In prep for my evisceration of Not Your Mother’s Rules, I felt it essential to revisit the
toilet paper classic, the original Rules, or The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right, a 1995 tree murderer publication by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. It is ostensibly a advice book for white, bourgeois, U.S., 1990s, het, cis, non-disabled, college-educated, professionally employed, [sub]urban, monogamous, single women who want to have lifelong, loving, satisfying marriages to white, bourgeois, U.S., 1990s, het, cis, non-disabled, college-educated, professionally employed, [sub]urban, monogamous, single men.
So apparently the target population is like 3 people.
Anyway, I will not be eviscerating The Rules in detail, merely making snide remarks on bits that catch my attention. My excerpts should easily give you an idea of the content and its retrograde ideological underpinnings.
Page 1: "No one seems to remember exactly how the Rules got started, but we think they began circa 1917 with Melanie’s grandmother. … Back then, they called it ‘playing hard to get.’"
‘Kay, I’m done. That’s all I need to know. This book is going to tell its audience to sit on its collective asses and…wait for it…do nothing! [Why this requires a multi-book series, I’m not sure.]
The concept of courtship/dating/relationship formation with partners as that of a man aggressively chasing a desirable, passive woman goes much further back than 1917. The active man/passive woman binary appears nearly everywhere around the world as a standard feature of kyriarchy, but acknowledging that would require research and facts, two things that this book clearly can’t be bothered with.
Page 2: "Deep inside, … we really wanted to get married — the romance, the gown, the flowers, the presents, the honeymoon — the whole package."
Notice the complete absence of a marriage partner from this fantasy. Instead, the authors focus on the material trappings of the wedding industrial complex that they are culturally expected to want. I am not disparaging anyone’s interest in these trappings. [I like presents!] I am merely pointing out that, already, this book is really, really, really hung up on achieving mainstream societal markers of successful femininity.
Wow, this is going to take forever. At this rate, I’ll never get to Not Your Mother’s Rules! :p