Norwegian men are on course to make themselves attractive.
By Solrun Dregelid
Two girls dressed for summer stroll toward Grensen. A dark haired guy at 165 cm stands at a few meters distance and scouts behind dark sun glasses. He catches a glimpse of the blondes and doesn’t hesitate. With steady steps he follows them. When he reaches the side of the blondest one of the girls, he touches her arm gently and says: “I saw you from across the street, and you were so gorgeous that I just had to come over and talk to you. Hi, I’m Jim!” He reaches out his hand. She takes it and giggles, somewhat shy. After five minutes of dialogue, laughter and heavy eyeballing, her number is saved on Jim’s phone. What really happened?
“I don’t really understand it myself,” Sigrid Meland (18) says. “He seemed so confident and nice at the same time. I simply got a bit charmed. It’s not every day you experience something like that in Oslo. Norwegian boys are so shy.” she adds. Meland has just been exposed to one of the world’s best professional pickup-artists. 27 year old Australian Jim, or Mr. M as he’s better known within the pickup community, has demonstrated what he calls “day gaming” and “number-close” to A-Magasinet. This means picking up girls during the daytime with the goal of getting a phone number and a date later on. The former lawyer is so good at this and other pickup techniques that the American company Love Systems pays him over a million a year to travel around the world and teach his seduction techniques to other men. He was recently in Norway for the third time. There are more and more men in this country who want to learn pickup through science and tested methods.
In Oslo there are now among 300-400 men who are passionate about pickup, almost as many as are in the VIF-clan of Vålerenga. (VIF are the supporters of Vålerenga, one of Norway’s most famous football teams). These are men who several times a month meet to discuss pickup and spend hours in front of the computer to find out which methods attract women, master student in social anthropology at the University of Oslo, Sandra Janzsó, explains.
She’s writing her master’s thesis about the structured pickup community in Oslo, and has followed the most active pickup artist out to clubs, on internet forums and during pickup courses. “Many of them enter the community after reading the book The Game by Neil Strauss. Others have been recruited through the internet or by buddies they suddenly notice have gained a lot more success with women,” says Janzsó. She points out that in addition to the most visible of the pickup artists, there are a number of men who read books on their own, and who participate in the increasing number of pickup courses that are offered to Norwegian men.
Who turns to methods and science to pick up women? Which methods are they using? And do women really get tricked?
Ten men are sitting prepared in a conference room in Oslo. It’s Friday morning. Several of them have laptops. The coffee mugs are constantly refilled. The potential pickup artists don’t want to miss any of the information that Mr. M and his three assistant coaches will impart. They are, after all, paying 18.000 Norwegian kroner for the 20 hours of theory and almost as many hours of practice they will be getting over the next three days. The knowledge will also be welcome when, in a few days, it’s the students’ turn to get “number closes” in the middle of the day.
When the participants present themselves and their experience with ladies, it’s pretty typical. “I fall into the friend trap every time. Not that strange perhaps, considering that even touching someone or giving a compliment is really difficult for me,” says a 42 year old engineer from the west of Norway. “I’ve never had a girlfriend and don’t know how to interact with women without drinking,” says Morten (23) quietly while staring at the table. He’s flown down from northern Norway to do something about the situation. And so it goes around the table.
“Common for a lot of those who are engaged in structured pickup is a feeling of frustration over their own social situation, and that they want to change this. The motive to learn pickup techniques vary from wanting to find the lady in their life to sleeping with as many women as possible,” says Janzsó. In the seminar room in Oslo, most of the guys express a wish for assistance in getting a girlfriend. “Just as studying economics gives me the tools to grab onto a great business opportunity when it may appear, I hope that this course will give me the knowledge to seduce the woman in my life when she walks by. I don’t want luck and chance to decide who I end up with,” says student Adi (26).
What’s the knowledge that Adi and the others are going to learn? Well, it’s understanding what a woman looks for in a man and how to act on it. In the pickup manual “Magic Bullets” the writer and pickup artist code-named Savoy lists the following qualities that a woman unconsciously look for in a partner: good genes that may give her a healthy child, good social skills and humor which is important in order to be accepted in a group, status and wealth which means that he will be able to provide for her and the child, and finally confidence which means he can handle most challenges.
Janzsó proposes that these evolutionary and psychological explanations of what women want is a way of legitimating that men in relation to women really are hunters. This justifies that men have a “right” to the women they want. – Isn’t this a very outdated view of women? “This definitely stands in harsh contrast to established notions of gender equality and modern forms of social organization. I notice at the same time that many of the guys in the Norwegian pickup community react to and take away from this outdated view of women,” says Janzsó.
The 10 men around the table are now enthusiastically occupied with a role play where they actually practice being hunters. By going through six steps in a so-called emotional progression model, they aim to show the masculine traits that women look for. They start by practicing “opening,” the first step in the model. “You may say something funny like: ‘Hey, dancing’s not allowed, you have to come with me!’ or be direct and say: ‘I saw you from across the room and just wanted to say that you’re absolutely gorgeous,’” says Mr. M.
