(To new readers: There's a footnote at the end of this piece in which I discuss my feelings about Pickup Artistry as it was taught in the aughts, which are ambivalent at best. Short form: I don't endorse manipulating people.)
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John Carter is, as of this moment, the preeminent historian of the ascendant political confederacy of the dispossessed that he refers to as “The Hydra.” Everyone should read his series “The Great Convergence,” which details the intellectual and social history of the movement.
The part of his essay that grabbed me by the collar and gave me a shake that said “Are you paying attention, Rollins?” was this:
The manosphere is an especially interesting example, because it didn't start out as an ideological group, but rather as a purely practical, results-oriented community. Guys started noticing that essentially nothing their mothers or the television had told them about female behaviour was true. Every time they acted on those ideas, they were met with rejection. Female behaviour being mysterious at the best of times, they started getting together on Internet forums to compare notes. Over time, proven techniques emerged that actually worked to get dates; thus was born the pickup artist community. It turned out that these techniques required jettisoning all the pleasant lies they'd been fed about what women want, and relearning human sexual psychology from the ground up. It also turned out, upon further investigation, that they were simply re-discovering perennial truths about human nature that had simply been kept from them. In short order this led to these men wondering what else they'd been lied to about. After all, if society had misdirected them on something as fundamental and important to human happiness as 'how to find a mate', there weren't really many limits, were there?
Because this, kids, is my wheelhouse.
Pickup artistry, the manosphere’s approach to the mating dance, is essentially the application of the autistic approach to social skills that I described in Part I to interacting with women. The technical aspects of pickup came incredibly naturally to me. Combined with the system of street survival known affectionately by its practitioners as WeaselCraft (which I studied in the the 00s) and my lifelong interest in classical literature, pickup formed a picture of the world for me whose caption read “NOT AS ADVERTISED.”
Something John has left out of the discussion of pickup artistry is how overwhelmingly autistic its approach is. The Mystery Method, one of the original bibles of pickup, is incredibly method-heavy. Its students are instructed to use “canned material,” stories and lines that are supposed to be memorized verbatim. Neurolinguistic programming, a technique widely touted in pickup circles, is an approach that emphasizes the similarities between language and computer code. Skilled practitioners claim they have the ability to hack people’s brains, which is an incredibly autistic way of looking at the problem of finding someone who wants to go out a date with you on Saturday night.
This essay, however, isn’t about pickup per se. It is, however, about human behavior and motivation. In this case, it’s about the surprising role of autists in the current American sociopolitical dynamic.
The description of autistic presentation I used in the first part of this article is a paraphrase of Hans Asberger’s own words, and it’s the one most people would probably use. Here’s the exact quote: “a lack of empathy, little ability to form friendships, one-sided conversations, intense absorption in a special interest, and clumsy movements.” It’s more or less true, and faced with a world that values empathy, social connection, and grace, the incentives are there for many of us to grow out of that presentation as we get older.
Masking, or presenting a set of situationally socially appropriate emotional reactions, which we don’t always feel, is a big part of learning to succeed socially for autists, and it’s a fraught topic. A lot of autistic people resent having to do it. (As I said in Part I, I find the rules underlying social interaction fascinating, and I enjoy what I think of as “The Dance” more than almost any other activity, but I’m an anomaly, and having to think in what’s effectively a foreign language can be exhausting, even for me.)
Autism has been described as “hyper-maleness.” The stereotype, which like many stereotypes has a basis in fact, is of an obsessive quant. In my age bracket, autistic guys used to be the ones who could recite baseball statistics, played Dungeons & Dragons, or knew everything about comic books, but probably didn’t get invited to a lot of parties. The stereotype today is a little more positive and aspirational; Bill Gates is a billionaire, after all, and the explosion of the internet has made enthusiasm for computer technology into a well-paying career even for those not blessed with a parent who sat on the board of IBM.
Women, it’s widely believed, mostly aren’t autistic. Most epidemiological studies report about a four to one ratio of male to female autists, and their portrayal in popular culture might lead one to assume autistic women are rare and easy to spot.
What if that's not true?
Stepping back from the experience of autistic men, look at the impact we’ve had on the world, especially in the field of technology. There are compensations for those famously poor social skills—from “the focus” that allows us to work obsessively on technical problems to the “unrestricted access to raw sensory data” that Temple Grandin describes that makes autists whose area of interest is visual such capable draftsmen to the overlap between autism and synestheisa, we’re built different. And if we find a field in which those structural brain differences are rewarded, like mathematics or technology, we can outperform people who have to work harder to understand them, and we often do.
The vanguard of autistic women are, of course, women who have sex with women (WSW)—a disproportionate number of WSW are autistic. A Dutch study on autism and sexuality claims that while more than 80% of autistic men identify as heterosexual, only 57% of autistic women do. The schism in the WSW community (especially among lesbian-identified feminists) related to the transgender movement is well-known among those of us who get our news in whole or in part from non-mainstream media, and it’s directly relevant to this discussion. Young women who most likely would have become lesbians a decade ago are now identifying as FTM transgender at a slightly higher rate than MTFs, many going as far as to medically transition. And over 90% of LGBT-identified high schoolers declare themselves college-bound, with 50% planning to attend graduate school, as opposed to non-LGBT-identified high schoolers, 70% of whom plan to attend college and 33% of whom plan to go to grad school.
