Garbage or genius?
If you've heard of The Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, you inevitably have an opinion about the book. If you're a woman, and you want to be married as soon as possible, then you need to go out and buy it. All you have to do is follow the 35 simple Rules and you will have the total adoration and love of the man you adore.
Apparently, though, people are buying into this dated ideology, because the book is number 20 on the USA Today Best-Selling Books list and number three on the New York Times How-To Bestsellers.
Rule 1: Be a "Creature Unlike Any Other"
The first Rule is the book's basic premise. Every man will want you if you just act like yourself and try not to be something you are not. Be mysterious and alluring, yet truthful. Of course, this seems to go against the rest of the book, which tells a wo man not to tell her prospective life-mate about any of her baggage. This is part of Rule 20: Be Honest but Mysterious, which conflicts with Rule 19: Don't Open Up Too Fast. You know, tell that man in your life a few things, but not really anything - a t least not until you have that ring.
There are plenty more Rules that seem inane. These are common sense things a person should and should not do when they are attracted to someone. For example, if a man is a flirt, abusive, inattentive and uncaring, then the woman should leave him. Well, d uh.
Or how about Rule 23: Don't Date a Married Man. This must have been an epiphany. Come on, some of these things are no-brainers. It seems to figure that Mr. Right is not Mr. Right if he is still married to Mrs. Right (or Wrong, as the case may be).
Another funny Rule is number five: Don't Call Him and Rarely Return His Calls. A Rules girl does not return a man's phone call and should not talk longer than 10 minutes. Let's take a reality break. What man is going to repeatedly call a woman if she can only "call once for every five times he calls?" And if the woman hangs up after 10 minutes because she "has a million things to do," won't it appear as if she is disinterested? Even I, with my infinite wisdom and patience, am going to give up after four c alls and assume lack of interest. OK, usually.
To get a non-male perspective on the book, I spoke with Dr. Judy Temple, the UA director of Women's Studies. When I started the interview, she chuckled sardonically. Temple gave a background history of courtship rules and explained that every time there i s a show of independence for women, books are written on strategies to stay dependent on males. The books tend to be prescriptions on how to win and keep a man. She said that these books tend to objectify men and that The Rules is not very original. What happens is that this type of book presents women with the perfect male, the Prince Charming which no man can live up to.
My interview with Temple ended with her take on the book: "frivolous pap."
Not all of the book, however, is useless. Rule 29: Take Care of Yourself and Other Rules for Dating in College did have some good advice. First, the chapter talked about how school is for studying. Second, it said that woman are not supposed to do a man' s homework and/or type his papers, because it won't help him notice you. The best advice, however, was to pick a major and a career goal; "college is not about picking up your MRS degree."
The book's synopsis, however contradictory it seems to the Rules themselves, is that eventually women stop looking for that pompous, arrogant jerk who treats women poorly and will go for the nice, caring male who treats women like queens.
I guess I just have to wait for more women to buy the book, or mature emotionally, and start looking for that nice guy: me.
Jeremy Pepper is a philosophy senior. His column, 'Dash of Pepper,' appears every other Thursday.