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Waking Life Espresso Protest

Op-Ed: Men of Waking Life Are Small Part of Bigger Problem

I knew exactly what would happen when I shared the Waking Life scandal on the Facebook page of my magazine, The Asheville Current. It’s the type of story that gets media types chomping at the bit. We get to distill huge, sweeping social issues into neon body-paint and smear it on the local boogeyman. We get to unpack archives of heinous Twitter posts and explore the seedy underbelly of our own backyard Pick-Up Artist Community.

Sex and villainy – this is a story people love to hate. On my page, 30% of the people who scrolled past the story clicked through. The Mountain X and the Citizen-Times dutifully weighed in. I can’t imagine this blog’s traffic numbers, but I can tell you right now that you should have bought that advertising space. The point being, this story is huge. We’ve had protests, boycotts, and an online petition with thousands of signatures. It’s been two days.

I had a trusted colleague of mine, a social media wizard, message me minutes after I reposted the story. It was Friday night – he’d been drinking. He said, “approach the owners,” He misspelled quite a few things. “If you publish that as your next cover,” he said. “It’ll be immediate huge traction for The Current.”

Huge traction, indeed. Today, I get another text, from persons unknown. No surprise, it’s about Waking Life. It asks, “have I considered interviewing the employees for their perspective? ”

I said “no.”

Sure, let’s run Rutledge and Owens out of town. Maybe we can shame them into paying a hefty penance to a local charity. Someone will take their money, I’m sure. The point is, these two have done terrible things, and we as a community can’t ignore their actions.

But, personally, I’ve got no cause to force the spotlight into the eyes of some Waking Life employee. They didn’t wake up Sunday morning and ask to see their bosses horribly deranged laundry on display. Nobody wants a media shitstorm at the place they pick up their paycheck.

It’s just the way it is. At the same time, people love scandal – maybe a bit more then they should. I don’t know how I feel about that.

I think at times like this, at these moments of crisis, we’ve got to ask ourselves some tough questions. Collectively, we must ask, are we gathering with intentions to create? Or, are we just here to destroy?

Like I said; sure, we can sharpen our pitchforks. We can run these goons out of our town. I encourage it. But we’ve got to ask ourselves, what are we here to build? I don’t know about you, but I’m proud of Asheville. I refuse to let the actions of a couple of nimrods and their coffee shop define our city.

Rutledge and Owens are small part of a big problem. They’re local, so they are our problem, but their heinous sex babble isn’t original. They’re part of PUA (Pick-Up Artist) culture. The online PUA community to which Owens and Rutledge belong is, at worst, a group of misogynistic individuals hell-bent on manipulating women to sleep with them.

At best, it can be described as a seriously misguided self-help group. People stumble into these articles after Googling stuff like, “how do I meet and attract women?” The views on these websites may almost always be hateful, misogynistic, and downright ugly – but that’s not going to stop people from asking the internet how to get laid.

There’s a real lack of healthy sexual education. We try and teach boys how to get consent, and we teach girls that they can say no. We don’t talk about healthy ways to be sexually assertive. We just expect people to “get it,” and anyone who doesn’t just “get it” must not work out enough, or wear the right clothes and makeup. It’s bullshit, and I think it’s about time we reclaimed #datingadvice.

Join me at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 23 at a location to be determined for the start of my #datingadvice series. I’ll go over strategies for presenting our best selves that will apply to any gender or sexuality. For the first class, we’ll be talking about confidence and body language. This is not just for people in the “dating” period of their lives. It can be a “Defense Against the Dark Arts” course for married people. This is happening, folks.

This mess brings the community together, for better or for worse. We can do so much more than run a couple of playboy baristas out of town. We can put Asheville on the map when it comes to sexual assault prevention. We have a tendency as a species to focus on the negatives, but there are tremendous good things coming out of Asheville right now.

