Monday, May 26, 2014

BOOK NOTES: Why Men Marry Bitches - Chapter 1

Read This First:

Allow me to begin with a standard disclaimer.  For years, I've seen Sherry Argov's book in stores and have been curious about it.  I've even had friends recommend it, however, the title was so incredibly off-putting to me, I could never bring myself to buy the book or read it for that matter.  However, a couple weeks ago, I saw it lying around in my neighbor's apartment and she insisted I take it home and give it a read, and I'm so glad I did!  What I discovered when I opened the first page, was that the term "bitch" is not meant to be derogatory, nor does it refer to a distasteful or disrespectful woman.  On the contrary, Sherry Argov uses the term to describe a woman who shows respect for herself and respect for others.  (However, "Why Men Marry Upstanding Women" would probably not have become a bestseller.)  So before we delve into each chapter, like good researchers, let's start by defining our terms and our methodology.  According to the author, the axioms outlined in this book are derived from interviews with hundreds of men of all ages, marital status, and walks of life.

Definition of Terms:

According to the author, the word "bitch" stands for Babe In Total Control of Herself, and this is probably the best definition of how the term is used in the context of the book.  Argov says "bitch" is used to describe a strong woman who has her own identity and is secure with who she is.  

She is plenty happy giving her man space because she enjoys having hers. She is clear about what she will or will not accept. She'll back away at the slightest whiff of disrespect, and this makes her more exciting to a man, not less. That is the woman he dreams of marrying.  (xvi)

Men observe this. They watch woman act like marriage is the be all and end all and they make a mental note. It only confirms that he's always known: marriage doesn't necessarily mean she's in love with him. Some men feel that the woman is in love with the wedding or what marriage represents. He's just there to fill a position. (xvi-xvii)

Argov goes on to say: 
She's not a bitch because she's having a bad day. She's a bitch because she's a principled person who lives by her values. Standing up for yourself is one part of the equation. Being a stand-up person is the other part.  (168)

CHAPTER 1:  Throwing out the Rulebook

Why a Strong Woman Wins His Heart


1)  Relationship Principle 1:  In romance, there's nothing more attractive to a man than a woman who has dignity and pride in who she is.

- When you are happy, you are sexy.
- The attribute men respect most: a backbone.

2)  Relationship Principle 2:  He marries the woman who won't lay down like linoleum.

3)  Relationship Principal 3:  He doesn't marry a woman who is perfect. He marries a woman who is interesting.

4)  Relationship Principal 4:  When a woman is trying to hard, a man will usually test to see how hard she's willing to work for it.  He'll start throwing relationship Frisbees, just to see how hard she'll run and how high she'll jump.

5)  Relationship Principal 5: Don't believe what anyone tells you about yourself.

6)  Relationship Principal 6:  Men see how you dress, and then make assumptions about your relationship potential.

- According to men:  "It makes a woman more attractive if she's showing less skin. It makes you want to find out what's underneath."

- Once you get him curious and thinking about you, that's when his thoughts turn to the future.

7)  Relationship Principle 7: When a man sees you wearing very revealing clothes, he'll assume you don't have anything else going for you.

- Once he reduces you to one dimension, he'll keep you there.   He'll never take you seriously or think of you as having enough worth for a long-term relationship.  Men want to marry a woman that is the whole package.

- A quality guy won't marry a woman who cheapens herself.


8)  Relationship Principle 8:  When he sees you scantily dressed, he is not reminded of how great you look naked.  He immediately thinks of all the other men you've slept with.

9)  Relationship Principle 9: Every guy knows he can find a girl who is simply satisfied with satisfying him.  They are much more turned on by a woman who cares about her own pleasure as well.

- What a quality guy secretly longs for is a lover who is also a best friend.  And an equal partner.


10)  Relationship Principle 10:  You can tell how much someone respects you by how much he respects your opinion.  If he doesn't respect your opinion, he won't respect you. 


11)  Relationship Principal 11:  It is better to be disliked for being who you are than to be loved for who you are not.

Relationship Myths:


Myth 1:  You have to be perfect.

Myth 2:  You have to be his sex toy.

Myth 3:  You have to be whatever he wants you to be.

- Self-respect is a one-punch knockout to a guy.  When you are confident enough to wield your power and you show that you aren't fearful of losing him, he becomes fearful of losing you.

- Pleasing you keeps him engaged in the relationship.

