The miseducation of lovelorn men: An afternoon in a PUA Academy camp
(Editor’s note: This is the conclusion of INQUIRER.net’s two-part report on PUA Academy and the complaints surrounding it. Real names of the seminar attendees have been withheld for their protection.)
A self-proclaimed coach bearing the same posturing of a preacher stands in front of an audience of men at the roof deck of a corporate tower in Pasig City.
It seems like any other run-of-the-mill seminar on a Saturday afternoon, until the coach opens his mouth and says, “Go forth and bear firstborns in every city in the world” — much to the amusement of the devotees before him, believers of PUA Academy.
The controversial pick-up artist group, which claims to be “Asia’s leading dating company,” is a registered business under the Department of Trade and Industry, with the business name “PUACAD Personality Development Services.”
On the surface, this business promises to teach men the tricks of dating, with a penchant for seemingly innocuous terms such as “sets,” “target,” “approaching” and “field/lay report”, among others, when it comes to the “game” of picking up women.
Groups including the Philippine Commission on Women have denounced PUA Academy last year, after its members were found sharing “lay reports” online, evidence and bragging rights of their sexual conquests. These included nude pictures and videos of women they have slept with, along with descriptive narrations of their sexual encounters — content that the members uploaded and feasted all over on Facebook without the women’s consent. The PCW called the group what “seems to be a breeding ground for male sexual harassers and predators” that “makes money from promoting misogyny, objectification of women, and victim-blaming and shaming.”
PUA Academy encourages men to approach at least five unsuspecting women in public everyday. They refer to these women as “throwaway sets,” women they are not particularly sexually interested in, ranging from waitresses and shop assistants to mall-goers, but who they can use for practicing their “openers” or lines in order to boost their confidence. This apparently should help them overcome their “approach anxiety” or their fear of approaching women caused by their insecurities.
Their “philosophy” has been called many names: sexual harassment, toxic masculinity, misogyny, the perpetuation of rape culture, objectification of women, and the way of sexual predators, to name a few. And yet, PUA Academy has continuously denied these, vehemently believing their artistry teaches self-confidence and helps transform Beta men to become Alpha. PUA Academy founder Hussein “Smooth” Meneses emphasized this in a scalding “Good Times with Mo” interview with radio hosts Mo Twister, KC Montero and Hannah Bacani last February, saying that being an alpha male is a trait that attracts women to men.
More or less 50 men attended the controversial group’s supercamp last Aug. 3. Some were first-timers, while others were repeaters. They came for different reasons, but all bore a common denominator nonetheless: lovelessness and dissatisfaction when it comes to the dating and romance department.
Men in camp
For P2,800, attendees of the camp were taught for six hours about the rules of “approaching” women. As per INQUIRER.net’s source who was present in the camp and gathered testimonies, the participants were given “exercises” and “demonstrations” on how to pick-up women, taught “openers” or conversation starters, and also shown “in-field reports” or videos of actual PUA coaches approaching unsuspecting women at malls. An “in-field training” at a nightclub in Bonifacio Global City would follow. For an additional price of P2,000, attendees get to sit with the coaches in the club and put to practice the tricks they learned from the camp on unsuspecting women.
One attendee, *Pat, has been browsing a lot of content by PUA Academy on social media. He only joined the camp because he and his ex-girlfriend have started communicating again and he wants to know how he can win her back. He was one of the men who paid P2,000 so he could go to the nightclub and practice on other women.
“My ex and I started talking again, so I just wanna learn how to keep that going and get her back,” said Pat, before hurrying off to secure a slot to the in-field training.
*Mark, *Francis and *Carl, on the other hand, are repeaters of PUA Academy’s workshops and camps. Mark confessed in the camp that being “left behind” in dating is one of his insecurities.
Mark has already attended several supercamps in the past and decided to go this time around because he had just recently broken up with his partner. He said he wanted to feel confident again. He said he wants to figure out why it is so easy for some men to date.
Meanwhile, this is Francis’ second time attending a PUA camp. His first one was a free tour where men can ask questions to PUA coaches. He clarified, however, that it was not really free.
“Hindi talaga siya free, pero discounted siya from P2,800 to P1,500,” said Francis. “Pero hindi siya katulad ng supercamp, puro question and answer lang. May nag-email lang s’akin eh.”
(It is not really free, but it is discounted from P2,800 to P1,500. But it is not like the supercamp, where it is all only for question-and-answer. Somebody just emailed me.)
Francis continues to follow PUA Academy’s social media accounts and said he is a part of several chat groups, where old and new participants can discuss and gain insights from one another. Usually, they ask other participants to accompany them to practice their “game,” admitting one looks stupid if they are alone. Despite these “game” attempts, though, Francis still has not had any success with women.
Carl, on the other hand, has never been in a relationship since birth. This is the driving force behind why he continues to spend thousands and thousands of pesos to attend PUA Academy’s camps.
“Actually, [numerous] times na ako nag-attend ng mga workshops, pero wala pa rin eh,” said Carl. “Di ko alam kung ano bang mali ko na ginagawa.”
(Actually, I have attended the workshops numerous times, but nothing has happened still. I do not know what I am doing wrong.)
How many times must one attend PUA camps before they can say they are actually successful anyway?
In their “Good Times with Mo” interview last February, PUA coach “Jex” claimed with full confidence that they have a “100% success rate,” although their scientific measures for this are unknown, if there are any at all. It was an overconfident reply which radio host Mo Twister called “delusional,” as he went on to ask Jex why so many people hated their group if they were 100% successful.
As for the likes of Carl and Francis, it remains unclear where they fit in the “100% success rate” that PUA Academy claims.
Just like most of the attendees, Carl has placed the coaches on a pedestal and would do anything to possess their level of mastery. He has even considered joining PUA Academy’s bootcamp due to his frustration and desperation over the lack of results.
