Rules for Hunting & Fishing, Or How to Bag Mr. McDreamy

That book has nothing to do with this post.  The connected short stories inside it are whimsical, bitter-sweet tales of estranged semi-daddy love that has practically nothing to do with the title.  (I mean, it's a good book, but it's a brilliant title.)
Great title–but has little or nothing to do with the book. If you are interested in the book–it’s good. These connected short stories are whimsical, bitter-sweet tales of estranged love with an older man.

by Madeline Iva

Hello my romantic darlings.

I wrote last week on Mr. Unattainable, and  I started thinking about two figures. Let’s call the first one McDreamy.  Or McClueless. This is the guy who just doesn’t get that he’s a crazy gorgeous man.  Who can also seem utterly indifferent to the heroine–which makes him all the more appealing.

He wanders around in an intellectual cloud–an artistic cloud–or he’s completely absorbed in good works.

Maybe he even likes someone else.  (Yes, Mr. Edmund Bertram, esq. of Mansfield Park, I’m talking to you.)

This is the guy who is sort of amazed to discover long after the fact has  been apparent to everyone and their cat, that oh, she likes him.

What can you do about a guy like this? You hunt him down is what.  You bag your kill with great sex, and as he slowly wakes up to how much you have in common, how he can’t possibly conceive of living without you, you wind up living happily ever after.

Which brings me to our heroine.  The Heroine Who Knows What She Wants.  I will tag her Ms. Awesome.  It’s a story that happens in reality a lot more than we’d like to admit.  Yet what I want to know is: are we growing more comfortable with the idea of a heroine who bags her guy in romance novels?

Because for some reason Ms. Awesome is deemed very un-romantic.

Repellent to some, catnip to others--The Rules inspired controversy in the 90's.
Repellent to some, catnip to others–The Rules inspired controversy in the 90’s.

Around the time that GIRL’S GUIDE TO FISHING AND HUNTING  hit the best seller lists in the 90’s another book came out that was called THE RULES.

People loved The Rules.  People hated The Rules.  The Rules tried to explain to women why:

a) they needed to put some effort into snagging a man and

b) why some women were putting in the wrong kind of effort.

The book upset feminists everywhere.  They proclaimed  the book advocated feminine deception of a repellant, stereotypical, old-school variety.

Yet I say that in the same way a mysterious, ellusive woman is catnip to men, that the distracted, complexicated McDreamy is catnip to women. And sorry angry feminists, but you’re never gonna get him in his dream cloud unless you DO something about it.

I think, duplicity aside (for that may be true) that feminists really just hated the idea of a woman bagging and tagging a man using any kind of camouflage.

Feminists were challenging the assumption that anyone ‘should’ want a man. (Yet, the simple fact is that many, many, many of us do.)  They also seemed to indicate that anything less straightforward than a woman asking for him/sex in a straightforward way was reprehensible.

Why anyone would assume that just putting it out there works is beyond me.  I mean, do hunters stand up in the open bogs waving their arms and saying Here ducky, ducky–I’m over here! No they do not.   They are subtle.  They use blinds, they make engaging calls out over the romantic foggy air.   Then they sit huddled on the cold rock of their hope to wait.

That’s not to say the blatant frontal attack doesn’t work with guys.   It does–for sex.  A lot. But not always for a relationship-first kind of thing.  Some guys just feel weird about being obviously chased by a woman.

Also, just putting it out there probably won’t work for McDreamy.  He requires tactics.

On the other side of the feminist barricades, millions of desperate, single women  decided to take a look at The Rules and the resulting CHA-CHING!  noises drowned out angry protests.

And many people STILL think a woman going after a man is repellant–even if they bought the book for their sister, etc.

Not me.   I like watching women who hunt.  Fanny Price aside, I’ve seen how many seasons of The Bachelor?

Perhaps people assume  if a woman is going after a man that she’s ‘acting like a man’, i.e. being overly aggressive.  She’ll see a guy she wants, approach him, and put it out there on the table with all the appeal of a gynocological exam.

Thus, the appeal of The Bachelor.  And yes, some women are overly aggressive.  It’s like a car wreck—we just can’t look away.   But this is just a less familiar version of men approaching women and trying the “hey let’s go back to my place and get freaky tonight.” Sure, a few times it may work, but in general…not so much.

Talk about catch & release! The Lady Eve is all about Mc Dreamy & Ms. Awesome.
Talk about catch & release! The Lady Eve is all about Mc Dreamy & Ms. Awesome.

So let’s talk about tactics that actually work.

My bold hypothesis is that “The Rules” is actually a by-product of mating evolution.

If we called these tactics “The Best Hunting  & Fishing Tactics Ever!” maybe they would get the respect that they deserve.  After all, we appreciate a guy who pursues a woman with both skill and charm and then f***s her into heaven—isn’t it time that Ms. Awesome can do the same and get her due?