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Shoptimism: A Book Review

Posted by Christie for BeautyLifeandLove

So, you probably know by now, much of my inspiration comes from what I read, and I just finished Lee Eisenberg’s Shoptimism:  Why the American Consumer Will Keep On Buying No Matter What.  And although trend lines in Eisenberg’s research may have experienced a bit of a hiccup due to the recent economic downturn and the ensuing effect on consumer spending, I believe the recession actually helped the author prove his point even more poignantly.  Nothing can separate us from the love of Buy, neither height (of unemployment), nor depth (of debt), nor any other commercial thing.

Americans will buy—No Matter What.  Eisenberg establishes that as a fact.  The more interesting question, however, is “Why?”  The author proffers a mélange of theories.  Is it the evil “Sell Side” that knows how to push the right advertising, marketing and branding buttons on us like pins in a customer voodoo doll, conjuring up a bewitching, intoxicating brew that has us handing over our credit cards before we even realize it was the scented department store air that hit us?  (Eisenberg discusses how retailers carefully infuse their ventilation systems with just the right amount of the perfect scent—i.e. baby powder in the baby department— subliminally seducing us to linger longer and thereby increasing the likelihood of a sale.)  Eisenberg argues the Sell Side has blurred the line between a genuine “need” and a superfluous “want.”  (I tend to agree, although it’s a difficult point to prove; who’s to judge which qualifies as which for someone else?)

Let’s explore an alternative perspective.  What if it’s not “Them” (the Sell Side)?  What if it’s “Us” (the Consumer)?  Eisenberg reveals that Americans buy for status (social belonging, self-esteem, prestige and recognition), and we also buy as a form of therapy, retail therapy to be exact.  Either way, Eisenberg argues Americans are what they buy (identity) and why they buy (status/therapy).  For example, when it comes to what we buy, we use brands (like Apple or Harley-Davidson) to connect us to others and to express our values:  Mac users are cool, creative free-thinkers; hogs are rebels (the author’s characterization, not my own).  Furthermore, we use self-gifting to lift our spirits.  Studies done with fMRIs showed subjects’ pleasure receptors danced when exposed to merchandise and the prospect of purchase.   

And though I learned a lot of interesting facts about…advertising, marketing, Romantic vs. Classic Buyers, Buy Scolds, Spend Thrifts and the like, I felt a little bogged down with an overly detailed exposé of the Sell Side (the “Them and Ewe” concept) with its marketing gurus, Sherlock-like consumer snoops and digital data miners meticulously calculating our every click, reviewing retailers’ big brother video footage and recording our online rants and raves.  I felt particularly overwhelmed by Eisenberg’s chapter on the “four ways to think about advertising” (appropriately named “Bombarded”) and by the “Unified Buy Theory” which, only after painstaking investigation, forces the reader to conclude such a theory simply doesn’t exist.  But despite excessive mapping and charting, the theories that don’t pan out, and other non-quantifiable ambiguities, I emerged with a greater understanding of the retail rat race. 

My favorite part of the book was when Eisenberg trailed Paco Underhill, self-proclaimed “retail anthropologist” and also one of my favorite retail researchers.  He wrote the book Why We Buy:  The Science of Shopping--my first journey into the world of American consumerism, or “shoptimism.”  To be honest, I was a little star-struck by Paco’s appearance in the book.  It was that same feeling you get when your favorite celebrity has a cameo in a movie or television show you’re watching (like for me, when Condi played the piano on 30 Rock).  But I digress.  Back to the point at hand.      

Although I found the author’s research more disparate than comprehensive, I can’t really fault him for it.  Covering the entire retail-scape of American consumer culture is quite an undertaking.  The book moves from LBDs*, to automobiles, jewelry, men’s, women’s and children’s attire, shoes, accessories, food, drink, groceries, home goods, music, toys, perfume, cologne, the list goes on and on…  So where does one begin when cataloguing the whole of the American buy?  I’m not sure.  But what I am sure of, is that the “Why” of the Buy delves deep into the cultural and individual identity of every American and is complicated and compounded by multi-million dollar advertising, marketing and branding schemes to capture our attention, our loyalty, and most importantly, our dollars.    

I admire Eisenberg’s tenacity in tackling such a sprawling concept as the sociology of shopping, and with such a diverse resume (apparel company executive, Editor of GQ, and pseudo-academic), he may very well be a most appropriate person for the job.  Though I have to admit, I did get a little lost in the weeds ‘round about the center of the book, that won’t keep me from reading another of Lee Eisenberg’s works:  The Number, a New York Times Bestseller, which I’ve heard is quite good.

Which leads me to my next review…Page One (the documentary that takes you): Inside the New York Times.  Stay tuned for more.

*For those men reading this who don’t know, LBD stands for “little black dress,” not to be confused with an associated acronym VPL, or “visible panty line.”

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