RSS

Book Review: Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man


A friend of mine received this book and as she's married, she felt that she didn't need to read it. So I pounced and borrowed it from her. I wanted to read this before the controversy broke over a similarly titled book that was previously published. My curiousity stemmed from the fact that, hey, I'm not a man. Practically everything I know about men comes from the advice of other women. The few facts I've gathered about men come from observing my older brother, dad and one serious boyfriend. I feel somewhat limited in my experience and depth of understanding. So Steve Harvey may be an expert at telling jokes, yet I find him qualified to tell you what a man thinks --because he is a man. Plus, whenever I've heard one of his Strawberry Letter segments I'm cracking up, almost in tears with laughter, and also agreeing with his logic and (harsh) advice.

Harvey confirmed this approach in his introduction. "... I started imparting wisdom [on his radio show] about men - wisdom gathered from working more than half a century on one concept: how to be a man. I also spent countless hours talking to my friends, all of whom are men."

Alot of the backlash that I've heard about this book stems from Harvey being a comedian. 'Since when is he a relationship expert?' people, including myself, have said. But think about this for a moment. Your husband, dad or brother is not a mechanic. But as soon as something goes wrong with your car, you entrust him to solve whatever the problem is. Not because he's a mechanic, but he knows enough about taking care of things to ensure that you'll receive the results you want. That was my mindset on opening this book: Harvey may not be a relationship expert, but he knows enough about how men think to steer me in the right direction. Because, clearly, the advice I've received in almost 30 years has not put me on the right path...

One reviewer on Amazon totally missed the point of the book:

If women start reading and taking his advice it will set the women's movement back 50 years. Steve Harvey is only perpetuating socially acceptable sexism. The title alone should give us all pause. His advice on taking your husbands last name? We should do it because men protect us and want to introduce us as Mrs. Harvey. If we don't want to take our husbands last name we shoud marry our fathers. His advice on keeping a clean home? No matter how far women come it will still be expected of them. His advice on whether or not men like women who cook? Its alright if we don't know how to cook as long as we "cook" in the bedroom. His advice on whether we should call our man at work? Only if we're telling him that he'll have a nice surprise when he gets home, not for anything else "petty." Women, respect yourself enough to say no to this! Return the book to your local bookseller and demand your money back. This is not the 50's, we do not have to take this, and we for sure as not do not have to pay for this! Since when do comedians know anything about relationships? Of course, if you would like someone to treat you like a caveman would treat his property, then, absolutely, this book is for you!
I honestly don't see anything wrong with the points the Amazon reviewer highlighted. Yes he writes those things, exactly as she (I'm assuming the writer is a woman) relayed them. What man wouldn't take pride introducing his wife as "Mrs. Husband"? Who doesn't expect a woman to keep her home clean? And what man do you honestly know would be happy with a woman who doesn't cook and doesn't fulfill him sexually?

His whole point is that men think totally different than women. That women should understand this difference and strategically act in a manner to receive more of what they want in relationships. Men (for the most part) aren't thinking about feminism, the women's movement, or equal rights and treatment for women. They aren't thinking about level playing fields, doing more housework or playing a larger role in parenting. They are thinking about what they want. Harvey writes that the three main things that concern men: who he is, what he does and how much he makes. So if a man is preoccupied with those things, and hasn't reached a place in life where he's comfortable with those things, how many minutes of his day is he devoting to feminine equality? Right...

There are two pieces of advice that I've received in real life, that I found in this book: that until a man has his own life together, he will not be serious about a woman, no matter who you are. And that the vast majority of what a man does relates to his ability to attract women - the way he dresses, where he lives, his plan to reach higher levels of financial achievement. Funny thing is, I don't know how many other women have heard these things also.

My take on the book: I really liked it and enjoyed it. I couldn't put it down. That's probably because of the lack of unbiased male opinion in my life. It was very refreshing to read the words of a man who had nothing to gain from telling me his opinion, who wouldn't sugar-coat his advice to spare my feelings and garner my favor. Plus, it was funny. It really felt like I had gone to my favorite uncle's house for him to school me on men.

