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Seduction: Men, Masculinity and Mediated Intimacy

Seduction: Men, Masculinity and Mediated Intimacy

Rachel O'Neill

ISBN: 978-1-509-52159-3

Jun 2018, Polity

256 pages



Within the so-called seduction community, the ability to meet and attract women is understood as a skill which heterosexual men can cultivate through practical training and personal development. Though it has been an object of media speculation – and frequent sensationalism – for over a decade, this cultural formation remains poorly understood.

In the first book-length study of the industry, Rachel O’Neill takes us into the world of seduction seminars, training events, instructional guidebooks and video tutorials. Pushing past established understandings of ‘pickup artists’ as pathetic, pathological or perverse, she examines what makes seduction so compelling for those drawn to participate in this sphere.

Seduction vividly portrays how the twin rationalities of neoliberalism and postfeminism are reorganising contemporary intimate life, as labour-intensive and profit-orientated modes of sociality consume other forms of being and relating. It is essential reading for students and scholars of gender, sexuality, sociology and cultural studies, as well as anyone who wants to understand the seduction industry’s overarching logics and internal workings.

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  • Introduction
  • 1 The Work of Seduction
  • 2 Pedagogy and Profit
  • 3 Manufacturing Consent
  • 4 Seduction and Sexual Politics
  • Conclusion: Against Seduction
  • Postscript: Power and Politics in Feminist Fieldwork
  • Appendices
  • References
‘If you have ever wondered why masculinity is so overwhelmingly defined by sexual prowess and the accumulation of women as sexual objects, this book will provide a thoughtful, useful and well-argued answer. This terrain has never been studied before and the liveliness of the writing and the timeliness of the topic are as engaging as the debates in feminist theory the author raises. It is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding some of the fundaments of heterosexuality.’
Eva Illouz, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

‘In this fascinating read, O’Neill takes us beyond sensational headlines about “pickup artists.” Through careful ethnographic research, she refuses easy interpretations of these men as uniquely misogynist or otherwise pathological, and instead places their behaviour in a larger social context. Her analysis demonstrates that the sexism found in this community is a particularly clear manifestation of the intersecting currents of neoliberalism and postfeminism.’
C. J. Pascoe, University of Oregon

"This is a brave work of feminist sexual politics that provides an unflinching look into the seduction industry. The author deftly navigates the competing and conflicting justifications of the men who shell out exorbitant amounts of money to become an ideal version of hyper-heteromasculinity at the risk of their psychological and social health."
Rebecca Sullivan, University of Calgary