Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm Not Into It

Some reasons why I don't what to read He's Just Not that Into You:

"I think where a lot of women go wrong is through indulging in denial - denial that he isn’t that into us, but also denial that we are deserving of anything better. But when we decide to refuse to accept anything less than genuine into-ness, I think that we are much happier both in and out of relationships - because whether or not you are coupled up, it is crucial to keep in mind that you are great. Lately, in any case, I have come to realise that if a man behaves in a way towards you with regards to communication or kindness that you would consider to be sub-par in a non-romantic friend, then he is not worth pursuing. Not even if White Noise is his very favourite book."

Jean Hannah Edelstein (via gauntlet)

Jean makes some good points here, but He’s Just Not That Into You still gives me the shits. And like Jennifer Aniston, I still think it’s ultimately disempowering for women.

Here’s why.

1. Like most conventional wisdom, it’s overly simplistic; an “easy” response to something that is usually far more complicated. When most real relationships break down, it’s not as simple as the guy just not liking the girl all that much, but about some problem (or problems) in the dynamic between the two people that both are contributing to.

Often, ironically, the woman’s contribution to this dynamic stems from the insecurities and disempowerment fostered by mainstream women’s/dating culture (of which He’s Just Not That Into You is a part).

2. Call me a control freak, but I like to feel as if I have a say in the route my life takes - and certainly, no one would argue this shouldn’t be the case when it comes to work, friends, or what I decide to do with my Saturday night. This sense of influence over the world around us is also known as “empowerment” - think “we can make things happen” in The Craft - and is proven to be a key source of self-esteem and happiness in both men and women.

He’s Just Not That Into You is the opposite of this. It tells women that things are as they are, that there’s nothing you can do to change it, and that your best bet is to sit around waiting for that Prince who really is into you to come along on his white horse and choose you. The only thing that makes it any different to the more widely maligned (but equally widely cited) The Rules is that it dresses this old fashioned rhetoric up with “you go girl” and “you’re such a fox!”

3. Men, on the other hand, get to do all the choosing. They get to decide whether they like you or not, whether they want to launch a relationship and where they want that relationship to go. Sure, you can decide not to go along with them, but for all your “foxiness”, the book’s lasting message is that not many of the men in your life have really been “that into” you, so when you find one, you sure better hold on to him!

Hate it, hate it, hate it. But I do agree with Jean that no one - male or female (‘cos I know plenty of guys who let the girls they love treat them like crap) - should accept anything less than “genuine into-ness”* (and that often we accept subpar treatment from people because we hope we can change them).

* Which, by the by, means love, kindness and appreciation - not picking up the dinner cheque ever time, dropping everything at your whim, or buying you five designer dresses for Christmas.
Emphasis mine. Beside, I generally know when people are into me and when they're not. (Cue the loud guffaws. But I mean it.)

Jennifer Aniston made a similar point in Vogue. I wonder why she chose to do this movie, especially considering her dislike of "the kind of thing where women only feel empowered once they find the Man".


John said...

"Beside, I generally know when people are into me and when they're not."
*Raises eyebrow*
*Uses index finger to raise eyebrow higher than muscles allow*

I suddenly feel as though I've missed out on several interesting stories...

Emily said...

Well, as someone who read the book a long time ago and wanted to hate it but couldn't, I have some comments.

I think that, ultimately, the book actually gives women more power, rather than take it away. It's not about waiting for someone to be "into you," but more about finding someone who is willing to put just as much into a relationship as you are, and assuming that you are "into" him, then he should be just as "into" you to make the same contributions.

It does not keep a woman waiting around for Prince Charming, because in so many cases, women who have just ended a relationship wait for that ex to come back as the Prince Charming. They think, well he'll just realize what he's missing, he is busy, when his schedule clears then he'll regret that I'm not there. They make excuse after excuse why the man can't be with them, but as soon as they say, "hey! maybe he just doesn't like me that much," it gives them the strength to move on, get out of the house, and meet someone new.

The authors say that if a guy gives reason after reason why he "just can't be with you," then you need to dump him for someone who DOES want to be with you, whole heartedly. And if you break up with that dude and he does come back, well, great! But in the meantime, you got over it and stopped sitting by your phone and going over every sentence and awkward silence that you shared.

Yes, relationships are complicated. But if the guy you're with doesn't want to sort through those complications with you in order to be with you, and instead runs away, cheats, avoids commitment, etc, then he's just not that into you. And you deserve someone who wants to work on those things, who is just that into you.