Metropolitan is a great retelling of Mansfield Park --played out on NYC's Upper East Side. Preppies -- and also a retelling of
Metropolitan is a great retelling of Mansfield Park –played out with NYC’s Upper East Side Preppies.

But the book is a bit of a distortion.

See, real-life masters of The Rules don’t actually need duplicity.  She doesn’t answer his text for a follow up date immediately because she actually IS busy–and she doesn’t automatically drop everything in her life just because a guy comes along.

In this version, Audrey goes hunting and snares two guys--not just one.
In this version, Audrey goes hunting and snares two guys–not just one

Meanwhile, sorry conservatives–you’re wrong in assuming that a woman going after a man has to be repulsive and overly aggressive.

Anyone with half a brain knows that 97% of the time, for both sexes, the aggressive approach is just a little too intense.

Also, it displays a lack of imagination.  Aside from a bold admission of horniness–where’s the fun & creativity? Where’s the marvelous sense of building tension and the unexpected that comes into play when you’re reading a great romance?

Hunting down a guy with subtlety is where Ms. Awesome can display her wit, charm, and intelligence.   It’s the peacock’s plume of mating display–showing off her delicious talents.

The movie Amalie would never have it's happy ending if Amalie didn't step up.
The movie Amalie would never have it’s happy ending if Amalie didn’t step up.

A woman who behaves this way will never make a guy think she’s chasing him.  (I say she isn’t chasing.  It’s not like a dog blindly lurching after a passing bike–she’s hunting–a much more active, empowered, and skilled project).  She conveys the impression that any man would be oh-so-lucky to be included in her next plan to do something inspired/fun/interesting.

This doesn’t involve duplicity–it involves brilliance.  Ms. Awesome hunting down a McDreamy feels no sweaty insecurity about proffering up her invitations–the events she is engaged in will actually be fun–so he’s lucky to be invited.  The other thing that happens to a woman in this state is that with all that fun confidence and open-ness other guys will flock to her like moths to the flame.

Usually at this point Mr. McDreamy wakes from his state of being.  He speaks up, concerned that  if he doesn’t do it soon, and do it right, Ms. Awesome Heroine will no longer be available.

Is it so wrong for a woman to show that she’d be a great potential partner in this way — or is this the man’s job?

The women traditionally shows her competence in a romance novel by taking care of others.  Can Ms. Awesome lead the hero into adventures instead? If so — have you read any romances like this lately?

Call Me Irresistible has a guy-chases-girl dynamic BUT the guy is the town's caretaker (okay Mayor) and the girl is the wildcard.
Call Me Irresistible has a guy-chases-girl dynamic BUT the guy is the town’s caretaker (okay Mayor) and the girl is the wildcard.

Have you read a romance lately where the heroine uses  hunting & fishing skills and the GUY is the caretaker–or is that just way too crazy?

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  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    Fun post! And some really interesting points. From first-hand experience I know that sometimes we gals just have to be the pursuer or the relationship’s going nowhere fast. Such was the case with me and my dh. I was dating someone else at the time I met him. He didn’t want to break us up, so I did. Doh! But all these happily married years later we’re still together. If I’d not gone after him then we likely wouldn’t be together now. And that, for me, would truly be a crying shame.

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
  • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

    As a feminist, I’d have to say I disagree with the “angry” straw woman you’ve created. Any man who’s attracted to deceit deserves what he gets — and vice versa. The idea that everyone who identifies as the same gender wants the same thing? Silly. We’re all different.

    Reply to C. Margery Kempe
    • Post authorMadeline Iva

      Of course all women don’t want the same thing. And I’m a feminist too. But a rather large percentage of women do want to have a life partner.

      I think the main disconnect going on with the reaction to the rules is that some women intuitively know how to take a lighter approach with good boundaries when they meet a man–and some women don’t.

      Some women get sucked into the media/society “message” delivered early on that says their worth depends entirely on being attractive to a man. They end up exhibiting poor boundaries in their efforts to get that approval and text a guy every two minutes, etc.

      Instead of the book going for the deeper issues of exploring WHY these women are behaving in ways that are bound to repel, it slaps a band-aid fix on things by giving the needy women artificial boundaries to follow. “Wait four days before returning his call.” etc. Thus the deceit “Oh, sorry I forgot you had called” and yet by quelling the neurotic behavior, and feeling that with their knowledge of “the rules” these women perhaps had better results than before.

      Personally, I’m very sympathetic to people who don’t make a good first impression–yet are fabulous once you get to know them. My heart goes out to them. Dating can be so very artificial — it’s no surprise to me that so many people have an excruciating time with it. Going out with DH I used to get a head ache or a stomach ache or both. 🙁

      I don’t really care for the artificiality of the methods proposed–they are rather repellent, but I sympathize with the people who feel they need them and I sympathize to some degree that will make women feel a little more empowered in the dating world.

      Reply to Madeline Iva

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