I have a few related things to rant about today, so I'm going to tie them all together into one blog entry.
A longtime dating advice columnist recently joined Twitter. I started following her and about 60 percent of the time I immensely enjoy what she writes. The trouble is that her smart and insightful commentary is often lamentably peppered with insults directed at the male half of the populace:
"A man who can't think for himself makes a good husband."
"If men's penises looked more like shoes, women would ask to take them out more often."
"We need to attach 'motion sensors' to men's lips. Really."
"The best boyfriend is ALWAYS the one with more money."
These would be funny quips from a comedian. But they're not from a comedian; they're from a popular dating advice columnist.
Allow me also to point you toward an excerpt from the terribly antiquated but somehow still popular tome "Why Men Love Bitches" by Sherri Argov:
"If that fateful day ever does arrive when he tells you that you are a bitch? Stop, and take a deep breath. Then enjoy the moment. Smile internally as you say to yourself, 'Okay. Now I know he truly does love me.'"
So if a guy is unhappy enough with you to call you a bad name, that's a good thing? Another example from her follow-up book, "Why Men Marry Bitches" (which, for the record, consists 90 percent of information already laid out in its predecessor, so save your money):
"Let's rewrite the fairy tale, shall we?... The storybook ending should read like this: Once upon a time there was a princess. Along came a prince who asked her if she'd like to ride on his white horse. She said, 'I'd like to take a ride on your horse, but I can't right now because I'm a little busy getting on my own horse. Go ride off into the sunset without me, and I'll catch up to you a little later.' Suddenly, the prince is dumbfounded. He's never heard anything like this before. Something clicks inside him, and it starts a fire within him that he can't put out, because she doesn't need him. And then he says, 'I have to be with her for the rest of my life.' Then they fall in love, marry, and ride off into the sunset. And then she tortures him... lovingly ever after."
And that's the end of the book. Not a supposedly lighthearted joke somewhere in the middle -- the fifth-to-last word in the book is tortures. This is a New York Times bestseller. Are we serious here? Is it just me, or has relationship advice become sorrily saturated with manhating?
This girls' club misandric mentality has trickled down and infiltrated the vernacular of the average woman too. A guy friend of mine made a Facebook post the other day about how women often go crazy after a guy has sex with them, and one woman responded, "Eat a dick. Some of us fuck like men. I.e., fuck. Get dressed. Never call again. No truly independent woman has time for the bullshit. Careers are time consuming."
The intentions behind these philosophies are well-meaning. Too many women act desperate, clingy, and needy around the men they want, and this behavior ends up chasing them away. So authors and coaches push women into believing that they don't need men by framing guys as worthless creatures secondary to more important things like careers and shoes and pink martinis, hoping this will at least sway the pendulum far enough away from neediness that maybe they'll attract a guy at some point merely by not doing what doesn't work.
But if the only cure for needy desperation that these so-called relationship gurus offer is an attitude that reviles men and glorifies their supposed stupidity and worthlessness, that really doesn't seem at all useful, especially when our goal is, y'know, to actually build relationships with these creatures. Furthermore, it's insulting to women that rather than trust them to implement advice that actually works, we offer them fables to keep them from fucking up. Why do female advice gurus assume that the members of their own gender are too dumb to understand what proactive steps they can take toward building a satisfying relationship? Why do we simply give them the lovelife equivalent of telling them not to cross the street so they don't get hit by a car?
If what you wanted was a life filled with girls'-nights-out and manhating trash talk, you wouldn't be reading this blog. You're here because what you want is a fulfilling relationship with an awesome guy who makes you happy. And that's totally okay -- that is what you are biologically programmed to want, and it doesn't make you weak or anti-feminist to admit you want a great guy.
I received a negative comment or two on my Formspring a few weeks ago complaining that my advice didn't work (and calling me a bitch -- well, actually, a bith -- making me question both the geniality as well as the intellect of the anonymous questioner). It seems pretty bold in my eyes to complain about the quality of the free advice I offer to anonymous seekers limited in their question-writing to something like 500 characters (though that doesn't stop some from submitting one question written out over four or five different character-limited entries). I mean, sure, I do the best I can with the limited information I'm given over the internet, but if you're really serious about wanting to strategize for the best possible outcome in your situation, maybe it might be a better idea to book an in-person coaching session where you'll have ample time to describe the details of your predicament and I'll be able to give you a full assessment that is informed by seeing your deportment firsthand.
