Monday, December 15, 2014

The Obligatory Entry about Staring

It's no secret Koreans stare a lot at foreigners. It seems almost every blog about Korea has to touch on the incessant nature of being stared at and the various theories thrown around in a desperate attempt to make sense of it. It might be repetitious but it's my turn to take a stab at it. Many of these blogs mistakenly and understandably come to the easy conclusion that Koreans are staring because they are curious about foreigners. I believe this is a misguided interpretation of this half-witted behavior.

Some people try to explain it away with "curiosity" and that staring isn't considered rude in Korea. Staring at strangers most certainly is considered rude. As I mentioned in my previous entry, Koreans who do this seem completely unaware, or they are hypocritically against being stared at themselves. Go to the subway and stare at a Korean. They will undoubtedly think you are an asshole or some kind of weirdo. If you're a guy and it's a girl you're staring at, she'll probably think you're a perv. Even if it's not considered "rude" as in a collectively agreed upon social faux pas, Koreans sure as hell don't like it being done to them.

But as hypocritical and oblivious as they like to be, they still love staring. Older people love staring the most, and among the middle-aged and elderly, men love to do it even more, especially if the subject is a young attractive woman. Young attractive, white women are even more likely to be subject to this. White person or not, older Koreans love staring. They stare at fellow Koreans who are dressed differently and act differently. They stare at handicapped people. They stare at Koreans who speak a language that's not Korean. They just love fucking staring.

Once I saw a girl taking photos of some flowers with her phone and a lady walking by had to stop to stare at her for a minute. Not a glance because she heard the click of the camera, but a full-on, let's-stand-here-uncomfortably-behind-this-person-and-look-at-her stare. It's to the point I really wonder what the point of this is. Has she never seen a camera? Is this lady really that perplexed at the idea of someone taking pictures of flowers? Examples like these are endless. I stopped to observe the lady because I was truly perplexed. Staring at other people is something I notice so much here that I sometimes like to observe it. You can say I like staring at people who stare. I find it fascinating how little it takes to enthrall these people.

If I'm being honest with myself, I do think curiosity does provide part of an explanation. I was at Costco with my father once and noticed him staring at this woman's cart, which was full of water bottles and packets of coffee. People buying tons of stuff at Costco? Who would've thought. I asked him what he was so curious about and he wondered out loud why this woman was buying so much water and coffee. Maybe she owned a cafe? Maybe her workplace gave her this task? 'Who gives a fuck? Why do you even care?' I wondered. Being inquisitively interested in other people's business is certainly another Korean habit.

Curiosity doesn't provide the full answer though, when you consider that we live in the year 2014 (soon to be 2015) in a country proudly touted as a global economic power. We have internet, and most people should have seen enough TV and movies that seeing white people (and other people) isn't that big of a deal. And all my instances of staring I can recall were in Seoul, the biggest, the most educated, and most multi-cultural place in the country. I wouldn't be surprised to find that it's worse in other parts of the country, but staring in Seoul is common enough that I notice it. A lot.

Whatever the reasons Koreans stare at other Koreans who are even the tiniest bit different, it is definitely exacerbated when it comes to people who are visibly foreign. It may be curiosity exercised in an intrusive manner when it comes to say, a group of big white dudes standing around. If these staring simpletons are harboring hostile racist sentiment, they usually don't show it. When it comes to foreign women, I notice older men tend to stare a lot more than anybody else. I'll notice younger men do it too, but the ajussis seem to lack more social intelligence and grasp of public etiquette. It might be just harmless curiosity, but when considering that men seem to stare more often than women, and I often notice not just staring of the face but an up-and-down eyeing, a lot these looks do come off more "predatory." And taking into account the perception Korean men have of white women and that almost every white female friend I know has had at least one instance of being grabbed or followed by some creep, not to mention the first-hand observations I've made while being out with my white friends, it is hard for me to perceive such stares as mere curiosity. These dudes are staring at these women for the same reason any guy stares at women.

