J. Soltys's Weblog

March 30, 2009

Steve Harvey’s Book Just Doesn’t Add Up

men-and-women-symbolsI recently ran across an article posted within CNN’s website that originally appeared at Oprah.com. It seems multi-media entertainer Steve Harvey has written a book about relationships, but more importantly, a book that “empowers women” in relationships. And Oprah, who exclaims “she loves everything it has to say!” was eager to have Harvey on her show to talk about and promote his relationship secrets in his new book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.”

An example of Harvey’s omnipotent gender and relationship savvy can be found in comments like this:

When a man approaches a woman, he already knows what we wants from her, but he doesn’t know what it will cost. “How much time do you want from me? What are your standards? What are your requirements? Because we’ll rise to the occasion no matter how high you set the bar if we want to. The problem is, women have stopped setting the bar high.

Yeah, right Steve.

I’ve grown weary of observing many forms of media that have cultivated a belief that female romantic hardships is always the result of irresponsible men.

For example, he claims if women are to be blamed, it is only for not demanding more from their men. He is afraid to blame women on the same level as men, allowing the mythical purity of the female gender’s reputation – inherently good people who just make bad decisions – remain intact. His advice for women is delivered with compassion and understanding.
However, for the male population, Harvey’s assessment is different. Men are perceived to be inherently cunning, manipulative, and always assessing the relationship as a game of risk vs. reward, extending themselves only if there is something in it for them. Consequently, it is men and their behavior which ultimately is responsible for being the source of relationship troubles, and Harvey advises women to be cautious observers of men and their actions, or they will get stuck with one of the many “bad ones” out there.

Harvey proclaims:

Without ironclad standards, you’ll always end up back in the dating pool. “You’ve got to quit lowering your standards,” he says. “Set your requirements up front so when a guy hooks you, he has to know this is business.”
And don’t let the man set the pace of the relationship — Harvey says it’s always the woman who has total control. “With all that power, why do you suddenly relinquish this power just because you want a guy to accept you? That’s stupid,” he says. “Say: ‘Look, if you want to be with me, this is what you got to do. This is what it takes to get to me.'”

Sorry, but I find his advice pathetic. First, it is extremely sexist. The historical foundation of the women’s movement was to establish equality with men on every level, not dominate them. Women having total power and control in a relationship is just as dangerous as the man having total control and power in a relationship. Human beings, when given complete control over other human beings, will always abuse that power. Given that Harvey is African-American, you’d think he’d understand what a dangerous mentality he is advocating.

Also, he’s contradicting himself. He’s advising women not to relinquish any power to men, which translates to, do not capitulate to the needs of men. Women should demand what they want with no exceptions.
So I’m confused. Is Harvey  just asking the men and women to change roles? Or Is he saying women shouldn’t lower their standards (demands) to meet the needs of men, but the men should lower their standards (demands) to meet the needs of women? Or is he admitting that men are inherently better at choosing mates than women, hence the title, Act Like a Woman, Think Like a Man? Or is he advocating  a “two wrongs make a right” mentality?

I’m not sure, but even if I try to accept Harvey’s advice as having some credibility, I can’t get past a nagging problem. In the name of equality, doesn’t it beg the question that men are entitled to set a female partner standard also? If women must raise their standards to catch a good man, consequently, shouldn’t it also be true that men have to raise their standards to find a good woman? Or again, are men inherently better at choosing female partners and do not need to be educated and empowered with this ability?

The more I thought about Harvey’s advise,  the more I found it confusing, contradictory, and sexist towards both men and women.

Realisticly, in relationships, if neither one is willing to accept give and take, this behavior evolves into a “pissing contest”, which only ensures frustration and confrontation for both men and women. Also, most authors of those who have researched and written books on dating find that setting standards too high for a potential mate when dating is something both men and women are guilty of.

Now the real kicker

In the article, Harvey goes on to give more advice that is hard on the common sense factor. Not everything he says about men is negative, but it is not all positive either.

