Charisma magazine’s spirit of hate and lies

I used to think of Charisma magazine as basically Christianity Today for the Pentecostal/charismatic branch of American evangelicalism. It was a glossy general-interest magazine geared toward that sub-set of the subculture, with church news, celebrity profiles and lifestyle-trend pieces aimed to appeal to that audience.

Like CT, it was generally conservative — reflecting the conservative social and political views of its writers and readership, but not aggressively partisan, and thus distinct from the transparently political operatives of the religious right.

But at some point — I’m not sure exactly when this happened, I wasn’t paying that close attention to it — it seems Charisma and its publisher Steve Strang have decided to embrace the religious right model. Strang these days seems to aspire to be the next Tony Perkins. He wants to be a political player and, like Perkins, he won’t let facts or truth or honesty hold him back from pursuing that goal.

Some recent examples:

• Steve Strang, “DOJ Diversity Police Seeking to Shackle Christians“: “The Department of Justice is robbing Christians and other conservative people of our rights to believe as we choose and to be free to speak in pushing a politically correct emphasis for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) agenda …”

• Os Hillman, “4 Questions to Consider in Response to the Gay Agenda“: If “government and businesses … have to offer the same benefits to homosexual couples as … to heterosexual couples,” Hillman warns, then America is on a “slippery slope” and is “headed the way of Europe” or could even “end up like Canada.” If that happens, Hillman says, then America will be judged like the Amorites: “The Amorites were a very ungodly people. God saw their sin as so great that He was going to use the Israelites to wipe them out.”

• “Did Boy Scouts of America Sell Its Soul to the Devil?” asks the headline of Raynard Jackson’s Charisma column. Not wanting to keep readers in suspense, Jackson answers that question in his first sentence: “When the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) leadership voted to allow openly homosexual kids to become Boy Scouts, they, in that one act, sold their souls to the devil.”

And in the pages of Charisma, selling your soul to the devil is not a figure of speech — as this video posted by Matthew Paul Turner illustrates:

• “I have nothing against gay people,” writes Jennifer LeClaire, the news editor of Charisma. “That said … There is a gay agenda and it’s working overtime to send millions to hell.” LeClaire previously argued that demon rape by succubi and incubi causes people to become gay. Following the mass-shooting of elementary school students in Newtown, Conn., LeClaire cited notorious liar David Barton on the importance of prayer in school and wrote, “Can We Please Put Prayer Back in Schools Now?

This noxious stew of lies, legends and delirious fantasies about the Other can only be written and published by people who do not know and do not care about the human beings they’re dehumanizing. This is nasty, evil stuff.

I don’t claim to have any special gifts of spiritual discernment, but I can hear what these Charisma writers are shouting at the top of their lungs. This is hate. And lies. And lies in the service of hate. Whatever spirit is at work in this, it cannot be a holy one.

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  • chris the cynic

    So it’s totally ok for the Boy Scouts to allow gay scoutmasters now, right?

    I mean if they already sold their soul there’s nowhere lower they can go so they might as well go whole hog and all that.

  • histrogeek

    I’m with that plan. Goes to show how useful compromise with the toads is.

  • Ruby_Tea

    And let the little atheist boys go camping, too. Seems only fair, now that the other evil sinners are in.

  • chris the cynic

    Also, I’m pretty sure the soul bubble crashed years ago. It’s not just that people were over-leveraging them, it’s just the explosion of soul availability in the last hundred years. Supply is clearly outstripping demand and I can’t honestly believe that souls are worth all that much these days.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if we start seeing people offering souls free to good homes.

  • SororAyin

    You, sir, just won the Internet.

  • eamonknight

    The worst that can happen to you is you end up like Canada…um, this is a threat? I kinda’ like my life here in Sodom of the North (and I’m not even gay).

  • Launcifer

    Hey, I’m just personally insulted that it’s somehow seen as vaguely better to only be “headed the way of Europe” as opposed to ending up “like Canada”. As a European myself, I’d quite like to point out that we’re trying, Cthulhu-damnit.

  • dj_pomegranate

    I also love that it takes about one paragraph to draw the line from “becoming like Canada” to “being judged like the Amorites.” As if the connection between Canada and Bible-style judgement is so super obvious that it hardly needs to be explained!

  • Launcifer

    Under the circumstances, shouldn’t someone at least pretend to have asked an Amorite if they mind being judged alongside Canada or if they’d rather be thought of as “a bit European” instead?

  • hidden_urchin

    Yeah, what’s wrong with Canada? Marriage equality, accessible healthcare, hockey…It’s the hockey, isn’t it?

