In this episode, we meet Dave Booda: writer, musician, and social entrepreneur. Dave is the founder of IntimacyFest and has led over 250 workshops in the San Diego, CA area. Dave has published over 200 essays for boodaism.com and has been published in countless major online publications. As a singer/songwriter he’s played over 1000 shows.
Sarah learned about Dave when she was researching pickup artists for her masters. Someone sent her one of Dave’s essays that was echoing the same things Sarah was saying. After listening to this conversation, you’ll be able to strengthen your bullshit detector when it comes to advice around sex and relationships.
Positives and Negatives of the Pickup Artist Community
Dave shares his experience attending a pickup artist (PUA) boot camp, and how this was the weekend when his whole life really made sense. He realized that he wasn’t comfortable being a sexual being and found himself really interested in PUA for a period of time after. He became the leader of ‘The Mission,’ a hybrid between a PUA group and a men’s circle, with men cultivating brotherhood and meeting women together.
With time, it became clear that he didn’t belong in the PUA community. Still, this community and his experiences in it were the catalyst that moved him in his current direction. While the PUA community undoubtedly has its faults, the community is transformative. Those involved in PUA have a willingness to change.
Positively, the community shows that there is a “solidarity in the suffering that has been created by the system, which is f#$%ing up everybody,” men and women alike. At the same time, PUA doesn’t challenge this system, instead looking to work within it. Dave asks, what if we didn’t think along the lines of gender and focused on creating a space where we can all come together in acceptance and understanding? Dave notes how powerful it might be if more women asked what is it like to be a man.
“Pick up is essentially bad sales.”
The thing is, the system as it is objectifies and dehumanizes both men and women. It sets up dating and sex like a marketplace.
This was the metaphor that Sarah focused on in her research. In this metaphorical marketplace, a man has no value until he acquires it by learning skills, finding a sense of style or charisma, gaining muscles, etc. Women, on the other hand, have inherent value made of their beauty, breast size or hair color, which degrades over time. Men sell attention to women and women buy that attention with sex.
This perpetuates the idea that being who you are and sharing your desires isn’t enough. This system sees people as a commodities.
Men’s Rights Activists’ Similarity to Feminists
Dave has some strong opinions about the MRA community and feminism, sharing that they are saying essentially the same thing, that ‘gender expectations are bullshit.’ Most, in both communities, are looking for constructive solutions and momentum, while others descend into men/women-hating or asking why the other gender has yet to fix anything.
While those trolling on either side are probably not the best in each community, what they all speak to is that the system is the problem. Instead of looking at either side to initiate change, making systemic change, although difficult, would be the real solution. Having a black and white approach to issues isn’t helpful.
Creating Changes in the System
Dave shares that he often hears from those he works with that, well, ‘lots of people are still playing this game,’ but notes that doing something more authentic to you is empowering. Who doesn’t want the system to work for them or to create a system all their own?
The key is seeing and recognizing the humanity in others, instead of speaking about others as if they are not human. We live in a culture where men feel entitled to women’s bodies, but there is a similar entitlement to men’s emotions or commitment from women.
Here is that solidarity thing again!
If women who care so much about dismantling male entitlement could see that something very similar is happening to men, even if not in the same way or even equal ways, there would be a more collective understanding that the system is to blame. When you understand what someone else is going through by looking at your own experience, it opens up a vulnerability without the comparison. Although different, in this example, pressuring a man into commitment is similar to women being pressured into sex.
It’s not hard to see the similarities in the ways men and women suffer in sex and relationships when you are open to looking for them. People have been told that they just have to accept the way things are… but this is because the system needs this conflict to survive. In reality, men and women are more similar than they are different. By upsetting the power structure and providing objectively better alternatives, everyone has a better chance of reaching their goals for pleasure and fulfillment in this one precious life.