vixen, my ass

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?


~ by angiesyounglover on July 22, 2009.

14 Responses to “vixen, my ass”

  1. It burns us.

    You need to stop being so uppity. You are clearly one of those man-hating lesbians.

    Now put on your feathered boa thong, get in the kitchen, and cook me up crazy-ass exotic dishes.

  2. I read Karrine Steffans’ autobiography a few years ago, thinking it would be full of trashy, fluffy gossip about famous people in the hip hop community. It definitely had the trashy gossip, but it wasn’t fun at all. It was just a huge chronicle of abuse from beginning to end. I hated most that she never seemed to learn anything from her previous experiences throughout the book; when a more famous man would treat her exactly the same as an earlier boyfriend she’d called out for abusive behavior, she’d rationalize it into something different (example: an early boyfriend forcing her to participate in unwanted sexual activity is rightfully labeled abusive, but when Jay Z takes her to a remote location and pushes her head down into his lap, presumably for the favor of letting her be in one of his videos, she feels “honored.”) It was just gross and depressing beyond belief. At the book’s end, her situation hadn’t appreciable changed from the beginning – she was still relying on the same men for her livelihood and self-worth – but it was filled with all these empty platitudes about how much she had learned/was so much stronger/blah blah so on and so forth.
    I hate that she’s trying to peddle a cycle of degradation and violation as a life a woman should strive for. That shit shouldn’t be up on the subway.

    • phewwwww. the way your comment started, i was afraid that you were going to tell me she was a good writer and that it was actually empowering and that i was wrong. but wow, yeah. DOWN WITH THIS SHIT!
      and jay z? GROSS.

  3. As an antidote to The Vixen Manual I recommend Jessic Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism. And I hope you’re taking some women’s/gender studies classes next semester! ;-)


  4. Glad to hear it. The Valenti book is more of an introduction so it’s probably not the best recommendation for you. Sounds like you’re already a full frontal feminist!


  5. Stop by SF Unbound the next time your in the neighborhood. I wrote a post in response to your last question!


  6. To echo J. Gold’s comments, this woman has NO business giving any other woman relationship advice. She spent years whoring herself out as a groupie/video girl, allowing men to prey on her low self-worth and use her for their sexual pleasure. What’s even more disturbing is that this woman is a mother, and yet she still willfully participated in this behavior.

    Oh, and here’s a mindfuck: She used to date Bill Maher. Weird, huh?

  7. Also, basing your relationships/ability to keep a man on sex alone is one of the stupidest moves any woman can make. Because any man (or woman, for that matter) worth keeping around is going to love you for more than how good you fuck or how tight your ass is.

  8. @ dorothyzbornak Actually, I would expect Bill Maher to date her. I think he’s a smart guy and like a lot of what he has to say, but he’s horrible when it comes to women. Do you remember his show Politically Incorrect? He’s a card-carrying anti-feminist.

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