  • ReverendRef

    Could it be the McKenzie Brothers? Because I’m fairly sure it’s not Red Green.

  • -G-G-

    Gotta be the fault of The Trailer Park Boys (although they probably blame Mr. Lahey and Randy)

  • Redwood Rhiadra


    Or possibly Celine Dion, depending on who you ask.

  • eamonknight

    OK, we deserve harsh judgment for Celine Dion, Alanis, April Lavigne, and (especially) Justin Bieber. (Seriously, I’m really, really sorry about that last one). However, I think Stan Rogers, Bruce Cockburn, James Keelaghan and a bunch of Cape Breton fiddlers more than atone for our sins.

  • Boze Herrington

    and Leonard Cohen!

  • $43768042

    and gordon lightfoot!!

  • Launcifer

    And…er… this. I’m sorry, okay? So sorry, but like the kids said: blame Canada.

  • Lliira

    Why would anyone feel the need to apologize for that? It’s glorious!

  • Launcifer

    It’s William Shatner singing a Black Sabbath song. Admittedly, it’s far from his most bizarre cover choice but, still, Shatner… Sabbath. It’s either The Music of Erich Zann or an abomination unto Nuggan and I’m struggling to decide which one.

  • Randall

    You know, I don’t want to pick on you for your spelling, but I’m here to pick on you for your spelling. Alannis; Avril Lavigne.

    I’m not apologizing for anything; if Americans are listening to them, they have only themselves to blame.

  • eamonknight

    I resort to the excuse that “avril” is French for “April”.

  • Jamoche

    And the Headstones! Yes, Canada can do punk! And they have a new album with a cover of SOS – yes, Abba’s SOS – that rocks!

  • Enopoletus Harding

    I suspect it’s the socialized medicine (which really can’t be that much worse than the healthcare system presently existing in the U.S.).

  • ShifterCat

    “Can’t be that much worse”? It’s BETTER. Ever since the U.S. healthcare debate re-opened, I’ve realized just how much I, as a Canadian, have that I’ve taken for granted. Not only does single-payer cover more, it costs less. Seriously, I’ve been thanking my lucky stars that my American parents moved up here before having me.

  • Launcifer

    Of course socialised healthcare is worse: some of the poor people actually survive.

  • Vermic

    I’ve heard the “God will smite the U.S. if we become like Europe and Canada” argument for decades. But I’ve never heard a decent answer (*) to why, if that’s true, Europe and Canada haven’t themselves been smitten already. And not just “already”, but “repeatedly and relentlessly”, seeing as how the nations in question have been godless socialist hellholes for a long time now.

    Hell, England’s had socialized medicine since the 1940’s — by now there should be nothing left of the place but locusts and salt pillars. And I’ve visited Canada personally and can confirm that it’s a perfectly pleasant place, certainly not one where holy flame-hurricanes with Jesus’ wrathful face in the middle regularly tear up the countryside (or if they do, then kudos to the tourism board for keeping it under wraps).

    (*) Crappy answers to the question usually fall into two categories: 1) Oh, the Europeans’ll get what’s coming to them, just you wait a few more decades. Or 2) America is God’s chosen country so we’re held to a higher standard.

  • ReverendRef

    I’ve heard the “God will smite the U.S. if we become like Europe and Canada” argument for decades.

    So have I. But on closer inspection . . . It seems that we’ve already had our fair share of smiting, what with all the tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and occasional volcano.

    Maybe someone should suggest that the conservatives have got it wrong and if we actually became more like Canada the smiting would stop.

  • Arresi

    You know, for a long time the problem was that the liberals knew how weather worked and were too honest (or too worried about the backlash) to try and pretend that being more liberal would fix things. I think the real reason the conservatives want to pretend that global warming isn’t a real thing/anthropogenic is because if it is, liberals can horn in on their “be more like us, lest ye be smote by really bad weather” routine.

  • -G-G-

    Any time the Canadian Menace comes up, all I can think of is the only Michael Moore movie I really like, “Canadian Bacon” Like maple syrup Canada’s evil oozes over the United States.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Any time the Canadian Menace comes up, all I can think of is…

    South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut!

  • LL

    It is amusing that becoming “like Canada” or “like Europe” is supposed to be a threat. Because Canada is such a notorious hellhole. And hardly anybody goes to Europe on vacation, because of the terrible conditions there.

  • eamonknight

    In context, the thing he’s complaining about is that up here, hate speech can be prosecuted under the Human Rights Commission system, a fact many people (including me) find deeply problematic on free-speech grounds. To my knowledge, there has been exactly one such prosecution for anti-gay rhetoric:, which was opposed by both the Canadian Civil Liberties Union and EGALE, a LGBT-rights organization. But of such incidents is a general narrative of persecution created.