“But you can’t say that in Norway. It may be interpreted as sexual assault,” Ole (42) protests. Mr. M on the other hand means this shows confidence, and corrects Ole’s tone of voice and posture. One of the other instructors, a read haired Brit codenamed Keychain, takes over. He’s an expert in touching techniques, and demonstrates how by touching the woman, first a little on the arm, then the inside of her hand, then the shoulder, you reach your goal faster. “It’s important to ‘escalate.’ If you haven’t touched the woman at all, it’s harder to get a kiss-close,” Keychain explains.
“All in all we teach the students to become a bit more macho. Even though women say they want the good guy, they fall for the masculine one,” says Mr. M. He is supported by research.
Psychologist Heather Rapp at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University recently proved that ovulating women show an increased interest in masculine men. This is connected to high levels of testosterone, in other words masculinity, which expresses good gene quality. Quite a few Norwegian men seem to have lost this masculinity, Mr. M means, who sees this as a problem. “Here in the North the soft metrosexual man is worshiped, while masculine ideals seem to have vanished. When men forget how to be men, women forget how to be women. Men and women become so much alike that the tension between them disappears,” says the pickup guru.
He believes gender equality is the reason why men in the North are amongst the most passive he’s seen during his numerous forays into clubs and bars in over 40 countries. While 20 percent of the men approach the women, the remaining 80 percent will just stand there. Only when drunk will they have the guts to pick up, rarely with a good result. “I believe many Norwegian men would benefit from becoming more active without as much alcohol,” says Mr. M. Gender sociologist Preben Z. Møller agrees with Mr. M that the present generation of young men, grown up in the climate of sixty-eighters, has been instilled with a kind of soft-man ideal that woman may not react all too positively to. Does this mean that traditional masculine ideals should be given more room?
“No. Even though it’s correct that dominant behavior is rewarded by women, neither men nor women gain in the long run from the traditional male ideal,” says Møller. – But hasn’t gender equality gone too far when a man is afraid to give a women a compliment? “I don’t think so. On the contrary, women should compliment men more on their looks. Women are just as responsible for picking up men as the other way around,” says Møller.
It’s midnight, Friday. 11 somewhat nervous men are spread around the club Onkel Donald in Oslo. They’re here to test their new knowledge, their manhood and their fears. “Tell the brunette over there that you think she’s pretty,” Mr. M whispers to Morten and gives him a little shove. The 23 year-old has never walked up to a woman without at least five beers in his system. Now he’s sober, and terribly nervous. With hesitant steps he walks over to the lady in question. He taps her gently on the shoulder. She turns around and he says the memorized line. “Huh? What did you say? I didn’t hear you!” she yells. Morten repeats. The girl smiles and looks at him funny before she turns back to the bar. Morten loafs back.
Mr. M explains to him that Norwegian girls have a very high “bitch shield” which means that they give few signals of interest, making it necessary to “plow” or keep talking. He is sent back out there. This time Mr. M decides to ”wing” and talk to the girl’s friend so she doesn’t bother Morten’s lady. It quickly ends up with both of them talking to Mr. M while Morten dejectedly watches their backs. On the third shot magic happens. Morten is able to transition the opener into a conversation. The confidence rises. Opening doesn’t seem quite as scary anymore.
At two o’clock the next day, the guys meet for another day of theory. How did the previous night go? Well, most of them opened more than ten girls. Some got phone numbers, and some even manage to get a “kiss-close.” Do the methods work? “Yes, it’s obvious that a man who confidently walks up to 20 women a day will have more success than shy guys that stand there watching,” says Møller. Janzsó agrees, and adds that as time goes on and the guys receive more positive feedback from women, they will become more comfortable with themselves and through that also more successful with women. “And it’s when you’ve reached this level that the methods works the best,” Mr. M emphasizes. “In the beginning they are memorized lines and routines, but then they become a part of you. You have to become different, not just act like it. The goal is to view oneself as naturally attractive, as that’s how you become attractive in the eyes of others as well. In the long run the “inner game” is far more important the outer game.”
Three days of intensive theory and practice out on the town are over. Now, the pickup candidates are ready to get in contact with women during broad daylight. They’ve been given a short introduction to “daygaming” by expert Soul. Basically, the same six steps are applicable during the day as at nighttime, except that they will have to be done in “fast forward.” Since people during the day usually are in a hurry, the goal is to land a five minute conversation and then get the girl’s phone number.
Soul has taken three of the students down to Karl Johan (the main street of Oslo). Their guts feel like they’re about to go on a roller coaster ride. Pickup at a night club is a walk in the park compared to what they are about to experience. Per (20) is told to catch up with a blonde wearing a backpack rapidly moving towards a building. He runs after her and touches her arm. She jumps and looks a bit astonished when he presents his errand. But, she stays. They have a few minutes of conversation before Per returns to report in. She appreciated the compliment, but he didn’t get a “number close,” he admits. He is told to make an effort to appear more confident, and is sent away to catch the next blonde.
Gender sociologist Preben Z. Møller is skeptical about behavior changes amongst the pickup artists: “The gender market is a harsh reality for those who learn that they have to become someone else to be accepted, and I don’t know anybody who hasn’t gotten psychological scars after being involved in such surroundings over time. I studied them a couple of years ago, and the lucky ones get out after a little while.” He also notes that boys and men who act macho to get in the girl’s pants often will miss the chance of taking her to the altar.
Translation by Sandra Janzsó