But more to the point, the best and most accurate advice in the world is still never a guarantee of success when it comes to romance. Why? Because nobody is obligated to love you just because you did everything right. Furthermore, even if you do everything right and you do win the love of your desired object, there is no guarantee that he is going to do everything right just because he loves you. In fact, love is a scary thing that often makes people run away, get defensive, or screw up royally because the stakes are so high (see my recent post The Loneliness Epidemic for more on this phenomenon). I laugh when I see other coaching companies sprinkle their badly copywritten websites with words like "Today!" "Right Now!" "Get Any Guy/Girl You Want!" "100% Chance of Success!" It's like, do these people have such a failed understanding of human relationships that they actually forgot about this pesky little thing people have that's called free will?
So why do this at all? Because when it comes to building the kinds of relationships you want, you will want to know that for your part you did absolutely everything you could to stack your odds in favor of things working. You can look back on a failed relationship and say, "That guy acted like a dick," or "He wasn't who I thought he was" or even "I guess he just didn't have feelings for me," but there is nothing more heartbreaking than having to say, "I fucked up. I made a big mistake. I could have done some things a lot better."
And when you know that you did everything you could possibly do and things still didn't work out, it makes moving on that much easier. In that way, you are able to divorce yourself from the outcomes of your seductions because you know that whatever didn't work wasn't something that was in your control. I once attempted to seduce a man who lied and told me he was single when he wasn't; obviously my seduction didn't succeed because it was based on misinformation. Not my fault. I once attempted to form a relationship with a man who had such a problem with drugs and alcohol that in his incapacitated state he would start fights with me that he wouldn't remember the next day and get mad at me for having left in the middle of the night; obviously that didn't work out so great either. Again, not my fault. And after a brief period spent being mildly irritated about what happened each time, I moved on, knowing that there was nothing else I could have done in either of those situations to have effected a better outcome.
This is what the study of seduction will do for you. It won't guarantee you a stable and happy relationship with every single guy you want, because some guys are douchebags who are incapable of stable and happy relationships. It will help you weed out said douchebags by process of elimination and feel satisfied knowing that you at least gave it a shot and found out their true natures, and it will allow you to stack your odds that when a good guy comes along who is actually capable of treating a woman well, he will choose you, because you will also know how to treat him well.
This is the point in your life when you get to manhate a little bit like all these so-called relationship gurus advise you to do -- when it is directed toward a specific man who is actually deserving of your disdain. When I knew I was done with the alcoholic, I told him I needed space, and then I texted him telling him I was going to Vegas for a week with a girlfriend. And I did go to Vegas, and my girlfriend and I drank all sorts of overpriced sugary pink drinks and danced atop tables to Britney songs and got men to spend money on us in the casinos and shopped for shoes and trash-talked all the guys in our lives for all the stupid shit they had done. Because at that point I had earned the right to not give a shit about the dude in my life and to chant into the heavens how better off I was without him.
Here's the difference: When I was done, I went back home, reassessed things, and said to myself, "Okay, so now that I've moved on, what kind of man do I want in my life and how am I going to go about finding him and attracting him?" Because I had faith that if I expected the next guy in my life to not be a worthless, incompetent asshole, I would have a far greater chance of finding someone who was not a worthless, incompetent asshole. And I knew that if I treated him like someone who was not a worthless, incompent asshole, he would be more likely to behave like someone who was not a worthless, incompetent asshole.
And for the record I did find another guy two months later, and he was not a worthless, incompetent asshole. In fact he's been pretty awesome so far.
Manhating -- even the seemingly subtle (but perhaps more insidious) joking variety -- is no way to live your life. If you set up a human being in your life to fail, they will. Yes, some guys are going to be douches. I'm sure you've met plenty of them by now; I know I have. But if the only consolation you hold for your loneliness and desperation is clinging to a belief that guys are worthless and can't add anything of value to your life, you're not only knowingly lying to yourself, but you're not helping yourself find actual happiness. If you didn't want a guy in your life, you wouldn't have to go out there and talk shit about them so much. You'd be talking about your career instead, instead of talking about the idea of "talking about your career instead of talking about a guy." Please, write to these so-called gurus, and tell them that gender-hating isn't cool from either side of the divide. Yeah, I know, we women put up with it for a long time and we're just doling out some long-awaited payback. But we're never going to be happy with one another if we don't call a truce at some point and acknowledge the fact that we do, in fact, need each other. You know, for that little task at hand we have, called furthering the species.
So once you're done purging last year's jerks from your system, take a deep breath and start afresh. And give the next guy in your life the benefit of the doubt that he might actually be a decent person with whom you could build a beautiful and successful way of life.
Oh and have I mentioned you can preorder my book now? You should go do that.