    We’re still waiting to get smited for that, and for legalizing same-sex marriage. Yeah, I know: God is slow to anger. Except when he’s not (cite: numerous Biblical passages).

  • caryjamesbond

    So god is such a nice guy that unless small children formally invoke his protection every single day, not just privately but under the school’s authority, he will allow armed men to kill them by the dozens?

    Great religion you got there. I’m gonna join up toute suite.

  • Launcifer

    Well, I guess the (English) Girl Guides must be on their shit list, then.

  • The_L1985

    I cannot understand how people who make this argument somehow miss the fact that they’re describing the very god who “so loved the world” as a cruel, hateful monster.

    Anyone who blackmails you on a regular basis with threats of torture or death is not a nice person, or a good person, or in any way worth associating with. Therefore, either God is a monster, or these people are wrong about what God is like, or He doesn’t exist at all. There is no magical 4th option.

  • Launcifer

    It’s probably telling that I’d be more willing to listen if they just came out and admitted that their version of God was an omnicidal git right out of the gate. I know where I am with omnicidal deities.

  • Albanaeon

    It’d also allow you to place his followers correctly too.

    They aren’t interested in being on the side of “right.” They want to be on the side that WINS!

  • Launcifer

    Either that or they’ve not so much misread Machiavelli as they’ve said, “Sod it, who wouldn’t want to be feared by everyone?”

  • Ross

    The fourth option is “blackmailing the world with threats of torture” is, in fact, not inconsistent with being good or nice, at least among persons who are divine.

  • phantomreader42

    That option implies definitions of “good” and “nice” that bear no resemblance to anything human beings would describe as such.

  • Ross

    It’s not that hard, surely. Why is hurting other people wrong, after all? I can think of a lot of reasons, and while I don’t agree, I can’t see how it would be unreasonable for someone to decide the reason is “Because we don’t have perfect foreknowledge of whether or not the victims really truly deserve it and whether there is really truly no better way.”

    And if that’s your reason for believing that hurting other people is wrong, then it’s perfectly fine if *God* hurts people, because God *does* know better.

  • Pam

    Yeah, they seem to think of God as a gangster running a mystical protection racket.

    “Nice country you got there. It’d be a shame if something… happened to it.”

  • Sara

    I’m enjoying the very funny comments. But on a serious note, thank you, Fred Clark, for calling out the hate when you see it. People like you are one of the reasons that I am, as a gay Christian, able to hold on to my faith.

  • -G-G-

    Same here, I really appreciate it that Fred does this. It’s nice to have these reminders that not everyone wants to throw you out of the club.

  • Fusina

    I have to confess, as someone who is bi and a christian, the concept of succubi and incubi turning people gay…now I want the details of how they think this happens–oooorrrr not. I’m sorry, this just causes me to see what stupidity in the name of religion looks like.

    I am a universalist. My reasoning is this. If Marines can come up with the concept of “No man* left behind” and humans are not as perfect as god…well, that was my reasoning.

    *With universalism, man in the concept being all humankind.

  • Wednesday

    [i] the concept of succubi and incubi turning people gay…now I want the details of how they think this happens–oooorrrr not.[/i]

    A friend of mine once observed that a lot of the right-wing’s anti-gay talking points sound like the premise of bad porn or possibly an LJ multifandom RP (the two are not mutually exclusive).

    I think the foocubi theory of gay definitely sounds like one of these.

  • j_bird

    “foocubi”, heeeee. :)

  • histrogeek

    I’m not sure where the Amorites get judged (probably a buttload of places) but in Amos, God mentions that they were once super-rich and powerful but got smacked down by Israel, because implicitly the Amorites were a bunch of greedy thieves who shit on the poor. Israel is explicitly condemned for that.

    Weirdly the Gay Agenda isn’t mentioned, though the Greedy Bastard Agenda is judged pretty unfavorable

  • Enopoletus Harding

    [citation needed].

  • Albanaeon

    Amos 2: 6

    Thus says the LORD,
    “For three transgressions of Israel and for four
    I will not revoke its punishment,
    Because they sell the righteous for money
    And the needy for a pair of sandals.

    Later, we hear waxing about destroying Amorites despite their power. So, it might be a bit of stretch that the Amorites were destroyed for their treatment of the poor, it’s very clear that the Israelites are in for smiting for their treatment of the poor.

  • histrogeek

    Amos 2:6–11 is the whole passage including the bit on the Amorites. The anti-Greedy Bastard Agenda is verses 6–8.

