Sunday, 3 December 2006

"The Rules" published December 3, 2006

When did finding a man become so hard? Why is it that we look around and see beautiful, talented, funny single women and say to ourselves: “I don’t understand why that lovely woman hasn’t got a man?” Because she doesn’t want one, stupid.
In this crazy post-feminist world where we are given the choice of living with or without men, there seems to be unreasonable pressure being placed on women to find a man. And if they haven't found one, then there must be something horribly wrong with them.
This is where The Rules comes in. It’s a book which first appeared 10 years ago and is now enjoying a disturbing resurgence among young women about town.
It claims to contain the time tested secrets for capturing the heart of Mr Right.
Personally I’ve always had more fun with Mr Wrong, but apparently “The One” is someone for whom you must search longingly from the age of 15.
Basically The Rules is a return to the 50s dishonesty and manipulation - or playing hard to get - which popularised so many old romance movie plots entertaining women who continued to cook their man his eggs and lead the slave-like existence which passed for marriage in 1952.
Not surprising then to find that Rule 32 is “Don’t Discuss The Rules with Your Therapist.” Apparently your therapist might find it dishonest and manipulative and they just “don’t realise a woman’s capacity for forcing themselves on men who don’t want them.” We are a terrible burden on ourselves wandering around campus hoping to run into men, sending love poetry and getting friendly with men’s parents. Crikey
I’ll spare you the entire 35 rules but they go a bit like this. Don’t return phone calls. Don’t stare at him. Don’t have sex for ages and when you do be emotionally cool and don’t demand that he satisfies you. Where’s the fun in that rule? This is more like dating starvation than a guide to getting dates. My favourite is Rule 1 which involves “Being a Creature Unlike Any Other.” They don’t mean growing a wart on your nose or carrying around a third boob. Here’s how you do it: “When you hair falls in front of your face, you tilt your head back and comb back your hair with your hand from the top of your head in a slow, sweeping motion.” Man, that must really make you unlike any other. You must also dress in strong colours, because men like those. Be quiet and mysterious. And don’t ever tell him what to do, always follow his lead like a long slow dance.
And when it comes to conversation the rule is strict: “Don’t tell sarcastic jokes. Don’t be a loud, knee-slapping, hysterically funny girl….Remember, men fall in love with your essence, and not with anything in particular you say.”
In fact any poor woman who followed the 35 rules without breaking them might get a husband but along the way she will have lost her personality, her independent thought, her leadership qualities, any hope of a decent sex life and consequently the will to live. She will however know how to flick her hair in an odd manner and will have absolutely no risk of cancer from cell phone overuse. And as for her husband, what kind of prick must he be?
The Rules has it all wrong. Men just aren’t worth it. They are not Mr Right or The One. They arejust a species with which we occasionally enjoy our time and hopefully share the difficult job of raising children. But not at the expense of becoming nothing more than stoned mute Barbie dolls who make men feel important.
There should be just one rule to follow for women and here it is:
· Having a man in your life should make it better, not worse. If it’s worse, dump him.
And I’ll throw in these others just because this column isn’t quite long enough:
If he makes you laugh within five minutes of waking up every day he’s a keeper.
If you throw a baby into his arms and he looks at it with significant interest rather than passes it like a rugby ball to the next person with a look of disgust on his face, he’s a keeper
If he has a decent one and knows what to do with it, don’t let him go under any circumstances.

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