Saturday, March 27, 2021

What Happened to Rules Girls?

A quarter of a century ago two everyday women, by name of Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider published a dating manual called The Rules. It proposed a return to more traditional dating behaviors, with the goal being to get married. The book became a mega best seller, but it generated a significant and concerted counter-reaction. 

Feminists despised the rules. They had been hawking the virtues of spontaneity, and had been rejecting the notion that women should marry young. Besides, they said, Fein and Schneider had no professional credentials. Feminists were arguing, sometimes explicitly, but always implicitly, that marriage was a patriarchal conspiracy to keep women out of the workplace and off the battlefield.

In truth, precious few of the feminists who were railing against the rules had any professional qualifications themselves-- unless you count journalism as a professional qualification. What were Betty Friedan’s qualifications? Idem for Simone de Beauvoir.

Besides, the tag line concept from the book clearly defied feminist orthodoxy. Fein and Schneider advised women to be “easy to be with and hard to get.” Feminist revolutionaries wanted women to be hard to be with and easy to get. It was clearly a reversal of traditional values. As for whether women gained an advantage by giving it away for free, I leave for you to decide. 

In a strange way Fein and Schneider were showing women how to act as though they respected themselves. For that they were roundly denounced as a force trying to inhibit female sexuality. They were also recommending that women take control of their sexuality and define it in terms of marriage. That is, in terms of a man's commitment to them. For that they were also roundly denounced.

At the least, and well before Sheryl Sandberg coined the regrettable phrase, they were not telling women to lean in, to assert themselves, to run after men and to drag men into the boudoir. They were showing women how to go about being pursued. And, dare we say, a woman is not going to be pursued if she is doing the pursuing.

Anyway, feminists hated the rules because they considered it a full frontal attack on female empowerment.

In truth, very little about the rules was very novel. It had been common practice for decades. What was novel was the need to tell women to get over their newly found tendency to give it away for free and to learn to respect themselves. Obviously, this was judgmental. It was telling women that they had gotten it wrong. Many women who had been following the feminist life plan and who had more than their fair share of walks of shame, were appalled. They went into highest dudgeon against the rules.

In all likelihood, rules girls are now a relic. In the age of Tinder, girls are more likely to follow the feminist dictum and to hard to be with and easy to get. How is that one working out?

Today’s strong and empowered women go for the gusto. They take what they want. They treat men like instruments of their pleasure. They avoid formalities like dating. They hang out and hook up. Dr. Phil likes to say: How is that working out for them?

So, let’s skip forward from the mid 90s to 2006, where Carolyn Hax fielded a letter from a woman who was having some considerable trouble dealing with the fact that a man she had met for a casual date did not call her back. Obviously the letter is a decade and a half old. But Hax must have thought very well of her response, because she just retrieved it for our edification. She seems to be on hiatus so she is reprinting some old favorites.

Here is the letter:

So, I went out with this guy for a drink. I thought we had fun. It was quick but we both had somewhere to go.

Well, he emailed the next day saying he would call the following week when he returned from a weekend away. I have not heard from him — it has been over two weeks. I would like to know why.

Can I email him? I need to know if it was me — or what the deal is. Not that I think he is "the one" for me, or even that I want to go out with him again. Am I obsessing a little too much?

I do not recall precisely what Fein and Schneider would have said, but I suspect that they would have said that if he is interested he will call. They wanted women to play hard to get. If he doesn’t call, he is not interested. Unless, of course, he had an accident and is lying in a coma somewhere. 

And besides, why is she looking to embarrass herself? Doesn’t she have enough self-respect to take No for an answer? For all any of us know the two were incompatible, or perhaps she was hard to be with, or perhaps there was no chemistry, or perhaps she speaks too loudly or softly or perhaps she gave him a hard time about picking up the check.

Does she really want to put him in the position where he has to critique her appearance, her attitude, her ideological commitments or her bad manners? If he does not call he is being polite by not wasting his or her time. 

As for his statement that he will get in touch, clearly, he should not have said it and not done it. And yet, by the rules of dating, a man might say such things in order to avoid awkward explanations about why he is just not into her. Why would he be into someone who is so insecure that she has to know why he does not call her back for a second date? 

Was she looking for a performance critique? Did she think that it was a job interview? In truth, she was acting as though it was.

And now, without further ado, here is the Hax response:

So, you’re saying you don’t care about him, but you care about his opinion of you?

If you’d like to see him again, then email him to say you’d like to see him again. If you don’t, then don’t, and celebrate the simplicity of it all.

Astutely, Hax notes that the woman cannot seem to make up her mind. Saying that you do not care to see someone does not jive with the notion that she wants to hear what he thought of her. Obviously, this notion of asking him to offer an opinion is anything but polite. 

I would guess that the woman feels rejected and does not like to feel rejected. And yet, contacting him will offer the chance for him to reject her again. What purpose would that serve? Or perhaps, she wants him to show some interest so she can be the one doing the rejecting. Will that really make her feel better?

But then, after telling the woman to make up her mind, to figure out what she really, really wants, Hax says that if she wants to see him again she should write him and tell him that she wants to see him again. 

On this point, Fein and Schneider would disagree. They tend to advise women against throwing themselves at men. It does not bespeak strength; it bespeaks weakness. It is like offering oneself up for free, not as someone of value who needs to be pursued and wooed, and to whom one needs to make a commitment, but as someone who will have placed all her cards on the table and who then tries to bluff.


Anonymous said...

"As for whether women gained an advantage by giving it away for free..."

This assumes women don't like sex. Generally they love the attention and many/some love sex. Usually it is only after menopause that they truly hate sex. But it also attributes bad motives to their relationships with men. It implies that they trade sex for children/marriage, which while it may be arguably true is a bad motive. Having been young once and observed children and grandchildren when they were young I think that often/usually that there is real "love" that is the driving motive.

Re: Feminists. I have known a few and know of many more. I'm talking the proactive feminist before anything else in life. They are almost always either lesbians OR post menopausal divorced ladies who hate men.

KCFleming said...

The Rules merely restated tradition, which leftism/feminism rejects.

Sam L. said...

I can see why "Anonymous" is anonymous...

Anonymous said...

Why Sam? Because I believe in love?

n.n said...

Ladies and gentlemen... or rather lady and gentleman, equal in rights and complementary in Nature/nature, and our Posterity, a continuum, a forward-looking natural and social philosophy and practice.

Because I believe in love?

Dance Me To The End Of Love

That said, keep women appointed, available, and taxable. Abort. The feminist and masculinist dream of a "burden"-free world. Just imagine.

n.n said...

"As for whether women gained an advantage by giving it away for free..."

Take a knee. Beg. Good girl.

#MeToo #HerToo #SheProgressed

S. Bryant said...

What happened to Rules girls? We’re married to men we can grow old with, who respect us and who we adore and vice versa. And we’re raising our daughters tone Rules girls. Even if they don’t know it.

Sam L. said...

"Anonymous said...

Why Sam? Because I believe in love?

March 28, 2021 at 9:07 AM"

No; to protect yourself!

locomotivebreath1901 said...

"Feminists despised the rules."

Obviously. Fifteen years on, these insufferable harridans can't even agree on the definition of 'woman,' let alone establish rules. The deranged are often afflicted by reality in such manner.