shit is” battle. Thanks, Jill.

  10. Sylvie

    Is it still 1976?

  11. Ma'Whis'Ki

    [Some are labeled “Funny Pickup Line,” others “Cocky Pickup Line.” Oddly, none are called “Hokey Dipshit Pickup Line.”]

    This is because men permanently excuse themselves, via patriarchy, from their own deeply innate hokey-dipshittiness, for which the turn-about patriarchal term is ‘the Virtue of Manliness’. Also worth noting is that patriarchal social constructs actively encourage the confusion of socially-polite body language (a.k.a. eye-contact, smiling) with sexually-interested body language to further facilitate male non-blame for rape– i.e., ‘she was smiling/looking at me, so I knew she wanted me to do her.’

    With that in mind, I think the ‘Art of the Put-Down’ should be exercised by Women with extreme prejudice; for example–

    He: I’ve had a terrible day, and it always makes me happy to see a gorgeous woman smile. Would you smile for me?

    She: You know, I’ve had a terrible day, too, and what would really make *me* happy is to see a naked man castrate himself in public with a plastic salad fork. [proffers said fork] Oh, and you’ll need this to clean up with after. [proffers napkin, then gets up and leaves]

    By using the words ‘naked man’, the Put-Downer makes sure that the man’s attention will not swivel off to something else while she is speaking, as the patriarchy trains men to 1) conflate nudity with sexuality, and 2) to fixate rigidly on anything that can even remotely be deemed as having sexual content, especially if a woman is saying the ‘sexual thing’ (i.e., ‘women as sexual initiators/igniters’ are promoted as a patriarchal fetish-ideal because that takes all overt-sexual-behavior responsibilities/burdens off of men). Thus, he *will* focus on every word the Put-Downer utters, because he will *want* to know what the ‘naked man she just mentioned’ will be doing, by which time it will be too late for him to miss hearing the insult.

  12. Saphire

    “you look like you could use a good one-night stand.”

    Doh! That one’s flat.

  13. Thomas Stazyk

    Good question, Sylvie! On what planet do people think likes like that don’t make them look like idiots?

  14. sonia

    Lines like that are a test to see how amenable you are up front to changing your behavior when instructed, or “asked.” Doling out a smile in response to a request from a man is a signal that you’re easy to fuck with.

  15. Ma'Whis'Ki

    [Lines like that are a test to see how amenable you are up front to changing your behavior when instructed, or “asked.” Doling out a smile in response to a request from a man is a signal that you’re easy to fuck with.]

    A(Wo)MEN!!!

    This kind of ‘request’ also reinforces the ‘deny-your-own-reality’ training that most women get, i.e., ‘make nice and smile’ even though you feel distinctly uncomfortable and/or angry. It’s cognitive dissonance used to immobilize either a flight- or fight-response, either one of which would be much more appropriate when confronted with repeated sexually-motivated boundary violation (escalating to rape).

    The fact that a woman is out in public does not imply that she therefore gives tacit approval to any man in her immediate vicinity to make sexual advances towards her, yet I’ve seen male patrons try exactly that with some of the younger female aides shelving books in the public library system in which I work. Said low-lifes do get bounced for their bad behavior and usually banned system-wide for awhile (in a few cases, permanently), but I bring this up to point out that there are indeed brainless shit-stains who feel completely entitled to inflict themselves *on any woman they meet any/every/where* (complete with moronic pick-up lines and stalking behaviors), and dumb-ass how-to-meet-women male-fantasy-fests are gasoline thrown on the fire.

    The thing I truly *hate* is that ‘Weekly Pick-Up Line’ articles make it all seem like [female-approved] light amusement to their idiot readership. Unspoken in such articles is backhanded condemnation of women who protest unwanted male attentions as ‘bad sports’, again denying the reality that women are being systematically sexually hectored to ‘keep us in our place’.

  16. Laila

    First post I read here where I agree with every stinking syllable. I’ll be pointing my friends to this post when we start arguing about the “art” of picking women up.

  17. Dr. Sarah Tonin

    @Valerie, I agree with the basic sentiment of your comment, but druther you’d pick a less classist analogy than “trailer park”. Cheers.

  18. Saphire

    ^ Lest Valerie forget that impossible high standard the internet feminist is held to!

  19. Saphire

    Grrr think I too am giving feminism a break. I’ll come back when we have anything resembling something where ‘feminists’ don’t tear each other down at the first chance. ‘Patriarchy handmaidens’, spot on.

  20. Mayday

    What kills me with PUAs is their sob-stories about “social anxiety.” “I can’t walk up to strange women and try to harass them into sexual submission without feeling kind of apprehensive about it! :c” Really? Because I can’t endure one of your demeaning attempts without feeling sick and shaky for hours after, which makes leaving the house at all kind of a crap shoot! The difference being that for my anxiety, I choose to get actual counseling, whereas you buy into what amounts to the sex’n'misogyny version of Scientology. Good grief.

