My isn’t that a MANLY sweater you have on there!

Oh what a sad day when I found this piece of trash in my inbox today courtesy of reader Traci, found via CNN but originally in Oprah’s mag. Oh Oprah, how could you do me like that?
More bad frenzy inducing advice on how to get through to your man. Gross.
“You’re 100 percent correct”

It doesn’t matter what you’re arguing about — he just wants to be right. This is his weakness; you can use it like judo, turning his own momentum against him.
Saying two little words, “You’re right,” is the verbal equivalent of darting a raging elephant with animal tranquilizers. It gives him what he wants, reducing tensions and leaving the way open for you to get what you want. Try it: “You’re right, but I still want to go to the party.”
Meet every protest and argument he makes, no matter how ridiculously false, with the observation that he is absolutely correct … but you still want what you want. In boxing this is called rope-a-dope, and even if you don’t know what the rope part means, the dope part sounds pretty applicable. This is called win-win — except you did and he didn’t.

No, wrong. That’s right ladies, put to the side that you have a brain and just yes ‘em to death. I think this is more insulting to men. Who wants to be some childish buffoon that needs to be right all the time? Grow the hell up. And who wants to date someone that is so insecure they need to feel reassured all the damn time?
The rest is equally amusing. I mean I know we Feministers know better. I am so disappointed with mainstream dating and courtship writing though. It seems to exist in a bubble. As though feminism happened everywhere, except behind closed doors.
Thoughts?

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48 Comments

  1. Posted July 31, 2007 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Ugh, yeah- this is bad all the way around. One of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship is communication. That kind of advice flies directly in the face of that, and creates a losing situation for both parties.
    It makes men seem like they’re more interested in being told that they’re right than in actually participating in a conversation and finding out who is actually right, and it creates a situation where women are encouraged to lie to their partners, and adds fuel to the stereotype that women are irrational, at the same time.
    I mean, really, what do we think the end-result is really going to be if the response to things is “Well, you’re absolutely right, but I still feel X”? It makes it sound like, sure, you’re right and that’s logical, but my emotions say this other thing, so that’s what I’m going with.

  2. Posted July 31, 2007 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    “This is called win-win — except you did and he didn’t.” Vomitous. Just revolting. Advocating gamesmanship in a relationship is just so wrong.

  3. alexmlwallace
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Yes, we men are but simple creatures who will clearly fall for women constantly telling us that, yes, we are right, but no, we won’t get what we want.
    Humor your man- it’s how to keep a relationship afloat in 2007!
    What a joke.

  4. ElleMariachi
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    “Men love to show women their tools.”
    Did I just read that? I feel like I’m watching a bad porn scenario. “Ooh, grab that wrench for me, baby!”
    I also love this:
    “Meet every protest and argument he makes, no matter how ridiculously false, with the observation that he is absolutely correct …”
    How “ridiculously false” are we talkin’ here, Oprah?

  5. Cheshire Katz
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    This kind of reasoning comes up in a lot of relationship advice books. Deflate the combative air of the argument by conceding & restating. Don’t focus on trying to win the argument, after all your partner likely regards you as a crazy person. Instead, take the submissive approach by using concessions & flattery as a means of ungrounding your opponent. What’s unusual & disappointing about Oprah’s take on this tactic is that the relationship advice books tend to be gender-neutral, while she does not. In fact more often than not I see this kind of advice in books targeting a male audience, than a female one.
    On a completely side note, did anyone else read this very bothersome article yesterday? http://www.slate.com/id/2137537/
    I’m mildly surprised it wasn’t addressed.

  6. Cheshire Katz
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Ha, nevermind on that article post, my rss reader’s dates were all screwy.

  7. Vervain
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Er, right…because every man’s ideal mate is a sock puppet.
    That article isn’t a woman’s guide to communicating with men– it’s a how-to manual for wannabe passive-aggressives.

  8. soupcann314
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I love this part:
    “Giving a compliment is like giving a gift: Don’t make it about what you would want, make it about what he wants.”
    Emphasis theirs. Where did they get this, a 1940s primer for young housewives and soon-to-be housewives?
    Also, OT, but I am really hating the annoying, distracting “breasts not bombs” ad on the left hand side of the page.

