Speaking of books…
I’m gonna break three cardinal rules here on the blog today which I work hard to abide by: don’t judge a book by its cover, never get into an argument about a book you’ve not actually read, and avoid raising a topic that’s sure to get people in arms when you’re dashing to get out the door and probably can’t stick around to see the fireworks through.
I can’t understand why black women have been on a stampede to buy Steve Harvey’s Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. Even though the book managed to make the NYTimes bestseller’s list for eight weeks in a row earlier this spring I probably won’t get to it anytime soon.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Steve Harvey. The comic. The entertainer. And on those four times a year I catch his show on the radio I like Steve Harvey the morning talk show host. Steve Harvey is a very funny man. He has a great eye and ear for black eccentricities. Steve Harvey’s also a smart man.
He has figured out how in these tough economic times to parlay his floundering stand up comedy act into a more stable job as a radio show host where his new schtick is to present himself as a slick, streetsmart, non-nonsense, wizened, old skool ex-playa doling out keeping-it-real advice to desperate, lovesick women.
I’ll take folks’ word that there are women out there who need a book Act Like A Lady. I believe you when you say that there are women who will go to embarrassingly foolish, desperate, scuzzy lengths to be with a man, to get a man, and to sleep with a man. I know a few such women. But do you really think Act Like A Lady will convince these women to wise up and make better decisions?
Even if I were single I’d probably pass on reading a relationship advice book by a thrice married man, whose last marriage ended in a messy and quite public divorce in which his ex wife reportedly alleged adultery and physical abuse against her and their son. It took a $20 million settlement to make her shut up. (Maybe she’s the one who should be writing a book.) “I’ll fix you,” Harvey probably said to himself when he walked out the court. “I’ll get every last dime of that back by writing a book about relationships and proving that black women like yourself ain’t nothing but a bunch of ……..”
As for the title, Act Like A Lady, Think Like a Man. What is that suppose to mean? I know what the writer who says that Harvey stole her book title meant. But what does Steve Harvey mean?
Here’s what I’m guessing: Harvey’s book panders to the symptoms of our malaise. It doesn’t get at what causes women (and men) to do the wild, crazy, skuzzy things they do and do to each other. (Of course, I’m guessing here since I haven’t actually read the book.)
But I have read what sisterblogger What Tami Said has to say in her spot on commentary on Harvey’s book. I agree with her when she writes: I also wonder, with all the problems black men face today, whether Harvey’s time would have been better spent counseling the men he professes to know so well, rather than women.
Why doesn’t Uncle Steve write a book challenging playas like himself rather than writing a book to women who get played? If he really cares about the plight of black women and the black family, especially the fate of at risk children (he has a foundation that focuses on mentoring) then why doesn’t an old playa take what he’s learned and write to young playas about fatherhood and what manhood really means. Act Like A Man will do as the first half of the book’s title. In it a streetwise, but reformed ex-playa of an uncle like Steve Harvey might offer words of wisdom to pitiful males like 28 year old Desmond Hatchett who has 21 children with 11 different women.
Ask me why Harvey doesn’t write to the playas themselves. I’m glad you asked that question. Because playas don’t buy books. But lovesick women do. Beaucoup.
Finally, why in the world do black women continue to gobble up all this misogynistic dribble that’s being passed off to us by (business) men like Steve Harvey and Tyler Perry, dribble that’s being packaged to us as homegrown wit and kitchentable wisdom (the kind usually transmitted from one generation to the next by women themselves)? Why do we swoon over this stuff and buy it in the fistful when all it does is blame women for needing love and makes no commensurate commentary about men who exploit that innocent need? How can you trust a writer who doesn’t have anything to say about a system that profits on black women and black men being at each other’s throats and offers us no tools on how to build trust in our relationships?
But like I said, I haven’t read Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. And I should probably withhold judgement until I’ve read the book. Which I probably won’t do.
Final note. For what, imo, is an honest, intelligent, thought-ful book on why women fall in relationship traps and how we can avoid these pitfalls and what loving your womanself really looks like, see bell hooks’ Communion: The Female Search for Love.