I can't condemn a guy for wanting to get a look at a girl he finds attractive. I do it too as I'm sure almost every straight guy does. But I do it in glances and I try not to look obvious. If the girl notices that I am looking at her, I look away, say hi, or smile as an indication that I am not a creep, because that is the last thing I want a girl to perceive me as, especially if it's someone I might be interested in. But these ajussis don't give a shit. They stare openly and blatantly and apathetic to the obvious discomfort they cause the person they are staring at. Unfortunately, the onus is on the women to brush it off and ignore it because these dudes certainly aren't going to stop.

Unfortunately for me, it is difficult for myself to brush off the creepy stares my girlfriend gets. I notice quite a few when I'm with her so I can imagine how much worse it is when she's by herself. It is one thing to notice it when it happens to some woman you don't know, but when that woman is your girlfriend, it gets a little more uncomfortable. The protective instincts tend to kick in. Sometimes I stare back at these guys to see how they react, but a lot of the times they are so fixated on her that they don't notice me staring. When they do, they usually look away. Not so nice when it happens to them, you see.

On a side note my initial claim that people are utterly unaware of their own actions, may only hold partially true. While Koreans do a lot of things without noticing that they are doing them, I don't think they are always unaware as they seem. I used to date a black girl a while back and when I was out with her, I noticed that people were staring at me more than her (quite a contrast from being with a white girl). When I stared back at the people staring at me, they would quickly look away only to timidly glance back, then looked away again when I made eye contact. Not the behavior of people who are completely unaware or see nothing wrong with staring.

Whether they are staring at me, my girlfriend, or my friends, I am profoundly curious of the reasons. What is the point of all this staring? What do they hope to get out of looking at a random stranger for an uncomfortably long period of time? Do they have questions about foreigners? Have they never seen a white person? Do they want to practice English? Do they know it's rude but are so old that they stopped caring? Are they mustering the courage to talk to the girl? Do they want to ask me where to meet white women (a guy actually did come up to ask me this, by the way)? Are they wondering if white girls are as easy as the TV tells them? Are they rapists? Are they racists? What the fuck do you want?

Some may point out that even in other countries, people would stare at people who stand out. I can't speak for other countries, but I never observed so much staring in the States as I do in Korea, and I lived in goddamn Arkansas. Some of those people probably never saw a slanted eye person outside of a Jackie Chan movie until they saw me, but I have never been blatantly stared at. I've gotten glances and quite a few looks when I dated a white girl there but nobody stopped and gawked at me. Whenever I spoke Korean, people would turn to look, but nobody eyed me up and down like ajussis do when I speak English in Seoul. Overweight rednecks at Walmart in the middle of bumfuck, nowhere treated me with more courtesy than I have ever seen foreigners treated with in metropolitan Seoul from so-called "educated" people.

I don't know why Koreans, in particular the ajussis and ajummas, stare so much but from my observations I can sum up a few assessments:
1. It is not socially acceptable to stare at people. Yes, Koreans do it a lot but just like with shoving and coughing on people, they hate it when it's done to them.
2. Curiosity of foreigners may play a role, but it is hard to believe that is the sole reason behind staring when one remembers that this is a supposed to be a modern, global, and advanced nation.
3. Koreans also tend to be needlessly curious about other people's lives. What someone else is up to is a matter of interest even when it has absolutely no bearing on their lives.
4. Sexual desire plays a role when it comes to ajussis staring at foreign women. Being creeped on by middle-aged men is enough of a problem for many Korean women, hard to believe there isn't a sexual component to foreign women being stared at.
5. Koreans just like to stare at anybody who stands out, whether they be foreign or local. Why? What do they hope to achieve by staring? Who the fuck knows.

Maybe one day I will just straight up ask one these ajussis why they are staring. I'll probably get some dishonest bullshit answer about being curious or that they didn't notice they were staring, but it'll be some kind of data about this perplexing behavior.
In the mean time, I observe staring so frequently that I have half a mind to start taking photos of these people and start a new blog.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Unawake and Korean

I was standing with my friend at a coffee shop while he was in the process of ordering when a Korean guy walks in and asks for an Americano as if my friend wasn't even there. Then when the drinks are served, the guy pushes us aside to grab it as if, once again, we weren't even there.