  9. Posted July 31, 2007 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    In a fun twist, this is exactly, precisely the technique my (male) S.O. uses on me, a woman. You are correct; it is quite insulting to the person on the receiving end. But Cheshire is right too — this technique is used often, and with good results, by men too. What’s awesome about the Oprah passage is that it’s still just as offensive to women if you switch all the gender pronouns — try it!

  10. Nicole Brice
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I saw that piece of trash this morning too. One of my favorite parts is where is says “Men like receiving compliments because they think it means that you are going to have sex with them. He’ll reach this same conclusion if you (a) say “good morning” to him, (b) smile at him, or (c) ignore him, so you might as well go ahead and compliment him if you want.”
    That is great. So basically for the past 8 years, I have been telling all of my male collegues, every morning, that I want to have sex with them. Silly me- this entire time I thought I was just being polite.

  11. Jeremy F.
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Wrong =
    “You’re right, but I still want to go to the party.”
    Right =
    “Fuck you, I’m going to that party.”
    If I was being a douche, I would expect no less.

  12. ShifterCat
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    The part which bugged me the most was this:
    “In boxing this is called rope-a-dope, and even if you don’t know what the rope part means, the dope part sounds pretty applicable.”
    Even if you don’t know what the rope part means? ‘Cause we girls can’t understand boxing analogies, let alone know that Mohammed Ali came up with the term.
    More to the point, though, why would anyone stay with a partner they honestly thought of as a “dope”?

  13. Thomas
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    More passive-aggressive crap, which IME usually is grounded in some mars/venus tripe giving rise to the idea that men and women who share their lives just can’t have open communication. In fact, with almost a dozen years and a bunch of kids, I’ve found that my spouse and I can simply say what we think and what we feel and work out solutions to problems like adults. Imagine that.
    Also, as the resident boxing expert, I think a concise explanation of “rope-a-dope” is in order. When Ali fought Foreman in Zaire, Foreman was huge and a ferocious puncher — he had knocked out Joe Frazier, who had beated Ali and was notoriously hard-headed. But Foreman was tempermental and didn’t know how to pace himself. So Ali threw right-hand leads to incite Foreman (why a right-hand lead is an insult is too much inside-boxing to bother with). Foreman took the bait and started swinging away. Ali, instead of dancing in the middle of the ring where he too would tire, let Foreman pin him to the ropes and beat on Ali’s arms and shoulders. But Ali managed to lean and duck away from the scoring punches that could have knocked him out — at least, most of them. After several rounds of this, Foreman was exhausted, but had neither done much damage to Ali nor tired him. The Ali suddenly came to life, and knocked him out.
    The point of the strategy was not just to let Foreman think he was winning. The point of “rope-a-dope” was to incite a foolish opponent into wasting all his energy and then capitalize on his exhaustion.
    That fight gave rise to a less-heard expression: “the right Ali never threw,” which in particular West Wing fans have heard from Alison Janney’s CJ character. When Ali suddenly started flurrying against Foreman, the end came quickly and the giant Foreman fell in a long spiral to his right. Ali had his right hand cocked to throw one more cross, but he didn’t, and the poetic collapse of Foreman seemed so much more poignant because Ali held back that last punch and let the moment happen.

  14. Posted July 31, 2007 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    “Sweetheart, we can’t go to the party tonight. I read on zombiefighters.net that tonight there is a high probability of a sudden onset of zombieism. We could go to the party and all of your friends would turn into zombies and start trying to eat our brains!”
    “Honey, you’re absolutely right. I still want to go to the party. I like zombies!”
    Oh man, I could crack myself up all day playing this game…

  15. newslang
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    How are there still people out there writing these types of things? Geez!
    What’s wrong with reminding your “man” to do a task that he’s promised to take care of? I find this to be infuriating, especially where they are alluding to a husband who won’t do his fair share of the household work (unless of course, you cajole him into doing it as they suggest). In many situations the wife is already doing a majority of the household tasks (child care, cleaning, etc. along with an outside job). Why should she have to spend time and effort trying to coax her husband into helping out?! Why should that be presented to Oprah readers as a normal part of the lifestyle? The rest of the article is just as offensive, who needs brains and opinions anyway?
    soupcann314 – I agree, the “breasts not bombs” ad annoys me too.