  • Enopoletus Harding

    Clearly, you have a difficult time reading. Amos 2:6–11 is referring to Israel, not the Amorites.

  • histrogeek

    Not that clearly. I did say it was implicitly criticizing the Amorites, who were dead and gone in Amos’ time at least in the region, for greed.

    The implication is based, at least to me, on two things. First the parallel between the threatened punishment of Israel and the disappearance of the Amorites. Second the Amorites in their day are being described by Amos as rich and powerful, which parallels the criticism of Israel as rich and powerful, and unjust.
    In any event there is far more justification to link the biblical explanation for the fall of the Amorites to greed and exploitation than there is Hillman’s explanation. The Amorites aren’t being described as “ungodly.” Amos condemns Gentiles (and Judah and Israel), as Michele points, for what they do politically and militarily, not for religious offenses. And certainly there isn’t anything there to suggest anything to do with homosexulity.

  • Michele

    Amos 1: 6, 9, 11, 13; Amos 2:6, 8-9 (I’m omitting the descriptions of the punishments) —

    6Thus says the LORD, “For three transgressions of Gaza and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they deported an entire population To deliver it up to Edom.

    9Thus says the LORD, “For three transgressions of Tyre and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they delivered up an entire population to Edom And did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.

    11Thus says the LORD, “For three transgressions of Edom and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because he pursued his brother with the sword, While he stifled his compassion; His anger also tore continually, And he maintained his fury forever.

    13Thus says the LORD, “For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead In order to enlarge their borders.

    Amos 2:6 Thus says the LORD, “For three transgressions of Israel and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they sell the righteous for money And the needy for a pair of sandals.

    8“On garments taken as pledges they stretch out beside every altar, And in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.

  • Enopoletus Harding

    Gaza ain’t Amorite, it’s Philistine. Tyre ain’t Amorite, it’s Canaanite. Edom ain’t Amorite, it’s Edomite. Ammon ain’t Amorite, it’s Ammonite. Israel sure as hell ain’t Amorite.

  • Lliira

    Why the fuck do you care? You’re an atheist. The Bible is not an authoritative text to atheists. Or are you just trying to waste someone’s time again?

  • Enopoletus Harding

    What’s the subheading of my blog?

  • Enopoletus Harding

    Also, I care about accuracy.

  • histrogeek

    Just to be accurate, I’m looking through my Oxford Companion to the Bible and the entry on Amorites states they were the one of the original inhabitants of Canaan possibly the original inhabitants, located mostly in central Canaan at the time of Joshua and Judges. (In the interest of accuracy, I’ll just point out that archeologically there isn’t any real evidence for the conquests described there.)

    I haven’t found any actual explicit condemnations of the Amorites in the Bible (OCB doesn’t list any), other than the wrong place-wrong time issue of those in the way of Joshua’s conquest. So, to bring it back to the original blog post, they weren’t “ungodly” in a way that earns them condemnation and doom.

    Amos seems to be using them the way Percy Shelley used Ozymandias, a reminder that present-day power doesn’t mean much in the long run.

  • Enopoletus Harding

    Amos seems to be using them the way Percy Shelley used Ozymandias, a reminder that present-day power doesn’t mean much in the long run.

    -Amos 2:9 also appears to be underlining how much God has done for (and, apparently, wasted on) Israel after condemning the ungodly gain and lack of humility of rich Israelites in the previous verses.

  • histrogeek

    Very true.

  • $43768042

    what a wonderfully loving and courteous reply.

    i am sure that jesus and your mother are very proud right now.

  • dpolicar

    For calibration purposes: do you consider your own reply here to be loving and courteous?

  • $43768042

    ah, hoisted by my own petard.

    you got me. i am guilty of moments of hypocrisy when confronted with poor behavior.

    this response was snarky and, probably, completely unhelpful in opening any meaningful dialogue.

    my failure to meet my own standards (much less those of my god) are something that i am quite aware of and that i struggle with on a daily basis.

    i don’t, however, believe that my imperfection alters my beliefs or their validity.

  • dpolicar

    Sure. One needn’t be perfect to have standards; agreed.

    That said, when I find myself motivated to correct or call out the errors of others in the same moment that I don’t even notice myself making the same error, that’s often a sign that what motivates me isn’t actually the desire to see the error made less often, but something more complicated.

  • Albanaeon

    Oh NO!!! Anything except CANADA!!!11one!eleventy1111

    Seriously, if I didn’t know they were actually serious about the idea that Europe and Canada are places in line with Hell itself, I’d write them off as not very well hidden Poes.

