You and I have been some strange places together, hypothetical reader. We’ve discovered the world of real life vampires, traversed the overly credulous soul-scape of angelic messengers, and held back waves of nausea in the face of sexy minotaurs. We’ve found God in a chat room and modeling advice in a 1960’s puberty pamphlet. We’ve seen Satanists, Bigfoots, and bad 80’s fashion. Some of the books we’ve analyzed have tested my patience. But none of them have pissed me off more than today’s feature.
Read these excerpts and tell me what year you think this book was published in.
If you said the 1950’s, 1960’s, or the early pre-women’s-lib years of the 1970’s, I don’t blame you. If you said the year of our Lord two-thousand-god-damn-three, you have my condolences, because that probably means you’ve read this book before.
Find a Husband After 35 is a self-help manual written by Rachel Greenwald, a graduate of Harvard Business School who decided to use her M.B.A. to set feminism back forty years. Perhaps anticipating backlash, Greenwald remarks several times that she’s just telling it like it is. I have two problems with that:
- I’m pretty fed-up with the state of gender relations in the United States, but not even in my most cynical moments can I believe that things have sunk this low.
- “Telling it like it is” is really no excuse. As good feminists, we seek to expose and counteract the way “it is”–we don’t play into it just so we can make ourselves more pleasing and less threatening to men.
“Well, maybe Rachel Greenwald isn’t trying to write from a feminist perspective,” you say. To which I respond: “Obviously she’s not, because she wrote stuff like this!”
Getting with The Program
Find a Husband After 35 details a 15-step action plan called The Program, which is aimed at snagging a husband after the age of 35, at which–as we all know–women become dried-up husks who have nothing to offer but their rotting eggs and their eagerness to please. Greenwald describes The Program this way:
Ah, women as products–there’s a novel concept for you! Women have never been commodified before, unless you count practically every god damn second of our god damn lives. Such a bold new strategy could only come from the mind of a Harvard Business graduate.
Anyway, if you read that description of The Program and you find yourself intrigued–rather than, say, contorted by full-body retching–you should know that Greenwald’s plan requires full commitment.
More important than your job! More important than your friends! More important than…uh, your therapist? Seems an odd item to include, but it’s not the last time Greenwald mentions therapists. More on that in a second.
Why Use The Program?
Because it’s proven effective, supposedly. Greenwald also points out that women over 35 face unique challenges in the dating pool. For one thing, they look like hell.
For another, they’re basket cases.
Huh. Therapists again. What exactly is Greenwald’s beef with psychotherapy? Could it be that any competent counselor would advise against subordinating every other facet of your life to the quest for male approval? That psychotherapy threatens Greenwald’s bottom line by emphasizing balance and self-love? That more than one potential Program participant has been steered away by a concerned shrink?
Where Do I Start?
Let’s say you hate yourself enough to be sold on The Program. What’s the first step?
Does your family fret aloud about your unhealthy marriage fixation? Purge the unsupportive.
Do your friends make you feel like you have value even without a ring on your finger? Purge the enablers.
In fact, purge every god damn person who isn’t 100% down with The Program, because this is the center of your universe now. Before you sever ties, though, you might want to hit them up for a loan. Finding a husband ain’t cheap!
An emergency, people! So urgent is your predicament that Greenwald recommends devoting 20% of your annual salary to remedying it. You’ll be spending it on things like make-up and push-up bras, which are essential if you ever want to be loved. What’s that? You feel like 5% of your salary might be sufficient? I question your dedication, comrade. Ten years in the singeltons’ gulag for you.
Speaking of ten years, that’s how long it will take you to find a man if you don’t dedicate every waking second to the task. Witness the sordid tale of Molly, who was unable to properly sort her priorities.
Here are some other rookie mistakes women make, along with more acceptable alternatives.
Working on Your Image
As has been thoroughly established by now, you can’t find a man until you give yourself a massive makeover. But how do you find the look that’s right for you? It’s easier than you may think. Just ask a man!
Tim may be reticent at first, so you’ll need to give him lots of gentle encouragement. Remind him that his opinion matters more than yours where your looks are concerned. Tim’s tastes will naturally be representative of men as a whole, all of whom prefer the exact same style. Here’s Greenwald to elaborate.
“But wait,” you say. “This is who I am. Why should I change myself to make men feel more comfortable?”
That’s right, your clothes, hair, and body are up for sale. Men are your customers, and the customer is always right. So stuff your concepts of autonomy and self-expression and go meet the feminine ideal already!
Expanding Your Horizons
Look, ladies: there’s no such thing as a perfect man. Just because you’ve dropped several grand to look like the ultimate male fantasy doesn’t mean you can expect men to put forth a shred of effort. How fair would that be? So when it comes to finding your future mate, you need to learn to be less choosy.
You can’t be serious, Greenwald. You consider dating a non-White a major concession, and dating a non-White non-Hispanic the greatest concession of all? Do people actually think this way? If so, they deserve to die alone.
Sealing the Deal
Let’s say you’ve got a man who loves (the Greenwald-inspired caricature of) you. How do you get him to put a ring on your finger? You can’t propose to him–way too masculine! You can’t drop hints–still too pushy! The best course of action is underhanded manipulation. For example, you might try denying him sex.
“They won’t buy the cow if they can get the milk for free,” goes the popular saying, reminding us that comparing women to milk cows and other consumable goods is a completely awesome thing to do. Faced with a choice between getting hitched and going more than a week without busting a nut, the average guy is sure to crack. If he doesn’t, you might need to resort to more drastic measures.
Such as lying. Or, as Greenwald puts it, “exaggerating.” You might try telling your man that
Why are you looking at me like that? This is a totally moral, not-at-all-reprehensible way to secure a mate. And hey, it’s not like these sorts of “exaggerations” ever come back to bite a happy couple in the ass!
I never expected to get married. I am, as I believed I’ve mentioned before, obnoxiously independent, as well as romantic and sexually indifferent. Nevertheless, I wound up hitched–and though I still wear it a bit awkwardly, I can honestly say that it’s not all bad. My husband is the bee’s meow and the cat’s knees. My life is absolutely better for having him in it.
But here’s the thing: I didn’t have to resort to any insane program to find a man. I cut my hair short, wear weird bright-ass make-up, and don’t shave my legs. I use hairspray. I go to the bathroom. I am often an incredibly shitty listener. When I was in school, boys called me “freak,” “greaseball,” and “feminist bitch from hell.” And yet here I am. Married.
Maybe it’s luck. But I’m inclined to believe that things aren’t quite as dire as Greenwald makes them seem. And if they are, I think it says less for women’s lack of effort than it does for men’s sense of entitlement.