(Content note: homophobia, specifically bi-invisibility, kink hate, reductive female stereotypes, alcohol and sexual assault, brief reference to partner violence, copious f-bombs, Patti does math wrong)
I've talked at length about how, for me, the single greatest joy of being of a feminist mindset is giving myself permission to like women. I stand by that. But I never said it was an obligation. Where before every woman in my life started at -50 respect points, these days they get a nice neutral 0 just like everyone, maybe even a little more, because sisterhood.
|But I can't talk too much about The Sisterhood.|
Actually, no, I should qualify that. I don't actually know Patti Stanger. For all I know she's the most wonderful, caring human being I could ever hope to meet. I'm absolutely, 100% sure that just like everyone else on earth, she has the potential to make the world a better place. But that is not her public persona. Her public persona is hateful and reductive. So keep in mind that when I say "Patti Stanger," I am referring exclusively to the persona she (and a whole bunch of editors, producers and publicists I'll bet) presents to us for public consumption.
With that out of the way...
You may know Patti Stanger as the Millionaire Matchmaker, although I sincerely hope you don't. Every collective minute of that show watched sets humanity back a decade. Not just women, everyone. Absolutely nobody at all is better off for this horrible woman and her horrible show existing. In fact I'm pretty sure her innate noxiousness is poisoning the collective soul of humanity. For example, I don't think people who are in the business of matching people up should openly refer someone with kink leanings as a sick, sick person. (And it's called erotic asphyxiation, you dolts. It's perfectly safe and surprisingly common.)
Her website, PattiKnows, is the most inaccurately named thing since One Million Moms had a Facebook hategasm. I wanted to write about that site of hers, but there's too much. The show, the website, the interviews where she claims bi people don't exist and bisexual guys are just in gay denial, and also ew, it's just... There's too much going on here.
So let's start with the basics.
Patti Stanger has read The Rules and agrees with it so completely, she probably has it on an altar somewhere in Aunt Patti's cabin, where women exist purely in relationship to men. And she knows her shit. For example, guys, did you know that when you aren't directly looking at a woman, she completely fades from existence? It's true! That's why I look so baffled and panicked every time my husband enters the room. It's cold and confusing in the void.
Anyway, let's look at those 11 Commandments of hers, and don't even think for a second that I'm going to let her get away with implying that she gets to lay down more rules than fucking God.
You'll quickly notice when you delve into her psyche that it's all or nothing with Patti, and only one option is ever the right one. You either get a partner or DIE ALONE! You're either married or PRE-MARRIED AND HURRY THE FUCK UP! You're either in The Stepford Wives or in SWINGERS! Because that's what that movie is known for. Phone etiquette.
I don't even know what this horrible woman is getting at here. So I call back any potential love interest-
Wait, hold on. I don't even trust her to have a human and decent definition of that phrase. I'm pretty sure that in Aunt Patti's Cabin, "potential love interest" means "any guy who flashes cash at you and demands your time." That seems to be the type of guy she wants us all to marry, but only if we're pretty, because ew.
Anyway, I'm supposed to call back within X hours, but not within X days, even though 72 hours encompasses more than one day, because one of which is rude but I don't know which one...
Clearly she's just trying to break my brain so the chip she's planning to install in my skull gets a better reception.
George Clooney, of all people. For a professional matchmaker with a stable of barely legal Cosmo Girls to sell, she sure has her finger on the pulse of the modern woman's every whim and desire.
How shitty and hateful do you need to be to turn basic and completely genderless common courtesy like "make an effort to keep your appointments" into an overbearing commandment all women must adhere to on pain of... what, exactly?
Oh, right, dying alone. Patti knows that this is the worst thing that can ever happen to anyone, ever. Never mind that women of most ethnic and social backgrounds tend to outlive men by about five years to a decade, "dying alone" is the whip she and her cronies use to keep the little womenfolk in line.
She's not wrong though. That's why I'm going to focus on my career. That way, when I'm all old and icky and undesirable, I can just pay some sexy young nurses to take care of me. Your move, Patti.
Not only is Patti a bottomless well of good old homegrown gendered wisdom, she's also got a degree in Not A Damn Thing from the university of Her Ass.
Looks like I outwitted you again, Patti! I married a biologist. He talks to me about evolutionary socio-biology. So I kind of know for a fact that you're making this fucking shit up. A husband taught me that! I only mention it because I take a lot of personal pride in having defeated you with your own weapons.
