You Already Know What You Need To Know

Recently I've been put in charge of doing ordering from a number of book vendors and distributors - which means I've been taking time to further familiarize myself with the titles we carry. Raiding our bookshelves, I had an eye out not just for excellent titles that I love, but also to titles that I didn't feel so good about.

I have an admitted bias against "gimmick" books, particularly gimmick books that focus on dating techniques. You know the type - their content echoes those glossy girlie magazines they sell at Supermarket checkouts, with phrases like "5 Moves To Drive Him Wild!" and coyly-worded tips that talk about your relationship's progression using words that are commonly associated with hunting and organized sports - how to "trap" your guy into marriage once you’ve “scored”, etc. These books are very fond of grouping men into neat categories ("The Mama's Boy", "The Lothario") as though men were objects, like stamps or buttons, to be collected and sorted, and they are ALWAYS about straight relationships.

But mostly, they are about what to say on a date, what not to say, how to dress, whether to give him your land line phone number or your cell number, when to call him, and so on. These points seem innocuous at first - after all, dating can be confusing.. But something about the way they are presented has always bothered me.

Perhaps it’s the underlying current of weird body image issues. One of the books I found (I won’t say which one) had a whole chapter on sex positions that would prevent him from seeing your “flabby tummy”. “No one past the age of sixteen has perfect breasts,” the author chirps.

But mainly it’s that the idea behind these books seems to be about projecting a false identity to potential partners. Forget being honest about what positions sexually satisfy you – your focus should obviously be on what positions make your ass look smaller! Don’t bring out the toys during your first night together, even if you are one of the vast majority of women who can only come with direct clitoral stimulation, because men will make assumptions about women who own toys. Don’t be “emotional”, don’t call him too soon, don’t be too forward, because these things will scare men away (men being easily frightened creatures who apparently can’t handle the fact that women are human beings). Oh, and if you don’t have sex right away, you’re a prude. But if you DO have sex right away, you’re a slut.

Manipulation and double standards have always bothered me, and it seems to me that when they’re introduced to relationships it sets people up for failure. Postponing acting like yourself and approaching a date like you’re trying to beat someone at a game rather than like you are co-operating to achieve a mutual goal seems kind of dehumanizing to me.

Why not just have sex whenever you both feel like having sex, societal expectations be damned? Where does this feeling like I have to "trick" a date into liking me come from? 

When did being yourself on a date go out of style?