Take, for instance, Pro(tech)t LLC. A couple of students at UNC Asheville won a state-wide competition to create a socially conscious business. Now, they’ve got their patents, and they’re well on their way to creating a wearable device which lets its user signal for help. They’ve got a real plan to mitigate violent crime on campus. If we could support them with all the energy we put into Owens and Rutledge, I’d be wearing one of their bracelets right now.

The point is, we’ve got a lot of power when we organize. Let’s be sure to use it for the right reasons, and remember to keep in mind the lives of the people we may be indirectly affecting. Anyway, good hustle everyone and I’ll see you at class on Wednesday.

**UPDATE** 9/21/2015 | 11:30 PM
Wow. Two major things. First, Our VOICE refused the money of Owens and Elredge. Good for them – it was going to be pennies anyway. Still, if you boys are still looking to give your money away, why not give to Asheville ingenuity?

Also, hello to Jezebel, Cosmopolitan, CNN, and probably Obama. This has gotten huge. Our demographic is much larger, but our challenge remains the same – what are we going to do with this attention, this energy? What are we ready to build?

Cory A. Thompson edits The Asheville Current, a local literary newsmagazine printed once every couple months. Cory studies Anthropology and Mass Communication at UNC Asheville and is expected to graduate this December.

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  1. Camcity101@aol.com'

    Is this the same Cory Thompson with a history of misogynistic behavior? The same Cory Thompson who was allowed back on UNCA campus after pulling a knife on a girl in the dorms? I’ve heard of multiple incidents from different women- of him shoving girls against the wall and trying to kiss and grope them. He’s made me uncomfortable on the occasional run in- commenting on my lacy bra while he stood over me looking down my shirt. I’m not even friends with this “man.” And here he is encouraging that these men be run out of town??? You should have your own database of articles Cory Thompson. Just because your sordid past doesn’t include a Twitter feed doesn’t mean that people have forgotten what a bastard you are.

    • banderson2@mac.com'

      seems like you can answer your own question. https://www.facebook.com/CoryAdamThompson

    • pixelgem10@gmail.com'

      Your “at worst” analysis regarding men like Rutledge and Owens is flawed. At worst, PUAs and misogynists do what Elliott Rodgers, George Sodini, and Mark Lépine did to women (and men, in Rodgers’ case) — massacre them.

    • sparkylulz@gmail.com'

      Yep, that’s him. I, too, know firsthand and have many stories detailing the writer of this piece being at best pushy and worst a perpetrator of molestation. Seems pretty rich to read these words and think back to all those stories I heard my freshman year on campus about how Cory used (and sometimes abused) women.

      • strawwberyyaoibunny@gmail.com'

        Finally someone said it. When I was a freshman at unca he tried to lblock me from getting out of his room when I no longer wanted to hang out cause I got the vibe that he was creepy. Boy did that confirm it. Glad I was taller and more intimidating than him.

      • wjeffs14@gmail.com'

        So that’s why this piece sounds so morally ambiguous, with a slight whiff of narcissistic sleaze.

      • wordspinner1@gmail.com'

        it’s ethically atrocious to appropriate feminism to get laid. I went to school with this guy and can’t explain how many creepy run ins I’ve had with him. He’s read The Game, all the PUA books, offers girls drugs, sexually pressures them, (not to mention the knife incident), goes to every length to invade your personal space despite obvious discomfort on the woman’s part, and has forced himself on at least five women that I know. don’t listen to this son of a bitch.

    • Godmafiggawiggen@gmail.com'

      I love how the accuser is anonymous.

      • Ccorbett@unca.edu'

        I can attest to his poor behavior. Cory Thompson please don’t give dating advice of any kind. Does telling your ex girl friend to go ahead and kill herself when she was depressed and contemplating suicide ring a bell? I knew you were awful but the screenshots of some of your conversations were truly disturbing.

    • realityhound@hotmail.com'

      what I really want to know is when will these men be criminally charged for their actions.

      Oh disregard that, they did not break the laws.

