Personal development superstar blogger Steve Pavlina just tweeted that he is now promoting Eben Pagan’s DVD set, “Man Transformation.” (Link goes to Pavlina’s sales page for a 20-DVD course costing $436.50.) Pavlina seems to have become interested in dating advice right around the time he announced that he and his wife decided to have an open marriage and explore polyamory.
In his sales letter, Pavlina attempts to distinguish Pagan’s pick-up advice from that of “pick-up artists,” but the truth is that Pagan put himself on the pick-up artist guru map with his interview series “Interviews with Dating Gurus” that interviewed all the other pick-up artists which Pagan speaks very highly of, including our confused friend “Tyler Durden.” (UPDATE 9/21/2009: The Interviews with Dating Gurus series is included as an opt-out addition at $19.95 per month, with a free first month when purchasing Man Transformation.) Pavlina writes…
Man Transformation has a very empowering attitude throughout. This program is about men teaching men how to be more successful with women, not by tricking or deceiving women but by learning how to become more authentic from the inside out. [emphasis mine]
There’s my favorite word again! Of course to be authentic, you have to do it in the right, socially-prescribed, guru-approved way. You must be authentic like a “real man” is authentic, as in Pagan’s bonus DVD “The Real Man’s Guide to Money and Success.” Clearly you are not a “real” man unless you value—and have—lots of money and worldly success. To not be rich and powerful is to be emasculated, to be a woman.
Also a bonus is the original Double Your Dating eBook, where Pagan writes that powerful women are “secretly wanting a man that is in control of himself, his reality, and them” (pg 13 of the 2003 edition). It’s hard not to read “empowering” as clearly “power-over” in this context.
Pick-up artist Eben Pagan made his internet millions explicitly teaching men that women secretly want a man who is in control of them, and teaches tactics to secretly control women through sophisticated psychological manipulation. Why is this not regularly questioned by conscious people in our personal development community when we claim to investigate “limiting beliefs” and clarify our values on a regular basis? Do we all value patriarchy so highly that we’ve never examined the limitations of these beliefs and values?
Indeed, I think that there are many unquestioned gurus, many limiting beliefs that we do not seek to examine, and many values embedded within personal development teachings that we do not make explicit. In particular, we fail to examine those gurus, beliefs, and values that are held by those in positions of power: those of the wealthy, famous, and powerful. For what many of us are actually seeking through personal development is not maturity, nor wisdom, not true liberation nor even thinking for ourselves, but dominance over others, celebrity, and personal wealth—at any cost. Our personal development quests are far too often just quests to glorify our own egos, to bind ourselves further in the name of freedom, to worship our selves in our religion of one.