But fine, let's assume for the sake of argument that... ugh... "it's in his DNA." So fucking what? What about my DNA, Patti? What about my innate desire to not be prey? Not a damn thing in nature is rigged to want to be hunted. Why does his DNA trump mine? Why do people like you always insist that being hunted is a good thing? Being hunted is fucking terrifying. The feels I get when playing Amnesia: the Dark Descent should not occur in my romantic life in any way, shape or form. I know that because I was hunted once. An ex-boyfriend ran after me with evil intent. I only got away by locking him in a room and running like a frightened alley cat. I felt so feminine and wanted! It's in my DNA!
Apart from this being the kind of evo-psych bullshit you expect to find on an MRA forum, it once again makes no fucking sense. Don't ask him out on a date, you uncultured harlot! Ask him to meet you in a specific place at a specific time instead!
Because God forbid your date finds out you didn't exist in a virginal Sleeping Beauty coma before you met them. On the bright side, this did help me narrow down what the perfect relationship looks like in Patti's mind:
And that phrase. Baggage dumping. That has got to be the least respectful, least human way of saying "talking about yourself." It's not like your experiences make you who you are or anything. When he askes me what I was doing after high school and the answer is "I was in the hospital for half a year," do I just make shit up? Oh, I was sitting at home, pining in my chastity belt.
Patti does not seem to believe in the controversial subject of women having inner lives, or any lives at all, really. I genuinely believe that in her estimation, sitting there and looking good while nodding and smiling is 80% of the romantic work done.
I'm pretending here that Patti's tips are for "women" like she claims, but they're not. Patti has a very narrow view of what women even are. As such this list isn't a list of tips, it's an endurance race. Every step of the way some women can't or won't do as she says, and then they are "not women." I'd like to imagine that if Patti ever encountered me in the wild, she'd immediately call Animal Control.
How the fuck am I supposed to be engaging when I'm not allowed to talk about anything of substance? Patti doesn't even know what words mean. She thinks "engaging" and "Stepford Wife" are synonyms. Actually, she thinks that about every word.
This one is actually a pretty telling look into the mind of a dyed in the wool hardcore sexist. Their view of what all women are and do is so incredibly reductive it's really hard for me to believe she even understands what she is saying:
Banter (if you can.) What? What in the world would prevent me from doing that? Not everyone thinks words are how the devil pushes men away through our mouth-holes, Patti.
And what is this "hot waiter" crap? Do I really, seriously need a prissy, condescending reminder not to blindly chase after every warm body in proximity? I couldn't do that even if I wanted to. It's not in my DNA.
Make it a conversation. Or just sit there and chew slowly. And stare. Stare relentlessly. Never stop chewing.
I know I'm not supposed to say anything that even vaguely smells like a defense of Emily Yoffe these days, and rightly so, but at least she was trying to prevent me from being raped. What are you trying to prevent me from? Being unattractive?
Shit. You bring up the combination of dating, safety and alcohol and your worst case scenario is looking unattractive?
You blight. You utter blight.
Big talk from a woman who made her fortune selling skinny white girls to the highest bidder.
I love how in the hands of any minimally respectful, baseline decent person, half of these Laws From On High For Desperate Womenfolk would just be common sense and courtesy. Say please and thank you? I'd ask if you were my mother, but then I'm pretty sure she never taught me how to fret like a 50s housewife about displeasing the menfolk with my hair routine.
I'm not refined and courteous. I'm kind to people I like and polite to people I've just met. I swear like a sailor at people who piss me off. But you already knew that.
And just so you know, Patti? Some of the best memories I have were made when I was sitting with my legs open like a dude. It wasn't ladylike, but at least it was fun. Is that allowed, Patti? Am I allowed any goddamn fun? Because your way of living sounds like such a fucking chore. Do this, do that, be this, be that, nag nag nag nag nag. I regret even bringing up whips before, because that sounds like a lot more fun than what can be dreamt of in your philosophy.
What you're recommending is not that I be ladylike, it's that I become my own sadistic warden in a prison of my own making. Fucking relax.
So it's come to this. Not only will you not fucking relax, you're going to have me do niceness math? Who the hell made you this way? Why do you make doing nice things for a person you like sound like a cynically regulated strategy for Not Dying Alone?