      And when will it be recognized that the women involved were not lured or forced, they were willing participants. You don’t screw a man in a garage when you meet him and expect to pick out rings in a month. All parties involved were willing participants and if the tables were turned and it was women speaking and acting like this, which many do, it would be the basis of a cable show.

      This has been blown out of proportion and turned into something much more than it is by the media who are just as unsavory as the twitter posts that these men took part in. The comments they made are not uncommon they just happened to write them down.

      I also noted in some of the posts that are still visible, some women have moved on into loving relationships. Is that because they have matured and put thought into who they were being intimate with or were they trolling the coffee shops for a quicky and landed a husband?

      • Mojalicious@gmail.com'
        PUA = HUA (Head Up Ass)

        1. (At least) One of the men is a self-confessed rapist
        2. Racism is also “not uncommon.” How would that make it OK?
        3. Seriously dude, read your post out loud. Do you even hear yourself?!

  2. Martha.Klondey1957@gmail.com'

    I have had enough with this Cory Thompson. I looked at his little FB Page that seems to be openly Pro-choice…. or as I like to call it PRO-DEATH. I cannot stand with this any longer. If you think treating women like this is bad you should see how they treat those little babies, the LORD’S CHILDREN. Some of the stuff at waking life was a little too far, but that how it’s supposed to be. Look at the story of Adam and Eve. Eve CHOSE to eat the fruit of knowledge and LOOK WHERE THAT GOT US! Pro-Choice?!? Why should women still be allowed to choose??? This stuff is the Devil’s work, Women need to learn to appreciate a strong, Dominant man, and all these “Feminist” men like this Cory fellow are going straight to HELL!!

  3. queen100@aol.com'

    Martha…it appears that your brain was hijacked a long time ago. Please re-read your own writings as they are clearly the views of someone who doesn’t think for herself and is half-crazed.

    Please don’t think of yourself as a doormat. You are better than that; you truly are. Wake up, Martha and take 10 steps back from the heavy-handed doctrine that was jammed at you from an early age. Reflect on it from that distance for awhile. You will realize it was meant to contain you. And, so far, it seems to have done just that. But, you *always have the option* to think for yourself.

  4. natalie@sourcefeminine.com'

    It’s clear to me that the most useful and evolutionarily aligned response to this situation is compassion and radical personal responsibility. If anyone would like to work through their sexual victimhood, inadequacy, or shame, email me at natalie@sourcefeminine.com to set up a free consultation for sacred energetic yoni/lingam clearing. The way to heal our societal ills is one soul at a time. Blessings <3

    • maggiemaehan@gmail.com'

      I love that out of something so ugly, so cruel, that there is a tremendous amount of love and support!
      We are a very strong, kind, compassionate community.
      I am outraged as much as the next person, that said , I was thinking as a human being, a downtown business
      owner what I could do.

      It looks like this , I would love anyone who would like to meet at my business downtown Sunday evening
      at 6pm. The more men and women , the better. It is simply coming together as a community to talk or listen.
      No agenda, I think it will flow naturally .

      Also, If anyone would like to make a donation, be it 1$ or 10$ , I will match those donations, if course which
      will go to Our Voice!

      So let’s do this! Lets make a difference, that difference starts with all of us!

      Please feel free to contact me , I am so looking forward to hearing from many!!

      Email: maggiemaehan@gmail.com

      Phone: Aubergine Salon 828.216.2687

    • ms_nunya_bizness@yahoo.com'

      I’m curious. What do you mean by, “radical personal responsibility?”

  5. maggiemaehan@gmail.com'

    It is truly amazing that something so hurtful and cruel, can bring out the good in many.
    I am as outraged as the next person. Shocked…..
    Where do you go from here? We get together, talk, listen, share, but we do it together
    YOU/ WE make a difference!
    That said, anyone who would like to meet at my business downtown Sun 6pm .
    If you would like to make a donation be it 1$ or 10$, I will match those donations,
    all will go to Our Voice! Let me know what you think! Maggie C Ewing
    you may reach me at maggiemaehan@gmail.com
    Lets make this happen!