  21. janna

    My natural expression must be dour or something because I get told to smile by strange men all the time. Get this: I don’t find it flattering. Huh.

  22. EmilyBites

    Ugh, I get the same thing janna. To the best of my recollection I’ve never seen a man told to smile because he was failing to fulfil his purpose as a decorative, ingratiating object.

  23. Jonathan

    “I want to use you as a receptacle. Open sesame.”

    I have my new pick-up line!

  24. j

    I wonder what would happen if you told a male stranger to smile for you? Because he’d look so much prettier if he smiled?

  25. tinfoil hattie

    I bring this up to point out that there are indeed brainless shit-stains who feel completely entitled to inflict themselves *on any woman they meet any/every/where*

    Two years ago a friend stood in line at the all-night pharmacy, filling prescriptions for her 14-year-old son, who that day had been admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of leukemia. Exhausted, swollen-faced from crying, and absolutely reeling, my friend was – of course! – subjected to a drunken, unkempt, smelly dude’s advances. When she refused to respond, he became irate and pouty. He was just trying to have a conversation!

    What a horrible person my friend is. Don’t you agree?

  26. Comrade Svilova

    But, but, but if we don’t allow pickup lines then men will never talk to women (ever!) and romance will be dead!

    I love it when Nice Guys bring that up as if it’s a fail-safe argument for the right of men to walk up to strange women and proposition them. (That happened a lot on the Schrodinger’s Rapist thread at Shapely Prose: http://tiny.cc/q7704 ). The myth of romance is one of the greatest lies that women have been sold, and men are desperate to perpetuate it because of the advantages it confers (on men, of course). When (non-consciousness-raised) women are starry-eyed or looking hopefully for love, they’ll overlook so much crap from Nice Guys. They’ll even think pick-up lines are cute because said lines indicate their degree of desirability (read: p2k compliance). I still get a little flattered when someone checks me out or wolf whistles at me. It’s utterly ridiculous and absurd, but I can’t untrain my brain that quickly. Sigh.

    You know who I blame.

  27. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    If you really want to see a dude run for his f’ing life, try one a those lines on him. This works best if you are a) over forty, b) overweight, c) not conventionally pretty, or d) have a reputation for “bitchiness”.

  28. Bushfire

    “Grrr think I too am giving feminism a break. I’ll come back when we have anything resembling something where ‘feminists’ don’t tear each other down at the first chance. ‘Patriarchy handmaidens’, spot on.”

    Saphire, pointing out classism in someone’s comment does not amount to “tearing each other apart”. Being a feminist does not mean that everything you say, even if it oppresses others, is okay. Feminists are against oppression, and if you are against women’s oppression but okay with the oppression of others, you’re not going to get anywhere. In this case, a classist comment is oppressive toward people with low income, and a high proportion of women are in that group. So the comment was actually oppressive toward women . It is really puzzling that you would refer to someone as “patriarchy’s handmaiden” when they are gently pointing out an oppressive choice of words. If you wish to be a feminist who does not care about a wide range of oppressions, then I won’t be sad to see you go.

  29. Earnest O'Nest

    There’s a very good series in this: for every pick-up line you find an appropriate way to taser the dude in the balls (something like a ‘dudey suicide’-series).

  30. Jill

    Earnest O’Nest
    July 12, 2010 at 8:10 am

    There’s a very good series in this: for every pick-up line you find an appropriate way to taser the dude in the balls (something like a ‘dudey suicide’-series).

    Your meaning is unclear. Who are you, Earnest O’Nest, and what do you want here?

  31. Sarah

    I have spent a long time trying to perfect a method to discourage “smile baby” requests. Through a careful mix of eye-contact avoidance, a haughty carriage, and an “I-will-cut-you” facial expression, I have successfully avoided being propositioned since January. Rather than making me feel better about the world, though, it only pisses me off more that I don’t actually feel safe smiling in public.

  32. Jezebella

    I confess: I have a Pavlovian smile-response to such demands, having been trained to be a polite Southern girl since birth, and I have not yet been able to fully suppress it. It infuriates me that I do it, every single time, but it just *happens*. If anybody knows how I can de-program myself, please, let me know. It happens rarely, and always comes as a surprise, so the old brainwashing just kicks in. It’s really embarrassing.

  33. Jill

    I have heard that martial arts is a good place to start the de-programming.

  34. Larkspur

    I’m still working on the “Smile!” command response. It all depends on the circumstances. These days I’m rarely in the company of an overlord who must be mollified (you know, at the office, the senior partner, the floor manager, whatever). I tend toward ignoring them, but am toying with the idea of producing a huge horrific grin accompanied by a “BWAH-ha-ha!”. A bear stare can work, as can an “I’m not all there” stare. No one likes to be quizzed by a bear revving for an attack, and no one really wants to be followed all the way to his office by a crazy woman who won’t talk, won’t smile, and won’t go away.

