Riding the 2/3 line everyday, I usually end up sitting right in front of ads for Karrine Steffans’ The Vixen Manual. Have I read this book? No. Do I feel entitled enough to bash it without having read it? Yes. Now that that’s squared away, let’s get to it.
My issue with this book stems from high school, but really it could be applied to any Lifetime movie, any Oxygen/WE channel original movie, any Danielle Steel novel, etc (and I know that that is quite a silky pink coated amalgamation). It’s something I have grown up seeing and still see now as I am entering my 20s: The woman is always expected to find, seduce and maintain – as if those were the three most important verbs we could be blessed with. This book was created based on those principles and, as I have read in reviews, goes to great lengths to relay the proper way to go about achieving them.
I don’t know about you, but facing those words on the subway after a long day filled with lousy men who take up at least three spots worth of seating because their too damn special to close their fucking legs, crime sections of newspapers overflowing with stories about boyfriends who kill their girlfriends because they won’t put out or because they weren’t at their beck and call all hours of the day, and men who apparently think it’s their God-given right in life to stand on the sidewalk, mentally undressing you with their eyes, traveling up YOUR curves and under YOUR dress and down YOUR shirt without YOUR permission…I just can’t take an ad like this, an ad that validates a man’s importance over the importance of, first, self-worth.
SELF WORTH, ya’ll. It’s always fucking about the damn man. It’s always a woman’s job to FIND, to SEDUCE, and to MAINTAIN. Well, fuck. What about me? Find ME, seduce ME, and keep ME. I have to put up with enough in this world as a woman that I don’t need the responsibility of keeping a man interested in me weighing down on my shoulders. For God’s sake, was I put on this earth to lick boots? I think not.
Now, I get the whole “empowerment” purpose of this novel (well, actually, I don’t, but I understand how a certain brand of “today’s woman” is all about feeling empowered by keeping a man wrapped around her finger via sexual prowess). Gather up the hoes! Teach them the rules of dating! Teach them how to be the compass in the rocky waters of Relationshipdom! Have them bring their men to their knees! But, um, NO. Because I have tits therefore it is my job to prance around the kitchen in a feathered boa thong, cooking up crazy-ass exotic dishes that leave his stomach full, but his dick wanting more? No ma’am. While these things are fun and sexy, they are not the reason a man (or whoever) should stay with you – because you keep them interested, because you keep them wanting more. Why isn’t it the other way around or why isn’t it the Intellectual Pursuit Manual? Or better yet: Focus On Yourself: The Guide to Putting Your Needs Above Your Man’s? Because nobody would buy that book.
A review for the book on amazon reads: Similarly, in Chapter 10, Preparation Meets Opportunity, Karrine recommends that any single woman looking for love should prepare for her man now – get fit, keep your place neat, and act as though you’re in love and you’ll attract the man that you want. She does point out that getting ready extends beyond your looks to cover educational, financial and emotional preparation.
That’s right, woman: LIE YOUR ASS OFF. ACT YOUR ASS OFF. WORK THE FAT ON YOUR ASS OFF. You want a man? Well get in the gym and start getting that body that a man will pay attention to. You want a man? Go clean your apartment because no man will want you if you keep a messy flat. You want a man? Well you better have a degree because he can’t take a Denny’s waitress home to Ma. WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE? Am I the only one who sees how degrading and limiting and boxing and … rapacious this is? Little girls ride this subway, for crying out loud.
And it’s so deceiving. BE A VIXEN, it says, GET THE MAN YOU WANT. In my head, a real vixen would get the man she wants without having to do anything. Oh, hello. You want to take me out? What’s your name again? But the definition of vixen seems to be adopted/adapted here to be something so not even close to what usually comes to mind when I hear “vixen.” But, yeah, okay Karrine. If by vixen you mean: lie to yourself, lie about yourself, change yourself, and forget yourself – all for a man’s approval, adoration, acceptance, and interest – then, okay, your book rocks and you’ve successfully reached your thesis. But then, as Natalie Imbruglia says, “We’re fine til I think of the problem…”
By promoting this book, by writing this book, in my opinion, is keeping the woman down, is watering stereotypes and oppressions, glorifying the world’s age-old expectations of a woman, all the while feeding her seductive lies about how, in following Karrine’s rules, she will be the one in power. WRONG. You don’t gain womanly power by altering yourself, refining yourself for a man. Wrongiddy Wrong Wrong Wrong.
And, for the record, in case this needs clearing up, this isn’t Angiesyounglover, The Lesbian speaking. This is me, The Woman, talking. Maybe it’s me, but in today’s society I feel that the woman is not valued. The woman is not cherished. The woman is not respected. We are shells and only shells. Take our bodies, use them for your pleasure, and don’t stop until you’ve had enough, even if I haven’t. What about me?