‘How to Date Men When You Hate Men’ analyzes dating and relationships from a feminist perspective

Monday, December 10, 2018 - 12:45pm

Blythe Roberson

Blythe Roberson Buy this photo
Courtesy of Blythe Roberson

Blythe Roberson did not title her debut “How to Date Men When You Hate Men” because she actually hates men. Rather, as she explains in the introduction, “It just didn’t sound as catchy to name the book ‘How to Date Men When They Are Born Into and Brainwashed by an Evil System That Mightily Oppresses Women.’” Much like the title of the book, the content itself seemed at times more flash than substance, which is not necessarily a bad thing. “How to Date Men When You Hate Men” is a comedy-philosophy book. While its purpose is to examine relationships and dating in a patriarchal society in which the president of the United States of America rates women’s bodies on a scale of one to 10, it also aims to simply provide readers with a good laugh.

Roberson, who works as a researcher on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” has arranged the chapters of her book like the main stages in a relationship. It begins with “Crushes,” which is followed by “Flirting” and eventually ends with “Being single” and “Making art.” The chapters mostly consist of Roberson working through her own experiences and feelings. Her goal is not necessarily to recommend certain ways to approach dating, or to write a “How-To” book, but is more so a sharing and exploration of her relationship with love in an increasingly digital age.

The book is most notable because of its feminist point of view. Roberson provides intriguing perspectives on the ways in which dating and even marriage have been heavily influenced by patriarchy and the consequences women face as a result. Roberson’s feminist angle is a fresh and interesting one that, in addition to its humorous aspects, makes “How to Date Men When You Hate Men” a worthwhile read.

While Roberson is indeed a woman, she is in fact, as she puts it, “a white, straight, cis, able-bodied, college-educated woman.” There are many experiences and identities Roberson cannot connect with, which is noticeable in her book. She acknowledges her privilege in the book’s introduction, but goes on to mention attending the Emmys and going to Harvard University in places where those details don’t add much to the story she’s trying to tell. While acknowledging her privilege in the introduction was beneficial to the book and arguably necessary, Roberson could have made more of an attempt to stay mindful of her privilege throughout the rest of the book.

Despite the somewhat narrow scope of Roberson’s book in terms of identity and privilege, “How to Date Men When You Hate Men” is a step in the right direction. Roberson has crafted a funny and enjoyable book that at its most basic provides a look into a person’s successes and failures in dating and love, which makes for a fascinating experience in itself.

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“How to Date Men When You Hate Men”

Blythe Roberson

Flatiron Books

December 2018