    Yeah, I am messing with y’all. If I ever feel like it’s prudent to produce a smile, I do it while thinking “Hmm. Picture him dead.”

    It’s like you go through the world with your own private Babelfish equivalent, laboring away in your brain. “Smile” translates to “Pay attention to me” or “Don’t forget you exist only as entertainment” or “I control the horizontal; I control the vertical. I can blur the image or sharpen it to crystal clarity. I own you”.

    Makes you want to put ‘em all in the corn field.

  35. veganrampage

    Hysterically funny post, funny comments. Larkspur, I read yours three time in glee.

    Jill, you missed the “reality” teevee show The Pick-up Artist? I am so happy for you.

    Have a real keeper and I just can’t wait to share.
    This wasn’t so much a pick up line as it was a scream. In 1988. A full-throated scream across a soccer stadium in Rome, Italy to my English roommate at the first and last soccer game I ever attended.

    “Blond girl! I want your cunt!”

    End scene.

  36. veganrampage

    Also, Bushfire, what you wrote was correct of course, but I for one would be very sad indeed to see Saphire go.
    Always sad to see any good Blamer go. Saphire has a point about perfection as well.
    Couldn’t we just try to be a tad more gentle to each other? Not becasue women are supposed to be meek, but becasue rad fems are an endangered species. The P makes it hard enough to get through a single day.
    Sometimes it is difficult to remember there are real people, real women who write these comments, especially in the heat of a lively debate.
    All I am suggesting is a kind of affirmative action for feminists by other feminists.
    This comment was directed at you only becasue what you wrote was perfectly correct, as many “correcting” comments are, and served as good example to illustrate my point. Your comment was brilliant, but it would have been just as brilliant, and perhaps not wounding, without the last eight words.
    Lately I have been cringing, not for myself, but for the obvious hurt feelings of other Blamers. I go to therapy twice a week, where the first lesson is “how not to take other’s words personally.” At that, Joyce has to remind me sometimes.
    I realize this well could be more unpopular speech (as it were)that I am typing into the little bright box here. Again, I just use this as an example of what happens frequently on a blog I care deeply about, and whose community I truly value.
    Hope I didn’t overstep the guidelines here as I would not want an “unsatisfactory outcome”- (an actual guideline). Just to be clear, this is a request/suggestion, not a command.

    Thank you for your patience. Please pardon our appearance, we’re remodeling.

  37. CrazyQuilter

    humanbein –

    EXACTLY! i have always found it strange that some guys, who presumably have at least some MALE friends who they speak to on a regular basis, will turn around and claim that they “don’t know how to talk to girls”. when i ask why they just can’t talk to girls the same way they talk to guys, they usually draw a blank, or start the verbal gymnastics of explaining that girls don’t like the same things, girls and guys don’t have enough in common to talk about, et cetera.

    so those guys revert to using pickup lines.

    i think this is for two reasons, the one being fear and the other being this deep-seated training to see women as unpersons.

    the first fear-based reason is that they are asking the woman not so she will say yes, but so that she will say yes so that HE can prove to his friends that he is a Valid Male and one of the Boys’ Club. if she says no, his so-called friends will savagely rag on him for not being “man enough” to “bag one”. in this case the woman herself really is irrelevant; she is a status symbol, an object to be obtained, a trophy. she exists only to validate the ego and the supposed ‘trial’ the man undergoes.

    the second reason is the learned inability to see women human beings, and instead seeing us as these ethereal non-human creatures that grace man (you know, “real people”) with our presence and fuckability. kind of like what you’d get if you combined a RealDoll, a stereotypical angel, and a stereotypical elf.

    either way, our wonderful patriarchy (all hail, praise be unto our overlordly phallo-masters) has set up the masculine construct so that both of these methods of thought are inculcated and then repeatedly reinforced in the minds of boys and men, and THAT is why some of them continue to think that merely saying some magic words at the she-creatures will make us swoon all over them.

  38. Earnest O'Nest

    Hey Jill, I’m sorry if my meaning was unclear. I hate pick up line culture (if culture it can be called), and I would very much like people expressing such lines to be (and I’m probably in need of specifying: figuratively) to feel pain when expressing them. Other than that: I am not female nor would I want here to pass as female (hence: Earnest) but I do believe that blaming the patriarchy is something I have a stake in, given I am constantly reminded I should behave more patriarchally. But if you want to zip me from here, I won’t hold a grudge although I will not be happy either. I won’t put up a fight, there’s just no fighting in me.

