The Demographic Shift - 54
You've heard of 'The Rules'. It's American, a self-help book for women offering an cast-iron gameplan on how to catch the man of your dreams.
It's totally ludicrous but somehow American women, and it seems British women as well, seem to lap it up. There's a lot of it around. If it's not 'The Rules' then it's 'The Program: How to Find a Husband After 30', another book that follows a similar tract.
No matter that it's some reactionary throwback that attempts to reset the clock on feminism and the women's movement by advising women that what they really need to do to win in the "love game" is return to pre-feminist mind games and exploit "the male hunting urge by playing hard to get".
I know, genius plan, but hey if you want the man and the white picket fence that the authors no doubt throw in for free...
In the US, it's an industry with Rules seminars and parties springing up all over the place.
I'm sort of digressing, but I'll get there. There was, this week, some new research out in the UK, which basically said in typical media cliche that men are the new Bridget Jones.
The research by the LSE (don't they have real stuff to research?) found that men, in increasingly large numbers in their twenties and thirties, are not in serious relationships.
The research found that while women were simply delaying commitment until later in life, men are not settling down, period, with a third of British men in their thirties classed as single, compared with just over a quarter of women.
A number of reasons were given to explain why men were rejecting meaningful relationships, including careers and the disappearance of the stigma attached to people who choose not to settle down. But also tucked in there was a mention of 'The Rules' and women who follow them.
Those interviewed were complaining that not only was it becoming more difficult to meet women (leading to crazy plate-smashing dating), but also women were spending too much time reading or soaking up the ideas of 'The Rules'.
Or as one man in the research put it: "They aren't supposed to ring us back and we're supposed to chase them". That'll be Rule Five then: Don't Call Him and Rarely Return His Calls. Oh cheers.
Anyway, like I said, I witnessed this first hand and could hardly believe my ears beause Susan is at it as well.
I was talking with Susan, who was filling me in on the details of some new man she was interested in who sounded very promising. Smart, good looking and single.
He's a friend of a friend of Alison's. Subtle hints have been dropped in all directions and conversations have been had. Everyone in this particular dating circle seems to know the score. Basically they simply need to get on and date. How difficult can that be? Ask a stupid question.
"I'm rather pleased, I didn't think those kind of people existed any more," she said.
"Wow, he sounds pretty good, so when are you going out?"
"Well, I know that he's interested."
"So are you going to give him a call, go for a drink?"
Susan at this point gave me a look of utter disgust. Like I was a crazy man and had just suggested she strip and run around the pub, which I have never suggested.
"Er, are you insane? I can't call him."
When she said this, I really wasn't quite sure what she meant. Because I knew she could call him because, of course, many times in the past she had picked up the phone and called a guy, which had resulted in a date. So it wasn't that she couldn't, but more that she wouldn't call him.
"Again, Gord? Oh try to keep up."
"Funny, but why can't you call him?"
"He has to call me."
"I still don't understand. He has to call you? What's that about?"
"It's about the guy making the first move."
And she shrugged when she said this, like it's something everyone knows. And of course, I know it is, you know, something that everyone knows, but I also thought I knew that, these days, it kind of worked both ways, that as well as men picking up the phone and calling, women could do this also.
"But you've called guys before."
"I know, but I'm not doing that any more."
"Because I shouldn't have to."
I thought for a second or two she was joking.
"You're joking, right? You're not really just going to wait until he calls are you?"
"Uh-huh, that's what I'm going to do."
"But what if he doesn't call?"
"Well then he obviously wasn't right, was he?"
It's all there in the book. Rule Seventeen: Let Him Take the Lead.
"But he might have been, but because you failed to call him, he thought you weren't interested and so, you know, lost interest."
"But what about the women's liberation movement, equal rights, smashing glass ceilings, women on top, what about all of that?"
I had my arms out spread by this time and was gesticulating madly. What can I say? There are just somethings I'm passionate about.
"Gord, I don't think the women's movement had anything to do with dating."