I do nice things for people because I like them. That's how actual evolutionary socio-biology works. It's called reciprocal altruism and unlike your insipid little rule, it actively allows us to function in groups. Oh, but look at me releasing the big word devils out of my facehole. Better go bake some cookies.
I don't need to do niceness math in my head to remind myself to be kind, because unlike the plastic caricature you imagine me to be, I am a human. I don't need a 4:1 rule to remind me that, oh, right, shit, I like this asshole who farts in my couch, better cook him dinner. Because of course the only two examples of nice things for women to do she can come up with involve cooking. Oh, but I do love the cool smooth feel of kitchen linoleum under my feet.
I always try to imagine how these doll-like creatures these people think are woman are supposed to even function. Right, so, I've just spent three or more hours of my day and two paychecks getting all the hair ripped out of my skin, turning my nails into elaborate pieces of art that render my hands unusable, I'm caked in more powders and creams and artificial sweetness than a wedding cake, my hair is a helmet of perfectly styled and bleached perfection, I'm hobbling around on stilettos and I'm using 70% of my mental resources to remind myself to suck in my tummy so it doesn't show in my skintight cocktail dress, and now I'm supposed to go cook? At the very worst I'll kill myself when I inevitably trip over my stilettos and land on a knife, at best all my food is going to taste faintly of foundation. I actually like cooking, I do it as a hobby, so does that mess with the 4:1 rule? If I actually enjoy it? Or does that sound too much like fun? Yeah, that definitely sounds like more fun than I'm allotted.
Although I guess we are in the dating phase here, so maybe I'm allowed sweat pants in the shameful secrecy of my own kitchen. What if I move in with the guy though? Do I sneak out of bed every morning at 4am to perform a three hour beauty circus, then sneak back into bed right before the alarm and pretend I wake up looking like that? What if he comes home early and catches me in sweat pants and off-brand sneakers? What if he surprises me while I'm in the middle of not pining for him? What if I have to poop, Patti? What about my poop?!!?
Not a single ounce of fun to be had.
Look, I don't want to say there's absolutely no reason to decline sex on the first date, because I can think of one (and only one): comfort. If you're getting bad vibes, if you think he's a creep, if you don't feel safe taking someone you've just met into your home, or going to theirs, then don't. You get to set your own comfort level, you get to change your mind, you are the most important person in your life. Your personal comfort and safety are paramount.
No, wait, how guys perceive you is paramount. Following the rules is paramount. Not being a slutty ho slut-slut is paramount. (And seriously, "nookie?" Clearly you're allowed to say sex, so I'm kind of pissed that the word "nookie" is being used by the woman who one commandment down the line will bitch at me about not being in high school anymore.)
And Patti, for everyone's sake, I think it's best if you just completely stop mentioning alcohol and sex anywhere near the same paragraph. Your lack of knowledge about how consent works is eclipsed only by your willful and disdainful disregard for a woman's personal desires. Just fucking stop.
And for the love of Christ, make up your mind about whether it's "shall" or "shalt." It's "shalt," obviously, but I don't even fucking care anymore. Pick one and stick with it.
I really can't get over the fact that this was sold to me as a way to "spice up my love life." When I want to spice up my love life I think chains and whips, not my obnoxious single aunt nagging me to put down my internets.
This way of living sounds so exhausting. I get that some people want to date and have a relationship as a high or first priority in life, I really do and I respect that, but at some point you have to start wondering how much you're willing to give up in return. If the answer is "absolutely every single thing that defines me," then you don't need a date, you need therapy, and I absolutely mean that in the nicest possible way.
You know when people are at their most attractive? And I mean attractive in a deep, all-encompassing, personal and wonderful way? When they're happy. When they're having fun. People shine when they have fun. I love watching it, I love watching people smile and let loose and glow from somewhere deep inside when they are where they want to be, surrounded by people they like and trust, when they can forget about all these insipid rules and just be. When they're having great sex or getting sloppy drunk or doing a stupid white people dance or playing soccer or whatever the hell they want to do, when they talk passionately about the inane and boring thing they love, when their eyes light up when they realize that oh my god, you like Stargate too!
That's attractive. That's so, so precious. That's a spark you can't catch and bottle and sell on your despicable website, you can't cram it down people's throat, and you sure as hell can't get it by beating on women until they catch fire from the friction.