“There are two kinds of guys out there—there’s the calibrator, and there’s the escalator. I’m a calibrator, and I miss out on a lot of opportunities. Be an escalator: be active, not passive.” A dozen stories high into the Manhattan night sky in a rented dance studio, these words of advice were spoken by a dating coach to a group of men assembled for a weekly skills-training seminar in seduction. In nearly every major city of North America there exists a “seduction lair”: an association of men who train each-other in embodying charismatic masculinity to pick up women. These men are assembled and trained by a “pickup artist” (PUA), and they deploy ritual forms of socialization to overcome inhibitions, and to transform their personal identity from AFC (“average frustrated chump,” in their parlance) to “PUA.” Continue reading
The commercialized romance tour industry provides American men interested in meeting a foreign bride with the network and connections to make this ‘dream’ a reality. American men involved in this industry desire a foreign woman who possesses traits associated with white femininity from the 1950’s. The image of this femininity is captured in the television character of June Cleaver, as she exemplifies the stereotype of 1950’s suburban, middle-class femininity. Her work is the work of the home, and she is always dressed in a feminine manner, cooking dinner in her pearls and high heels. White, middle class women are no longer at the top of the desire hierarchy for a certain section of American men, since they are no longer feminine enough and have become too ‘masculinized’ by feminist ideas of gender equality. These men are seeking women that still possess the stereotypical 1950’s idealized ‘traditional’ white, middle class femininity, and the emotional labor ‘good’ wives provided men back then (beyond just housework). These American men construct foreign women from certain geographic regions (Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia) as ‘exotic’ women that still possess this nostalgic vision of 1950’s femininity that they desire. Latin American, as well Eastern European and Southeast Asian women, are naturalized in the romance tour market as having the proper cultural grooming that has made them more traditional, feminine, docile and better mothers (Schaeffer-Grabiel 2006).