"One old adage comes to mind: Do as I say and not as I do." Oh, Karrine. Is this really how we're going to start off your new book, The Vixen Manual? (Warning: Illustrations after the jump are NSFW.)
When I saw Karrine Steffans seductively lounging on the the hot pink and black cover of The Vixen Manual, I wondered what games the gods were playing with me, placing this book directly in my still-researching-dating-guides path.
After all, the last time I had heard from Steffans, she was complaining about getting
Eddie Winslow Darius McCrary's "anal bead dust" in her hair.
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So, let's just say I was a wee bit skeptical when I picked up Steffans' latest effort.
It's hard to accurately summarize the book as it oscillates between sound advice for women navigating their lives and being a fluffer/cheerleader for the patriarchy. Luckily, most of the book can be divided into two types of advice - the sketchy kind and the solid kind.
Sketchy: Steffans asks if you have "a porn pussy", defined as:
"The lips are practically hanging out of the panties on these women. The labia majora are now labia gigantica. You don't want that do you? Because the more casual, uncommitted, random sex-for-sex's-sake sex you have, the more beleagured you and your genitalia will become. Why do you think the lucrative market for vaginal rejuvenation has emerged? Way too many women have been having way too much casual sex."
She even provides an illustration:
Solid: First time having anal sex? Karrine has you covered.
Sketchy: Steffans has a lot of issues with women being a little too modern. While she talks about uplifiting the self, the subtext is you uplift yourself in order to get a better man.
The thing about independence is that too much of it can be a bad thing. Since the nineteen sixties, and the advent of the women's movement, we've been taught and encouraged to assume what have historically been very masculine roles. […] Be careful how you present your independence. Never be ashamed of it, but never, ever, use it as a shield.
This isn't to say that independence has no value. There's worldbound influence, where you are able to hold your ground professionally just as much as a man. That's fine when you're on the phone handling business or brokering major deals. When your man walks through the door, however, there's a softer more homebound independence that you can show. It means you know how to cook and clean, and you don't need someone like his mother (or your mother) showing you how to do so. You can do laundry without turning his whites pink. He can relax in knowing his woman has mastered their domestic terrain. Just don't look up and find yourself lonely because you were trying to be too worldbound and dominant at home.
[Businesswomen] are women who followed the independent woman's blueprint: get your education, don't get pregnant (if you can avoid it), graduate at the top of your class, find a respectable career and not just a job, and be independent, not relying on a man in order to make a successful living. Well, it's a nice little blueprint – in theory. I'm not so sure how much practical application it has for long-term happiness overall.
Start imagining your life the way it would be if there were a man around. Visualize it. Having a picture in your mind is one of the strongest ways of bringing something to fruition. How would your home look? What kind of furniture would you have? Would it be the same as what you have now? Would you have your dirty panties and socks scattered all over the floor. Would that tub of Breyer's Double Vanilla ice cream still be melting all over your end table? And what about your bed? Would the same sheets from three weeks ago still be on your mattress? Would a man be thrilled to be in your home right now, at this very minute?
By nature, and in theory, the males of most species set the atmosphere in which the relationship and family will be run. While this suggests that you should not be defiant when taking your cues from him, it does not mean that you should not participate in establishing that atmosphere. Once your man has set the initial tone of things, and that tone does not conflict with your personal ethics and values, you can then set your own tone within those parameters, ultimately integrating it with his."
In a Vixen Tip, Steffans sets forth the scenario of a man coming home late and you sitting home waiting. She explains that you have gained leverage in the relationship because he violated the rules between the two of you. So what should you do?
"Defy his expectation. Welcome him with a warm embrace. Take off his shoes. Help undress him and get him tucked into bed, even asking if he needs anything before falling asleep. Whatever you do, just smile and play your position – that of a woman who has been steadfast and true to her role in the relationship. If you do anything other than this, you'll only relinquish your upper hand and sabotage the hard work you have done thus far in gaining a respectful position in the household.
To paraphrase an old popular song, "What have you done for him lately?" A man wants to know that he can depend on you when he needs you, no matter how great or small that need may be. It can be something as trivial as picking up after him as he rushes out the door on his way to work, tossing the boxers and socks he left on the bathroom floor into the hamper. […] Being a helpmate comes in many forms, but not many women understand the importance of this role.
Solid: She strongly advocates not accepting any type of abuse that a man wants to dish out, and advocates for dating realistically as a parent.
The wisdom that comes with age should be the very reason you don't fall for the same tricks you did when you were a more impressionable twenty-something. Revel in the liberation that comes with knowing better by declaring I'm too old for this shit! When some man tries to step to you with a half-assed hustle that was sure to work on you a decade ago.
What, you've never heard of financial abuse? You probably have, even though you might not have given it a name. It's a very real form of a abuse when a man uses his position as the breadwinner to control you and your lifestyle. He'll remind you at every turn that everything around you is his and there by the grace of his generosity. You'll constantly be told that it's his money that keeps it all together. He'll start dictating what you do and when you do it, and if you are resistant, there will be a penalty. It may be something small, like not giving you money for something you really want while he overindulges in all his desires, rubbing it in your face that he is the gatekeeper.
Your child should be included in the decision of bringing a man into your family. When children aren't included, they often act out and you end up having two separate relationships – one with your lover and one with your child, which is the mistake I made and explained above.
It is imperative to make sure to date only men who want to have children, are fans of and champions for them. To do otherwise will create tremendous drama, frustration, and conflict for you, your man, and your child.
Sketchy: Steffans doesn't appear to be sure how much of a Vixen she wants you to be.
Don't be afraid to be a lady and take the old fashioned approach to dating and sex.
There's nothing sexier than a woman who can have sex, but won't.
However, she also recommends keeping a list of five guys taped to your fridge.
"Your number one should be the man who captures your attention like no other and who pays the most attention to you. […] Your number two is a close runner up, but is missing that certain flair that keeps you up at night, replaying the events of the last time you saw one another. Still, he is fun to be with and gives you something number one does not. […] Numbers three through five are for emotional support, chit-chatting and the like." She clearly states : "To remind these fellows that they're in a competition, let each one know about the other and reveal to them their ranking and that their current ranking us always subject to change. When each one calls, address them by their number instead of their names once in a while, just for sport."
Solid: Her ideas on self-care and pampering ("take a bath in milk and rose petals") are well needed, as reminders to slow down and treat yourself nicely in this crazy world. Unfortunately, this too is presented in the context of doing right by your man.
Ultimately, the Vixen Manual is a mixed bag. Steffans provides some insights that certain women would appreciate, but the picture of the type of man she demonstrates how to win doesn't actually seem very appealing. And given Steffans' own rise to fame and tempestuous relationships, one has to wonder if this image about-face is really just a way for her to continue to stay relevant after all the salacious stories have been told.
Yet, I can't deny the allure of both Steffans' words and mystique. As I paid for the book, the woman behind the register bombarded me with questions as to whether I thought the book was "a worthwhile investment." And other women I know expressed interest in borrowing the book after my assignment ended, because while Steffans may be viewed in a negative light, she ultimately got exactly what she aimed for. Perhaps there's something to be said for boasting that kind of achievement when writing a guide for landing a man.