In the movie ‘Partner’ Salman Khan is a love guru who sits on a red sofa and gives out tips to men on how to ‘get girls’. This idea now has a real avatar and it’s all over social media with several self-proclaimed dating coaches, gurus and even pick-up artists ready to offer services. “I teach women how to behave, and inspire men to be manly,” says the Instagram bio of a person called YogiOabs aka Avishek Saha. He is a “lover of patriarchy” and a “proud sexist”, and wears that on his sleeve er handle.
In the time of dating apps, there are still enough confused men and women out who need help with relationships. But the new age dating gurus are not really focussed on helping ‘build relationships’. Instead, they offer course in how to ‘get a girl’ with a 360 degree package wrapped in patriarchy. That too at a price. These courses come at a fee ranging from 1500 rupees to enter a webinar to 20,000 for in-person session package of three days.
No doubt people need experts for help. But some of these self styled tutors share ‘learning material’ that’s down right sexist. Take a look at this. Yogi’s YouTube Channel ‘lists five steps for women to be like the 1950s housewife,’ where he compares the institution of marriage to office setup, calling women employees to the husband who is the CEO.
“They should thus be devoted, soft-spoken, must always look after the house and should cook the husband’s favourite meals.” In a series he calls #MasculineMondays, he offers women a todo list which runs a bit like this. How to dress in a more feminine way / Why should men date virgin women and take them more seriously/ Signs of traditional men and women/ Why boys shouldn’t play with dolls etc.
Yogi isn’t the only guru in town. Recently an ‘educational platform’, LawSikho, conducted an only-for-men webinar on dating. The guru, Kshitij Sherawat compared women to a loaf of bread saying they ‘come with an expiry date.’ The webinar proclaimed that men should explore 10s of women when dating. And ‘advised’ not sending dick pics because they apparently ‘don’t work!’
Kshitij has been in business for some time. Kshitij normally “6 clients a month in two groups of three each and takes them to clubs and bars for three days regularly where they try to talk to random girls.”
Enter pick up artists. Meet Sid Malhotra the subject of a book called Laid in India. Malhotra is India’s self anointed Number-One Pick-Up Artist , who claims to have the “skill set” of “swooning any kind of a woman.” Author Dave Besseling shares insights into his “tactics” which have a starting point in something like this.
‘For a guy, attraction is simple,’ says Sid. ‘It’s like a switch. You see a hot girl, you want to have sex with her. You don’t care about anything else. She could even be dumb.’ A head tilt, pause for thought. ‘Actually, in most cases, the dumber the better.’
The common thing about these gurus and artists is that for them women are objects to be conquered. They don’t talk about the secrets of happy relationships, or how men can be better partners. But while we criticise the approach of these men and the mindset they endorse, we also must ask who is their clientele?
Who are the men paying these dating gurus thousands of rupees for dating advice, and what do they want? If a man walks upto a dating guru knowing that he endorses patriarchy, sexism, or thinks that women are no better than a loaf of bread, what does it say about his mindset and the mindset he is helping build.
When young impressionable men get ‘trained’ in such behaviour, they make this their manner of dealing with women. And in that way embed the first seeds of a boisterous culture where ‘getting women’ is more important that have a meaningful relationship.
In one of the videos by Sherawat titled “Picking up girls 2019” with over one lakh views he is seeing stopping cars and telling women how beautiful they are. It’s a compilation video to pitch his ‘mentorship’ course which shows him ending most conversations with women by getting their number. Somehow none of these videos show or talk about ‘consent’.
Are these clients Sherawat and other love gurus teaching really in interested in bragging rights in front of their peers of having a girlfriend, and bedding women?
Dating, intimacy and relationships, there’s nothing wrong in having discussions on them, in fact they could be seen as a basic need for every person. The dating advice market is a two-way street. What these men are teaching is unsettling, but even more alarming is the fact that numerous men are buying it, without understanding that a pickup artist can help you “get girls” but after that, you are on your own.
Also Read: Misogyny As Hate Crime: Is India Ready To Have This Conversation?
The views expressed are the author’s own.