  6. Advrobert@yahoo.com'
    Not a coffee drinker

    “We can run these goons out of our town. I encourage it.” Why, so they can ravage another group of women, where we in AVL don’t have to know about it or deal with it? What does that solve? To me, that is avoiding responsibility. They are indeed our problem, so what are we going to do about them? We can hold them accountable for their actions, and then, if, as Natalie suggests, we can respond with compassion, work as a community to heal both the victims and the perpetrators. To do less only continues the status quo. Kudos to Natalie for offering to help people with issues related to this.

  7. chazwars@gmail.com'

    What are your qualifications to teach this “course in dating?”. What sort of specific training have you received for educating a mass group of people on social appropriateness. It seems as though group think needs to be provided by someone more than just a blogger/writer. I am a mental health therapist and grow tired of cleaning up the messes of amateurs that take it upon themselves to teach that which takes years of training and development evaluation. Will these lectures be evidenced based or is it just a rejection of David Dieda’s influence? Will you charge for such services? With there be follow up groups during the process of incorporating these ideas taught? Things probably not considered. And that would be an ethical issue. I hope you will take more consideration while emotions are high and the susceptible to influence are more grounded.

  8. bfnnapper@gmail.com'

    Hey guys, right after you get done with this lecture you don’t even have to leave your seat, Donald Trump is offering a series on the systematic problems caused by the 1%, and he’ll have a guest speaker for the first day 9/23: Paula Deen will discuss how we can get past racial injustice in America.

    I’m sorry, but if you’re looking for #datingadvice, I would look elsewhere.

  9. wjeffs14@gmail.com'

    That semi self-promo, complete with hand-wringing and melodrama, sounds rather disingenuous, especially coming from a man with his own history of shady behaviors toward women. Maybe those should be addressed first before he sets out to do marriage counseling (‘Defense Against the Dark Arts’? really?)

    The kind of casual dehumanization of women exemplified by these two coffee punks, as vile as it is, is hardly new or surprising. Acquaint yourself with the uber-misogynist ideology that drives it online and off. It’s called red pill (yeah) and its sociopathic purveyors prey on young (and not) and confused men offering them an illusion of meaning in their lives, achieved through becoming a manly alpha Casanova-wannabe.

    It is as dangerous as it is pathetic, but it is time people opened their eyes on the cultural influencers exerting power over the weak and vulnerable.

  10. Tacobell@aol.com'

    Asheville blogger- shame on you! Do some research on your writers please. This so called author is well known as a creepy pushy touchy little boy. I have (at least) three female sources that would account for him having made them uncomfortable, being forceful and making unwelcome advances. Maybe he is trying to better himself- but to go so far as to advertise himself as an advocate for women against those he himself would be welcome among- is unsettling to say the least.

  11. aberry@unca.edu'
    Good to see this develop

    It’s really, really interesting the see the turn this article took with the comments. I attended school with this dude, and I can definitely verify the anecdotal accounts. I knew several women who were afraid of him because he would burst into their dorms uninvited and try to talk smooth, I was a firsthand witness for some. He cornered people, often crossing the boundary of personal space and spat disrespectful comments. He was an unapologetic chauvinist who was the center of his own universe. Mind you, if he’s taken steps to better himself with this, this comment would be with a different regard, but I’ve personally seen no growth of character on his part. He has not even taken steps in this article to reflect on these notorious behaviors, but instead is trying to show honor in restraint and the wisdom to lead a dating advice group. (Hahaha, fucking, really?) I don’t buy it personally. He’s putting a lot into this role as phony social justice advocate, playing poet, only to continue disregarding mutual respect to put across a thinly veiled self-righteousness. I have no ill will towards this man anymore, it just seemed shitty to let a single sided presentation of his character go uncontested. Oh yeah, Cory, I still have your book, you’re not getting it back.

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