Pickup artists: Gym shooter is one of us

The online seduction community identifies with George Sodini's resentment toward women

Topics: Broadsheet,

George Sodini, the gunman who went on a shooting spree Tuesday at a Pennsylvania gym, desperately wanted women to be interested in him. He shaved, tanned, dressed well, wore cologne and worked out — still, most women rejected him or, worse, ignored his existence altogether. In an online journal, the 48-year-old detailed his bitterness toward the 30 million (or so he estimated) “desirable single women” who didn’t want him. Thanks to them, he had suffered without a girlfriend since 1984 and without sex since 1990 — so he planned this week’s massacre, ultimately killing three women and injuring nine before committing suicide.

What I find most interesting about this case is that it’s garnering a response from the online pickup artist community. It was discovered that Sodini  sought out advice from the book “How to Date Young Women: For Men Over 35″ by R. Don Steele, and chatted online with other aspiring Don Juans — even posting a video tour of his house to get some feedback. In fact, Tony Ortega at the Village Voice found a video, which has since been taken down, of a Steele seminar in which you can “clearly see Sodini in attendance. Anna at Jezebel rooted out a post on the blog Roissy in DC in response to news of Sodini’s lady troubles:

When men kill women, the underlying reason is almost always an unfulfilled psychosexual need. This goes for spree shooters, rapists, and serial killers. I’m not surprised Sodini hasn’t had sex in nearly 20 years. As I’ve written before, to men celibacy is walking death, and anything is justified in avoiding that miserable fate.

Including killing three random women? Worse still, a commenter replies: ”Finally a mass murderer writes a relatively coherent manifesto. Could be better, but at least it is implied that feminism is to blame and he is taking a last stand. I had been waiting for this (almost thinking I had to do it myself) and I am impressed. Kudos.” And when this guy does do it himself, will we act surprised?



Inspired by Anna’s digging, and admittedly fascinated by pickup artists, I snooped around to see what else was being said in the community. On the Don Juan Discussion Forum, DuffDog makes a battle cry:

This further reinforces my core belief that the roles between the males and females have been reversed in recent years. In the past, if a female was undesirable, she would get a bunch of cats and live out her years as a teacher or another menial job. Now, when males are undesirable, there are no choices for them and they are left with living alone, masturbating daily, working a mid-level job and … walking into a gym and shooting a bunch of cute girls out of frustration. As the roles of the different genders continue to change away from traditional values, this behavior is sure to continue and increase.

Some pickup artists are commenting on the case in less terrifying ways — by trying to understand why Sodini wasn’t able to get chicks or  using him as an example of failure. Others are contemptibly seizing on this as a promotional opportunity: Real Modern Man beseeches visitors to his site, “Don’t Be George Sodini — Seriously — Get some game and get real” — with his help, of course. Only, Sodini did try desperately to “get some game,” paying to abide by some self-declared expert’s rules, and it didn’t work.

This is why I find the seduction scene so sad: It encourages men to layer on protective armor and become inaccessible Alpha males, as opposed to engaging in vulnerable self-exploration or other frilly, feminine things like shhh! — therapy. Is it all that surprising when it only leaves them feeling more isolated and alone?

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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