I liked that Harvey gave women a timeline on vetting men, and a blueprint of behavior, attitude and practical actions that women could engage in to let men know that they were keepers (as opposed to "sport fish", those fish you reel in and throw back because you don't really want them, you just want to fish). I also like the fact that he gave examples from his own life in ways men play games and put themselves first. He admits that he did things wrong, that he isn't perfect, and as a reader I appreciated that.

Now what I didn't like was the implication that all men cheat. My father and grandfather were cheaters. It would honestly break my heart if my older brother was a cheater (I wouldn't put it past my younger one though). I just can't believe that there are men in the world who aren't above breaking their marriage vows. I also wasn't satisfied by Harvey's explanation, or lack thereof: that basically, until a man realizes what he has, he will do something stupid to mess it up. The one consolation was that he advised women to stick to their guns if they couldn't handle cheating and not to go back if they'd previously said they wouldn't tolerate it. Because then, the man knew up front what the terms of the contract were and he willingly broke the contract.

When I reflected on this book I realized that there was nothing here that was new. I'd heard everything (well, except the vetting questions he suggests) and wasn't shocked by him 'keeping it real'. But I have a sinking suspicion that many women didn't ask the questions that I asked to find out the things that he explains in this book. I have personal examples where my friends didn't vet men properly, and those examples include my own dating faux pas. But I'm glad he wrote the book, glad it gained such publicity and hope that women get alot out of what he has to say.

Honestly, I want a man to treat me like my grandfather treated the women in his life. I want to be loved, protected, cherished, to be treated like a lady. I don't want to feel 'independent'. Maybe I'm alone in this regard, but I don't want to have to do this all on my own. And if I'm trying to win at the relationship game, why not take hints from my conquest's playbook? If that means being treated like a caveman's property (a caveman will go upside your head for messing with his property!) and going back to the 1950s, then I might be down for that...

12 comments:

MonkAre said...

It’s so nice site. We love to see more on this site. Keep on updating… MonkAreRee Bali ***rlejipso

Prosechild said...

Thank you MonkAre! I sure will!

Manchild said...

Outstanding! What an excellent, well-balanced review. I, too, have heard all the criticisms about Mr. Steve Harvey's book. If these critics felt so "qualified to bash Mr. Harvey's "best-selling" book," how come they didn't write a book?

I applaud Mr. Harvey for having the courage to toss his hat into the ring and raise his voice by sharing his thoughts to the best of his ability. As most published authors know, writing a book worth reading is not easy. It took 10 years for me to finish mine

As a sign of respect, I tip my hat to you for remaining objective and for publishing this thought-provoking blog.

Manchild

lawmacs said...

Great blog i do hope all the sisters have alook at themselves take a leaf out of your book or a chapter from your blog sisters needs to know themselves

Anonymous said...

BWAAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Love the review and the comments. I can't even count on my fingers and toes the number of clueless black women who bought into this nonsense. What kind of MAN refers to a woman's sexuality as her cookie? What kind idiot tells her to wait 90 days as if that's some magic formula that's going to make a man stay with you. All that guarantees is that YOU will be without sex for 90 days. It guarantees NOTHING on the part of the man. Instead of telling women "beware of all the dogs", "change yourself so you might be lucky to tame the dog", why not write a book to tell all the dogs to GROW THE F*CK UP!!! It is only in the black community where the women blame and tame themselves. That's why it will go down the toilet where it's headed now.

Jennifer said...

Anybody who takes love advice from a man who cheated on his 2nd wife with his 3rd wife deserves exactly what she gets.

Karyn L. Folan said...

Good review. I've read the book and while I agree that there's some useful, no-holds barred advice in it, I have problems with it. Not because of the messenger--in some ways, who BETTER than a man who cheats to warn women about certain men's thought process. No. My issue is the larger one, the one that never gets mentioned in any of these self-help books aimed at black women. And that is-- black women outnumber black men by a substantial margin. Subtract men who are in jail, sick or gay and we have a real problem. No matter how we "act" or who we "think like" some of us will NOT MARRY black men.

