The Pain Spot: Imbalanced Gender Ratio & Lack of Social and Emotional learning
The concept of PUA (Pick-up Artist) came to China in 2008 from the US, which referred to Pick-Up Artist aiming at helping people build a connection or start a relationship with others through technique-learning and psychological tactics.
PUA started in the US in the 1970s, in which the society turned to be gradually open and the attitude toward relationship and sex has progressively changed. Similar changes have happened in China these years. Many people, especially the young, are becoming open-minded and sexually liberated partly due to the western influence, and they also learned PUA culture from social media and foreign films and TV programs.
Therefore, many business acumen people regarded PUA as an opportunity and quickly started the “dating camp” for the single. The market is incredibly huge, as there is scarcely any social and emotional education in schools, and many people are lack of confidence in interacting with others. Moreover, the gender ratio in China is very imbalanced, partly due to the preference for male offspring under the country’s former one-child policy, which makes the “competition” intense. According to the data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on January 19, there were 711.37 million males and 678.71 million females in China in 2017. As a result, a lot turned to be “leftover”, which referred to people who reached a certain age, usually 27 for women and 30 for men, and were still single. The derogatory term put tremendous pressure on the single in China, let alone pressure coming from anxious parents and peers.
In 2012, Wang Huanyu established Langji Education, a company that taught men skills to attract and chase girls. The company claimed it owned 13 coaches who had solved 80,000 men’s dating problems in one year. Later, the relationship counselor Wu Di launched “dating camp” with her partner, which aimed at helping women present themselves in a better way and make their choices accordingly. These sorts of classes turned to be popular soon, as different people faced different difficulties when it came to relationship building.
An Art or A Fraud？
In the beginning, PUA is mainly about technique of picking up or striking up some causal conservations. It aims to develop people’s IQ and EQ, help people know each other, and improve their character through social skills training.
With the localization of the curriculum, PUA gradually expanded to cover the whole process of relationship, from starting random talks, interacting with others, building intimate relation, to sexual intercourse, breaking up and even affection saving. Common lessons include “Boosting your success with Women”, “Getting your EX- Back”, “Making any woman Obsessed with You”, etc.
PUA business is very good at selling anxiety. It makes people believe they cannot maintain a happy relationship without rational training. It imposes the idea that the failure in the relationship or blind dates is due to a lack of techniques; therefore, they should constantly learn and improve themselves. It also introduces the idea that “practice makes perfect” in relationship establishment, which leads people, who lack opportunities to talk to their opposite sex because of gender imbalance in the studying or working environment, believe they have more reasons to learn, so that they can seize the chance when they finally get the chance to meet someone they have a feeling.
PUA claims the importance does not lie in tricks or techniques, but to build self-confidence. From elementary school to college, no one has been taught these things, though it is very crucial to people’s happiness. According to Bai, a relationship consultant in a famous PUA company, attracting girls is like an exam. We all know how hard it is if we are not fully prepared, so that is why PUA needs to exist.
“PUA focuses on interaction and verbal communication and intends to improve people’s core qualities. We emphasize on mutual respect, faith, and empathy; However, people do seek for shortcuts; therefore, we have to interest them by some publicity stunts”, according to Bai.
However, although PUA argues for its innocence, some companies indeed teach people psychological games to trick others and play with women sexually. Some extreme ones even share sex videos in the Wechat groups or Wechat moments to encourage their students taking advantage of women and meanwhile attracting potential clients. A pyramid scheme gang gradually form, as the trainees also want to earn money when they grasp the “key” to build emotional connections by getting rid of the identity of trainee and recruiting students themselves.
Here, the number is the proof of ability. The more people you sleep with, the stronger your ability is. According to the news reported by sohu.com, one of the biggest news portal in China, one mentor claimed to have slept with more than 400 women and have had relationships with 17 women at the same time. Some trainees were proudly showing off how much money they got from the women whom they are dating with, or how they made desperate and crazy women commit suicide for them. These are all been used as strong evidence of business effect.
A Dark Industry or A Bright Opportunity
The current training on the market are mostly very expensive, ranging from 500usd to 5000usd. As the market demand is stimulated, PUA has already developed from a subculture to a mature industry and gradually take its shape. The previous mentioned Langji Education, which claimed as one of the most powerful emotional education in China, has completed $20 million A-rounds of financing in 2017 and announced the plan for an A-share listing.
Now we are in a knowledge-based economy. People gradually develop habits of paying for the knowledge they gain from others. Relationship experience is also a sort of knowledge, and we might even say it is a scarce one. It seems there is no need to make a fuss about paying for pick-up training or dating camps.
However, just as the entire PUA industry fantasizes about following the head company and having a share of “hormone-economy”, the judicial review started to examine the industry. On February 9, 2018, LangJi Education was inhibited due to its illegal operation and disturbance it caused to the society. The related personnel were also taken to be investigated.
More and more voices are calling for proper supervision of the industry. The whole industry is also waiting for the result of judgment of Langji Education. We are not sure about where PUA in China will go? But there is one thing we do ascertain about: the need of social and emotional learning is present and urgent.
You may want to share your opinion on PUA industry and emotional education. Comments are warmly welcomed!!