Being pushed aside like an object is a common occurrence in Korea as is obvious to anybody who lives here. I have discussed before, however, that this widely shared habit of Koreans isn't necessarily done out of malice; I believe most of these people are not even aware of their own actions. It is the only way I can explain many of these nonsensical behaviors that sometimes go against even the basic logic of self-interest. Koreans would seem to the observing eye, completely oblivious to their surroundings and sometimes their own actions.

Korean rudeness is often mistaken as being "cultural," implying the presence of some mutual, unspoken agreement to being shoved and poked and sneezed on. This certainly isn't the case. In my first year back in the motherland I quickly found that shoving back at pushy people usually resulted in some form of protest. I've had a few occasions of people verbally challenging me in these situations and when I tell them that I was pushing back because they pushed me, their reaction was incredulous. Then there are the times when I get stare-downs or muttered curses when I refuse to budge when being pushed. It seems these people aren't even aware. An ajumma may nonchalantly grab a black person's hair or rub their skin, but do the same thing to said-ajumma, and you'll probably get a bewildered look or an angry reaction. Self-awareness isn't the forte of most Koreans.

To be fair, it is difficult to find those with an introspective sense of self in any civilization. Most people are too busy tuning the world out with their smartphones and basking themselves in consumerist gratification to be concerned with self-reflection. But if I were to generalize, Americans and other westerners as a whole seem to be tad bit better at critically observing themselves and their societies. In terms of being introspective and observant of their own actions and words, and being a person of some substance, I have to give Americans the edge. Mindful, present, conscious, awake, aware, or however you'd like to call it, Koreans greatly lack this. Ironically, these overweight consumerist Americans beat Korea in this regard despite the peninsula's long history of Buddhism. It seems Koreans have forsaken their spiritual/contemplative tradition (if they ever had one) for consumer goods and modern infrastructure.

Korea is an overly competitive society obsessed with good looks, shiny new gadgets, and fancy designer purses. The whole point of life here seems to be to obtain as many gratuitous things as possible, or at least provide a veneer of having them. Granted this is a symptom of many civilizations, Koreans seem to take it up a notch. But a life revolving around a single-minded goal of getting stuff is one no different than that of a dog's. Getting the next treat is the paramount purpose of existence just as getting that Gucci bag or BMW is. A dog will not give a care to anything else and will shove, run and jump to its objective of getting that treat. A Korean will do the same to get somewhere one second faster to his cubicle job of wasting his life away. The only difference is that a dog with treats is happy, human beings aren't no matter how much stuff we accumulate.

It may sound harsh to parallel dogs and Koreans. Dogs are cute, but they are also seen as lower life forms lacking in language and a deeper level of cognition. So what's the excuse for people? Our self-awareness and cognition is what makes us human and we so readily forget this. It's something we should work to our benefit because we certainly can't beat dogs in cuteness.

This entry started off with shoving but that is only one symptom of being unawake to life. Other side effects include but are not limited to: being angry about Dokdo and not knowing why, being racist but being completely oblivious to it, buying expensive fashion items only to default and end up selling yourself as a prostitute, endangering others with reckless driving, killing yourself over unsatisfactory grades, and driving your child to suicide by bombarding him/her with pressure. This is why so many I meet here are void of substance and abundant in blandness. Husks of social pressure only interested in material gain, grades, and a job that entitles them to marriage. They have no other interests other than the latest trends dictated by corporate propaganda. No personality to the point I wonder if I'm talking to a person or some humanoid robot. The plastic noses certainly don't help.

Koreans shove because they are obsessively worried about where they're trying to get to, rather than focusing on where they are. They monotonously go through life while hoping to achieve some arbitrary goal, and forgetting to actually, live. I'm starting to think an encouragement of some sort of spiritual, introspective pursuit will alleviate many ills of Korean society.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Foreigner

I hate the word for foreigner in Korean. Waegukin (외국인) is a racist word that attempts to constrain a person's humanity into a single easily identifiable attribute: that he or she isn't Korean.

