Manipulation and Argument 101

This tweet could easily sum up 2014 for me.

As I’m closing in on 30 years old, I’m learning many things about myself. One of which is that I’ve spent the majority of my life as a very trusting person. That sounds like a humble brag, but I assure you nothing has caused me more pain and suffering than this naivety. My insistence in believing that everyone really means well, despite the hurt they’ve caused, has tripped me more times than I’d like to admit.

During my time on social media I’ve observed arguments regarding controversies in gaming culture. Specifically, I have noticed a consistent tactic within the waning “gamergate” community. That theme is simple, but utterly destroys any hope of either side communicating effectively. And it’s a tactic I have finally come to understand now, at 29 years old. Finally.

Willful ignorance. Saying you do not understand the problem when you do. Stating subjective opinions as solid facts. And lastly, intentionally misusing and misunderstanding words or concepts.

This may come off at first at harmless stupidity, but I assure you it’s intentional. Here’s an example:

“Anita Sarkeesian is largely ignored by gamers.” is a lie. A complete and boldface lie. One a gamergater attempted to sell me just yesterday. But perhaps more infuriating is that it’s one that so easily proven wrong. So why? Why try to sell me a load of bullshit I could easily prove wrong? And how could someone believe something so clearly inaccurate? This type of thing spins my head- as it’s tailor made to do exactly that. The answer is of course they don’t really think that at all. It’s a tactic, a game play. Made to create an environment where their opponent feels off kilter, even crazy.


“Do you have any evidence that I’m a misogynist?” Misogyny is an abstract concept. Save for a screencap of a forum wherein they’ve stated, “Hooo boy do I love bein’ a misogynist!” there’s no way to provide “evidence”. Mainly because that’s not how evidence works. They’re demanding you provide evidence for something as if one could find their business card, Mr. Grade A. Jackass – Misogynist.

But surely the young teens and 20-somethings remaining in this dissipating group aren’t smart enough to manipulate people, right? But that’s part of the deception too. You don’t need to be a mental juggernaut to manipulate people. My first inclination is to assure myself, and you, that people may not even be aware that they’re doing it. When someone grows up in a home where manipulation is rampant, they internalize that these head games are a perfectly acceptable way to communicate.

But what I’ve finally learned this year is this: People who manipulate you always know that they’re manipulating you. Always.

Anything you say, no matter how clear your terms, will be misunderstood- on purpose.

They will misuse words like censorship- on purpose.

They will misinterpretation your values and points- it’s all on purpose.

It’s meant to wear you down. To spin you around until your too dizzy and exhausted to fight back. It’s the game that abusers play with their victims. Confronting them with their behavior will only lead to more manipulation and lying because that’s the only way they know how to interact with people. The only winning move is not to play.

It’s amazing to me how these events came into my life in the exact right time, to show me how people will lie directly to your face. It showed me that sometimes, often in fact, people are not as well meaning as they seem. It’s been an incredibly painful thing to realize, but very necessary. Like the last threads of my childhood innocence have come undone and fluttered away in the wind.

In gamergate’s quest for “ethics in journalism” it’s all about control. Controlling the narrative, controlling who is and who is not a “real gamer” control, control, control. And at the end of it all they smile right at you and say they’re a liberal atheist. It’s insanity inducing. And it’s that way on purpose.

Pick Up Artist Rehab: How to flirt without making it weird

I understand the need to be desired. I know that feeling undesirable is awful and can make us feel isolated, lonely, even genderless. This desperation leads a lot of young men to the Pick Up Artist (PUA) community where they absorbed horribly backwards ideas about women and dating. I could write an entire separate article on what’s wrong with the ideology of the PUA game, but for right now I’ll say this:

It doesn’t work.giphy (1)

There are always rare exceptions of course. There are always insecure women desperate for any validation from men. But I’ll be straight with you, if you’ve struck out enough times to seek out the PUA community in the first place, their creepy tactics aren’t going to work for you.

Dear PUAs, we see what you did there. We don’t like it.

So what does work? Let me show you an example.

A couple months ago I went to a convention. I wasn’t there to meet anyone, I was there to talk about game development and catch a talk about Sexism in the Gaming Industry by Jennifer Allaway.

I’m not a stranger to getting hit on. I hope that doesn’t sound pompous, but it’s the truth. I’m a fairly attractive young woman so I get noticed a lot. Sometimes it’s nice. Sometimes it’s creepy and weird. And sometimes it’s terrifying. But that’s not really flirtation, it’s harassment. And at this event was no exception to getting a lot of attention.

But one guy stood out and impressed me the most, in part because he wasn’t hitting on me. No cheesy pick up lines, no macho posturing, nada. He didn’t talk at me about how much money he had or his car. He didn’t make subtle attempts to undermine my self-esteem. This is all counter to the PUA method which won’t tell you the real thing  you need to have to impress a girl: the ability to hold an interesting conversation.
Seriously, screw your shoes. Forget name dropping popular friends and work seriously on your ability to be engaging. Halfway through the after-party I was completely absorbed in a conversation with this man. We talked about gaming, politics, social justice, music and so on. I was having a great time and he never made a move. But isn’t that a bad thing? No, because we had just met.
The PUA method encourages young men to force intimate contact with women. Their goal is to establish dominance by initiating physical connection quickly. This is how they define sexy. But there’s a big difference between being sexually assertive and aggressive.
Forcing intimate contact shows you have no regard for personal space. For any woman with half a brain, it’s clear to us that you’re not listening because you’re too focused on planning the best time to put your hand on our leg. It’s a signal that no matter what we’re talking about, the end game is our body and that’s what matters. The only thing that matters. And *spoilers*: that’s really unattractive.

However, this tactic can backfire. For someone who isn’t socially well-calibrated it can be difficult to gauge when the best time is to show any romantic interest. What did he do that caught my attention?


I was getting ready to leave the party and was saying my goodbyes to all the cool people I had met. There was a lot of handshakes and some excited hugs from the more inebriated among us. When I came to him to say goodbye, I held out my hand to shake. He took my hand to shake it and placed his other hand on top, looked me in the eyes and said, “I really enjoyed talking with you.”
That’s it. No, seriously.

I kept it together on the outside. I mean… probably. I’m sure I mumbled out some half coherent form of “meyah mer twoo kay bye” before I left. I Don’t really recall because on the inside I was all like


It really was that simple. Women live in a world full of men who try to lord over us. They talk down to us, invade our personal space, expect us to fulfill their Hollywood dreams of the perfect girlfriend who will give meaning to their lives. Men often enter into relationships only wondering what women will do for them instead of who we are, and we know that. We’re awash in a sea of that kind of behavior. What causes us to sit up and pay attention?  Being the opposite.