  16. ShifterCat
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic, but:
    TLF, have you heard of the Zombie Walks?

  17. ShifterCat
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Thomas. It’s always nice to know how to use an analogy in a way that stays true to its source. :)

  18. Thomas
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    SC, there are so few boxing fans around these days that I tend to assume that people who know the original idea of “rope-a-dope” are those who were old enough to remember the fight when the run-up to it was a current event.

  19. Miss Modular
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    another golden nugget:
    “Get him to snuggle, kiss, and play but once you are there, let him take the lead. Whether it’s a date or your 30th anniversary, a man likes to think it’s his idea.”
    It’s like reading an issue of Good Housekeeping in 1955.

  20. Posted July 31, 2007 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Not my Nigel.
    His ego doesn’t rule his life. That’s why I married him.

  21. sophia86
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Worst relationship advice ever. All it does is reinforce tired gender stereotypes. Men are the ones who know how to get shit done, while their helpless women can only stand by and admire their handiwork. Women are teases who lead men on. Women shouldn’t trouble their pretty little heads about coming up with ideas – better that the man should do it (really, you’re still supposed to do this after 30 years of marriage? i’d kill myself if i had to spend 3 decades acting like a moron). Men are children who must be pacified by being told that they are “right,” while irrational women can’t hold a reasonable discussion about anything and instead do whatever their emotions tell them to do. Every man wants to fuck every woman, and also needs constant reassurance about his masculinity (does anyone sense a latent homophobia in the paranoid fear of being considered cute, rather than manly?).
    How dreadful.

  22. Posted July 31, 2007 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    God, this kind of bullshit annoys me. When I am in a relationship, I want to think of my boyfriend as my EQUAL, not someone who I have to humor into getting what I want. Ask nicely when I want him to do something with me that he may not want to do. Talk about conflicts. But don’t make him think that “he’s right” and “he’s in charge” when really you’re treating “him” like a baby! Any man with an ounce of intelligence should be able to see past that, any woman with an ounce of intelligence shouldn’t be with a man without one.

  23. Posted July 31, 2007 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Holy CRAP, Shifter. I better stay away from those things — what if the REAL zombies get mixed in with the fake ones?? Whose heads do I smash to save myself?? ;)

  24. Kimmy
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    My theory, TLF, is that when in doubt smash all apparant zombie heads. May not seem the friendliest thing you can do, but anything that keeps your own brains intact and in your skull is fair play during a zombie invasion, I say.
    But don’t start smashing unless you see somebody getting attacked. Just to be safe from the coppers.

  25. Dorion
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Is this backlash from too many decades of “the secret is communication” advice?
    Honest communication is OUT! Passive-aggression is IN!

  26. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I certainly agree it’s a gender issue because she’s targeting that advice only to women and not to men.
    That said, I find that to be a useful communication strategy.
    For example, I prefer to separate my clothes by function on laundry day (socks and boxers in one washer, shirts in a third, and towels in a fourth) rather than by color.
    When a girlfriend inevitably tells me I “need” to do it by color instead because that’s the “right” way to do it, I find the response following response useful: “No, you’re right, that’s a better way to do it, but I just feel more comfortable doing it this way.” That way you avoid any discussion about the actual merits of the practice and turn the focus on something more subjective – simply feeling more comfortable or having a desire to do it a different way, regardless of which way is “right.”

  27. Posted July 31, 2007 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Don’t have much to add on the incredible insulting aspect of this advice. So instead, while we are on the subject of Zombies and unreasonable arguments I offer up Jonathan Coulton’s Your Brains and the obligatory WoW video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjMiDZIY1bM&mode=related&search=

  28. roro80
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I think the advice is bad because it’s aimed just at women, and that it takes everything too far: saying someone is 100% right is silly when saying “I do understand where you’re coming from” works just as well, and is more often than not totally true. That said, I’ve always held to the belief that it’s better to have peace of mind than to be right, that no person in an argument ever sees everything 100% correctly, and that sometimes you have to apologize even though you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. If you really are in an equal relationship where BOTH members are equally committed to peace over ego, this sort of behavior doesn’t feel like coddling, or being a yes-man (-woman), or not saying your piece. It just feels like getting along and figuring out your partner’s boundaries.