However, I feel ANY advice he gives is should be suspect.  Why? Harvey is not the epitomy of a relationship expert. Anyone considering buying Harvey’s “how to book” should know he is on his third marriage already.
And the consumer should also know that according to the Smoking Gun, Harvey’s former wife, Mary, filed a lawsuit against him in 2007. In that complaint, she accused Harvey of:

“adultery, his abandonment of some of his children, his poor and neglectful parenting of the parties’ child, and physical and mental abuse.”

And she claims she was, “severely shortchanged when it came to alimony, division of community property, and child support.”

Now being an advocate for men’s issues – with false accusations by women in divorce a disturbing topic for me – I am not going to say Harvey is guilty of the claims made by his former wife. He claims the allegations by his former wife are false, which I will assume he discards as accusations by a bitter, angry woman.
But I will say I find it extremely uncomfortable that a man who has these allegations against him, along with the fact that he is into his third marriage, would write a book to empower women in relationships. Obviously the guy struggles with women and relationships, so how does he have the audacity to write a book on the subject matter?

So let’s pause: Harvey has been married three times and divorced twice. One of his former wives has filed allegations of adultery, abandonment of his children, neglectful parenting, and physical and mental abuse, all of which he denies. So he decides he has this infinite romantic wisdom, and decides to write a book to empower women about relationships?

Is he for real?

I mean over the years, the guy couldn’t empower himself to stay out of conflict with women, so how the hell is he going to educate women on how to avoid unneccessary conflicts with men”?

Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Harvey to write a book for men, explaining what he did wrong in these relationships, and offer advice to other men on how to avoid some of the mistakes he made? After three marriages, and what he claims are false accusations, wouldn’t his advise on how men can avoid these issues have more relevence than an empowerment book for women? 
Wouldn’t that have been the masculine thing to do instead of writing a book that disparages men and their behavior, and assiduously applies comfort and false bravado to women?

If I may play the role of a psychologist for a moment, and offer my opinion, I would postulate that Harvey wrote this book out of some unresolved guilt he has been harboring for some time now about his behavior and/or actions towards women in his past. In other words, I think Harvey subconsciously wrote this book as an effort to help him deal with his dark side, a side we all carry with us. In order to assuage the guilt he carries for his past behavior, he transfered that behavior on to all men, and wrote the book to help empower women from falling victim to men like himself.

Fortunately, most men are not like Harvey.

So ladies, in these tough economic times, save yourselves a few bucks.

 

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18 Comments »

  1. Joe-

    I came across the Harvey article on CNN as well, and the blithe reporting of what really boils down to a horrendous view of both sexes really raised my ire. I’m sorry that a divorced comedian doesn’t think I have anything to offer a man beyond my vagina, but that’s his problem, not mine. I also wonder if Harvey has ever considered that every woman he dates might not even WANT to marry him. UGH.

    More ranting here: http://urbzen.com/2009/03/25/steve-harvey-wishes-you-werent-such-a-slut/

    Comment by urbzen — March 30, 2009 @ 4:55 pm | Reply

  2. J: Thank you so much for offering this information. I blogged about this before the book was released back on January 11, 2009 and 88 posts, 10,000+ views later, we find out the book may have been plagarized. I’ve been accused of hating on Steve Harvey when originally I felt the exact same way as you did about it. I didn’t purchase Mr. Harvey’s book and have no plans to, but I just had to stop in and say thank you for your very honest comments.

    Comment by pvdugas — April 4, 2009 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

  3. I have read Steve Harvey’s entire book and I think that your opinion is valid; however, it does not accurately represent the book or the attitudes and ideas presented in the text. I am a 28 year old woman and I have been in a relationship for the past 3 years and I believe that the book was a comical view of how women complain about wanting certain things but then we don’t behave in a manner to get these things. Harvey advocates simple principles that women should follow to ensure that they have a healthy relationship such as waiting to get to know someone before you have sex with them, taking time to figure out what you need and what you want out of a relationship, and then letting your potential mate know these things in a manner that allows BOTH of you to be happy and fulfilled. I am not a man so I cannot say whether or not this book is unfair to the male perspective, but I will say that in my opinion it does not bash men or even beat men up it just shows women that there are good men EVERYWHERE but we have dropped the ball when it comes to getting a good man. If anything, the book beats up on women for not using our common sense and intuition when it comes to dating. Legal and personal issues aside, I believe that Harvey’s book will help more than a few people find happiness or a least a few laughs while reading.

