*This is a long post, so grab some coffee before. Oh, and I’d love to hear your viewpoint on this.
I had steadfastly resisted picking up He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth To Understanding Guys until yesterday. I had heard about it, seen the title, read about its smashing success, and even debated its obnoxious position among the single-women-are-a-pathology lexicon, but I had never actually picked it up. Yesterday it landed on my table…a female colleague thought I needed help. Female colleague, who doesn`t know me from a bar of soap, but claims to be very concerned about the fact that I never speak about boyfriends.
Maybe I`m a sociopath? Or a lesbianâ€¦ No, these other wonderful alternatives are dismissed out of hand and she chooses to latch onto the possibility that I make bad choices in men. Hence, the book. Which I scanned in about 10 minutes (it`s that thin) and returned without comment. Lucky you though, you get to hear the raging in my head at the time.
You have probably read about this book somewhere (usually accompanied by exclamations of it`s so true!! or I SO identify). It’s the way for people who miss Sex and the City to get a fix. Clearly its authors, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, are both alumni of the show. And right off the bat I`ll say that it`s sickeningly condescending, sexist and patronizing toward single women. My jaw dropped while I was reading it. Sure, it`s scripted in a very sassy clever way. But I know a lot of people who say things using all the right words, but actually it means nothing.
Take a look at what it’s really saying, starting with this excerpt from the first chapter (which I got from Amazon):
Let me say it again, sexual harassment rules and workplace memos notwithstanding, a guy will ask out a woman of higher status if he’s into her. He might need a little more encouragement than normal, I’ll give you that. You might have to lead Johnny the Office Boy or Phillipe the Exterminator to water, but you better not help him ask you out. Once again, ladies, a wink and a smile will do it.
So, just to kick things off, “you better not help him ask you out.” Mmmâ€¦.That is how you make them prove themselves to you. The thesis of the book is that because men are so simple-minded and caveman-ish, they will chase you if they dig you, and therefore if they do not chase you, they do not dig you, and if you are not with a man who chased you, you are with a man who doesn’t truly dig you. Which you deserve because, you go girl!, don’t you settle for less! It is positively mind-boggling to me that, in this day and age, you can write a best seller by telling women to master the art of passivity. And why? Because that is how you make men prove themselves to you. (This is explained elsewhere in the book.)
The book goes on:
“Give me a call.” “E-mail me.” “Tell Joey we should all hang out sometime.” Don’t let him trick you into asking him out. When men want you, they do the work. I know it sounds old school, but when men like women, they ask them out.
Yes, that’s right. Don’t let him trick you. Guys are not shy. Guys are not unsure of whether or how you will respond. Guys are not tentative, guys are not prone to cases of nerves, guys act on their every instinct at the first moment they have it. Guys who in any way put the ball in your court are trying to trick you into asking them out.
This is what Greg has to say to a woman who says she thinks there’s no particular reason not to ask a guy out, and wonders why she shouldn’t:
Because we don’t like it. Okay, some guys might like it, but they’re just lazy. And who wants to go out with Lazy Guy? It’s that simple. I didn’t make the rules and I might not even agree with them. Please don’t be mad at me, Nikki. I’m not advocating that women go back to the Stone Age. I just think you might want to be realistic in how capable you are of changing the primordial impulses that drive all of human nature.
I just want to remind you that this book is a current best seller. This book, which tells women (in the great tradition of the whore/madonna paradigm) that their role is to be passive and pursued, because otherwise they risk emasculating the guy they are trying to attract, is a best seller. One of my closest male friends, the Ironfist, assures me that guys like to be approached too. Not aggressively soâ€¦but there`s nothing wrong with a girl doing the asking.
Liz takes over to deliver this gem about why lying back and thinking of England is so awesome:
Since I’ve been implementing Greg’s handy-dandy “he’s just not that into you” philosophy, I’ve been feeling surprisingly more powerful. Because if the men are asking you out, if the men have to get your attention, then you, in fact, are the one in control. There’s no scheming and plotting. And there is something great about knowing that my only job is to be as happy as I can be about my life, and feel as good as I can about myself, and to lead as full and eventful a life as I can, so that it doesn’t ever feel like I’m just waiting around for some guy to ask me out. And most importantly, it’s good for us all to remember that we don’t need to scheme and plot and beg to get someone to ask us out. We’re fantastic.
Ok. First offâ€¦.I DO agree with Liz. My only job IS to be a happy woman in my own right and to have a fulfilled life. But, let me get this straight. It`s ok to do nothing, and to expect love and romance to miraculously happen. If you do this you get to be in control because “there’s no scheming and plotting” involved. Right. Asking a guy out when you want to go out, is not scheming. Sitting back saying, “I want to go out with him, but I won’t ask him out, because if I ask him out, then I won’t wind up in control, and I would rather wind up in control as a result of having forcing him to chase me”? That is scheming and plotting. Hey Lizâ€¦it`s ok to live your life and be happy. But when I see a guy a like I`m going to make sure he knows I`m interested. And that doesn`t make me a schemer. It makes me practical.
The book goes on in this same vein for about 175 pages, and the themes remain the same. The only guy who deserves you is a guy who will go to absurd lengths to pursue you. Guys (all guys, any guys, all the time) meet two kinds of women. First, there is the kind they spend their entire lives with and immediately know they want to spend their entire lives with and will do anything to obtain (and yes, the idea is “obtain”). The second kind are the women they trick, lie to, cheat on and manipulate. And why do they trick you, lie to you, cheat on you and manipulate you? It’s you. It’s because they don’t like you. It’s not the guy (he’s like that because all guys are like that. It’s because the guy has sized you up and found you inadequate in some way, and although we, the authors of the book, believe he’s keee-razy to think that, that’s what he thinks. Therefore he is following the natural tendencies of guys to mistreat, lie to, and take advantage of every woman who isn’t immediately identifiable as The One He Loves. Once he meets that one, he will be delightful, straightforward, honest, and easy to navigate).
Are you kidding me?
This is what they think single women need to figure out?
This is why I enjoyed the first Bridget Jones movie. I have grave doubts about the entire “single girl in her apartment with one gay friend, one bad ex, a refrigerator full of low fat cheese and wine” literary genre. But sometimes I am that girl. And, like a million single chicks out there you understand the Bridget phenomenonâ€¦it`s okay to be imperfect, it`s okay to be single, it`s okay to feel sorry for yourself sometimes and it`s fantastic when you start taking control of your life and making wise decisions. But I feel this obligation to feel sad, like people expect to find me waiting around and sighing. Like hell, I`m waaaaay too busy having fun and flirting up a storm (and asking boys out on dates).
I have a job. And friends. And a family. And things I enjoy doing. I’m honestly not cranking up ’70s music on the stereo and eating ice cream out of the container while I dream about that one very special guy who will love me enough to overcome his otherwise overwhelming “primordial” instinct to act like a manipulative jackass. Is that what I’m supposed to be doing? Why would I wait around for someone who lied to and jerked around the last six women he dated because he wasn’t adequately “into” them, which was really their own fault for making “excuses”?
Amusingly I’m not the kind of woman described in this book. Cool, calm and collected – and easily able to manipulate and spin doctor most situations at work, I couldn’t do that in my personal life if I tried. My enthusiasm tends to be rather transparent, and I consider that fact part of my unique charm.
Which is why it is fortunate that I am not attempting to woo, for instance, Greg.