Some people may object to my objection to the word because, it's just a word, right? Foreigner merely means "a person from a different country" so why's that a bad thing? Well, "faggot" means a bundle of sticks and "chink" means a crack or fissure, but everybody knows why those words are offensive.

I don't have a problem with the word itself, but like most slurs, it's the context in which one uses it that makes it less appealing, and I don't like the way Koreans use the word "외국인." Despite what it means in the dictionary, in Korea "foreigner" has definite racial connotations. Foreigner is almost synonymous with white people. Typing in "외국인" in naver gives me a bunch of pictures of (mostly) white women while in google it gives me pictures of white people (along with the obligatory white person making kimchi or wearing hanbok photo) with a few black people here and there. Even though by definition it should be whose passport doesn't say Korea on it (the rest of the world), Koreans usually use the word to describe white people.

Show Koreans a group of people who are apparently Chinese, Koreans will say they're Chinese. Show them a group of apparently Japanese people, and they will say they're Japanese. Show them white people and Koreans will answer, "foreigners." In the Korean collective, a Korean American who doesn't speak a word of Korean is still Korean while a white person who holds Korean citizenship is still a foreigner. It also explains why Koreans who to overseas call the locals foreigners even though they are the foreigners in the country they are visiting.

I hang out at places largely frequented by English speakers (who generally tend to be white) and I am no longer surprised to run into passing Koreans who like to stand and gawk. It's not uncommon for me to hear comments like, "Look at all these foreigners!" or "There are so many foreigners!" whenever there are large numbers of white people around.

My bigger problem with the word isn't how it's incorrectly used, but how it has to be tacked on as a label to a person's identity. If you're visibly not Korean, the word "외국인" follows you around everywhere and it replaces every other characteristic about you. When Koreans talk about you, they'll refer to you as the "foreign friend" instead of you know, your fucking name. To them you're "the foreigner" no matter how hard you try to assimilate into Korean culture or learn the language.

I rarely had this issue in the United States. People called me by my name instead of "the Asian guy" or "Korean guy." Nobody introduced me by saying, "This is my Korean friend." How irritated would I have been if I was constantly referred to as "Korean" instead of my name? I'm glad my identity didn't revolve around my being Korean. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for many who live in Korea.

For many foreigners, their social identities are tied to that one fact of not being Korean citizens. But to be fair, this isn't something Koreans only limit to foreigners; they do it to themselves as well. It isn't surprising a culture that discourages individuality would find it difficult to acknowledge individuality in others. For many Koreans, their identities as people revolve around them being Korean, so not being Korean is just as important of an attribute of a person's identity.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Multi-cultural Dating

I am currently in what some people may term an AMWF relationship. You might read this entry expecting some insight on how we deal with the cultural challenges. Well, there are none. Sure we have differences since we are two different individuals, but culture never enters the discussion. It's because I have a simple solution for dealing the challenges of cross-cultural dating.

For all those suffering from the headaches that come from dating someone of a different culture, I proffer thinking in a completely new paradigm: there is no such thing as cultural differences when it comes to interpersonal relationships.

I know this goes against conventional thinking. I know most people will think my opinion is nonsense, because of course there are cultural differences! People from different cultures will do things differently. Yes that is true, but people from the same culture will do things differently as well.

By focusing on the "cross-cultural" aspect of a cross-cultural relationship, people lose sight of the bigger picture, the relationship itself and the individuals partaking in it. A person's race or culture doesn't dictate everything about that person but in the discourse of cross-cultural relationships, race and culture seem to overshadow everything else.

The problem with approaching a relationship from a "cultural" framework is that is operates on assumptions.

First is the assumption that a person's identity (habits, beliefs, values, interests) is based on whatever culture you may associate that person with. People tend to project their own expectations and definition of culture to others based on assumptions. Some may look at me, an oriental looking guy in Korea, and assume that I am as typical (whatever "typical" may mean to you) as other Korean men. Some Korean men may look at a western woman and assume she is as easy as the American TV shows have lead him to believe. These preconceived misconceptions are then used to gauge how a relationship would turn out. A good example of this are the people who tell me things wouldn't work out between a foreign girl and I because we would be "too different." How they can predict the future with so little information is beyond me.