    Comment by Melanie — May 14, 2009 @ 6:14 am | Reply

  4. I read Steve Harvey’s book this weekend. It’s clear to me he’s just out to make lightening strike twice. A comedian wrote “He’s Just Not That Into You.” So now he writes a similar book and gears it towards the African American community where the relationships between men and women are already pretty volatile. Doesn’t work the same way. His idea of “empowerment” is really disempowering. He’s blaming women for ALL of the problems…and that just stinks! The most offensive line in the book was when he said “love the player. hate the game!” This is the very stuff that keeps women in abusive relationships far longer than they ought to be. I say women need to stop allowing people in the dating advice book industry to get richer and richer by cashing in on people’s insecurities. Soon we start thinking for ourselves, the better!

    Comment by Sabs Messenger — June 1, 2009 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  5. Steve’s book at times are full of old wives’s tales and some of them are relatively true. However I am currently writing a book (started before Steve’s came out) based on the misconceptions of men and women. I got my research based on several studies I did. Talking to psychiatrists and my parents and grandparents. I also took the ups and downs failures and triumphs on my relationships. I mixed all this together to come up with my book titled “3 Fingers Pointing back”. I take the mistakes that men and women place into a relationship without placing sole blame on men or women. From my research there is enough blame to go around but there can be simple results to a multitude of problems that women and men experience.

    One thing that is happening is that men feel under siege. They have closed their ears and they are not listening. It is the same effect as when u were a child and a parent or guardian would fuss at one child and not the other. The child who was chastised knows that they both have equal fault in the wrong doing ut he will no longer listen to the chastisement but will resent the other child. This is what men all over the country are doing. At times when you listen to Mr. Harvey’s show or read his book it will appears that he is acting like women are these helpless lambs and men are wolves. All men at one time or the other have been messed over by a women. So to feel that you are constantly the blame… men are not listening.

    There needs to be a lady out there who has our sisters taking responsibility for their actions.

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  12. I to have read Mr.Harveys books. And i agree that insted of trying to tell us women what our role is in a relationship he should hae been speaking more to men about what it takes to make a relationship work,being that he is into his third marraige i find it appolling that he would want to give us women advice on relationships when in fact 75% of our african american males dont know how to be in a committed relationship cause they were never taught. So dont tell me how to think like a man when most men dont know how to be REAL MEN…

    Comment by Fyn-Wyn — September 27, 2011 @ 7:07 am | Reply

  13. What Mr. Harvey fails to understand is, that not all men have the thought process that comes from the demographic, ethnic customs and time frame that he came through that has given him the somewhat skewed and archaic insights that he has in dating and relationships; there is a basic understanding there, but not much beyond that.
    First and foremost is women have to have the self esteem that’s going to precursor the beginnings a decent relationship, let’s face it we are who we attract, then the trust factor comes in to play with necessary test administered by woman that are basic through out nature, I write about these in my forth coming book “The nature of the Beast” the social dynamics of business and pleasure, I think Mr. Harvey just tells on himself and that’s Ok confession is good for the soul, getting back, the trust factor get’s into things like allowing the man to lead with honesty and in (3D) that is Spiritually,mentally, and Physically if she can’t look up to him then she shouldn’t look at him to manifest responsibility and commitment; failure to prove one’s self should result in a parting of the ways, cut and dried no questions asked, by the way, the test should be to look for self control as well, yeah there’s are a lot of men out there looking for a fun time, and a lot of women ready, willing and able to indulge and facilitate it; let me just say that the consent of the physical intimacy is obviously and ultimately up to the woman.The bottom line here is that to be” that man” with a standard which in this post modern era can bore some women to tears, is not the most advantageous thing to do, but for men………Men are you listening? ie reading “having a standard is where it starts” and not being so dependent on outcomes.
    To allow someone to take the reins and not do it in 3D is to be short changed.

    GW

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