S ingle women, duck and cover, it's Valentine's Day — the season of mysterious chocolates, big-eyed teddy bears, and red books with titles deed to make you feel like crap. In it, author Lori Gottlieb argues that single women, particularly those who have hit the bigneed to have more realistic expectations when it comes to men.
They cannot rule out potential suitors simply because they have red hair, or no hair, or find chores disagreeable. It they do, they risk spending the rest of their lives alone and lonely, their only backscratcher a blunt pencil, their only spider killer a tattered Sex and the City DVD case.
The book's jacket claims this is all new — the author, it states, has said "the unthinkable" — but of course nothing could be farther from the truth.
See a problem?
American culture has long been bothered by the image of single women, the idea that women could live happily without men or a family. Ina Farmer's Almanac called them "diminished goods". A few decades later, a s-era critic described singletons as "waste products of our female population … vicious and destructive creatures".
More recently, Cosmopolitan warned women that "in the United States, the 20s are the picture-perfect decade for saying I do. The farther you stray from that magic era, the more freakish you start to feel. I wish I could say Marry Him turns a corner on this subject, but it actually follows this old paradigm to a tee.
Marry him: the case for settling for mr. good enough
The women in it are mostly caricatures, ditzy and overly "picky" women who seem not to have a thought beyond that of their partner's physical appearance, while men escape pretty much scot-free, almost always portrayed as emotionally balanced and sensible, as if there could not be parallel books out there for them called Commit You Idiot! This is frustrating for many reasons, but especially because Gottlieb's subject — the question of compromise in modern relationships — actually deserves attention, just not of the sort she gives it.
At one point, she empathises with a woman who wished she had accepted, at 23, her college boyfriend's marriage proposal. She had refused because she felt she was supposed to pursue her dreams first.
She goes onto blame the women's movement for making women feel this way, but how not to lose oneself in a relationship is hardly a silly concern. Whether you're married or not, the question of compromise is and should be constantly on the minds of women.
How much can you give up in a relationship? What does an equal, mutually fulfilling relationship look like?
These are definitely more difficult questions to answer now than 40 years ago, when women did not have the economic and social standing they often have today. But they shouldn't be dismissed for this reason, only treated with the appropriate amount of care and scrutiny. And yet time and again, this fact is ignored.
For instance, as an example of women's fussiness and perfectionism, Gottlieb sympathetically quotes one man who complains, "Our wives want us to do half the childcare and half the laundry, but they don't want us to earn half the income. Lori Gottlieb knows this, which is perhaps the most frustrating thing about the book and one that gets to the heart of a much larger problem — the tremendous amount of false naivety in culture today regarding women's status and choices.
I'm not one for blanket statements, but if you're a settle writer for your best bet at making it is to write this sort of book — one that forgoes nuance and thoughtfulness for "controversy" and "counter-intuitiveness," a book, that is, that claims to be about empowering women, but is actually aimed mostly at pissing off feminists, that enough dying breed whom publishers nevertheless need to get things going. In the end, a huge good is done to women. Instead of focusing on the real issues they face in modern relationships — and, no, that's not likely to be whether their suitor wears a bow tie or not, but whether he will still be interested if they make more money than him, or still respect them once the kids come along — culture gives us fake debates, an endless stream of pathetic-looking singles, or in other cases haggard looking mothers, with the words "picky", "petty", and "pathetic" scrolling underneath them.
I just hope that, along with the bears and the chocolates, women don't actually buy it. Opinion Women.
Why settle for mr good enough?
This article is more than 11 years old. Lori Gottlieb's book takes the well-travelled path of dismissing women's choices as extravagant, burdensome, or even petty. Sun 14 Feb Reuse this content.