There are two kinds of stunt journalism "feminist goes to man-getting seminar" pieces. In one, the author comes away with a grudging respect for the course's basic truths. This is the other kind.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Diane Mapes is sent to cover a seminar called "Making Sense of Men," led by a confessed sad-sack who had such bad luck with men that she had to learn their code, or — wait for it — menglish. There's a lot of cutesy decoding, some "munchkin voice," empowering sentiments, and the obligatory pitches for other courses.
I learned that the fourth most attractive quality in women was shiny hair. That women's bodies had a profound impact on men. That a weekend workshop called "Celebrating Men and Sex" featured a panel of guys talking openly and honestly about how much they loved big butts...Wait a minute, where do I sign up?
At the point where each woman is instructed to turn to her neighbor, look into her eyes and declare her "charming and enchanting," Mapes can endure no more. She and her seat-mate make a break for it.
I had plenty of respect for Alison's research (even more for her well-oiled marketing machine), but I really didn't care about becoming a queen in my own realm. Nor was I interested in learning Menglish or Portuegeezer or Guywanese...I wanted to think of people as people, not knights or knaves or goddesses with beams of light coming out of their bellies. Relationship workshops were fine for some, but they seemed a bit too old school and exploitative to me.
Cop-out! If you're going to friggin' run out on the seminar, save the "respect" and the patronizing sentiments — who are these workshops "fine for?" Losers? — and denounce it properly! Did she find the seminar lame because of the cutesy lingo and "old-school" goals, or, rather, because they prey on women's insecurities and build a false sense of community from false desperation, while heightening the sense of panic over not having a man? Respect means telling it like it is, um, girlfriend. (And that's free!)