I was reading a
book called The Rules. I was reading
it because it looked awful and I was hoping to get an article out of it. There
turned out to be far too much material for one article, or even seven, so I
decided to pick out the thing I found most objectionable about it and write
about that. It turned out that I found most of it objectionable, cover copy,
font and irritating capitalisation included, so I ended up opening the book at
random and writing an article about whatever hurt my eyes first.
The Rules is a recent reprint of a 1990s
dating how-to ‘classic’. Its style of writing sounds like how you would expect
cocktails to be mixed in Friends,
whilst music with no bass played in the background and everyone wore
three-quarter-length sleeves. Basically, it feels really, really 90s Manhattan,
and it talks to you like you’ve got a nice apartment, consult Zagat for your
restaurant choices and are dating men mainly for their stock value. But their
‘stock value’ is their eligibility, laydeez! Woo hoo! Making business-related
analogies about snaring Mr. Right! It’s so post-feminist!
editors have left all references to being in the 90s in, e.g. “We 90s women
always pretend that there’s nothing
better than having our own careers but really
we’re worried about being left on the shelf. Careers blow by comparison.”
That’s a paraphrase, because I accidentally buried the book at the bottom of
some setting cement, but this sentence, in a less sarcastic vein, does actually
appear in the introduction.
So. For the sake
of my keyboard, which is being pounded with increasing fury as I remember more
pieces of advice from authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider (who
incidentally talk about The Rules the way dictators talk about their political
ideology), let’s just assume we’re all the sort of woman whose life is lived
with the aim of ensconcing herself in a heterosexual marriage, and shortly
thereafter a nuclear family. I realise some people’s ambitions really do just
focus on household-running, holding hands and procreation. That’s fine and
groovy. May I take this moment to climb on the podium and remind y’all that
feminism allows you to make this your choice
and not your duty, hurrah. But let’s
just imagine we’ve all made the choice to prefer man-nabbing to
promotion-snatching. Just bear with me.
One of the
rules, sorry, The Rules, is to always let men pay for the first date. (And
maybe all dates? I’m not sure, a red mist came down shortly after I read this
and I don’t remember what happened next but I came to and, oh no, the blood, oh
no, what’s that in my freezer, oh no, what have I done.) The reasoning behind
this is twofold and therefore must be
Men love paying for shit. It makes them feel masculine
and worthy. They’re all like, “Since my primal urge to flash my erection has
been deemed unsuitable by 90s Manhattan, I will flash my $$$ instead. I’m so
virile my wallet will make you pregnant.”
When he pays for you, it makes him think you’re worth
it. See the logic there? Because he’s paying for you, you must be worth it.
You’re worth it, because you’re being paid for. You’re a keeper!
me. It bothered me even more when Fein and Schnieder made their concession to
the woman who likes to whip out her own $$$, which, paraphrased, goes something
like this: “Do you feel bad about making him foot the bill? Well, pay for a
small thing, like a taxi to the restaurant, or popcorn at the cinema. But he
has to pay for the main event, because, see above.”
botheration was this: why can the authors concede that there are some women who
might differ in opinion, but all men have the same psychology? Is it because
LOL penis? And how exactly is LOL penis better than ROFL make me a sammich?
This dating book
is just the gunk bobbing at the top of the horrible cesspit. The media,
advertising and even walking-around human beings are full of this crap. LOL
penis is responsibile for limiting and twisting men into a shape they might not
actually want to occupy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying boo hoo, poor men
catcalling from a dark alley, how the patriarchy has fucked you over, oh boo
hoo, poor executives, what a strain it must be to earn thousands and laugh
about maternity leave. I’m thinking more of the man who, faced with a student
loan and an undergraduette, thinks, “I’d better take her out somewhere fucking
fancy and pay for it, otherwise she might think I’m both cheap and impotent.
I’ll have to keep the heating off for the rest of the week but at least I look
like a dude.” I’m thinking about the man who really, really likes shopping for
clothes but has to put up with a constant litany of, “It’s like you’re gay! I
love shopping with gay men! Are you sure you’re not gay? Men don’t normally like fashion unless…” As long
as they’re forced to perpetuate their myth, they’re going to be perpetuating
ours as well. So, although I think most of our readers don’t end sentences with
‘typical man!’ or ‘men, eh?’, please discourage your otherwise perfectly
sensible friends from doing it too. Men especially. Calling on your gonads and
smiling sheepishly is not a clever excuse for sexism.
you do not look like a dude. You do not look like a dude when you find yourself
ironically enjoying wrestling because haha violence. You are not a dude when you
have conversation topics that cannot be aired in front of your girlfriend,
e.g., “Let’s play the Nuts version of Trivial Pursuit on the pub quiz machine!
It’s alright, Emma’s gone home!” And the sad thing is, I don’t think you want to be such a dick, not really. It’s
just that no one’s calling you out on it because LOL penis aren’t men terrible.
Let’s end this
article (you and me, dude, we’re in this together, don’t let the patriarchy
LIMIT your enjoyment of embroidery) by discussing what to do on a first date.
Did one of you say, “Let me take you to X / treat you
to X”? They’re paying.
2) Does one of you have substantially more money than the
other? They not necessarily paying. Oh no, they’re not. Pitchforks away.
They’re only paying if they’ve insisted on dining at the Ivy, because
everywhere else is just so gauche. If
you agreed on Nando’s, split it.
Unless you’re really hard-up and your cash-stuffed
friend / lover is trying to feed you / secure your company.
Does one of you really, genuinely want to treat the
other one, because of a special occasion, a celebration or a commiseration, or
because you think it would be a nice thing to do? Let them pay, then. Not
because they should. Because they want. Gender notwithstanding. As always.