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“The Rules” again

“The Rules” again published on No Comments on “The Rules” again

I’m trying to progress past the first chapter here…

Page 6: "If you follow the Rules, … your husband will treat you like a queen, even when he’s angry. Why? Because he spent so much time trying to get you. … [H]e thinks of you constantly. He’s your best friend, your Rock of Gibraltar during bad times. He’s hurt if you don’t share your problems with him. He is always there for you — when you start your new job, if you need surgery. He even likes to get involved in mundane things, like picking out a new bedspread. He always wants to do things together."

This paragraph implies that the standard het marriage consists of a woman who wants more personal attention and emotional connection and a man who doesn’t supply it. I’m very distressed by the authors’ insistence that a) the standard husband is a neglectful, self-absorbed clod who has no capacity to respect and sympathize with his partner and b) the only way to counteract this is through playing constant head games.

Page 9: "We understand why modern, career-oriented women have sometimes scoffed at our suggestions. They’ve been MBA-trained to ‘make things happen’ and to take charge of their careers. However, a relationship with a man is different from a job. … [T]he man must take charge. … We are not making this up — biologically, he’s the aggressor."

Pay attention to this mini rant against women with MBAs. Fein and Schneider have a particular animus towards Masters degrees in business administration, presumably because any education beyond a BA irreparably damages a woman’s marriageability, which, I guess, is like some sort of psychosocial hymen.

Don’t look at me. I didn’t write this shit!

Whenever I see the phrase "I am/We are not making this up," I think of humorist Dave Barry. He frequently prefaced especially absurd — but completely true — details in his columns with this earnest disclaimer. Then, of course, whatever came after the disclaimer seemed extra hilarious. I therefore cannot imagine this phrase as being said with anything else other than tongue in cheek.

"No REALLY!!" is not a convincing clincher for an argument.

Oh look — essentialist claptrap!

Page 13: "…[W]e were offended by what seemed to us to be downright trickery and manipulation. The Rules would send women back twenty-five years. What would the feminists say? On the other hand, Melanie had what we wanted: the husband of her dreams who adored her. It made sense to rethink our offended psyches!"

Those poor, deluded, man-hating feminists! They’re all just bitter because they think that het relationships should contain honest and direct communication. Hah! Where are they now? They’re joining lesbian separatist communes where they don’t pluck their chin hairs.

…Oh wait. You say that some of them are, in fact, in marriages with the husbands of their dreams who adore them? Well, that’s because they clearly recognized the truly passive essence of femininity and faithfully practiced the Rules.

Whaddaya mean — some of them base their marriages on equality, respect, mutual friendship and affection? That’s just… That’s just…

[head explodes]

Page 15: "But First the Product — You."

Just in case you weren’t certain that this book is the product of a capitalist culture that not only objectifies women, but also commodifies relationships as economic transactions, here’s your proof.

Page 16-17: "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."

Well, someone clearly had a traumatic experience at the age of 4 after purchasing an ice cream cone independently and turning around to see where Mom was, only to experience momentary panic because she had moved 12 feet to the left to enjoy the respite of a shade tree.

Page 17: "Personal shoppers can help you find clothes that look good on you and that hide your flaws, as opposed to clothes that are perhaps trendy but not flattering."

How much money do the authors think their readers have? Do they know how expensive personal shoppers are?

Page 18: "When you’re shopping in a department store, stop by a cosmetics counter and treat yourself to a makeover."


Page 19: "…[G]row your hair long. Men prefer long hair, something to play with and caress. … It doesn’t matter that short hair is easier to wash and dry or that your hair is very thin. The point is, we’re girls! We don’t want to look like boys."

God help you if you’re bald, either out of choice or necessity. We can’t help you there. You’re just screwed. Resign yourself to dying an old maid.

Page 19: "Don’t act like a man… Don’t tell sarcastic jokes. Don’t be a loud, knee-slapping, hysterically funny girl. … Don’t talk so much."

Wait…I’ve got it:

The men up there don't like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore
Yes, on land, it's much preferred
For ladies not to say a word
And after all, dear, what is idle prattle for?

Come on, they're not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who's withdrawn
It's she who holds her tongue who gets her man

Ah, you say that Ursula the sea witch was being rather sarcastic in Poor Unfortunate Souls when she was singing this in Disney’s animated Little Mermaid, trying to convince Ariel to trade her voice for a pair of legs?

Well, no wonder Ursula’s still single. Hmph!

Holy shit, I haven’t even gotten to the actual Rules yet.

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