Thursday, April 1, 2010


One of the nice things about getting older is the sense of perspective you gain. With fifty-some years under my belt, I have seen lots of change; both the evolutionary and devolutionary kind.

So when Undateable: 311 Things Guys Do That Guarantee They Won’t Be Dating or Having Sex came out, I was struck by its similarity to the things feminists railed against in the late-sixties and seventies. The things they called sexist and chauvinistic and misogynist. The things they charged were shallow and demeaning.

Authors Ellen Rakieten and Anne Coyle go into excruciating detail about what guys should and shouldn’t wear. About what they should and shouldn’t say, do, or presumably, think. It’s everything a guy needs to know about being the perfect guy—especially if you find yourself attracted to one of its authors.

Undateable states that women draw far-reaching conclusions about compatibility in the first fifteen to twenty seconds of meeting a man. Afterwards, the window inexorably closes. While you and I have been taught you can’t (and shouldn’t) judge a book by its cover, apparently Rakieten and Coyle can.

Speaking as a man who didn’t always make good first impressions (I was shy and socially awkward), and yet as one who enjoyed his share of female friends and lovers, I can state this absolutely is not true. If it were, I'd be Rush Limbaugh.

The reason I am not is that as sentient life forms, women possess the ability to adapt and update their impressions as more data is made available. Which is a very clinical way of saying they have the ability to change their minds. They are flexible.

Beyond their intellectual agility, women (at least those not named Rakieten and Coyle) just aren’t as fixated on appearances as men are.

While this doesn’t excuse men from being slovenly and unhygienic, should tube socks really consign them to the sexless and permanent bachelorhood Undateable says they should?

Ultimately, Undateable and its authors come-off as the female equivalent of men who judge women against Playboy centerfolds—even when they’re not seventeen. It, and they, are immature; obsessed with appearances and the status a prospective partner can bring to their own unfulfilled lives.

A philosopher once stated that we become what we hate. Insofar as Undateable is concerned, he seems to be correct.

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