In his Kickstarter campaign for "Above the Game" ("a step-by-step guide for getting good with women"), Ken Hoinsky comes across as a nice-enough guy with a chin strap and a 90s-era Ryder Strong haircut. In the video describing the project, he explains that he struggled for a long time to connect with people, but ultimately "ended up getting pretty good with women, finding love, and living life." After sharing lessons culled from his experience in a series of threads on Reddit, Hoinsky is fundraising to compile them in a book, he says, to help men meet women and feel more confident.
These are totally acceptable and fine things to want to do. The world can be a lonely place. People work jobs that make them feel tired and frustrated. The polar ice caps are melting and "Freaks and Geeks" was cancelled after one season and is never coming back. Human connection and sex can be an important part of swallowing some of the life's bitterest pills.
But while the guide to building confidence and "getting good" at talking to women that Hoinsky describes in his Kickstarter campaign looks innocuous, the Reddit threads the book will be based on tell a completely different story. These threads encourage men to subtly manipulate and dominate women in ways that at their best come across as creepy and misguided, and at their worst sound like the pretext for some really bad, potentially non-consensual sex.
In a section on overcoming "resistance" a woman might express about going home with a man she's just met, Hoinsky advises his protégés to move her from location to location in an effort to get her back to their place [sic]:
Sometimes, if you are feeling resistance, planning multiple venue changes throughout the night will work in your favor. (Bar A -> Bar B -> Walk on the beach -> Your apartment)
You must have a plausible reason for why you're bringing her back to your place. Yes, you both kinda-sorta know it's for sex, but that's not how it works in the real world. Even if it's just to drink that wine, or check out that new Youtube video, or show her your stamp collection, you need to plan this ahead of time. Experience certainly pays dividends here, but the truth is, as long you have done a good job generating attraction thus far, you'll be fine.
He goes on to suggest men lie to women about the pretext for bringing them home:
Expect her to offer some resistance when you try to bring her home. Throwing out a "I don't sleep with someone on the first date." or "No sex, okay?" will do wonders. It all helps to generate plausible deniability. If it just happened while we were in the moment she will feel much more comfortable knowing she fooled around with you. No girl wants to feel like a slut. It's your job, as the man, to make her as comfortable as possible. Also when you start to fool around, "I don't kiss and tell." goes a long, long way.
In a culture that blames women for rape and sexual assault -- particularly in cases when a woman initially consents to go home with the perpetrator -- Hoinsky's directive to lie about wanting sex is more than a little troubling. If a woman enters a man's apartment agreeing to watch "Kittens Inspired by Kittens" on YouTube, that's all she's agreeing to do until she indicates otherwise. She is not consenting to be touched or otherwise engage in sex, no matter what Hoinsky would have you believe.
Other tips from Hoinsky on how to isolate women for sex also come across as major red flags:
Get creative and really think about all the different locations you can get alone after hours. Is there an isolated beach nearby? Great, go put a couple beach towels in the trunk of you car. Do the seats of your car lay down? Great. Have keys to your office after-hours? Fan-fucking-tastic! And of course you can always try to go to her place (but then you give up a tremendous amount of logistical control, so tread carefully.)
There is plenty more where that came from. Hoinsky advises men to read "Fifty Shades of Grey" to learn about "sexual dominance" and how "nuts" women go for things like "choke-fucking," among other tips.
It's important to note here that women want sex (as science and six seasons of "Sex in the City" have taught us), even rough sex. But Hoinsky's "guide" doesn't factor in anything about reading signals from women and responding in accordance with their desires -- it's all about what the man is after in these scenarios. If the woman is resisting, you're just not following the rules (because the rules never fail, according to Hoinsky).
This kind of utilitarian mapping of human interaction (guided by pretty misogynistic notions about women, power and consent) eliminates crucial dynamics (and the fun and eroticism, frankly) of flirting and pre-sex encounters.
Hoinsky's would-be book is called "Above the Game," but it's actually all games. And, like most games, there is a winner and a loser. But here's the rub: there shouldn't be any "losers" in consensual sex. How could there be? When sex is equally desired by both parties, everyone gets what they came for and feels good about it in the end. But that's not how Hoinsky sees it, and since his Kickstarter exceeded his initial fundraising expectations by about 800 percent at last reading, that won't be how any of the men who read his book see it, either.