Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review: The Case for Falling in Love

I'm always tickled when my blog gets books to review, and if they sound interesting, I take the book publishers up on the offer for a review copy. The Case for Falling in Love by Mari Ruti seemed intriguing, though I wasn't sure why falling in love needed to be defended. I mean, who has ever said that falling in love sucks? People want to fall in love, don't they? It's like writing a book called The Case for Ice Cream, Cookies, and Chocolate. Does anyone sane question the awesomeness of those things?

The title, though, seems to be a misnomer for the book—at least for the first quarter of the book, which is all I managed to get through. A more accurate title would be something to the effect of: Author Bashes All Other Self-Help Relationship Books for Relying on Gender Stereotypes and Then Replaces Them with Her Own Stereotypes. That might be a little long for a title, but you get the idea. I had no interest in reading any further.

I don't think the author is wrong when she says that if we rely too much on gender stereotypes, then women play the victim and men are thought of as incapable of feelings and obsessed with being powerful. And that surely, this is not an accurate depiction of love, nor is it a healthy approach to love. And I definitely have no problem with bashing self-help books as a genre or with bashing relationship self-help books in particular. 

But the author then seems to make her own ridiculous generalizations about men. She'd much rather date men who ask for directions than those who don't because ones who can't ask for directions are unable to recognize their infallibility in any realm. Guys who ask for directions are clever. Guys who are masculine and macho exploit women. Guys who are good at making the first move in a relationship are the guys you should worry about and maybe avoid.

I think the author has some great points about gender stereotypes being ridiculous and not a way to approach relationships. I am just not sure she provides a better approach. Though I do like her assertion that the person with whom you fall in love is an "exception" in that things you thought mattered beforehand do not matter as much. "[W]hen it comes to your 'exception,' you're willing to push aside the gender codes that you might usually navigate by. This is excellent news, not the least because the person you fully fall for is, by definition, always your 'exception.' "


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