Kickstarter apologises for 'seduction guide'

Kickstarter has apologised for not pulling a manual on how to seduce women, over claims that the book encourages readers to ignore consent boundaries.

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Kickstarter has apologised for not pulling a manual on how to seduce women, over claims that the book encourages readers to ignore consent boundaries.

(Credit: Ken Hoinsky)

A Kickstarter campaign to fund a pick-up manual called Above the Game has caused the crowd-funding website to create a policy disallowing any such campaigns on its site in the future.

The book (webcached version), written by moderator of the Seduction subreddit forum, Ken Hoinsky, calls itself "A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women", and claims to be a teaching manual for men looking for success with the ladies.

Concept cover for the book.(Credit: Ken Hoinsky)

However, it came under fire when some excerpts emerged that displayed a worrying attitude to women's boundaries — specifically (NSFW text), that the seducer should be "dominant" in pursuing a woman, including forced physical interaction and a profound misunderstanding of the dynamics involved when a woman is not interested.

After a petition was sent to Kickstarter via Do Something, the campaign was funded, reaching US$16,000 of its US$1000 goal. Kickstarter has since made a statement that its inaction was wrong.

The website gave a couple of reasons for failing to remove the book. Firstly, that it only had two hours to make a decision on whether to pull the campaign, and it has never acted to remove a project that quickly before; and secondly, that it tries to do its best by its creators. "Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators," Kickstarter said. "This is deeply ingrained. We feel a duty to our community — and our creators especially — to approach these investigations methodically, as there is no margin for error in cancelling a project. This thinking made us miss the forest for the trees."

Since the project had already reached its funding goal before Kickstarter decided to act, there was nothing the website could do. The process from that point is automated — there is currently no way for Kickstarter to cancel a funded project.

However, the website has now made a policy that no more seduction guides can be funded through Kickstarter. "We are prohibiting 'seduction guides', or anything similar, effective immediately," Kickstarter said. "This material encourages misogynistic behaviour, and is inconsistent with our mission of funding creative works. These things do not belong on Kickstarter."

In order to make up for failing to remove the book, Kickstarter also donated US$25,000 to US anti-sexual violence organisation RAINN.

Hoinsky responded in a Pastebin post, saying that he is "devastated and troubled" by the allegations. "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," he said.

He added that the quotes from his book detail 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", adding that the book will include a section on sexual assault, "preaching men what not to do".

"I realise these are delicate issues, but I ask people to lower their pitchforks until they take the time to hear the full story," Hoinsky said.

He later made a full apology for his book via a YouTube video, saying that the backlash had brought him to the realisation that his book presented problematic advice. In order to both try and understand the issues better and make sure that his book will be fully sensitive to consent, Hoinksy said that he will be working with anti-rape and anti-abuse organisations to rewrite the problematic sections.

Updated 25 June 2013, 7pm AEST: added Hoinsky's apology.