Thursday, 13 November 2014

#12 - "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" by Steve Harvey

How I Learned to Think Like a Man 

by The WildCard

(book selected by CaptainCharisma)

Imagine a scenario where you are forced to rank the hosts of the long running American game show, Family Feud, in order of likability. At the top would be the irrepressibly charming Richard Dawson, likely followed by the tragic Ray Combs. The middle spots would naturally be occupied by the unmemorable tenure of Richard Karn and John O’Hurley. Many would argue then, that shameful title of least-likeable host ought to be bestowed on Caucasian fatso Louie Anderson. His whiny delivery and hacky material would certainly make him a solid candidate.  Before reading Steve Harvey’s “Act like a man, think like a lady”, I may have even been inclined to agree.  However, much like 9/11, this book changes everything. 

Most people like me (editor’s note: white liberals) view Harvey as a harmless, folksy gentleman.  Although his Black effect seems slightly forced, and his performances are oddly reminiscent of an old-timey minstrel show, he comes off as largely genuine and warm.  However, the views he expresses in Act Like a Man are much more insidious, perpetuating tired and outdated gender norms and racial stereotypes.  His central thesis is that men are inherently simple and unable to properly care for a woman until the man has adequately addressed who he is, what he does, and how much he makes. 

The book is chocked full of irritating macho platitudes.  A true man needs to be “number one”, and “we have to be able to flaunt it”.  Men are responsible for providing monetarily for a women’s needs, because after all, “this is man business baby.  It’s how we do”.  Harvey advocates for men to be domineering in relationships, because “there is not a real man living who will not protect what is his.  It’s about respect”.  He illustrates this with an amusing anecdote about threatening to kill everyone aboard a chartered boat if anything were to happen to his wife during a SCUBA dive.  When it comes to connecting with a partner, “the emotional stuff - the talking, the cuddling, the holding hands, and bonding, that’s y’alls thing”.  Cheating is to be expected, because “you can’t be a man of power and not step outside your house”. 

 But wait a second; maybe Harvey has it (mostly) right.  Maybe he’s the last real man, unafraid to stand up to the constant erosion of gender norms by America’s pussy-assed relativist progressives.  There are certainly areas where Harvey and I agree.  A man can love his partner and still get some on the side without a second thought.  Harvey correctly argues that men generally approach women with the express intention of sleeping with them.  His homespun wisdom that “men cannot stand women who are not clean” also rings true.  I can’t completely agree that “being a girl is a lost art form”, but I appreciate where Harvey’s coming from. 

Harvey’s credibility takes a savage beating though in Chapter 11: The Ninety-Day Rule.  Is Harvey playing with a full deck?  Maybe not, but it doesn’t matter because his deck is different than any you’ve ever played with.  You start to realize that his perspective is completely alien to your own and most other people you associate with socially.  As you may have guessed, the ninety-day rule refers to the suggested waiting period before engaging in intercourse.  Won’t any reasonable man bail long before his 3 month sentence is served?  Not so, as long as you follow Harvey’s list of suggested date ideas:

  • Go to church together
  • Spend an evening playing arcade games
  • Volunteer together
  • Play a board game
  • Do something silly, like build a sandcastle at the beach

Three months of sandcastle building with nothing to show for it sounds like some sort of horrible purgatory.  Harvey is either being disingenuous or foolish, as I cannot imagine he has ever waited the prescribed waiting period in any of his relationships. 

In the end, it might be a bit much to expect solid relationship counseling from a man on his third marriage.   That the book’s target demographic (black women) is fairly far removed from my own background also makes it difficult to be overly critical.  Still, the book ranks among Day Bang as an overtly offensive attempt at relationship advice.  Steve Harvey truly is the least likable Family Feud host.  


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