The Rules by Ellen Fein and Somebody Else (preview) according to a guy

The first thing that came to my mind when I read the title was this quotation:

Rules were made to be broken

And I can tell you there are a lot of rules in this book that need to be plain ignored, because they make the game harder than it needs to be. Boy likes girl, girl likes boy, let’s keep the acting to a minimal and save a few flower petals shall we?

A Rules girl typically comes home to many messages on her answering machine from men trying to fill up her weekends.

Sorry, no. The Rules will not get any normal girl in the above situation. The reason being when a normal girl acts aloof, like the Rules say to do, she won’t get any attention. A bombshell, a 10/10, a physically attractive girl with absolutely no brains, will find herself in this position, in spite of the Rules. A bombshell with brains… now we’re really talking here. A few guys may be intimidated, so she might get less messages total but you can be sure that it’s high quality guys who will be willing to call a bombshell with brains – again, in spite of the Rules.

While it’s also true that you can reject him, the fact is that it’s the man who notices you, asks you out, and ultimately proposes marriage. He runs the show.

This is a very weird line that got me thinking, because a lot of materials aimed at guys emphasize that women are the ones with the power. I mean, we ask them out, it’s their call to say yes or no, and we’re mostly more horny than women. I think the real explanation here is that nobody’s really in control… and it’s just a big fat game.

EDIT: reading to the end made me quite nauseated. I can’t put my finger on it just yet.
EDIT2: I just read a review on Amazon that covers a lot of points I want to make on the book:

1.0 out of 5 stars Radon for the Soul, July 11, 2002
This review is from: The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right (Mass Market Paperback)
“The Rules” keeps returning like a bad hot dog. I’m embarrassed to admit that, against my judgment and ethics, I can’t quite seem to dismiss it altogether. It’s like watching somebody pick their nose at a stoplight — you know you *should* ignore it — you *want* to ignore it — but somehow, you can’t help yourself.

“The Rules”, for those fortunate enough to have avoided the book until now, is an instruction manual telling how women can/should trick alpha males into marriage through withdrawal and manipulation.

Besides the book’s cruel, self-esteem-undermining premise — that the reader is worthless without a man; and moreover, that it requires complete falsification of her looks, mind, personality, and spirit to make her even marginally acceptable…

Besides the paradoxical hollowness of “success” with a false self — you lose even if you “win”, because it’s not *you* who succeeds, it’s the fa├žade…

Besides the likelihood that persistent coldness, while screening out the uninterested, would also screen *in* the neurotic Don Juan who wants whatever he doesn’t have until the instant he gets it, or even outright stalkers and psychos…

Besides how simplistic, morally corrupt, and insulting to *both* genders the book is…

Besides how abominably, sub-literately written it is…

Why does this book provoke such extreme reactions in everyone with a shred of intelligence, integrity, and/or self-esteem? Why is it like a stone in your shoe — irritating as all get-out, yet impossible to ignore — rather than simply irritating as all get-out?

Is it the obnoxious, infomercial scamminess and inflated promises?

— “Sound too good to be true? We were skeptical at first, too.”

— “Follow The Rules, and he will not just marry you, but feel crazy about you, forever!”

— “There are many books and theories on this subject. All make wonderful promises, but The Rules actually produce results.”
(Oh, the irony!)

Is it the Godawful, degrading advice?

— “Be feminine.”
— “Always strive to look feminine.”
(Can you imagine anyone advising men, “always strive to look masculine”?)

— “Don’t leave the house without makeup.”

— “Wear sheer black pantyhose and hike up your skirt.”

Is it the teeth-grinding rage at men?

— “We mistakenly tried to be ‘friends’ with men…”

— “You don’t make it easy for him… As he SCRAMBLES around BEGGING the coat-check girl for a pen, you stand by quietly.”
(That one has not-very-well-repressed sadism rising off the page like steam, doesn’t it? “You want hard to get, you S.O.B.? I’ll give you hard to get!”)

Is it the childish spite toward women who don’t “know their place”?

— “They think they are too educated or talented to be passive, play games…”

— “They feel their diplomas and paychecks entitle them to do more in life than wait for the phone to ring.”

— “These women always end up heartbroken.”

Is it the cheap scare tactics?

— “It’s not fun to break The Rules. You could easily end up alone.”

— “By not accepting that the man must pursue the woman, women put themselves in jeopardy of being rejected or ignored.”

Granted, you’re not going to attract every man you ever say Hello to. But their tales — always ending in the implication (often, the overt statement) that rejection is *punishment for refusal to comply*, rather than chemistry or random chance — are like the 50s-style “guide to dating” books where the making-out teenage couple gets hit by a speeding bus.

Is it the gaping holes in logic?

Every anecdote supporting the formula is dangled before the reader like bait, but anything questioning/undermining it is dismissed: “the only guys who will be turned off by this are the guys who weren’t really interested in the first place”. Why wouldn’t that be equally true of *ignoring* the rules? Maybe I should write a job-hunting manual — “Punch Your Interviewer in the Nose: The Two-Fisted Method for Capturing Your Dream Job” — and claim, “The only time this won’t work is with jobs you were never meant to get in the first place”.

Is it the unintentional howlers?

— “What am I supposed to do all night if no one asks me to dance? Go to the bathroom five times if you have to, reapply your lipstick… walk around the room in circles until somebody notices you…”
(Like they could miss the crazy woman wearing more lipstick than Courtney Love, walking around in circles and going to the bathroom every five minutes?)

I think the book lingers like nuclear waste because it’s so *weird*. While it’s plausible to suggest that one way to deal with an imbalance of power is by calculated subterfuge, the authors aren’t that straightforward. Instead, we get a lot of defensive, self-justifying assertions that “The Rules” are not, repeat NOT, conniving or vicious or bitterly cynical, that men WANT to be manipulated, that men have a “biological need” to pursue (why are people still using junk science to justify the worst aspects of human behavior?).

They also urge the reader not to tell anybody — friends, families, therapists — about the book, as though it were a cult. This — there’s no other word for it but paranoia — makes it clear that the authors know full well that their ideas can’t withstand examination/discussion. If your positions are indefensible, why hold them?

As a result of the doublespeak, mean-spiritedness, and desperation pervading every syllable, the book has a creepy, nightmarish, *toxic* vibe, like reading a crazy person’s diary. It’s hard to put out of your mind even when you want to.

Relationships can be good, bad, or in-between, but reducing human interaction to a grim quest for prey won’t improve matters. The authors tell the reader over and over that: 1) “The Rules” aren’t REALLY manipulation, and 2) All right, they ARE really manipulation, but they work! It’s too bad that they stopped short of 3) OK, they DON’T really work… but we ARE making a ton of money.

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