Greta Christina reviews the book "Undateable," which claims to help men avoid 311 things that make women not find them attractive. Greta points out what an utterly ridiculous standard this sets for men. And I applaud her for it.
Greta Christina's Blog: How Sexism Hurts Men: "Undateable"
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Now, I will admit: Parts of this book are superficially funny, and a fair amount of its advice I agree with. Or rather, since one of my main objections to the book is "Who the hell cares what these women or anyone else thinks, who died and made them the arbiter of manhood?", it might be more accurate to say: A fair number of these authors' preferences are ones I share. (I don't like sandals with socks, either.) But I find a huge amount of this book utterly baffling. Many of its "Don'ts" seem entirely neutral, random to the point of being surreal. Don't own a van? Don't play video games? Don't be lactose intolerant? It's as if the authors were advising men, for the sweet love of Jesus, whatever else they do, if they want women to date them and have sex with them, don't eat green beans. And for me, many of the "Don'ts" in this book are actually positive "Do's." Making the whole exercise even more perplexing. (I like colored sheets, and body piercings, and guys who go to Star Trek conventions. So sue me.)
Much more to the point, though: Taken together, these 311 pieces of advice on how to forge yourself into a dateable guy paint a picture of acceptable manhood -- not idealized manhood, not even desirable manhood, just base-level tolerable manhood -- that is so rigid, and so narrow, it rivals anything any woman has ever read in any stupid, shallow, "20 Tips On Catching a Man" women's magazine. It's so narrow, Odysseus himself couldn't navigate through it. It's so rigid, it'd make the manufacturers of Viagra jealous.
The primary thrust of this book is that men ought to be manly -- but not too manly. They can't be girly or sissy... but they can't be macho gorillas, either. They have to find a perfect, razor-thin window of perfect masculinity. And they somehow have to not be self-conscious or anxious while doing it...since that's not very manly.
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