    And why exactly does god punish entire countries? It should be fairly obvious to an omnipotent being that there’s lots of people within countries and not all of the policies are the result of the will of all the people within it. Besides, doesn’t large scale smiting too often look like natural disasters anyway, which means us evil secularists just chalk it up to weather, or climate change, or plate tectonics? It would seem far more effective if everyone who votes against “god’s laws” immediately got struck by lightning, eaten by bears, got a large pimple, Something immediate and obvious that would be hard to deny even by us skeptics.

    Instead we get routine natural disasters and vague threats that next time we’ll be judged. Yeah, not very convincing.

  • SororAyin

    Well not that you mention it, I have been having acne problems ever since I voted for Obama….

  • Enopoletus Harding

    But Obama was the actual mainstream Christian in the previous race. So your acne being a result of your voting for Obama doesn’t quite make sense.

  • SororAyin

    That’s exactly the point of the joke Albanaeon and I are making, though. Obama’s the _mainstream_ Christian. The folks at Charisma don’t seem to approve of mainstream Christianity. They’re the type that sees only very rigid social conservativism as acceptable. Get it?

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    LeClaire previously argued that demon rape by succubi and incubi causes people to become gay.

    You know, the guy who wrote the Malleus Malefacarium was also kinky about demon-witch sex. So much so that (before he wrote the book) he was thrown off a witchcraft trial by his superiors because his entire interrogation was to demand pornographic details of the accused’s sexual encounters with the Devil. (She was acquitted; her family had enough $$$ to hire good lawyers.)

  • Launcifer

    So, wait, Kramer (I’m assuming you mean Kramer and not Sprenger here) is basically the fifteenth-century version of John Norman? That… actually makes the chap seem even creepier than anything else I’ve ever read about him.

  • histrogeek

    The Malleus mentions a lot of kinky demon-on-witch action but really it’s staggeringly boring to read (at least if you’re looking for hot hellspawn-slut porn). Which I admit is impressive given subject matter.

  • ScorpioUndone

    Oh, I was raped by a succubus… that explains it. Now would that have been before or after transition? Seriously, the things these people come up with….

    On the plus side, I like the new Patheos ads better. Rather than all the anti-equality crap I used to see around election time (and I confess I stayed away for a while because of it), I’m getting adverts for Agent Provocateur. This is quite okay with me. Which reminds me, I do need some new lingerie…

  • chris the cynic

    So I wrote a story fragment where I was basically going from the warped idea of evil that people like this have and the thought that demonic possession, at least the forms that influence more than control, really didn’t sound so bad, and apparently I managed to end up on basically somewhat the same page as these people because when the possessing demon, formerly a succubus, finally breaks silence and starts talking to the possessee it includes this:

    (demon) “Go to the university’s counselling center, tell them what you’ve known since the age of six-”

    (human) “That being?”

    “That you’re a girl. Can I finish?”

    “Carry on.”

    “Work with them toward transition, in the mean time buy a nice skirt or something, ask the cute girl from economics out on a date, stop second guessing everything you do, relax, trust me when I help you with dead languages, and if you can make it that far trust me when I help you with flirting.”

    I’m not sure whether to be impressed or disgusted that they and I ended up on the same page regarding succubi getting people out of the closet, but at least my version doesn’t involve rape.

    [Added:] When did you change your disqus name, by the way?
    [Second added:] Have I asked this before? I suddenly have the strongest sense of Deja vu.

  • Nirrti

    I think the whole thing smells of jealousy. They’re POed because they can’t legitimately summon any kinky succubi/incubus/rent boys for themselves. Plus the lack of socialized healthcare, high-speed trains, and gelato ices just makes their lives seem so sucky in comparison. If they can’t be happy, those godless Europeans shouldn’t either.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    They may not be able to summon any supernatural companions, but some of them do summon *mortal* companions by looking up “Escort Services, Personal” in the Yellow Pages of the nearest major city and then making a phone call…..

  • Lori

    Two words: Craig’s. List.

  • Lliira

    That’s one of the better outcomes. Very, very, very many of them find women and children to rape instead.

  • Lori

    I don’t think rape and child molestation are actually alternatives to hiring a sex worker. People don’t commit rape because they don’t have the $50 or whatever to hire a professional.

  • EllieMurasaki

    On a related subject: I don’t have the link on me (but search Twitter for ‘Kickstarter’, you’ll find it), but there is a petition to get Kickstarter to retroactively cancel a particular project (its time ran out several hours ago and it’s fully funded several times over, so they’ve collected a lot of the backer donations by now) and I’m not sure what all else but probably ‘retract today’s statement on the subject’ is on there.

