Don't worry your pretty little heads

September 06, 1996|By Mike Littwin

I HATE TO say this, ladies, but feminism is done. It's over. It's history. It's geshphincto.

It's as dead as the Equal Rights Amendment, or the Susan B. Anthony dollar.

What I'm saying is, Rush Limbaugh wins.

Don't take my word for it. Look around. Check out the cover of this week's Time magazine, from which sleazy Dick Morris and his power-lunch lawyer wife are staring down at us. The wife, Eileen McGann, has invited the cameras into their home. There, arm in arm with hubby, she effectively says, in her best Tammy Wynette/Hillary Clinton imitation, humiliate me all you want, but I'll stand by my hooker-obsessed man to try to save his loathsome butt.

Here's a sample quote from McGann: "Dick and I talked about the story again that night ... He was forlorn. I thought it would be destructive to ask about the details and try to find out what was true. I'm an adult. I accepted Dick's apology. I said, 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.' "

Well, far be it from this poor sinner to cast any stones (or even a Mars rock). But McGann might be casting a boulder on women of her gender.

There's a lot of that going around. I'm reading an op-ed piece about the Morris case in the Los Angeles Times the other day by a UCLA professor named Xandra Kayden, who says powerful men, when under pressure, sometimes engage in "inappropriate" sex. Powerful women in like circumstances, she says, will often ..."shop."

She doesn't mention whether or not women are tempted to engage in "inappropriate" shopping.

And that's not the worst of it. The worst of it is the new hot book -- actually, it's not quite new, but still very hot -- called "The Rules."

These rules are not the rules of engagement, or maybe they are. The subtitle gives it away: "Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right."

Rule No. 3: Don't Stare at Men or Talk too Much.

Yes, this is a book about how to catch a man, and if it seems a little retro, if it seems a little '50s, if it seems like Monroe and Bacall stepping off the set of "How to Marry a Millionaire," tell that to all the husband-hungry women who are apparently buying the book.

They don't only buy. They attend seminars conducted by its authors -- Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider -- described by one writer as "sun-tanned and gym-skinny."

They don't only attend seminars. They pay $150 for consultations.

What's going on here?

Rule No. 7: Don't Accept a Date for Saturday Night after Wednesday.

It's a small book that came out last year in hardback to some small attention. Then it was issued a few months ago in paperback for $5.99, and slowly, through word of mouth, "The Rules" has become a minor sensation.

I ask the guy at the deck at Border's about the book, and he points me to the self-help section: "You can't miss it. There's stacks of them."

There are stacks and stacks of books which teach women how to play hard to get, so that the dim-witted man, not knowing or caring what's good for him, only that he wants what he can't have, will race to get a blood test and also a ring.

Here are some gems of advice from Fein and Schneider:

Don't talk to a man first.

Always let the man lead.

Never talk on the phone for more than 10 minutes with the man (use an egg timer if necessary.)

Don't call him and only rarely call him back.

Don't go dutch.

Don't try to be funny ("Men don't want to date David Letterman").

Before a date, go to the gym, get a manicure or take a long bubble bath.

Wear makeup. Always wear makeup.

Rule No. 20: Be Honest But Mysterious.

Fein and Schneider claim to be feminists but don't think feminism has much to do with relationships.

"Feminism was inadvertently applied to dating," Schneider has said.

She has a better idea of how to act on a date. You can find it on Page 23, and it dates from sometime in the late '50s and maybe decades earlier: "You sip -- never slurp -- your drink and let him find out all about you, instead of the other way around. Your answers are short, light, and flirtatious. When your hair falls in front of your face, you tilt your head back and comb back your hair with your hand from the top of your head in a slow, sweeping motion."

Then you can go home and watch the "Donna Reed Show," vote for John Kennedy Sr., swoon over Paul Anka and wonder if we'll ever put a man on the moon. If we do, we know that women, if they want to marry the guy, should never call him first.

Pub Date: 9/06/96

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