The women of Seducersworld
Seducersworld, Robert Greene's ezBoard-hosted forum linked to from his Art of Seduction website, was my home on the web for two and a half years or so. In mid-2006, I started to hang out on free-association, and by 2007 I was finding the climate there much more exciting and inclusive (although often less seductive). I made it official in late August, although also making it clear that I'd still be around for a while, and would probably come back to visit.
As far as I recall, there were never more than 30-50 active posters at a time on Seducersworld. In 2005 and 2006, there were stretches of time when Robert Greene participated regularly, which was a real treat. However, what I really, really, really liked about the place was the women:* interesting people with great senses of humor, good and in some cases incredible writers, positive, smart, sexy, strong. They give great advice (including to me), and many of them are natural Coquettes; the ones who weren't generally move in that direction and pick up skills extremely rapidly. Not only that, many of them enjoy at least some forms of flirting and positive triangulation. Oooh!
For me the happiest days on Seducersworld were in 2005. Genesis, Libby, and Doc were in great form; over the summer, the win/win discussions over the summer with Potion, Libby, Robert, and many others led to a much deeper understanding for me. At Doc's prompting, the board expansion to multiple forums was a very good thing (although the "women's-only" (and Robert, of course) forum Siren's Rock led to problems even before it started). The tone noticeably changed late in the year; several guys with sexist attitudes and a tendency to take the term "victim" rather too literally showed up boasting of their amorality and willingness to manipulate had shown up and by December I was in a major battle with Professional. Professional crossed some lines and was warned by the administrators (having his moderatorship stripped in the process) and things calmed down for a while but these issues clearly still weren't resolved. A lot of my friends started to move on.
2006 had some incredible discussions. Robert came up to give a talk at Microsoft; over drinks he told me that his use of the term "victim" was a reference to the victime character in French libertine fiction. Potion's Factor X thread spotlighted the asymmetric gender distribution of Robert's examples; Robert defended his choices; people debated about the consequences. Genesis' the muse spotlighted a seductive type overlooked in Art of Seduction -- and a seductive relationship far more complex than seducer/victim. Discussions of pleasure and pain, alpha/beta, AMOGging and other charming PUA terminology, etc., were consistently illuminating. But the tone got worse. I attempted to discuss it in The tone around the board, in the midst of a couple of threads that certainly seemed to be about alpha male dominance, but the norm seemed to be "let's not talk about it". Over the winter vacation, I drafted an 15-page early version of The Alchemical Web of Seduction, and got feedback from several of the women of Seducersworld; I mentioned it to Robert, and told him I'd send him a draft when I thought it would be worth his time.
By 2007 the general sex-negative and bi-phobic attitudes got more and more pronounced, and sexist, homophobic, and transphobic language and attitudes had become normalized and rarely-challenged [except by me] (Society, Values, Culture Shock discusses this). Just as importantly, Robert was virtually never around -- he was overloaded with other projects, and with no advertising and a tiny readership, it apparently didn't merit as much of his time as his blog or the discussion forums hosted by (gag) Tucker Max. Doc's "Absolution" thread tried to restart things; it seems to me that it didn't work. The Men's Forum started up; coincidentally or not, reference to women as "bitches" and "hos" proliferated. Almost all the strong and sex-positive women personas left for protracted periods of time for various reasons; many never came back.
When Aurora Jade posted promising me that he'd take the fight to my doorstep, describing himself as "absolutely unafraid of wet work" and "locked and loaded", and telling me that I had crossed a line and that his memory was long, and nobody reacted, I realized that Seducersworld had moved too far from the place I had thought of as home for me to think of it that way. I announced that I was moving on (in a non-dual way) to free-association.net, although promised to come back from time to time on vacation ... and about four months later, did. The tone had shifted very much in a pua ("pickup artist") direction; the advice continued to be excellent, but a late-in-the-year discussion in the f-word revealed that underlying philosophical differences were still there -- and still mattered.
At the end of 2007 ezboard upgraded the site to Yuku, their social network platform: friends, comments, easier formatting, image galleries. Unfortunately, some of the forums have disappeared in the move (they're on a list to be restored) and links are broken (although there's a workarond). Such is life on the web ...
The list of people I think of as the women of Seducersworld continues to grow. Amazing women continue to show up on Seducersworld, because despite its problems, the concentration of intelligent people and standards of writing on Seducersworld remain high. (People usually show up first in the Advice forum, which is a real strength: broader disagreements and even personal dislikes are left outside, as everybody concentrates on helping; the range of opinions usually result in advice that was helpful and empowering. This kind of shared experiences and collaborative problem-solving leads to threads of initial connections that can potentially grow over time.) A few of the women I knew "in real life" follow Seducersworld and occasionally make cameos (there's even one post out there by the anomaly, as D); often, I talk about events on Seducersworld with others and over time the lines start to blur.
During the time when Seducersworld was my home, I was working a lot on my poetry. Even before Genesis brought up the topic of the Muse, various women from Seducersworld were showing up in my poems, and it only intensified afterwards. Fountains of light, whose title comes from a post by Potion on Seducersworld, is dedicated "for the gemstones and elements that are the women of Seducersworld". Each line in the poem has one or more women of Seducersworld as a Muse; some women are Muses for multiple lines.
Update, December 2009: Seducersworld somehow survived the horrible forced upgrade from ezBoard to Yuku late that year, and thanks to a lot of hard work by Spamtar, the archives are preserved. Several of us got together in person in LA early in 2008. The occasional conversations on the board remain interesting, but it's still very very quiet. Inexplicably, master of strategy and seduction Robert Greene didn't reach out to the board when launching The 50th Law. How hard could it be for him to join in the discussion thread? Ah well.
I've stayed in touch with a lot of the women of Seducersworld (and some of the guys too :-)), both on the board and elsewhere. A common theme for all of us is that nothing has taken its place in our lives. I've tried to restart discussions there a couple of times, but so far nothing has sparked. In the end, it's Robert's board, and as long he doesn't want to invest any energy, it's hard to see things changing. Early this year I started thinking about what a Seducersworld 2.0 might look like ...
See also: Annotated threadlist from Seducersworld
* more accurately, the female-identified (f-i) personas. But I mean really, just how seductive a title is "The female-identified personas of Seducersworld"?