    Quoted from Kickstarter’s ToS:
    You shall not, and shall not permit any third party using your account to, take any action, or Submit Content, that: is unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, […] obscene, offensive, profane, or invasive of another’s privacy;

    Quoted from Kickstarter’s statement about the Internet onslaught that hit them today:

    This morning, material that a project creator posted on Reddit earlier this year was brought to our and the public’s attention just hours before the project’s deadline. Some of this material is abhorrent and inconsistent with our values as people and as an organization. Based on our current guidelines, however, the material on Reddit did not warrant the irreversible action of canceling the project.

    The project in question? A how-to guide for sexual assault.

  • chris the cynic

    Oh for fuck’s sake.

    I swear I feel like I have three more paragraphs but not a word is coming. Can’t they… I mean… fuck.

    The gods of the internet wept.

    How in the hell did the thing begin in the first place and why were they not… fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck.

    Sometimes I hate the world.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Join the club.

    I got a couple more words than that, though. “I am never funding a Kickstarter project again, and if I encounter one I want to fund, I am contacting the creator to explain why” and “when I get around to crowdfunding the cover art and editing and such for my novels in progress, it will be through IndieGoGo”. And “women’s safety is less important than the ~$800 Kickstarter’s getting from this project, I see”.

  • Lori

    WTF? if I how-to guide for sexual assault that started on f’ing Reddit (major red flag all by itself) doesn’t warrant cancellation then exactly what does?

    Did the NSA vacuum up all the names of the people who contributed to this charming effort so that the cops can keep an eye on them and use their purchase as evidence against them later? If we’ve all lost our privacy then we ought to at least get something worthwhile out of it and those would-be rapists are almost certainly a bigger danger to the public than most of the terrorists the feds have bragged about catching.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’d like to know that myself. And how it got through Kickstarter’s screening process in the first place; forty percent of projects don’t…

  • Lori

    I feel somewhat better now. It appears that the quotes from the book were taken out of context. In context there are still real problems with it (again, Reddit never seems to be a source of goodness when it comes to dating and relationships), but it’s not nearly as awful as it first sounded.

    Here’s what the author has to say about the section in question:

    Statement from Ken Hoinsky:

    “I am devastated and troubled by the allegations that my book, Above The Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women, promotes rape. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A handful of quotes were taken out of context and posted on Tumblr which steamrolled in a game of
    telephone where hardly anyone bothered to read the original version.

    People took advice from a section on “Physical Escalation & Sex” and posted them online. Devoid of context, they appeared to be promoting sexually assaulting women when that wasn’t the case at all.

    The gist of the controversial advice is “Don’t wait for signs
    before you make your move. Let her be the one who rejects your advances.If she says no, stop immediately and tell her you don’t want to do anything that would make her uncomfortable. Try again at a later time if
    appropriate or cease entirely if she is absolutely not interested.”

    The thing that the commenters on social media are leaving out is that the advice was taken from a section in the guide offering advice on what to do AFTER a man has met a cute girl, gotten her phone number, gone on dates, spent time getting to know her, and now are alone behind
    closed doors fooling around. If “Don’t wait for signs, make the first move” promotes sexual assault, then “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid was a song about rape.

    That cherry-picked advice, without that important context, makes it sound like I am advocating non-consensual sexual advances on strangers. I would absolutely never do such a thing. In fact there is an entire section on consent that the bloggers conveniently left out to paint me in a poor light: These are copied verbatim from Above The Game: IMPORTANT NOTE ON RESISTANCE:
    If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know.If she says “STOP,” or “GET AWAY FROM ME,” or shoves you away, you know she is not interested. It happens. Stop escalating immediately and say this line: ”No problem. I don’t want you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with.”

    Memorize that line. It is your go-to when faced with resistance. Say it genuinely, without presumption. All master seducers are also masters at making women feel comfortable. You’ll be no different. If a woman isn’t comfortable, take a break and try again later. Of course if
    you’re really unclear, back off. Better safe than sorry.

    Guys should obviously be looking for active consent, not just the absence of resistance. The advice he’s giving is not bad per se, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough and I hope that the controversy results in him getting an education that results in some rewrites before this book goes out.

  • ShifterCat
  • Lori

    I don’t think that’s sexual harassment. He is giving advice that could lead to sexual assault, which is not the same thing. Worst case his bad advice could lead to date rape

    He sort of gets “No means no”, but he has no freaking clue about “yes means yes” and he thinks that the best way to get a “not no” is to play stupid, misogynist PUA games. If one of his readers pulls this shit on a woman whose response to unwanted touch is to freeze the guy is going to commit assault or worse and then spend the rest of his life whining that he didn’t do anything wrong. That’s clearly not OK.

