Hoinsky's Advice Is Still Harmful Despite Claims That He's Not Promoting Sexual Assault
Last week, the Internet flipped out—with good reason—over the Kickstarter project of Ken Hoinsky, Above The Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women, which struck everyone who saw it as just a little too sexual assault-like to be in good taste or, well, safe. After all of the crazy back and forth about his book, including Kickstarter's "We Were Wrong" response, we'd yet to hear from the author himself. But Hoinsky finally released a statement earlier this week, arguing that quotes from his book were taken wholly out of context, painting his didactic counsel in a negative light. He maintained that his book delicately crafts the issue of approaching women assertively (but not aggressively) and asked that feminist vultures “lower their pitchforks”.
Despite his clarification of points in the book, Hoinsky’s advice is still problematic to me. Consider. Hoinsky says, “If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know. If she says "STOP," or "GET AWAY FROM ME," or shoves you away, you know she is not interested.” Hoinsky presumes that all women have the courage to confront and put an end to the hyper-aggressive efforts of a male interest. Not so. Fear may keep many women from responding at all, leading the male to think that his advances are welcomed.
In the event that a woman does have the gall to speak up, Hoinsky treats this as a lamentable obstacle, but perhaps one that may be overcome by further pushiness—er, I mean, finesse. He says, “Stop escalating immediately and say this line: "No problem. I don't want you to do anything you aren't comfortable with." But then, he turns around and advises men to “take a break and try again later”.
Hoinsky’s message is contradictory. He respects women’s boundaries only insofar as he believes they can be manipulated. It is not about legitimately honoring women’s need for space or catering to their need to feel “comfortable”. It is about feigning respect in order to get your dick wet. What is “authentic” about this approach?
As an end point, Hoinky says to men: “You literally have the power to color all her future interactions with men...You leave her better than when you find her.”
Hoinsky grossly misunderstands the effect that men have over women. To say that a douchebag cavemaning us in the club would inform future exchanges with men is a fair statement. The problem is that this interaction is more likely to leave us jaded than refreshed.