Kickstarter Apologizes After 'Seduction Guide' Uproar

The company failed to remove “Above the Game,” accused of promoting violence against women, before its author received more than $16,000.

Kickstarter has issued an apology for not pulling the plug on a project critics said promoted violence against women.

The project was from Ken Hoinsky, who sought funds to publish a book marketed as a seduction how-to for men. Above the Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome With Women was a success, raising $16,369 on a $2,000 goal. But not everyone was happy, with tweets and blog posts criticizing the project in its final hours Wednesday.

Kickstarter addressed the controversy in a blog post Friday titled "We were wrong."

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“On Wednesday morning Kickstarter was sent a blog post quoting disturbing material found on Reddit. The offensive material was part of a draft for a ‘seduction guide’ that someone was using Kickstarter to publish,” the company wrote. “The posts offended a lot of people — us included — and many asked us to cancel the creator’s project. We didn’t. We were wrong.”

The site went on to explain it did not cancel Above the Game’s campaign because it was made aware of the project just two hours before the funding period ended.

“We’ve never acted to remove a project that quickly. Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators,” the blog post read. “We feel a duty to our community — and our creators especially — to approach these investigations methodically as there is no margin for error in canceling a project. This thinking made us miss the forest for the trees.”

Hoinsky responded to the criticism in a blog post Wednesday, saying he was “devastated and troubled by the allegations” that Above the Game promoted rape. He said quotes slammed online were taken out of context.

“The gist of the controversial advice is ‘Don't wait for signs before you make your move. Let her be the one who rejects your advances,” he wrote. “If she says no, stop immediately and tell her you don't want to do anything that would make her uncomfortable. Try again at a later time if appropriate or cease entirely if she is absolutely not interested."

He went on to add: “If ‘Don't wait for signs, make the first move’ promotes sexual assault, then 'Kiss the Girl' from The Little Mermaid was a song about rape.”

Kickstarter said it could not take back the pledges from the project, because once a project is funded, the money goes directly to its creator. Kickstarter added it has now banned seduction guides from the site and donated $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization called RAINN.

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The Kickstarter page for Above the Game was relatively tame, but material from the book posted on Reddit got the project in hot water. Among the controversial passages was this one, from Chapter 7:

“All the greatest seducers in history could not keep their hands off of women. They aggressively escalated physically with every woman they were flirting with. They began touching them immediately, kept great body language and eye contact, and were shameless in their physicality. Even when a girl rejects your advances, she KNOWS that you desire her. That’s hot. It arouses her physically and psychologically.”

Several paragraphs later, Hoinsky writes: “Decide that you're going to sit in a position where you can rub her leg and back. Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don't ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.

Though the project was taken of Kickstarter, a cached version can be viewed here.