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Commercial Relationship Advice: Mostly Harmful

This was originally posted as a response to a friend's reaction to a nasty piece of relationship advice by Tracy McMillan on Huffington Post. I'm screening comments from people who aren't on my LJ friends list. My usual comments policy applies. Don't comment here if you don't like it.  

Tracy McMillan has a book to sell. That's why she's writing this stuff. It's classic marketing: create a need, sell your product that just happens to fulfill that exact need. It has nothing to do with us.

You, me and other single women are just the marks. McMillan and the commenters judge us because they get something out of it. Some are pushing their products (Neenah Pickett is one of the first commenters and she just happens to have a web site that will help you find a husband called 52Weeks2Fi­ndHim.com), others just like to feel superior, and some like to beat themselves up.

That doesn't mean that it's wrong for us to react. This stuff is written to get us to react, ideally with a credit card number or self-flagellation. It's meant to hurt. McMillan is a professional writer, she is constantly trying to get better at eliciting specific emotions through her writing. In other words, she's constantly trying to become more hurtful and less _obviously_ manipulative.

Anger is a very appropriate response to that. That's why making you wrong for being angry, no matter how legitimate the reason, is her first point. McMillan knows that we've been trained to see our anger as damaging to relationships.

But what if she's wrong? What if showing up as an authentic person in relationships is the only way of allowing our true selves to be loved? Even if that sometimes means we're angry or insecure or flawed in other ways? Just like the "messy, farting, macaroni-and-cheese eating man" she thinks we'd like to marry?

Oh wait, I forgot, the first rule of relationship advice to women is that women who don't take 100% responsibility to keep their relationship going R DOIN IT WRONG. That's why "working around a man's fear and insecurity is big part of what you'll be doing as a wife." Does that sound like a relationship you'd like to have? Yeah, me either.


Whoa, that post was a real stinker. I'm sad that Tracy had a rough childhood that affected her adult relationships, but that doesn't give her license to project her own issues onto every other woman out there.

Also, that oxytocin thing is total bullshit which has been soundly debunked by actual scientists, so someone didn't do her fact-checking. ARGH. It's frustrating how misinformation has a way of spreading much more widely than actual facts. :(
Wow. That is some article she's produced. And I don't mean that in a good way.

I got through reading it by turning all the "you"s she's doling out into "I"s. The way I see it, it's a basic strawman/strawwoman argument - it says more about her than anyone else.

I mean if the price of getting married is letting some complete stranger on the internet tell you you're a bitch/shallow/a slut/liar, etc, which healthy woman in her right mind is going to want to get married on those terms?! If that's the kind of self-hating attitude she's applied to herself to get married 3 times, well, all I can say is: "I'm glad NOT to be like her!"
as a women, I find it helpful to be reminded that men are afraid and insecure too; it's good to remember that the projection of sucking-it-up, brave, no-crying, no-caring, just watch TV masculinity is a projection and men are real, emotional, fragile people underneath too because that expectation of how controlled men should be can make it hard for them to express emotion or insecurity. getting from that to enabling crap behaviour for the honour and validation of Having A Man is bullshit.