Assuming that a quarter of autists are feeemales, that’s not too many; according to the CDC, 1 in 54 people in the US are autistic. But a 2018 study in The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders suggests that there are a lot more autistic women out there than previously suspected, in part because the gold standard diagnostic criteria, the ADOS and the ADI-R, have a harder time picking them up. The authors of the study go into the reasons this might be the case in depth, and I strongly recommend that anyone who’s at all interested in autism read the entire study.
I am a practical fellow, and I would boil down the reasons autistic women are harder to spot thus: Men are valued for their accomplishments, but women are valued for their ability to communicate socially. The parents and peers of autistic girls, recognizing that their daughters or friends struggle socially, and that a social deficiency in a girl is a much more serious blow to their social value than it would be for a boy, ensure they get extra-intensive coaching, feedback, and support. They make sure autistic girls learn how to be both appropriately social and socially appropriate.
You’ve got a bunch of autistic women. They’ve all had much more intensive social training than autistic men have, women are better at social than men are at baseline anyway, and as the study clearly shows, that’s true of autistic women by comparison to autistic men, too. And the diagnostic tools used to find autistic men don’t pick them up as easily as a consequence.
I’m an autistic man who’s genuinely interested in social skills, and I know how I think about them—I use the metaphor of a foreign language a lot—but guys who did pickup when it was a thing often discussed them using hacking metaphors. I think it’s not unreasonable to suppose autistic women who have learned them and take an interest in them would think about them in similar ways. Regardless of the current push to fit autism under the Umbrella of the Oppressed, it is not a diagnosis with a lot of social cachet unless you run a startup that has received serious attention from venture capitalists. I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t want to show up on a test intended to detect autists, I could probably evade it by thinking in a different social language, and I bet autistic women routinely do this to avoid the stigma of the diagnosis.
One of the commonplaces among those of us who count ourselves as members of the Hydra (also, why aren’t we all greeting one another with the salutation “Hail Hydra?”) is that schools and colleges are by and large run by and for women. But what kind of women?
Women like us, my lads. The fifth column dictating a great deal of woke political discourse is our sisters in social obliviousness, autistic women. But they got the social training we didn’t. And like us, they tend to be dispassionate, practical, and not particularly empathetic. They share our tendency toward conspiratorial thinking, and our tendency to go down rabbit holes, and our obsessiveness. And the system they learned to manipulate isn’t computer code, it’s language and social dynamics, including the legal system and aspects of legislation related to education, like Title IX.
It’s easy to think like a wokie. They’re a little selfish (as you might expect someone who's biologically incentivized to hoard resources to be), but aside from that, they don’t feel like they quite fit in, and they know how to weaponize rules. Sound familiar?
Thanks for reading this far. In Part III, I'm going to get into the relationship between autism and the chemistry of repression, and briefly depart from “is” in order to discuss “ought.”
Virtually all pickup skills taught as “techniques,” NLP included, are based on introducing a dissonant element into gaps in the way people use language, including body language, which has always made me uncomfortable with the “Seduction Community.” It feels too much like exploiting people, and that doesn’t strike me as the basis of a healthy interaction, which is why I much prefer the metaphor of dance to the metaphor of hacking people. I enjoy dancing with women IRL, and if I were interested in programming my romantic partners, I understand the lessons of artificial intelligence research are being applied to the production of sexbots.
Interesting stuff. I recognized myself in this - I'm not autistic, but I'm definitely spectrumy (obsessive focus, awkwardness, etc.), and had to learn essentially everything I know about social interaction from what amounted to a dedicated study of it. I was able to do that effectively enough that most people who know me think I'm an extrovert.
Regarding female autism, and neurological correlates, you may be onto something. Another factor may be schizoid tendencies. There's apparently some indication of co-occurence of autism and schizophrenia in the same familial bloodlines, and both seem to be related to right hemisphere dysfunction/compensatory left-hemisphere hyperdominance. Women also tend to have less developed RHs than males (which is why they're more detail oriented, a bit more narcissistic on average, a bit less capable of seeing the big picture, and prone to logorrhea - speaking much but saying little). All of that implies that women should be just as prone to autism as men; however, since schizophrenia has a similar origin, it could be it expresses itself in this fashion. That would then explain conspiratorial/magical thinking ("white supremacy is everywhere!"), selective blindness ("who cares if it hurts white men?"), and the obsession with self-referential theoretical systems divorced from reality, which are pursued to the point of destructiveness.
Basically: autists become obsessed with real things, focusing very strongly on something that actually exists in the world, and forming their being around it; schizoids get lost in an illusory hall of mirrors, in which reality is discarded in favor of a fragmented yet elaborate model.
An interesting hypothesis, but my experience as a (mildly, grant you) autistic woman leads me to believe it might not be quite on the mark.
I've found myself resistant to wokeism, and while there are many reasons for this, I suspect it's due to one trait in particular: I can't be swayed by the promise of group belonging. I've found this to be true of the other women who balk at this stuff, particularly the trans nonsense (many of whom, incidentally, are WSW. I don't think it's a coincidence that lesbians are particularly reviled among the trans cult adherents). They are "difficult." They care more for precision, accuracy, truth than they do for social acceptance.
Now, it may be the case that there are two warring groups of autistic women: those who've adopted dominant social dynamics, and those who haven't. The suggestion of recent data that autists are more likely to be targeted by gender therapy would lend credence to this idea. But my feeling is that the charge is largely being led by "normie" women who are driven by a desire to either belong to or control a social group in a way that autistic women aren't.