A new study comes to a not entirely surprising conclusion: women who like pickup artists may be sexist themselves.
Adding to the burgeoning field of Pickup Artist Studies, Jeffrey Hall and Melanie Canterberry surveyed 363 college students and 850 adults. They asked them about their attitudes toward women by having them evaluate statements like "Women seek to gain power by getting control over men" and "A good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man" — they used the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, which you can see for yourself online. Then they asked about their use of (for men) or receptiveness to (for women) typical pickup artist strategies like negging, isolating a woman from her friends, or competing with other men. Among both college students and older respondents, they found that women who held sexist attitudes toward their own gender were more receptive to PUA techniques. And in the older group, sexist men were also more likely to use PUA tactics — the study authors speculated that they might not have found a difference among college men because undergraduate dudes might be more likely to emulate Mystery across the board, whether they're sexist or not.
By way of explanation, Hall and Canterberry write, "Women who have negative attitudes about members of their own gender find men who treat them in a dominant way during courtship more desirable because it is consistent with their sexist ideology." That is, women who believe that they're helpless may prefer men who treat them that way. More disturbingly, women who think other women (or even they themselves) "seek to gain power by getting control over men" may appreciate men who try to control them — if you see all cross-gender relations as power games, this may just be the kind of thing you expect. Most disturbing of all, though, is the fact that sexist attitudes are also "related to the use of sexual coercion by men," and to victim-blaming in men and women. According to the study authors, that means "the matching of men who use [PUA] strategies and women who are receptive to them would be a potentially dangerous combination in terms of unwanted sexual advances and the possibility of date rape." Or, as Good's Amanda Hess puts it, "it turns out that hanging around men and women who despise women isn't just a quick and easy path to getting laid — it's also a pretty effective way to rape someone."
The study underlines yet again the connection between seduction tactics that seek to minimize or circumvent a woman's autonomy, and out-and-out rape. It also reveals a scary possibility: that the women most likely to be receptive to such tactics are also those who, if they are raped, are most likely to blame themselves. This is a reminder that young women and men both need to be taught to value all people equally — and that sexist attitudes aren't automatically harmless just because a woman holds them.