Welcome back to Throwback Thursday, in which we bask in the ridiculous beliefs and advice of cultural stalwarts past. Today, we have the pleasure of exploring one of the most influential works in douchebag history: the 1971 classic How To Pick Up Girls! by advertising creative Eric Weber.
Most are familiar with the pick-up artist community of today, from sleazy bros badgering women on the street to sleazy bros being kicked out of foreign countries for promoting “abusive behavior.” In 2015, the terrifyingly entitled and misogynistic community of dudes who don’t understand how to interact with women congregate online. But forty-five years ago, the Internet didn't exist. T’was truly a terrible time. And in that respect, Weber was a visionary.
In the late 1960s, an era when, according to a 1990 New York Times profile of Weber, “the sexual revolution was generating new rules about relationships, and a lot of nervous, lonely people as well, ” the shy copywriter from the New York City suburbs set out to interview women about how they liked to be flirted with and approached. He ultimately decided to turn the fruits of his labor into a self-published book and distribute the guide through mail order—one ad in the back of a Penthouse magazine, and jackpot!
How to Pick Up Girls! went on to sell more than three million copies and was eventually translated into 20 languages. The book was even adapted into a TV movie starring Desi Arnaz Jr. that aired on ABC in 1978. And a mere two years ago, in 2013, Variety reported that a feature film version of the book was in development, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Weber did not respond to Fusion's request to be interviewed for this piece.
And now, I present: the most ridiculous lines from How to Pick Up Girls! (also known as My Slow Descent Into Madness and Despair).
Right off the bat, in the book's introduction, Weber asserts that fantasizing about raping an attractive woman is pretty normal. After spotting the girl—someone “downright delicious-looking”:
You’ve just got to see more of her long lean legs. Her fine rounded breasts. Her high, firm behind. For an instant you even consider rape.
I know that I should have just stopped there and put the book down. But I kept going. I'm sorry if I let you down.
Further along, there’s the section titled “Miss Lonelyhearts,” which explains that women get lonely, too:
Women are fragile creatures. If they’re not dating they get terribly lonely and depressed. They don’t have exciting jobs and golf and tennis and football to keep them busy all day.
Weber’s conception of a woman is someone who just sits in her house all day, peering out the window, wishing that she could understand the intricacies of football while sighing deeply.
Why do you think [women] parade around in skirts hardly a millimeter below their private parts? Why do you think so many of them have completely stopped wearing bras and panties? Just to look pretty? Don’t be crazy. They’re showing you their breasts and behinds to stimulate you.
Excuse me while I throw myself out a window.
In a bizarrely sincere and self-helpy section titled "The World’s Greatest Pickup Technique?", Weber reveals that the greatest strategy of all is "just being yourself." Seriously, he writes that being honest is the way to go—right before and after describing countless scenarios involving deception.
Now back to more turbo douchebaggery. Following an attempt to say "hello" to a French actress (yes, I’m sure) walking down the street, “a friend” of Weber’s (he’s got a lot of these) decides that he had had enough.
It got him so angry in fact that he ran after the girl who’d just snubbed him and began to berate her. “You know, all I did was say, hello,” he said. “But you walk by as if I’m trying to rape you or mug you. What the hell’s the matter with you? Why are you being so damn suspicious? Don’t you have enough confidence and decency to return a fellow human being’s greeting?"
And of course, the man who verbally harassed a stranger on the street was rewarded:
The sincerity and passion and honesty of his approach had broken through her defense and moved her.
As we work to address street harassment today with campaigns like Hollaback and “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” it's hard to swallow that, not that long ago, this was acceptable behavior.
But the real cherry on top, the coup de (dis)grâce, is the section titled "Born Talented," in which Weber posits that, dammit, it’s a man’s right to subject a woman to his piggish charm and pubescent fantasies. Read at your own risk:
Whether you know it or not, you already have one great thing going for you when it comes to picking up chicks. And that is, you’re a man.
As a man, it’s your right, your privilege to approach a woman any time you want. But women—they’ve got to sit there and wait.
Even with Women’s Lib coming into its own, it’s going to be a long time before the average chick can approach a strange man without feeling like a whore.
If you made it through this #TBT, I am so sorry. But also, congratulations. You've won … a cold shower to clean off the residual sleaze.