by Conor Friedersdorf
As promised, I'll now readdress "the neg," a technique whereby men strategically criticize women they're attempting to pickup. Prior posts I've written on the subject are here and here. I'll try to intersperse my thoughts with some fascinating reader e-mails. This will be my last post on this subject, so I'm going to include lots of great stuff you've contributed -- do click through below the fold. (Note to proponents of the neg: Your chin looks funny. Would you like to read what's below the fold too?)
One Dish reader writes:
While the use of "negs" certainly sounds unseemly, I cannot think of any substantive difference between men who try to attract women by complimenting them and men who try to attract women by doing the opposite. While "being yourself" is a laudable objective, many men will stray from that ideal when courting a woman (and, for that matter, many women will do the same). If we accept that digression from the ideal is a frequent occurrence, why do we hold the latter group of men in such low regard and not the former? Clearly, either group becomes a caricature if taken to the extreme: the latter are represented by awkward guys who "alpha up" through the Mystery Method and the former are self-absorbed preeners who regurgitate saccharine pick-up lines. But used in moderation is either approach really any worse than the other?
The difference is that while compliments or put downs can be either truthful or disingenuous, only put downs lower the self-esteem of the target. In most contexts, it seems obvious that it is wrong to gratuitously put people down for selfish ends. Why is dating different? That some men cannot understand this really boggles my mind, and makes me suspect that they aren't even thinking of women as being people (interestingly, some of these men seem to think of women as less than human, and others as superhuman). Every man can imagine how he would feel if a woman approached him at a bar, assessed his dress or some physical feature, and breezily made some cutting public remark: "You dress like a guy who has a small dick." Yet numerous correspondents seem utterly unable to imagine that women might also feel badly if criticized this way.