The bootcamp is a three-day program where PUA coaches would take the man out in public to demonstrate how to meet women and also serve as their wingmen. It comes with a staggering price of P25,000 for a one-on-one session, as per PUA Academy’s website, but it seems not to be much of a concern for Carl, who appears to be bordering on desperate in his desire to attract women.
Apart from the bootcamp, PUA Academy also offers an intensive 10-day immersion which costs an eye-watering P48,000 and online comprehensive guides like “The Player” and “The Cure”, which can go up to P7,995 and P11,995, respectively.
Anyone can go on PUA Academy’s website and see for themselves what their products comprise on the surface. “The Cure,” for example, promises to teach men techniques for online dating. It also gives men lines which they can easily “copy-paste” when talking to a woman online.
“The Player” meanwhile describes itself as a guide to help men build their confidence for effective dating habits. One of its sections focuses on “female psychology” and teaches men, among other things, how to destroy a woman’s “bitch shield.” Subscription to The Player’s platinum version consists of lessons on how to keep a woman and, ironically, how to handle multiple relationships.
There are some happy clients indeed, and this nobody can deny. One claimed through a now-unsearchable Facebook post that he was able to have sex with 28 women after just 5 months on “The Cure.” He also claimed he now has three HB (hot babe) girlfriends.
Meneses defended in his interview with radio host Mo Twister that many of their clients are affluent men who just want to be in a relationship.
“Some of our clients are very rich men and they’re really, like, these guys are really good people,” reasoned Meneses then. “They just want to have a girlfriend.” But it was a response that Mo, again, called “delusional.”
“I think you’re a little delusional sometimes in what your product is and what it’s about and who your clientele are,” said Mo. “If you were as good as you say you are… You wouldn’t have a battalion of organizations, women’s rights groups, people who are trying to stop rape culture, you wouldn’t have all these people against you if you were as good as you think you are.”
From buzzwords to baiting
After the camp, attendees can purchase for themselves a kit that includes a tips-and-tricks manual, a journal, and vouchers for future PUA Academy camps and workshops for just P100.
The manual appeared hastily compiled, containing wrong grammar and multiple typographical and stylistic errors, the lack of a proofreader or editor evidently absent from what is supposed to be “Asia’s leading dating company.”
It contained catchy buzzwords, such as “survival and replication,” “indicators of interest,” “alignment and pair bonding,” “kino escalation,” “group theory” and “neg theory,” to name a few. It also teaches men, who are referred to as “players,” the ways of “wingmanship” to pass a certain social hook point — whatever that could mean.
A tacky cut-and-pasted photo of Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr also graces another page, containing numerous lines called “negs” that players can refer to. Negs or negging supposedly pertains to a negative compliment a player can use on a woman to “get in her head” but in a way that “does not insult her,” such as telling women they remind them of a certain relative.
When it comes to attracting women, PUA enthusiasts can be — or at least, pretend to be — anything they want to be. Before initiating a “game,” they apparently assess themselves whether they are “high value” men who can show off their material possessions and status or “low value” men who lack a positive outlook in life, a rich, strong circle, or good genes.
Men are encouraged to talk about the number of exes they have had to impress women, regardless if these are actually not true. They call these tactics “projecting,” but perhaps some may call them deceit or artifice, for the sheer misrepresentation of themselves. Projecting apparently is encouraged when they encounter a “HB10” (HotBabe10), their term for women who they may find intimidating or hard to attract.
The real ‘score’
PUA Academy’s concepts seem to take after the field of psychology, but minus the actual scholarship that comes with it. Pseudoscientific buzzwords and “female psychology” are thrown around by PUA Academy, despite Meneses saying in the “Good Times with Mo” interview that he does not have a psychology degree. He, instead, banks on his almost 12 years of experience in “approaching” women, which apparently makes up for his lack of actually studying the discipline. And in return, his seeming lack of significant insight is regarded with high esteem by PUA enthusiasts.
Where the flaw appears to lie is in the methodology of PUA Academy, the aim of which is to build confidence in men, yet attempts to assuage this lack of confidence through an external “cure”: getting women. It can be a dangerous mindset to have, one that guarantees success and honeyed happiness, and the seemingly wicked lie that all of these would cost nothing. Yet, it also insidiously enforces the incapacitating notion that a man’s worth and value depends solely on the women he can score, that a man is only as good as the number of women he has slept with.
“It’s clear that women are not the only victims of PUA Academy. The participants of the workshops… hooked by ‘in-field’ videos spread through Facebook and Youtube group chats, are their victims too,” said INQUIRER.net’s source. “Social media paved the way for PUA to easily exploit their deep sense of insecurity, all while tapping on their tribal instincts to build a cult-esque underground community of misinformed men.”
If this was not the case, PUA Academy would not put such a premium on the importance of seducing women, all the while focusing on insecure, unhappy men who think they ought to pay P2,800 or P48,000 to talk to the opposite sex. It emburdens men with the unfair pressure to ascribe to toxic heteronormative notions of what a “real man” should be, while victimizing women who continue to bear the brunt of the emotional, psychological and sexual damages of this “game.”
Nobody, neither men nor women, appears to win here, therefore. But what surely thrives is the business, enabled by hordes of men who have made themselves believe that there must be something quite wrong with them.
At one point in Meneses’ interview with Mo Twister, he was asked how many times a woman has to say no to him before it constitutes an actual no. Meneses answered, “When she says no like really mad, like really really mad.”
PUA Academy, given all its claims of developing confidence in men, thus appears to have overlooked that one’s manhood cannot be hinged on mere sexual conquests. Oftentimes, how a man can take no for an answer, remaining decent and dignified, gracious and gentlemanly, spells more about not just his manhood but his humanity. JB
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