Monday, December 13, 2010

It's That Time In The Decade Again

When a new guide book for heterosexual women appears on the age-old topic of how to catch, gut and cook your man. These books are all alike (remember Rules?): Men, those weird strange creatures from Mars cannot understand or speak human, cannot be expected to engage in direct, honest exchanges and cannot ever be expected to treat women as their equal.

But worry not! The new guide book will tell the girl hunter how to catch her prey with cunning and pretense! All she needs is to bare her throat for his teeth, then bare other relevant bits of her anatomy. What she gets in return is the catch and the task to maintain the pretense of her submissiveness for the rest of their shared life.

The newest arrival in this genre is called The Man Whisperer: A Gentle, Results-Oriented Approach To Communication. The title owes something to the Dog Whisperer, which suggest an odd initial opinion on that whole dating business: Are men like dogs and women like their trainers?

But wait! There's more and some of it turns this upside down:

* Why are you single? Feminism. According to the authors, "While women were achieving what they wanted in their careers, many made the mistake of thinking that insisting on equality was also the way to get what they wanted in their romantic lives." But if you "acted more masculine" and did brazen things like "ask men out, have sex when we wanted to, wear the pants, and rule the roost," you also might notice the other half of the bed is empty. Why is that? Because you were a ball-buster, missy. Men want women to be complementary, not equals. "The best part of romantic partnerships are not ones that are equal [!] but complementary," the authors write. You may think you are deserving of "equal pay, equal opportunities, and equal respect ... [but] ...'equality' in romantic relationships is measured in much harder-to-quantify notions of love, mutual respect and happiness." Love, mutual respect and happiness are harder to quantify? And why is "equality" in scare quotes?
* But, of course, the authors describe themselves as feminists. "We are both bona fide feminists," they write, "and know that you can absolutely be a feminist and still reap the benefits of whispering." I don't know, that sounds like fake feminism to me.
I'm gonna train some guy to salivate on demand and that's being a feminist? Except that the true game is about something completely different: the inherently sly approaches to power which subjugation requires, and those aren't feminist, either.

As far as I can tell, all the books in this genre state that love and equality are incompatible, that the solution is to accept the old gender hierarchy except for that sneaky attempt to regulate it from below. I guess that's why they smell old and musty to me. Women's magazines have published similar ideas since the 1920s if not earlier.