Friday, December 15, 2006

The Rules

To anyone -- male or female -- with a healthy self esteem and an egalitarian attitude toward gender relations and gender politics, The Rules will seem creepy, old-fashioned, even Machiavellian. It's a set of guidelines for young women to follow about dating men. A set that assumes the girl (and yes, it assumes you are a girl, not a woman, no matter your age) has made some bad decisions. That she's been taken advantage of. Maybe that she went into the dating world thinking boys were mostly kind, honest, and fair.

The Rules disabuses girls of that. Boys are manipulative. But boys are also pretty simple, so they can be manipulated by girls -- as long as girls follow The Rules.

The Rules is a book (and a movement, as Time once said). It was written in the 90s but it's still around, complete with sequels about making your boyfriend marry you, an "inspirational rap song" about the rules, and expensive personal consultations with the authors, Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider.

I came upon the The Rules in my search for strange lists of ten. We as a culture are steeped in lists of rules, starting, obviously, with the Ten Commandments. It's fascinating to look at various lists of rules alongside one another. What do rules really mean? Are they trying to help us? Control us?

Fein and Schneider include an abbreviated version of their rules in the form of a list of ten on their website. Looking at this list reveals a lot about what kind of woman The Rules is aimed at: She wears makeup. She may need to be reminded to calm down. She may be depressed. She's extremely frustrated with men. She may think that her failure with men is for lack of working hard enough to pursue them. Her goal above almost all else is to get married. Most of all, she's just desperate for a man.

Some of the rules are logical -- be confident, be social, keep work and love separate. Others reduce dating to an adversarial game. As's review said, "The idea is to return to pre-feminist mind games, exploiting the male hunting urge by playing hard to get."

Here are Fein and Schneider's ten rules:
1. Be a creature unlike any other.
Being a creature unlike any other is really an attitude, a sense of confidence and radiance that permeates your being from head to toe. It's the way you smile (you light up the room), pause in between sentences (you don't babble on out of nervousness), listen (attentively), look (demurely, never stare), breathe (slowly), stand (straight) and walk (briskly, with your shoulders back). When a relationship doesn't work out, you brush away a tear so that it doesn't smudge your makeup and you move on!

2. Show up to parties, dances and social events even if you do not feel like it.
Realize that you may not meet Mr. Right naturally and that you therefore must take social action immediately even if you don't want to.

Get a manicure and go out on another date or to that singles dance -- do something to increase your chances of meeting men.

3. It's a fantasy relationship unless a man asks you out.
Don't waste time on a fantasy relationship. You may have a good rapport with your doctor, lawyer or accountant, and you may find yourself wondering if he is interested in you romantically. How can you know for sure? If he's never asked you out, then he's not interested!

4. In an office romance, do not email him back every time he emails you unless it is business related.
On all nonbusiness e-mails, responding once for every four of his emails is a good rule of thumb. Remember, you never know who has access to your e-mail, so keep all romance off the screen and save it for Saturday nights.

5. If you are in a long-distance relationship, he must visit you at least three times before you visit him.
Remember, the first three visits are really nothing more than three dates... and on the first three dates we don't have sex with a man or have him stay at our place overnight.

6. When considering whether to use personal ads or other dating services, you should place the ad and let men respond to you.
It goes back to the basic premise of The Rules: Man pursues woman. When writing your ad, remember that every man has a type, a voice or a look he likes. There has to be a spark for him that attracts him to you, something that makes him find you unexplainably special.

7. If he does not call, he is not that interested. Period.
We know this is hard to accept, but it's not that he hasn't called because he's busy, or because you didn't smile or talk enough (or did too much). It's not that he lost your phone number. The bottom line is, if he hasn't called, he's not that interested.

8. Close the deal -- Rules women do not date men for more than two years.
If you've followed The Rules, your man probably loves you and wants to marry you. Your problem is not if he marries you, but when! If it's been more than a year, see less of him and think about dating others. You've already spent more than a year waiting for him to propose; do you have another year to wait?

9. Buyer beware -- observe his behavior so you do not end up with Mr Wrong.
Love may be blind, but Rules girls are not stupid! How does he act in the relationship? Is he cheap on dates? Is he critical of you? Remember, The Rules are not about marrying the first man you are attracted to who calls you by Wednesday for Saturday night and buys you flowers. It's about marrying your own personal Mr. Right -- a man whom you love and whose character you admire and can live with.

10. Keep the RULES even when things are slow.
Take care of yourself, take a bubble bath and build up your soul with positive slogans like "I am a beautiful woman. I am enough."
You must learn to accept that, as an adult, you can't always rely on a friend to do things with you. Even if you don't meet Mr. Right, going out -- whether it's a restaurant, lecture or party -- is a chance to meet new people and practice The Rules.
Wasn't that refreshing? It's like first, second, and third wave feminism never happened! Now go out and catch your man!


Blogger Screaming Annie said...

Thank you masticator.
I feel so much better.
Now I know how to catch a man. Bye, bye feminism.
What do I do with my women's studies degree?

10:26 PM  

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