  29. ShifterCat
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    TLF: You could always consider it practice for a Shaun of the Dead-type scenario. :D
    “Is this backlash from too many decades of “the secret is communication” advice?”
    I hadn’t thought of that, Dorion, but it’s an interesting possibility. Is this throwback, or backlash? Hmm.

  30. Posted August 1, 2007 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    When a girlfriend inevitably tells me I “need” to do it by color instead because that’s the “right” way to do it,

    Admittedly, the “right” way to do something depends entirely on purpose, but if the purpose is to maintain the original colour of the garments, the right way is generally to separate by colour. Just saying.

  31. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    ELISE WROTE: “Admittedly, the “right” way to do something depends entirely on purpose, but if the purpose is to maintain the original colour of the garments, the right way is generally to separate by colour. Just saying.”
    No, you’re right, that’s a better way to do it, but I just feel more comfortable doing it this way. :-) .
    The reason I separate the loads by function (1. socks/boxers; 2. Shirts; Pants/shorts) is that I have 3 drawers for my clothes (one for 1-3 listed above). So I can just take them out of the washer and toss/fold them into the drawers. No need to waste valuable time sorting them – the 10 minutes saved can be spent better elsewhere, like reading feministing.com!

  32. Persephone
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    I actually tried this advice once because I wanted to see if these people who use the age-old stereotype that all men are egomaniacs (who cannot be wrong) was true. So I tried this on my boyfriend, and right when our argument was at it’s most heated, I told him, “You’re right honey, you’re absolutely right.” After that, he looked at me and said, “If you ever say that to me again, this relationship is over.” I asked him why, and he said, “If I am right in this argument, you need to give me a logical reason for why I’m right. If you think I’m wrong, I want to hear your reasons why.” I hugged him after that because it showed that he appreciates my intelligent and not-always-so agreeable ways. After that, the argument was over, but I don’t think that the argument ended for the reasons that the person in the article said that it would, lol.

  33. Max Roesch
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    I think y’all have missed the power of sarcasm.

  34. Erica B
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I have had to work very, very hard to avoid passive-agressive crap like this. I think my relationship would drastically suffer if I regressed like Oprah recommends.
    And this bit!

    Men like receiving compliments because they think it means that you are going to have sex with them.

    So: I’m liable to get in trouble for sexual harassment every time I tell a guy at work he’s done a good job? Since males apparently think compliments indicate sex: every time I am told I’ve done a good job, the guy is really just hitting on me? This has echoes of that ridiculous “Ten Politically Incorrect ‘Truths’” article…

  35. Kali Ma
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    If ONLY this were Good Housekeeping circa 1956…
    Oh, here. These speak for themselves.
    http://www.surrenderedwife.com
    http://www.fascinatingwomanhood.net

  36. SarahMC
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    The intro line should read:
    “If he bristles when you try to comfort him, tunes out when you want him to do something, and refuses to admit when you’re right, dump him.”

  37. natmusk
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    It’s like marriage advice from Marge Simpson
    Lisa: But I’m so Angry
    Marge “You’re a woman. You can hold onto it forever.