Harvey's book-- like so many others-- makes it seem like if black women only knew "the rules" they'd find romantic happiness. Like there's something wrong with us or the way we approach men. This is complete bullshit. It's numbers. Black women need to understand that and be willing to consider men of other race-- a topic Mr. Harvey studiously avoids.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy for the smarter opinions being stated here. I read the book and thought there was something wrong with me, first for not accepting the way men "are," and secondly for being too independent. I don't want to change myself or have to babysit a man into loving me. This kind of thinking loads all of the guilt onto the innocent party: the kind, sweet, loyal person looking for love from a faithless, horny, selfish prick. The writer of this article hasn't met the right kind of men and obviously doesn't know herself very well. What woman is afraid of being independent? Ladies, you are not a fish, you are not a cookie, and you deserve better than anyone Steve Harvey has ever met. Don't lower your standards; make him raise his.

Prosechild said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for your comment. I'm curious how people are still finding this post since its old... *shrugs*

Anyway, I in no way want any women to feel wrong for being independent or that something is wrong with them for not accepting men. Those are definitely your choices to make. My thing is, aren't we expecting the men that we meet to accept US exactly like we are? So why don't we do the same?? Also, I subscribe to traditional gender roles (again, MY personal choice), I don't expect other women to do so, so from my perspective I found the book valuable.

You said - "I don't want to change myself or have to babysit a man into loving me."

Where did Harvey write that? I didn't read that part or infer that from his book.

You also said "the kind, sweet, loyal person looking for love from a faithless, horny, selfish prick."

He suggests that in order to avoid that, a woman should evaluate a man more rigorously. I don't see how he's advising women any different. In fact, he says before you open your legs to this 'faithless, horny, selfish prick' that you get to know the real him, and allow him to get to know the real you by showing that you are different, valuable and have standards.

You said - "The writer of this article hasn't met the right kind of men and obviously doesn't know herself very well."

Wrong on both accounts. I know myself very well, and have come to understand and respect that men view us differently than we view ourselves, and think much differently than we do. In fact, the whole premise of my review was that I have rarely received advice from men and was curious about how MEN think, not the women who give relationship advice. Harvey is one man and this was a glimpse into how that man (and the men who think like him... nowhere did I say ALL MEN) thinks.

You asked - "What woman is afraid of being independent?"

I'm not afraid at all. But please analyze where all the "I'm independent, hear me roar" badges have gotten us? I'm an educated and ambitious woman but like I said, I'm tired of doing all this by myself. I am financially independent but don't desire to be independent in a relationship.

"Ladies, you are not a fish, you are not a cookie, and you deserve better than anyone Steve Harvey has ever met."

Wow, how do you know everyone he's met??

"Don't lower your standards; make him raise his."

That was the whole point of his book and my review. I suggest you reread both without the chip on your shoulder for the author and you might be better able to see that. Because he has a whole chapter on how you DEMONSTRATE to a man that you have standards and are a "keeper".

Anonymous said...

Any woman who has liked this book needs a reaity check. the book was degrading to both women and men. and i was enraged when i read that line about women keeping their maiden names: 'if you want to keep your maiden name, why dont u just marry your daddy?' how dare he talk like that. no wonder he's had 2 failed relationships, till he finally found a twit who believed his trash. he also advices women against learing self-defence, because then men won't feel the need for protecting them. so ladies, if even you're on a lonely strech and are assualted, wait and wait for a man to appear and protect you. yes, that's how deluded the man is!

Anonymous said...

Any woman who has liked this book needs a reaity check. the book was degrading to both women and men. and i was enraged when i read that line about women keeping their maiden names: 'if you want to keep your maiden name, why dont u just marry your daddy?' how dare he talk like that. no wonder he's had 2 failed relationships, till he finally found a twit who believed his trash. he also advices women against learing self-defence, because then men won't feel the need for protecting them. so ladies, if even you're on a lonely strech and are assualted, wait and wait for a man to appear and protect you. yes, that's how deluded the man is!

Anonymous said...

Any woman who has liked this book needs a reaity check. the book was degrading to both women and men. and i was enraged when i read that line about women keeping their maiden names: 'if you want to keep your maiden name, why dont u just marry your daddy?' how dare he talk like that. no wonder he's had 2 failed relationships, till he finally found a twit who believed his trash. he also advices women against learing self-defence, because then men won't feel the need for protecting them. so ladies, if even you're on a lonely strech and are assualted, wait and wait for a man to appear and protect you. yes, that's how deluded the man is!