The second assumption is that one has to make concessions and compromises for the cultural sensibilities of his/her partner. I personally don't believe in "compromise" in relationships, I prefer "exchange." Whatever you call it, some level of give and take is obviously needed in a relationship. The problem is when people try to force themselves to accept and endure a trait of their partner they obviously don't like instead of knowing where to draw the line for themselves. Fuck cultural understanding and relativism. If you don't like that your husband drinks himself to sleep everyday, make him stop or leave him instead of chalking it up as his culture. I'm not staying with a woman whose daily routine consists of stomping kittens in the head, no matter how culturally ingrained that habit may be.

The third is assuming that if a cross-cultural relationship breaks apart, the blame falls on the cultural differences. This assessment is nothing more than a lazy cop out. Couples break up all the time regardless of perceived cultural identities. Every couple has problems in their relationship, but how much of that is cultural and how much of it is because they're simply two different individuals?

My answer to the above assumptions is this:
1. Know what you want and know that you know what you want (a.k.a. self-reflection)
2. Don't assume shit about other people
3. Communicate honestly

These are obvious guidelines that apply to every relationship, not just cross-cultural ones. You don't need a library of relationship books to know this but it is astounding how many people don't practice any of them.

I am currently in a loving relationship with a white American woman. It is the best relationship I've ever been in. As different as we may seem on paper, we share one vital commonality of honesty (and perhaps language that enables us to be honest). We both make an effort to be honest with ourselves and each other. We explore every corner, nook and cranny our psyches and talk about them. We don't make assumptions; we even discuss how we personally define and use certain everyday words. We verbalize whatever expectation we may have. We communicate.

Are her and I different? Of course. We are two different individuals. In a sense, I believe every person has his/her own unique culture. We all have our own ticks and habits and life experiences. We may share certain cultural traits with other people, but the combination of experiences that make up the person we are, is unique. When I was in my early teens, a comfort food of mine was rice mixed with butter, soy sauce and cheese. I never met anybody else who enjoyed this weird culinary concoction until I became friends with this white kid from Arkansas. I never would've thought I would share this peculiar habit with a white boy from a Southern state.

In a way, we will experience cultural differences similarities with everybody, no matter which culture they come from and no matter how different or similar they may seem on the outside. It is up to each individual to know what he or she wants in a partner. I know what I look for in a woman and I know what I won't tolerate. I'm not going to make concessions for somebody because it's her culture. There's no rule saying I have to force myself to be happy with somebody I am obviously not happy with. I don't have to judge her, but I also don't have to be with her. If I were to be single again and back in the dating pool, and if my peculiarities make it harder for me to find women, so be it. I am not compromising myself. Neither should anybody else. Know what you want and don't settle for less.

Or settle. What do I care. If you want to be miserable because you just have to get married by a certain age because society tells you to, that's your prerogative.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Matrix of Dating

When I first watched the Matrix as a kid, I was blown away by the idea that we are trapped by walls and limitations that aren't actually there. In a sense the walls that trap us are put there by ourselves, like the scene where Neo has to realize there is no spoon in order to bend it. This revelation has made me more than eager to swallow the red pill. It frustrates me when I see people who choose the blue pill despite knowing the truth about our self-imposed limitations.

This also applies to dating and romantic expectations. I have seen so many make excuses for themselves and limit themselves from getting what they want from dating. How many times have I heard guys nonsensical excuses to not approach to a girl they are obviously attracted to. How many times have I seen women do the same? I always encourage my friends (both male and female) to approach and talk to men or women they are attracted to, but many times they will make up excuses. Men will often say things like, "She's out of my league" and women often say men don't like women who take the initiative.