    It’s not per se wrong to tell guys to go ahead and make a move if things have progressed to that point and he’s interested. Failing to grasp the concept of active consent, believing that the man has to make the first move every time and all the PUA crap about being the LEADER and grabbing the woman’s hands and all the other skeevy shit is wrong. That needs to be changed before this book sees the light of day.

    Kickstarter needs to be called on the fact that they considered the project acceptable as-is.

  • ShifterCat

    Erm. Date rape is rape. And unfortunately, the direct, loud “no” or “stop that” is something far too many women are conditioned not to do — and that goes double for the kind of women PUA techniques target, ie. the kind of women who tolerate being talked into accepting a drink.

    And it doesn’t matter whether someone’s already accepted a date — advising stuff like “Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap” and “Make her push your hand away as you get closer to her vagina” is promoting harassment.

    Basically, he’s advising the predator technique of picking targets through boundary-pushing. (More on that here: )

    Also, he says, “Stop being afraid to offend” and “Never, ever, ever, wait for a SIGN before you escalate!… ASSUME that she is attracted to you and wants to be ravished.” As we know, a lot of indicators of fear and discomfort are non-verbal — and he flat-out tells his readers to ignore non-verbal cues. (Archived here: )

    I don’t think this guy is saying “Of course no means no” because he honestly thinks that coercion is wrong. I think he’s saying it to cover his ass.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That. That is what I’ve been trying to figure out how to say. Because his whole statement read to me like an example of the thing where nobody in a given survey admits to committing sexual assault but a bunch of people in the same survey admit to doing X sexual act without consent from the other participant, and I couldn’t put a finger on why.

  • Lori

    Erm. Date rape is rape.

    Yeah, I’m aware. In this conversation I was trying to draw a distinction between what happens between people who know each other and random attacks on the street.

    And unfortunately, the direct, loud “no” or “stop that” is something far too many women are conditioned not to do

    Yeah, pretty sure I acknowledged that.

    And it doesn’t matter whether someone’s already accepted a date — advising stuff like “Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap” and “Make her push your hand away as you get closer to her vagina” is
    promoting harassment.

    Harassment: The act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands

    Assault: In criminal and tort law, an act, usually consisting
    of a threat or attempt to inflict bodily injury upon another person, coupled
    with the apparent present ability to succeed in carrying out the threat or the
    attempt if not prevented, that causes the person to have a reasonable fear or
    apprehension of immediate harmful or offensive contact. No intent to cause
    battery or the fear or apprehension is required so long as the victim is placed
    in reasonable apprehension or fear. No actual physical injury is needed to
    establish an assault, but if there is any physical contact, the act constitutes
    both an assault and a battery.

    Also, he says, “Stop being afraid to offend” and “Never, ever, ever, wait for a SIGN before you escalate!… ASSUME that she is attracted to you and wants to be ravished.” As we know, a lot of indicators of fear and discomfort are non-verbal — and he flat-out tells his readers to ignore non-verbal cues.

    Yes, the way he’s approaching the issue is misogynist PUA bullshit and I wish this book didn’t exist.

    That doesn’t change the fact that there’s a germ of truth to his advice to go ahead and make a move and not try to read the woman’s mind. Telling guys that once a couple gets to a certain point the move needs to be made and that they shouldn’t wait until they’re sure they’re not going to be rejected is not, in and of itself, wrong. Part of the problem with Nice Guys is that they won’t actually make a clear move and then get pissed that things don’t effortlessly fall into place.

    PUA is obviously not an appropriate way to deal with that.

    I don’t think this guy is saying “Of course no means no” because he honestly thinks that coercion is wrong. I think he’s saying it to cover his ass.

    Possibly. It’s also possible that he actually believes the PUA line that if you’re just man enough coercion won’t be an issue because the babes will want you.

    Again, I think this book shouldn’t exist and that Kickstarter shouldn’t have hosted it.

  • ShifterCat

    We may be talking past each other here. Sorry about that.

  • $43768042

    i’m not sure how “whip it out and make her grab it” can be misconstrued…

    (paraphrased, obviously, because i amnot reading that quote again.)

  • Lori

    Honestly, there are people who would respond positively to that. I don’t like it, but I’ve known people who do.

    He’s not telling anyone to do that to random women. He’s talking about two people who have been dating and are at the point of making the move to getting physical or deciding to just be friends or not see each other any more.

    His method of making that move is PUA bullshit and he needs to get a lot more educated about consent and about how to tell if the woman you’re with is the sort of person who is going to think that “whip it out and make her grab it” is exciting as opposed to appalling.

    My impression is that this book shouldn’t exist. I feel that way about all things PUA. That said, it’s not quite the way that it was initially presented and I think it’s important to be accurate when saying what’s wrong with this.

