For last week's edition of Throwback Thursday, we introduced you to the glorious and sleazy 1970s guide How to Pick Up Girls! by advertising exec Eric Weber. Want to bask in how socially acceptable conversation around dating has evolved over the past 40 years? Check out that book—at your own peril.
This week, we present the book's female counterpart. That’s right. In 1972, Eric Weber Press published a guide for women by a woman about how to approach men and make magic happen. The book is called How to Pick Up Men!, because we can infantilize and degrade "girls" all we like, but dammit, a man is a man.
How to Pick Up Men! is written by Nicole Ariana, which is the pseudonym of a woman named Karen Fisher. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Karen Fisher published any other works, which is a damn shame because Karen got game. (So much game, she apparently felt she had to disguise her identity behind a pseudonym.)
Allow me to walk you through the ultimate 1970s guide for picking up dudes who are also from the 1970s.
How to Pick Up Men! and How to Pick Up Girls! are near parallel manuals. And yet, while they address the same topics, they do so in very distinct manners. While men are taught to get girls with confidence and swagger, women are taught to soften their approach, whether by beguiling a dude into believing he is doing the picking up or straight-up stalking a dude to create a false "coincidental meeting." Or you know, looking pretty.
In a chapter titled Shyness Can Work Wonders, Ariana explains that being shy won’t impede a woman’s ability to interact with a dude—in fact, it might enhance it. As a man interviewed in the book says: "Maybe I’m not being rational, but when a girl seems unsure of herself—sort of flustered—I think it’s because she wants to please me… and that makes me protective and loving."
So if you’re shy, it’s okay to be yourself, so long as your "target" takes on a more protective role! But don’t worry, you more rambunctious rabble rousers. In true women’s lib fashion (hello, this is the 70s), a chapter titled Being Liberated Is a Turn-On! explains that “the real meaning of being liberated is being honest…and being yourself.” Which brings us to one of my favorite chapters, Lessons from a Super Sleuth!, in which Ariana details exactly how to adjust your identity to suit a suitor and potentially stalk him. She addresses adopting the right cover and everything:
“My favorite [cover] is children. With a child in hand, you automatically become a “respectable” girl (whatever that means). You can talk to anyone…Children are a particularly helpful prop when you’re planning to visit some place where you might feel awkward alone… Good covers—ploys that allow you to talk to your man without seeming to be after him—are practically countless.
Similarly, in a chapter titled Create a Scene, Ariana suggests “getting down on your hands and knees to look for your contact lens in a crowded department store” because “men love being part of the action.” Pro-tip: try looking for that "contact lens" ;) ;) ;) in high traffic areas to increase your chances of meeting men—try Target on Black Friday or the St. Patrick's Day Parade!
As if these schemes weren't elaborate enough, Ariana also suggests posting an ad for your apartment and pretending that you're looking for an upstanding bachelor to take over your lease. Little do they know that you have no intention of moving, this was just a brilliant ruse to meet and size up dudes. Another option? Church. No, really.
But the real winning section of this manual? The chapter titled, 7 Ways to Be Sexy. See, ladies, sex appeal isn’t about being beautiful, it’s about digging your own body and conveying that to men. So what are the seven sacred ways to be sexy?
- Long nails
- High Heels
- Go braless (because you burned yours, amirite?)
- Eye Contact
- Stand straight
Still, as ridiculous and passive and heteronormative and dated as How to Pick Up Men! is—as much as it's about devising complicated ways to trick men into meeting you—the book is actually, well, pretty sex positive and kind of empowering for women. For the era. In a chapter titled One Night Stands, Ariana writes:
"Being horny isn't something most girls talk about. But it's a fact of life. And a healthy indication that you're a mature women (sic). So don't fight it if you're feeling more sexy than loving some evening and you want to pick up a man just for the sheer pleasure of sleeping with him."
Can't argue with that.