But, how do you even know a girl's out of your league? How do you she wouldn't be attracted your personality and intellect rather than your looks if you don't talk to her? And if you're a woman who takes the lead and approaches the guy first, how do you know he won't appreciate that? And if he's the type of guy to be insecure about it, why would you even need his approval? Why are we afraid of offending sensibilities that we don't even know are there?

Excuses.

I tutor a 40 year old Korean man in English and he occasionally comments on how jealous he is of my mentality on things. Once when I told him that if I were to get married, I'd like my wife to have her own career and be financially independent as opposed to a woman who's content with being a house-wife. He was amazed and jealous that I am able to think like this because he unfortunately couldn't. It seemed silly that he wanted to want the things I want, rather than just wanting it himself. It seems like a simple flip of a mental switch is all that suffices but an invisible wall within his mind was preventing him from doing so. If he wants a woman who is independent, instead of wanting to want it, why not just want it? Why does he feel he needs to go along with what's traditionally expected instead of what he wants for himself?

Instead of looking for what they really want, people make concessions and lower their standards. They make excuses to not approach people they are attracted to, to tolerate people they shouldn't be with and to not be themselves out of fear of going against societal expectations. However, those expectations we think other people think we need to satisfy are really in our own heads. There's a plethora of advice on what one "should" do when dating but it's all bullshit. The "shoulds" or "shouldn'ts" in the dating game is all made up. What we really need to is make up our individual rules and play by them (as long as they abide by legal and ethical boundaries but that goes without saying).

People whose lives revolve around the expectations are the guys who bathe themselves in cologne, wear clothes that aren't really them, buy frivolous shit and act in a way they think (or rather society thinks) that is what women are impressed by. It's because of this that guys get insecure about being short and women about being perceived as ugly or slutty. They limit themselves and pretend to be something they're not because they think believe nobody will accept them for who they truly are. Societal pressure may provide the materials for the walls but we are the ones who build the walls, and people also don't seem to realize those walls can be torn down.

General statements like:
You need to dress like this.
You need to own X, Y, Z.
You need to make X amount of money.
You need to be this tall or this good looking.
Women like this.
Guys like that.

It's all bullshit.

There is no spoon.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I'm going to do some victim blaming here

There's a story circulating in my facebook feed about a Canadian woman who was raped (the word used was "sexual assault" but let's not sugar coat anything, it was fucking rape) by a Korean and instead of getting the justice she deserves, now the scumbag is pressing charges against her. Let's not also forget that the police already knew the guy and that he had a history of being a rapist. Here's the link to the story which also has a link to a gofundme page if you want to donate money to be used as legal fees.

The story is infuriating and I can only imagine what it feels to be that woman. But as bad as it may sound, I'm going to put the blame on her. It's her fault that she came to this backwards shit-hole of a "developed" country with medieval era views on women's rights. Just because a country is on the list of developed countries with other, more civilized nations, it doesn't mean it will practice basic human rights. Korea is appalling for women's rights and is one of the worst counties for rape in the OECD. If the Korean government is good at anything, it is letting rapists and child molesters run rampant. Remember, this is a place where you get a slap on the wrist if you were drunk while anally destroying a nine-year old.

Raped a little girl? Oh but you were drunk? It's okay then!

In the story above, I'm more appalled (but not surprised) that the guy wasn't already in prison considering he's had six fucking previous victims. And of course the scumbag family tried to bribe her into letting it go. Another Korean mentality where you basically treat rape victims like prostitutes. Trying to make things go away with money is a national pass-time along with cheating on your spouse and killing yourself.

It's her fault she came here in the first place. Why she didn't stay in her own civilized society with basic respect for human rights and justice, I don't know. Despite what's happened, I don't also get why she expects that the judicial system will be in her favor this time. Koreans don't care about her plight, the only thing they'll listen to is shiny things like money. The guy will just offer bigger bribes to the cops and pay for a better lawyer and he will win. And he's going to ride off into the sunset to rape more women.



This is the reality of this country. As unfortunate as it is, its up to us civilized folk to be aware and wary. It is our responsibility to keep ourselves safe. I don't expect to not be robbed of my bananas if I enter a forest full of monkeys. You almost have to expect to be raped and subsequently robbed of justice if you enter a society full of rapey, bribey monkeys. Seriously, fuck the police and the judicial system.