  39. rubysecret

    Also implied is the idea that women in public exist in a state of waiting for the dude with the right pickup line to come along. That if a dude doesn’t get ‘in there’ with his first try, that he’s either simply using the wrong line and should try another, or there’s something wrong with the b*tch.

  40. Larkspur

    Ooh. Sorry, I am unable to process big picture or meta stuff at the moment, but I did want to share my brand new just-thought-up “Smile!” counter strategy.

    He says, “Smile!” You turn to him and exclaim, “Hey, what, are you a dentist? Are there free samples involved? I do enjoy free samples! Huh? You’re not a dentist? Eww, why are you accosting me? Go away!”

    Or, if you often encounter the same guy who says the same thing, keep some simple vampire teeth in your pocket, slip ‘em on, then grin real big.

    Or you could combine a Hollaback. “Okay, I’ll smile. While I’m taking your picture with my fancy phone! Thanks for your cooperation.”

    This is all stop gap stuff, until I perfect the Savage Death Island Laser Eye-Beams of Death (or Stun).

  41. Kayleigh

    This actually happened last week, while I was waiting for some chips in a takeaway:

    ‘Giz a smile gorgeous!’

    …….

    ‘I said, giz a smile!’

    ‘I don’t smile on command.’

    ‘……Eh?!’

    ‘I said, I don’t smile on command.’

    ‘Why?’

    ‘Do you?’

    ‘Oh……So…..I should just keep walking, then?’

    ‘Definitely.’

    ‘Oh.’

    Short of barricading myself in my house, I don’t know what to do to avoid such exchanges.

  42. Alexa

    Asking someone to smile on command is a gesture of aggression – if they said it to another man that command would get a finger or a ‘what did you fucking say?’

    I say it intends to cause offence, just tell the geezer to fuck off.

  43. Melodie

    This seriously is my new favorite blog. You are so witty. I keep checking your page to see when you’ll post something new. Love it!!!!

  44. AileenWuornos

    “ah 7 million google results for pickup lines, including a wikipedia entry with categories and examples!”

    Holy shit.

    And Twisty isn’t even talking about the countless creeps who make countless fortunes on “pick up artistry”.

  45. Intransigentia

    “But, but, but if we don’t allow pickup lines then men will never talk to women (ever!) and romance will be dead!”

    Sounds lovely to me. When can we start?

  46. AlienNumber

    It just occured to me that the topics Twisty chooses to discuss are those that will make it easier for radfeminism to infiltrate Google, get at the top of all searches and destroy Patriarchy from the inside. Brilliant!

  47. Ron Sullivan

    Him: “Smile!”

    Her:”Cringe!”

  48. JT

    Ron, that’s usually my response. That, or laughter. Not kind laughter, either.

    Pickup lines have always bothered me, thanks for articulating. I am so tired of the “woman as vending machine” mentality: press the right buttons, say the right lines, do the right moves and KA-CLUNK! You receive sex!

  49. Chihiro

    The worst “pick up line” I ever heard was by a creepy guy who was behind me in a grocery line a few weeks ago. He came into the store and made a loud and supposedly “funny” comment about the weather to the line of people at the checkout. Unfortunately, due to my patriarchy training I did a courtesy smile because when a man tries to be funny, it’s impolite not to have a fake smile plastered on your face. I realized this was a big mistake as the creepy weather man zeroed in on my reaction and made me the target of his bizarre pick up techniques. While he was behind me he REPEATED the same weather joke 2 more times, word for word, to himself, at this point I really wanted to get away from the fucknut because he was acting crazier than your normal creepy loser. When I get my things to the register, creepy weather man says loudly “PLEASE tell me you’re not on a diet” yeah, he was looking at what I was buying AND giving me an entitled, back-handed compliment. I turn around and say “what’s it to you? How is it any of your business what I buy?” He stood there like a deer in headlights , I didn’t get a reply because luckily I just paid and left very quickly. I hate being made uncomfortable by men.

  50. mearl

    Possible reaction to the “Smile, baby!” pickup crap: one could smile all cross-eyed with top teeth hanging way farther out than bottom teeth, face twisted, while making an “Unnnnghhh” sound. I mean, it’s not like they specified what SORT of smile.

  51. someofparts

    I once accidentally discovered that lying about my age by adding years can cause a satisfying meltdown in a dude trying out a pickup line. I think the dude in question got on my bad side by prefacing his inane question with a big buildup. He cautioned that he had to ask me something very very important. So I was thinking he was about to ask if I thought world disarmament was possible or something. Of course he then leaned in to ask me my age in a conspiratorial whisper, followed by a long stare that was meant to seem intense. So I looked him right back in his silly face and added fifteen years to my age. He blushed, sputtered, appealed to the bartender (who was laughing at him too) and generally amused me and a few of my friends who were in the area.

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