The Rules is a book of advice for women who want to trick a man into loving the woman they’re pretending to be, and it’s the most backward dating advice since “braided hair makes you easier to drag back to his cave.”
If this book appeared in Victorian England the only modern thing they’d notice is the paper quality. It couldn’t shove women further backward if they were instructions for putting a time machine in reverse, and is so misogynist it would expect them to then crash into one of the more important dinosaurs. If a female time-traveller ran over Susan B. Anthony they’d be making the authors’ dreams come true.
The Rules is being relaunched soon, possibly as the romantic equivalent of steampunk, but just in case they’re serious here’s what to watch out for.
Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider apply cult programming techniques to romance, in the same way you’d “apply” genital clamps to a car battery–except some relationships would actually get something out of that. It’s like Fight Club, except you’re even less likely to meet a romantic partner. If this brainwashing screed starting talking about Thetans or Ascendant Lizard Lords halfway through it would actually make more sense.
Rule #1: Be a “Creature Unlike Any Other”
The first step of any cult is dehumanizing the victims. When I refer to something as a “creature” it’s because I’m playing Diablo III and about to click it with my Colossus Axe: neither of us is getting laid any time soon. Before you even get to The Rules it spends a chapter describing the reader as a “product,” recommending plastic surgery, warning them never to show intelligence and commanding them to obey higher authority. That isn’t romantic advice, that’s being assimilated by the Borg–but at least the Borg are honest about forcing you to conform and stripping you of your individuality. Which brings us to:
Death of Personality
Rule #3: Don’t Stare at Men or Talk Too Much
Rule #9: How to Act on Dates 1, 2, and 3
The book tells women self-awareness is a catastrophe that ends with mankind vanished. That’s the exact same lesson we teach evil computers. The Rules repeatedly warn against showing any personality, which is easy, because after obeying this book for a while you won’t have one. A later instruction reminds the reader–no joke–how to breathe, because by this point the book has erased everything down to the brain stem.
In fact, even autonomic functions are considered dangerously expressive and you’re cautioned to breathe slowly and not to look directly at your date. This is excellent advice if you’re a rabbit avoiding a predator, and that’s not a coincidence.
This book’s sole signpost of success is men chasing you. Not compatibility, not how they make you feel, the only metric for men is “Are they relentlessly pursuing you?” The only reason it doesn’t recommend moving to Camp Crystal Lake is that there aren’t any houses available.
The Rules forbid expressing opinions, preferences, or in any way distinguishing yourself from a life-size Barbie doll (a.k.a. “The perfect Rules girl.”) They then recommend spending time before dates reading newspapers so you have something to talk about, because by this point in Rules-reprogramming you’re basically the guy from Memento without the immodest tattoos. Which wouldn’t work anyway; a Rules girl could have the meaning of life written on her flesh, but if she follows these instructions no one will ever see it.
Don’t Tell Friends, Family, or Authorities
Rule #27: Do The Rules, Even when Your Friends and Parents Think It’s Nuts
Rule #31: Don’t Discuss The Rules With Your Therapist
If you’ve been following The Rules faithfully everyone you know should now be very worried about you. So they’re next to go. The book dedicates a chapter to cutting you off from friends and recommending you find new ones, ones who also read the same magic book so you can all hang out and OBEY together. The only reason “Rules Girls” don’t wear robes and chant in unison is because that count as talking too much.
That way when you finally go missing from your family because you’re busy obeying a man you worship, they won’t notice you’re gone, and yes, that cult syndrome is exactly what the book is training you for. The book also absolutely assumes that you have a therapist. It simply isn’t designed for people who aren’t already desperately searching for help, and then it tells you to lie to the people paid to help you. Therapists are the mortal enemy of The Rules – their whole job is encouraging people to talk and express themselves.
Absolute Faith In A Higher Power
Rule #2: Don’t Talk To a Man First (and Don’t Ask Him to Dance)
Rule #16: Don’t Tell Him What to Do
Rule #18: Don’t Expect a Man to Change or Try to Change Him
Every cult is based on an absolute authority who knows what’s best for you, and in The Rules that authority isn’t even the authors – it’s the first random dude who talks to you. Jesus, we’re men, and we know that’s a terrible idea. The book believes in love at first sight but insists that women don’t have the higher functions required to comprehend it. That’s worse romantic advice than the average pop song. Hell, that’s worse romance than the average rap song.
Under no circumstances is a woman allowed to approach a man, but must immediately remodel her personality for any who deigns to talk to her. At which point the rest of the advice is playing harder to get than a shy yeti-unicorn hybrid. I cannot stress enough how The Rules makes no allowance for the reader’s actual feelings: any man who puts up with the $#!+ The Rules insists upon is automatically Mr. Right, and the only conditions they have are “see him once a week and he pays for everything.” If you’ve ever been employed by a man you’ve already enjoyed the perfect Rules Marriage.
One Magic Event Will Fix Everything
Rule #ERROR ERROR ERROR, EVERY RULE OVERFLOW
Every cult promises a magical singularity which will be worth all the sacrifice, whether it be a ride from a passing UFO, ascending to angelhood, or meeting our dinosaur rulers inside the hollow Earth. The Rules promises marriage, but if you follow them it is by far the least likely (or desirable) scenario.
The Rules marriage is an actual singularity, a black hole which sucks up everything else in existence and replaces it all with an empty void. And if every incidence of “marriage” was replaced with “the cure for cancer”, this book would still sound like it was trying too hard. At one point it cautions the reader that before the date, “Don’t write your name and his in all different combinations.” Jesus, the only women who act like that before dates are too busy stabbing Arkham Asylum guards with their pen to write with it.
They mention marriage more often than a Las Vegas church and are even worse at long-term relationships. The book shifts into engagement-expecting-gear from the fourth date, despite insisting that you only see him once a week and never talk. There are arranged marriages where the partners know each other better. Hell, there are electrical connections made with more romance. At least plugs and outlets are honest about what they want from each other.
On the upside, for any loners terrified of real women, Rules girls are cheaper than Real Dolls and are probably self-cleaning. And if you’ve ever paid for membership on a porn site you’re already Mr. Right.
Luke McKinney knows booze & video games. His recent attempts to find the hottest food in the world led him to eat Murder Spice, which gave him the ability to melt through porcelain. The next day. In the bathroom. Follow him on Tumblr.
Successfully beat back the forces of mind control today? Pour yourself a drink, you true American hero, with Luke’s Man’s Guide to Mixing. –>