In seriousness, I don't actually blame the victim for coming to this country, nor do I really think Korea is run by monkeys (it's insulting to actual monkeys). She likely didn't anticipate something like this happening to her. Korea does a good job of giving people the facade of a developed country but it has yet to shake off many of its antiquated views on justice, nor is it the safest place for women. You won't have gangbangers running up on with you guns in this country, but if you're a woman who gets raped, there are very few legal options available. It's extremely unfortunate, sad, and infuriating at the same time that not only did this happened, but that this sort of thing happens fairly commonly. But we can't change this overnight and my bitching about it won't help either. We can only acknowledge the reality and learn from it.

The lesson to take from this is that we have to be vigilant. Women especially (and foreign women even more especially) have to be wary and aware. We have to acknowledge that while Korea may seem like a safe place, there are heathens out there who have no qualms about taking advantage of a women by herself. It may sound like victim blaming, but our safety is ultimately our responsibility. The police and the judicial system certainly don't give a shit about you.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dating Stuff: Pick Up Is Kind of Feminist

Whenever I talk to women about their experiences with men, I am surprised at how the majority of guys are creepy, aggressive, sometimes borderline rapey, clingy, insecure, whiny, disrespectful, and just bad when it comes to trying to win the affections of women. On some nights when I observe other men approach women, what I see often confirms what I am told. I wasn't always so confident of my abilities to attract and talk to women, so I am doubly shocked when I realize I actually have better game than most guys. I'm not so bad after all.

My "game" has come from studying pick up skills, which for me started from a foundational desire of self-improvement. My success at wooing women improved dramatically once I started to be more direct, honest, confident, and treating the woman I'm talking to as another person. The last component is particularly tricky for a lot of men because it seems most people with penises have a problem truly perceiving women as human beings rather than "objects" of desire or a trophy of sexual conquest. Social indoctrination notwithstanding, I believe there's an inevitability to objectification when a duality of sexual attraction exists. It is hard not to let the "sex part" of a person cloud your perception of him/her. I'm guilty of it as well. Even though I try hard to see every individual as an individual first, my willingness to talk to a person fluctuates depending on whether or not it's a woman, and if it's a woman, on how attractive she is. It doesn't make logical sense considering I'm not always trying to bang the person I talk to.

Still, how well I impress her hinges a lot on how I treat her as a person. Because if I realize that she is a person, I will treat her with respect and see things from her perspective. Not being able to see things from a woman's perspective is a problem I feel a lot of guys have. They do things that make no sense and wonder why women aren't throwing themselves at them.

If guys can see things from a woman's perspective, they'll probably see that creepily staring at a girl from across the room won't make her panties wet. Neither will a random guy grabbing on to her in a dark club. Neither will a guy following her around after he's been rejected. Neither will a guy hitting on her in a roundabout way by "asking directions." Getting shouted at from across the street won't either. Guys will probably also see that trying to logically convince a girl who doesn't want to have sex won't work. Same goes for pouting and whining. On the other hand, being confident and direct, and respecting the woman's boundaries (and subsequently making her comfortable) is more likely to get you laid.

One thing I realized by getting into pick up was that it can teach guys to treat a woman as a person and try to see things from her perspective, because being empathetic to another person's point of view is much more conducive to getting that person to like you than not being empathetic. A company's not going to sell as many products by shoving it down people's throats as it would by appealing to consumers' sensibilities. The same applies to a person trying to win the affection of another. As self-serving and manufactured as it seems, learning how to get what you want by treating someone with respect is a better start than force-feeding feminism to men who have already made their minds about women.

Pick up (at least the approach I took with it) may not lead to closing of the gender wage gap, but I think it would help reduce the number of creeps and rapey, self-entitled behaviors of men in the dating and nightlife scene. It would at least it would relieve the scores frustrated young men who paint an entire gender as shallow bitches because they can't get laid.