February 20, 2020
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Feminine Is In

Feminism is out. What sells best is 35 rules to hook the right man.

Feminine Is In

AFTER 30 years of feminism, it turns out that the bestseller among western women today, is a book that teaches women ‘how to play hard to get to hook the man they want’. The Rules, is the new controversial Bible for the woman looking for a husband, with ‘time-tested secrets for capturing the heart of Mr Right’.

No, this is not agony aunt stuff for the 14-year-old looking for her first date. It is the most talked about book among modern career women in the US, where the rules are almost a cult movement, with Europe following suit.

The Rules, (there are 35), has become more than a book. It has $150-an-hour helplines and even Rules-Watchers (just as you have Weight-Watchers).

The feminists are hopping mad, but its two authors Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, both in their 30s and married to their respective Mr Rights, think that feminism has missed out on the heart of the matter. There have been ‘how to’ books on dating. New York has institutes running dating courses and seminars on subjects like ‘How to steal the man you want from the arms of another woman’. But it is The Rules, that has snared the unmodern dreams of the modern woman, with its outrageous simplicity, unapologetic celebration of feminine guile and insolent ignorance of a generation of feminism.

‘We don’t want to give up our liberation, but neither do we want to come home to empty apartments,’ say women, who are now happily married. ‘The truth of the matter is that deep inside, we really wanted to get married—the romance, the gown, the flowers, the presents, the honeymoon—the whole package.’ The book’s purpose is ‘to make Mr Right obsessed with having you as his’. In our grandmother’s days, they called it ‘playing hard to get’. ‘Whatever you call it she had more marriage proposals than shoes.’ If you follow the tenets of the firmly declare, ‘always get their man’. And if you’re not Melanie, The Rules can make you a born-again Melanie.

And so, Rule 1: Be a creature unlike any other. Pause between sentences, look demurely, never stare, breathe slowly, stand straight, keep moving for ‘they have to catch you in motion’. Rule 2: Don’t talk to a man first. Treat the man you are really crazy about like the man you’re not interested in at all. When he asks you out, silently count to five before saying yes. ‘It will make him nervous and that’s good.’ If he proposes a cheap date, say ‘Sure’. Because remember, ‘You’re Hard To Get But Easy To Be With’. Other tips: When walking down the street, drop his hand first, ever so slightly. Call him once for every five times he calls you. ‘Women who let men know how much they need to be with someone invite bad behaviour.’


 Men like women who wear fashionable, sexy clothes in bright colours. So ‘why not please them?’ Remember that you dress for men, not other women, ‘so always strive to look feminine’. Men like women. So don’t act like a man. Be ‘quiet and mysterious, act ladylike, cross your legs and smile’. And so, The Rules proceeds. When you sometimes do call back—and it must be sometimes, and remember only call back—make sure to end the phone call first. Never talk for more than 10 minutes. Use a timer. When the timer goes, you go too.

Some don’ts on a date: Don’t tell him what a mess you were before you met him, or give him the third degree about his past relationships, and don’t say ‘We’ve got to talk’, in that serious tone or he’ll bolt from the bar stool. And like calls, always end the date first.

Don’t rush into sex. It’s not okay if a woman sleeps with a man and he doesn’t call. In bed, ‘stay emotionally cool no matter how hot the sex gets’. Most women turn men off because ‘they try to exploit the physical closeness of sex to gain emotional closeness, security and assurances about the future’. Forget Masters and Johnson, now divorced. Don’t cling. Be casual and unmoved and ‘with that attitude, chances are that he will be the one hanging on’.

Don’t tell a man what to do, don’t expect him to change or even attempt to change him, don’t live with a man or leave your things in his apartment, don’t date a married man and above all, remember these golden rules and practice, practice, practice! The 35 rules are meant to be learnt by rote. For the Americans, being a tease, can be codified into a program, and that is what The Rules does. Feminist strides, some thought, had left teasing tactics behind. But feminism is more likely to be forgotten than the feminine way.

The success of the book has surprised its publishers. HarperCollins isn’t talking figures but this book is a bestseller many times over. The book is not a revelation but a restatement. Many, some would say too many, women now want to hear that after years, when ‘feminine’ had become a bad word. 

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