If you regularly peruse Kickstarter, or are on Reddit (especially the /r/seduction section), or if you are a fan of the comedian Casey Malone, you may already be aware of the tempest (bigger than teapot-sized) that is swelling around one particular Kickstarter campaign: funding to publish the book Above the Game by Ken Hoinsky.
Hoinsky, who goes by the username “Tofu Tofu” on Reddit, has published several pieces on how to relate to and pick up women. He includes sections that go all the way up to advice on, well, going all the way. And because he advocates what he calls “taking the lead” in some extremely forward ways, the proposed book has come under fire as being a how-to manual on rape. And because it is the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, Kickstarter has come under fire for allowing the campaign to move forward, and in fact is the target of a DoSomething.org petition authored by DoSomething.org’s Ben Kassoy.
Although Kassoy wrote the petition, which has so far garnered more than 50,000 signatures, exhorting Kickstarter CEO Perry Chen to take the Above the Game campaign down, comedian Casey Malone has been perhaps the most vocal about it, devoting a fair amount of real estate on his blog to it.
The petition quotes directly from advice that Hoinsky, a self-styled relationship and “how to pick up chicks” counselor, has posted to Reddit in the /r/seduction area, or has otherwise made available and indicated will be in the book.
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The petition reads, in part:
“Pull out your c**k and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your d**k.”
That’s from Ken Hoinsky’s proposed book on “dating advice.” “Disgusting” doesn’t even begin to describe it: basically, it’s a how-to guide on sexually assaulting women. (Read more excerpts here.)
But, get this: Hoinsky’s book, Above the Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women has raised $15,929 on Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.
That means that at 11:56 am EST today (6/19), Hoinsky may actually receive nearly $16,000 to publish a book that advises men to “Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.”
That’s why we’re demanding Kickstarter take down the project and refuse to fund Hoinksy a single dime for this sexual assault handbook. We also want Kickstarter CEO Perry Chen to issue a statement apologizing this project was approved in the first place and vowing not to support projects of this nature in the future.
Of course, demanding that a business do anything is always dicey – most executives don’t take kindly to being told how to run their business and, apparently, Kickstarter’s Chen is no exception. According to the petition site, DoSomething.org CMO Naomi Hirabayashi’s attempts to reach Chen directly were unreturned, and when she and Kassoy attempted to hand-deliver the petition to Chen, at Kickstarter HQ, they were instead met at the door by the Kickstarter office manager, who assured them that she would deliver the petition to Chen, and according to them, did not allow them to enter the building.
Of course, Hoinsky has his own take on the whole thing. But let’s back this up a bit. Even before this whole maelstrom got started, Hoinsky described his approach as, basically, “treating women like human beings.”
In an interview with the Daily Dot, Hoinsky explained that “People treat women, especially very attractive women, like they’re a different species and they’re afraid to talk to them. I’ve seen this first-hand because in San Francisco and in New York, there are local communities for Seddit and guys hang out all the time and I’ll hang out with them and one-to-one or with a group of guys. They’re so funny, so personable, amazing people, but you put them in front of an attractive woman and they act like a different person. I’ve said that you have to go in there and treat them like an old friend. Assume that she’s possibly attracted to you and that there’s already a rapport there. If you treat them like one of your friends, you’re not putting them on a pedestal or treating them like they’re so different.”
Of course, you wouldn’t take your friend’s hand and put it on your exposed private parts (well, at least, we wouldn’t).
As Hoinsky explains in a rebuttal to the groundswell against the Kickstarter campaign:
I am devastated and troubled by the allegations that my book, “Above The Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women”, promotes rape. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A handful of quotes were taken out of context and posted on Tumblr which steamrolled in a game of telephone where hardly anyone bothered to read the original version.
People took advice from a section on “Physical Escalation & Sex” and posted them online. Devoid of context, they appeared to be promoting sexually assaulting women when that wasn’t the case at all.
The gist of the controversial advice is “Don’t wait for signs before you make your move. Let her be the one who rejects your advances. If she says no, stop immediately and tell her you don’t want to do anything that would make her uncomfortable. Try again at a later time if appropriate or cease entirely if she is absolutely not interested.”
The thing that the commenters on social media are leaving out is that the advice was taken from a section in the guide offering advice on what to do AFTER a man has met a cute girl, gotten her phone number, gone on dates, spent time getting to know her, and now are alone behind closed doors fooling around. If “Don’t wait for signs, make the first move” promotes sexual assault, then “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid was a song about rape.
That cherry-picked advice, without that important context, makes it sound like I am advocating non-consensual sexual advances on strangers. I would absolutely never do such a thing.
In fact there is an entire section on consent that the bloggers conveniently left out to paint me in a poor light:
These are copied verbatim from Above The Game:
IMPORTANT NOTE ON RESISTANCE:
If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know. If she says “STOP,” or “GET AWAY FROM ME,” or shoves you away, you know she is not interested. It happens. Stop escalating immediately and say this line:
“No problem. I don’t want you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with.”
Memorize that line. It is your go-to when faced with resistance. Say it genuinely, without presumption. All master seducers are also masters at making women feel comfortable. You’ll be no different. If a woman isn’t comfortable, take a break and try again later.
Of course if you’re really unclear, back off. Better safe than sorry.
You understand that honesty is the greatest aphrodisiac.
With great power comes great responsibility. You understand to your core that her heart will be broken if she ever feels manipulated by you. You literally have the power to color all her future interactions with men. As such, you demonstrate supreme desire without a drop of presumption. You make your intentions clear. She will never put you in the friend zone. You approach authentically. You leave her better than when you find her.
Additionally, the book contains an entire chapter on sexual assault & rape, preaching men what not to do. Of course no one has seen those parts yet because the book hasn’t been released yet.
I realize these are delicate issues, but I ask people to lower their pitchforks until they take the time to hear the full story.
Interestingly, after what they perceived to be a rebuff by Kickstarter, the gang over at DoSomething.org issued an offer to Hoinsky. At the site they explain that “We reached out the author personally, offering advice and insight from a professional author and relationship blogger (who works for us!) on how to improve his book so that it does not promote sexual assault. If this book is (apparently) going to be funded and written, we want to make sure nobody is going to get hurt. Our goal isn’t lots of clicks or to embarrass anyone, we just want to make sure violence against women isn’t rewarded…ever.”
They also say that “We’re not giving up. (a) We’re going to throw ourselves at this author to make sure he writes a positive book. (b) We’re going to keep collecting signatures until we get a response from Kickstarter. (c) We’re going to continue going after awful things like this, everywhere.”
Of course, there are at least five sides to any issue like this.