  38. piotrek
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    What strikes me is that this stereotype of deferential women is specific to American culture. This advise is but one of thousands facetz of this phenomenon. Some examples:
    When male students ask professor a question, they are often grumpy (as if they were thinking — “could you be more clear please?”), female students almost always smile shyly and cringe (as if they were thinking “am am so sorry that I am silly and I am bothering you”).
    A male politician or bussinessman is caught doing something bad, bankrupting company, patronizing brothels or some such. His wife has tto “stand behind him”, which means at his side, during the press conference (although Mrs. Vitter looked as if she would vomit). Furthermore, the spouses are expected to uniformly praise their husbands at other occasions.
    I came from Poland which is in many ways a “traditional society”, 90% Catholic, men are much more active in politics than women, etc. However, a girl or a woman is expected, traditionally, to be assertive, and if a wife shows signs of worshiping her husband, she is regarded as a weirdo.
    Several years ago a Polish weakly put together interviews with wives of leading politicians. Wife of the President: “We met when we were together in a student camp in the Lake Country. Once I was sailing on the same boat with Olek, and the boat got turned over. Olek grasped the boat with his all might and shouted ‘help’, ‘help’”. Wife of the Prime Minister “Jozek likes to do various things around the house, which is very amusing, because he is so inept”.
    By the way, a picture of a member of Parliament of Slovenia (with black hair).

  39. grimwomyn
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Right,
    My boyfriend would be afraid that I was on drugs or had an incurable disease……

  40. juju
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Piotrek,
    That’s a really interesting point re:women having to appear defferential in some cultures (eg, the US) but not in others. I think this American “ideal” might explain why American institutions when they speak of the plight of women in the Arab world are able paint a really pitiful picture of the women there because of the tendency of the reader to infantilise the women in the same way that the American women adopts childlike qualities. Anyone’s whose spent anytime in the Arab world will know that many women are far from unopinionated shrinking violets.

  41. juju
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Piotrek,
    That’s a really interesting point re:women having to appear defferential in some cultures (eg, the US) but not in others. I think this American “ideal” might explain why American institutions when they speak of the plight of women in the Arab world are able paint a really pitiful picture of the women there because of the tendency of the reader to infantilise the women in the same way that the American women adopts childlike qualities. Anyone’s whose spent anytime in the Arab world will know that many women are far from unopinionated shrinking violets.

  42. juju
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Piotrek,
    That’s a really interesting point re:women having to appear defferential in some cultures (eg, the US) but not in others. I think this American “ideal” might explain why American institutions when they speak of the plight of women in the Arab world are able paint a really pitiful picture of the women there because of the tendency of the reader to infantilise the women in the same way that the American women adopts childlike qualities. Anyone’s whose spent anytime in the Arab world will know that many women are far from unopinionated shrinking violets.

  43. juju
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Crap, Sorry about the multiple comments.

  44. hendmik
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read all the comments, but I didn’t see someone touch on the larger point of power struggles in relationships. Is there any place for them? How do you manage them? Is it the right solution to not address a power struggle and instead advise women to manipulate it to their advantage?
    Personally, power struggles have no place in my marriage. My wife and I are on the same team and want the best for each other. There is no room for either to resist authority when none exists over the other. How can you have a respectful, loving relationship when there is constant competition to better the other person?!? Is it possible?!?
    Not an Oprah fan. Not 10 years ago, not now.

  45. Maggie
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Piotrek:
    That picture is awesme. Can you imagine the shitstorm that would happen if someone published a photo like that of a female American politician? We as a society apparently have a hard enough time dealing with the skin just below Hillary’s collarbone.
    I wish there were something between infantile virgin and battle-axe matron that wasn’t “slut.”

  46. Posted August 1, 2007 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Hey, this is my favorite Oprah article ever! I bought the issue of O that had this article in it and tried the advice out on my husband.
    Because the revolution will be blogged, I of course wrote about my efforts at the fine womanly art of man manipulation. I hope you all will find it inspiring.
    p.s. – men are not allowed to read the post. Only women. Otherwise all will be ruined.

  47. piotrek
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Maggie,
    in case you wonder, search “Eva Irgl” in images. Apparently, 30 year old member of parliament is a right-winger (who knows what it means in Slovenia) and a former TV news anchor.
    In case you think Slovene voters are guilty of lookism, picture of
    Maria Pozsonec
    , another member of Parliament, 67 year old former teacher.

  48. Posted August 2, 2007 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    First, cricket bats to all my zombie-lovin’ brethren.
    Second…I say we should passively decide on eugenics now. Just say “yes dear” until all surviving men are hot and docile. That’s the ticket. -sigh- And all we need to do is read “The Gate To Women’s Country”. Silly me for doubting. /end sarcasm.

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