Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book Review: "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man"

I know the book is over a year old, but I finally bought a copy and read it in two evenings.

I'm a huge fan of Steve Harvey's morning show, particularly the Strawberry Letters. So I couldn't wait to read the book, thinking Steve would be just as funny and insightful in the book as he is on his show.

Although some parts of the book made me LOL and he did say a few enlightening things (which I'll discuss later), overall, I was a little underwhelmed and wished I hadn't paid full price for the hardcover book. :-P In ALALTLAM, Steve's goal is to shed light on how men really function and think, what motivates them.

As someone who grew up in post-feminist America, some of what he said seemed a little too traditional-gender-roley for me. Steve is from my parent's generation, who generally courted during the 70's. Women's lives have changed a lot over the past 40 years. He talks a lot about "real men" being providers, basically restating the idea that men are supposed to "take care of" women and their families. As other feminists have pointed out, the idea of "men taking care of women" can lead to misogynism and keeps women in a dependent, vulnerable role. SAHM's are no longer the norm. Moms and dads work now. In many ways, especially in such an uncertain economy, the idea of one parent staying at home and not working (by choice) is frankly dangerous. Steve's statement that most men don't mind being the sole provider might have been true for his generation. However, I wonder how many men my age would be 100% okay with mom staying at home full time while he works.

However, although it's true that women's roles are slowly changing, I think boys today are still raised to believe that they will need to be the "provider" and "protector" of their future family. In my line of work, I constantly see parents, particularly parents of African-American boys, telling their boys to "man up," "stop crying like a little girl." Boys are still being socialized to hold in their feelings (which Steve mentions in his book, though he claims it's wired into men's DNA) and be "men." So when he talks about men not being ready for a long term relationship until they have defined "who they are, what they do, and how much money they make," I think that still holds true. I see it amongst my single male friends in their twenties. I've had male friends who were in long term relationships (relationships without sex, by the way), but didn't marry the girl. I wondered why, and reading Steve's book help me see a possible reason why.

He did have some useful tips too, such as 5 questions every woman should ask a man, particularly before she sleeps with him. He also says women should wait "90 days" before they have sex with a guy, to give enough time to figure out if he's worth being intimate with. I have a couple friends who should definitely take that advice! They jump in bed with their guys very quickly. He also tells women to have standards and reminds us that we are really in charge in relationships. We define which way the relationship goes. When a man is really "into" a woman, when he wants more than sex from her, he will follow her terms in a relationship.

So I guess it's not all so revolutionary or new, and definitely not as funny as the Strawberry Letters segment. However, I think it's worth a read if you can excuse his more traditional statements. After all, he's a product of his generation.

I just wouldn't pay $24 for it if I were you.

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