Why are single men something to be celebrated, while single women are a problem to be fixed?
The latest variation on the Rules theme is that your interior decor could be sending out the 'wrong' signals
Cactus: “too prickly” for men, apparently. Photograph: iStock/Getty
Ladies, did you ever consider that your cactus plant might be the thing standing between you and eternal happiness? Or that the books on your shelf are making you look like a miserable old cow no man could possibly want to date? Or even that your habit of buying single Jo Malone homage candles in Aldi might be subliminally suggesting to prospective lovers that you, too, want to remain alone?
It’s a few years since a new take on The Rules came along to admonish single women for self-sabotaging their chances of “landing” a husband. (Why is it always “landing”, as though unattached men are the equivalent of large aircraft, requiring every human sense and a complex set of instruments to be brought safely home? Anyway, I digress.)
There have been a host of these books over the years. They all have the same hectoring, disappointed-elderly-aunt tone, and all work off the same premise: that every unattached women is desperate to hitch her wagon to any man at all but is ruining her chances by being too keen/too needy/too independent/too bolshie/too rich/too self-sufficient/too keen on children/too keen not to have children/too strong or – as if! – too generally unbothered.
The latest variation on the Rules theme is that your interior decor could be sending out signals that you are a hairy-thighed, cat-loving mung-bean muncher
They go on to offer case studies and “practical advice” to change every single aspect of your personality until you’re no longer, as the Daily Mail so charmingly put it this week, “manrepelling”.
The latest variation on the theme – which does indeed come courtesy of that well-known feminist bible the Daily Mail – is that your interior decor could be sending out signals that you are a hairy-thighed, cat-loving mung-bean muncher.
in my MANrepeller house everything is upholstered with cactus, and the doors are papered over with Audre Lorde, Sylvia Plath and passages from Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch, you're all very welcome— Anna Cafolla (@AnnaCafolla) February 11, 2019
Tips in the article – headlined “How to avoid turning your home into a manrepeller: Interiors therapist reveals the items that could be making your abode off-putting to men” – include getting rid of cactus plants (“too spiky”), dumping or donating “novels with ‘depressing titles’ such as Little Deaths or The Suspect”, and removing portraits of strong single women like Frida Kahlo (“what it’s telling people is: ‘I’m fine on my own. I don’t need anybody else. I am perfectly comfortable as I am. Don’t mess with me’”).
Instead, lovelorn singletons should be buying things in pairs and transforming their bedroom into “a boudoir to welcome a man into”, where he is “not squashed out by anything else”. They should also be decluttering, because “clutter makes us fat”. In case you’re wondering, the advice comes from a “feng shui expert” and “interiors therapist” who charges about €450 an hour for her services.
The Daily Mail is no doubt already consulting its panel of well-paid feng-shui experts for a follow-up piece full of similarly hilariously sexist tips for single chaps to avoid turning their homes into womanrepellers.
They might include getting rid of the charity-shop bedlinen. Or simply, you know, getting some bedlinen. Or just getting an actual bed, as opposed to the mattress on the floor. (Or, in the case of one formerly very single friend of mine, getting rid of the pot that had taken up permanent residence under the bed, so that he didn’t have to get up and go all the way to the bathroom for a sneaky vomit.)
In a piece full of hilariously sexist tips for single chaps, I’d like a chapter on why La-Z-Boy armchairs are an actual contraceptive in the eyes of style-conscious females
There could be a whole chapter dedicated to introducing the notion that you can actually buy glassware in shops, rather than just liberate it from the pub. And that, although a gay-pride flag in your window might signal your wokeness, it doesn’t actually constitute curtains.
While we’re at it, I’d like a chapter dedicated to why La-Z-Boy armchairs are an actual contraceptive in the eyes of style-conscious females. And why women look on your games console with the same affection you reserve for the collection of fluffy cushions from Penneys that is currently occupying 75 per cent of the available space on the bed.
I’m available to write the article, Daily Mail. I won’t even charge you €450 an hour. Only, of course, the article won’t get written, just like all the books, pitched at men, full of advice on how to overhaul every aspect of their lives in order to make themselves more palatable to women don’t get published. Society doesn’t see single men as an ugly reminder of its own shortcomings. They’re something to be celebrated, while single women are a problem to be fixed. Starting with that cactus.