  • $43768042

    ‘Honestly, there are people who would respond positively to that. I don’t like it, but I’ve known people who do.’

    yeah, gotta give you that one.

    fair enough response, too. i was probably too squicked out about some dipstick trying thst on one of my girl’s to look any deeper into the issue. (i feel sorry for any guy that does try something like that on either of my daughters. they’d be walking bow-legged for a week…)

  • Lori

    You have every reason to be squicked. Most people don’t like that and it’s not something that should be suggested as general advice. In the majority of cases it’s going to end the date, and any chance of any more, in a really ugly, upsetting scene. In some cases it’s going to be much, much worse than that. It’s horrible, inappropriate advice.

    Here’s the thing. The kind of person who can pull that off, who can correctly gauge that the woman he’s with will like it and then execute the maneuver in a way that reads as sexy instead of skeevy or criminal, is not the kind of person who is going to be reading this book. Anyone who would buy this book is pretty much by definition not the kind of person who should be trying that, ever. This is one of the many, many problems with the whole PUA thing.

  • $43768042

    yeah, the guy with the combination of unerring judgement, perfect timing, cool self-confidence and raw charisma that could pull that maneuver off is probably not the target audience for this book…

  • Baby_Raptor

    Fucking WHAT?

  • Lliira

    Well yes, obviously, but I didn’t mean it that way. Basically, hiring sex workers isn’t a wrong thing, if you know the sex workers are in it because they want to be and are not being exploited. If all these assholes were doing was hiring sex workers in that situation, meh. But they don’t.

    I’m not explaining myself very well, but what I’m trying to get at is that there is a direct line between sex-hating beliefs and rape.

  • SororAyin

    Just look at Joanne Highley’s face during that clip. Kirsten Stewart in Twilight had more facial expression than that. Highley is supposed to convince us that she has embraced a faith of hope and joy? Good luck with that.

  • Lliira

    I went to a Pentecostal Bible “study” once with a friend to appease her. We sat there and leafed to random, unconnected parts of the Bible the pastor told us to look at, we read them aloud, he told us what to think, then we moved on to another unrelated part of the Bible and he told us what to think about that.

    I was still Christian at the time, and frankly, as someone raised Lutheran-Quakerish, this nonsense struck me as pointless at best and blasphemous at worst. And whatever else it was, it wasn’t “study” of any kind.

  • Daniel

    When the American religious right complains about the US “heading the way of Europe” what precisely is it that they mean? They are aware that European countries have some of the highest standards of living in the world? What about “ending up like Europe” is bad- obviously excepting the French.

  • Fusina

    Oi, What’s wrong with the French? They have chocolate pastries for breakfast. What a civilized people. ;-)

  • Lori

    No amount of chocolate for breakfast makes up for the level of violent anti-gay protests and general Right wing crap they’ve got going on these days.

  • Fusina

    SSM is legal there, so the protesters have already lost. I grant that the protesters are aggravating, and even dangerous, and need to be stopped.

    But chocolate filled croissants are something I revere. Butter, flour, and chocolate. Mmmmmm…Almost enough to make you believe in God. ;-)

    Fave bumper sticker: “Save the Earth. It’s the only one with chocolate.”

  • Lori

    I love a chocolate croissant, and I give France all the credit in the world for gifting us with them and many other yummy bread items. That doesn’t change the fact that the “French Spring” is a nasty business. The fact that SSM is legal is great, but the fact that multiple city officials have refused to abide by the law and gay rights advocates have been killed and actual fascists are using the issue to gain power is terrible. At this particular moment in time I have no interest in the US becoming like France. I think we’d get way more fascists than breakfast chocolate and we have enough problems already.

  • Fusina

    I don’t want the US to be like France…except for making SSM the law of the land. And having chocolate croissants for breakfast. But in some ways we are like them…Fred Phelps, for one, and there are people who kill people for the “crime” of being gay. I have no idea how to beat the bigots, aside from outliving them. And converting their children. I hate that anywhere in the world any person is being killed for the crime of being themselves. I used to have great hope the human race would survive to grow up. But I am rapidly losing that hope.

  • Daniel
    I think it’s mostly envy, really. But yes, chocolate breakfast pastries are one of their redeeming features.

  • $43768042

    yeah, because jesus loves us so much that he will murder all of us, man, woman and child, if we start treating others the way we would like to be treated.

    that’ll teach us…

  • Susan Paxton

    “I have nothing against gay people.” Reminds me of Himmler griping that every German knew a good Jew. Yes, I know, Godwin, blah blah blah.