Truly Bad Films

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Book Review

The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider

Like everyone else, I've heard so much about this book since the 90's that I had to get a used copy (.50 thank you!) and see exactly what these two old banshees tell young women to do with themselves. It's sort of a Women's Studies inquiry on my part, made more amusing since Ellen Fein - the Original Rules gal - got divorced a couple of years ago. I had to see for myself if this tome was an anti-feminist submissive-wife manual or if there was some subversive message here cleverly camoflaged beneath passive agressive manipulations.

First, at least one of the authors of this book is an idiot. I'm not sure which one it is, but Ellen Fein blamed her divorce on her dentist, saying he made her teeth "gigantic,' and we all know that gigantic teeth put you on the greasy rail to Splitsville. So, somehow I lay it at her feet when I read sentences like these:
Self-improvement will help you catch and keep a man. So try to change bad habits like slovenliness if you expect to live with a man. Men like women who are neat and clean. They also make better mothers of their children - the kind who don't lose their kids at the beach.
What in the dancing choo-choo fuck? Ok, Ellen, first - I'm no expert on men, but I kinda think that's your mom you're thinking of who comes in with white gloves and swipes her finger on the tops of picture frames. You can tell the difference betwen her and your date because she isn't burping and watching ESPN. And are men really into women who "do" self-improvement? If "self-improvement" is a code word for a boob job and lipo, I'll give you a very qualified maybe. But, I've got to go with my instinct that tells me men don't give a flying roll of Bounty about a gal's self-improvement jags. Next, even if men really do like women who are "neat and clean" how do we leap from there to losing kids . . . at the beach!?

Well, you can see how I had a few problems with this book. It's chock full of non-sequiters and imbecility. And I have a feeling that these particular Rules will tend to apply only to the sort of man who loves to chase women. Well, if you catch one of those what have you got? A husband who you'll have to pull off the bridesmaids, is my guess. But the worst flaw I saw with it was that she over-sells the silvery magical sheen of The Rules.
Follow The Rules and he will not just marry you, but feel crazy about you forever! What we're promising you is "happily ever after." A marriage truly made in heaven. If you follow The Rules, you can rest assured that your husband will treat you like a Queen - even when he's angry with you. Why? Because he spent so much time trying to get you. [snip] He's hurt if you don't share your problems with him. He even like to get involved in mundane things, such as picking out a new bedspread. He always want to do things together. [Bold is mine - italics hers.]
I don't care what kind of pixie dust you blow up his poop chute, no man is ever going to beg to go with you picking out new bedspreads. And frankly - I'd be a little worried if he did.

Having said all this, and unlikely as it sounds, there are some good points in The Rules. In their best implementation they are supposed to protect women from heartache, and I count that as a good thing. They encourage women to be busy and happy instead of sitting by the phone waiting for phone calls from men. Sadly, they phrase these points in utterly self-defeating ways because all the rest of the text is Tiger Beat Man-Crazy Time. But they try to communicate a standard of self-confidence for young women, and that seems good to me. I just wish they'd toned down the Man-Crazy yammer through the whole book. Overall the book tries to get young women to adopt an attitude about dating that I heard best expressed by a student not long ago. I overheard her talking to a friend and she was saying, "I told him, 'I demand the overtures of respect!'"

At the time I heard this I was thrown off guard. I'd never heard a young woman talk about a date that way before . . . but you know what? The Rules are all about demanding, in the nicest way possible, the overtures of respect. And I can't complain with that goal. Women of any age deserve the overtures of respect. I just wish two smarter women had written a book about it.

3 Comments:

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous keysunset said...

Well, you know how clean I keep my house - right now you just about have to kick a path through it - but I've never lost my kids at the beach and I think I have the "overtures of respect" from the Mr. "Overtures of respect" that is a strange phrase - exactly what does it mean?

Don't work too hard this spring dahling, and let me know when GoS is ready for the unveiling reception. I need to get something planned ....

 
At 8:42 AM, Blogger bunnyjo georg said...

Best dating book I ever read (probably because I am a die-hard cynic when it comes to romance) was a book written by two pretty-boy executives whose passion for themselves was only exceeded by their passion for the hunt and kill of the unwitting women unlucky enough to cross their paths. Having said that, however, I loved the fact that they said it like it is: men want sex, but if you give it to them, don't expect "overtures of respect." They honestly admitted that quality men such as themselves (don't laugh so hard you gag) know that looks DO matter - and fat women should really know that fatness hinders their dating possibilities. Tragically. Oh, and if you REALLY want to get and keep a guy, spend some time perfecting the one guaranteed hook: good head. Last but not least of their pearls of wisdom: all men will cheat given the opportunity AND men lie for each other to cover it up, even if they don't know the guy and know nothing about the situation. That is how tight the male-bonding code of lying is. Tight. The really sad part? The lying thing - it's true. I've witnessed it myself.

Kill me now!

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger "AG" said...

"I don't care what kind of pixie dust you blow up his poop chute, no man is ever going to beg to go with you picking out new bedspreads. And frankly - I'd be a little worried if he did."

Amen. But if he really loves you, he'll pretend to be excited about. My husband and I bought a new quilt last week (I picked it out, of course). I was so excited. "Aren't you really happy about the quilt!" "Yes!" "You are?!" "No."

 

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