I had heard a lot about this book. By a lot, I mean that I heard that this was apparently the book to revolutionize how a women interact with men in a relationship setting. Not being one for these kind of ‘self-help’ books as I think of them, I was pretty scornful of it…without having read it.
It occurred to me that this was a foolish position to take as how can you be critical of something you have not even read? But hell no was I going to buy such an obviously nonsensical advice manual. Or so I thought. Anyway, to cut a long story short, by some sort of Jedi mind trick by a friend (mentioning no names) whilst I was on the phone to her, I ended up pressing ‘confirm payment’ on Amazon SOMEHOW, et voila, two days later I had the book.
I won’t go into too much detail in case some people still want to read it and I would suggest that if you’re of the amiable temperament and like to laugh…a lot…read it….for I tell you the truth….
I laughed like it was my last chance to laugh in life, at some sections.
I’m even struggling how to put this into words.
If there was a chapter that didn’t have me in stitches of incredulous laughter about a paragraph into it (maybe later though), it would have to be Chapter 2 ‘Our Love Isn’t Like Your Love’. In it, Harvey proposes that:
‘if you simply recognise how, exactly, a man loves, you might find that the man standing in front of you is, indeed, giving you all and then some. How do you know when a man loves you? Simple: he will do each of the following three things.’
These three things he identifies as being to Profess, Protect, Provide i.e. if your partner loves you, he talks about you to everyone, if he loves you, he protects you, and if he loves you, he provides for you. This made perfect sense to me. If only he had left it at that. Nope. He then started painting these wild scenarios to emphasise his point that had me it apoplectic fits of laughter:
Protect: ‘Once he says he cares about you, you are a prized possession to him, he will do anything to protect that prized possession. If he’s hearing you argue with a bill collector, he’s going to say “Who are you talking to? Let me talk to him right quick.” ’
‘Protection isn’t just about using brute, physical force against someone, though…For instance, if it’s dark outside, he may not want you to put the car in the driveway or walk the dog by yourself because he fears for your safety; in this instance, he’ll move the cars and walk the dog himself, even if he’s just done a double shift, so you can be inside where it’s safe’
Saying that though, I did like the way that throughout the book, he really emphasised the importance of men being men and carrying out their responsibility to their partners and family, and addressed some skewed perceptions of women by men…even if it was all said a bit cheesily:
Provide: ‘As a provider, a man pays the bills that have to be paid…He will not spend his money on trifling things and come to you with what’s left, he will not selfishly give you a little cut and take the rest himself’
‘Some men even label any and every woman who expects her intended to provide for her the very handy, decisively ugly phrase gold digger…I’m here to tell you…that the term “gold digger” is one of the traps we men set to keep you off our money trail; we created that term for you so that we can have all of our money and still get everything we want from you without you asking for or expecting this very basic, instinctual responsibility that all men over the world are obligated [emboldened by me] to assume and embrace’
Quote!! I know many people will contest this premise but I thought it was particularly interesting to note how Harvey is very much a traditionalist in his approach; he believes men not just should be the providers but are obligated to be and that’s that. Any man trying to be anything else or ‘doing less than that, they’re not men’.
I also liked Chapter 10 ‘The Five Questions Every Woman Should Ask Before She Get’s In Too Deep’ as it was interesting to read from the point of view of a man, what women should be asking men. When I list them, I know some guys will begin to tremble at the thought of possible future interrogation and finally being classified as chaff as opposed to wheat, but hey maybe, just maybe as Harvey proposes ‘any real man would answer them’ and ‘if he refuses, then don’t bother with him. Don’t think that you’re going to work it out later – that you’ll wait until he gets more comfortable with you – because that would be nothing more than blind hope.’
Anyway, without going into details, the 5 were:
- What are your short-term goals?
- What are your long-term goals?
- What are your views on relationships?
- What do you think about me?
- What do you feel about me?
Seems pretty intense right, and to be fair, Harvey does not tell women to bang those questions out like a machine gun, just like that. He proposes ways and strategies of sliding these into conversation or subsequent dates; the key to him is to absolutely make sure these questions get asked.
My problem with this book is that the prose was so extravagantly clichéd in many places and extravagant in it’s generalisation of men. Totally. It presumed that men all think in the same way about the issues he raised and if they were not thinking or acting in the right way as proposed by him….then he’s not the man for you. But let me use clearer examples:
Chapter 11 ‘The Ninety-Day Rule: Getting The Respect You Deserve’ took away from my life quite frankly. For those who may be puzzled as to the meaning of this, Harvey proposes that a woman should wait at least 90 days before sleeping with a man.
For someone who promotes Christian values throughout this book, I thought this was the most ridiculous chapter I have ever read, not just because the entire content goes against Christian principles (not that the book was supposed to be some kind of Christian relationship manual), but also because of the way in which it was written. If I was a little bit wary of the chapter at first, by the time I read it, I was choking with effervescent laughter.
Some examples of rib-cracking stuff:
Harvey writes that if a man’s reaction to bad news is not comforting ‘if he’s not coming up with some solutions to help you feel better, then he needs to be fired. He has no rights to the benefits’
‘Make him qualify for the benefits, and I’ll guarantee you’ll have a better man on your hands-and in your bed. And once you’re satisfied he’s worthy of the benefits, you can pass it out like sandwiches at a picnic’
Some of his suggestions to preserving the 90 day rule:
‘sign up for a sexy Latin dance class so you can learn some new moves – it’ll show you if he’s into trying new things, and you can tell if the man has, um, rhythm’
‘go horseback riding together, or hit up a batting cage, or fall over each other at the ice skating rink’
‘Play a board game’
Swing low, sweet chariot…..
Can I share something with you? It’s taken for me to get to the end of writing this blog, laughing multiple times in recollection at what I read, to advise that maybe you should go and read it. If even for amusement. Don’t be stubbornly ignorant like I once was and vilify it without having actually read it, that’s actually foolishness. It took me 3 days in total to read, and for all its comedy, which it did indeed promise in the introduction, there were some positive points and constructive ways of thinking to take from it. Moreover, I am very much looking forward to the film adaptation of it that is set to come out this Spring 2012 in America, which probably means it will premier here a year later if it even makes it across the Atlantic Ocean (remember how For Colored Girls was in cinemas for 2 minutes, then blam, gone).
Here’s a trailer for it:
For those that have read it, what did you think of it? Or those of you who haven’t read it but feel clued up enough to offer some critical perspective on it or the points it raises, what are your thoughts? I’m genuinely interested because every time I think about it, my overwhelming response is amusement, but maybe I’m missing something key? I’m open to discussion.
All quotes were taken from ‘Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man’, Steve Harvey, 2009. No copyright infringement intended.