If Jolly Rummy has a seasonal message to his amputee elves this year, it's “put up and shut up.” “You go to war with the army you have, not the one you want.” That was the flustered and Defens(ive) Secretary's admonition to the mostly National Guard and Reserve soldiers he recently addressed in Kuwait after being asked by one disloyal grunt why the soldiers themselves had to resort to dumpster diving for scrap parts in order to safeguard their own ill-equipped vehicles. It should be pointed out that approximately half the U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq might have had their lives spared if their humvees had been adequately armored against the relatively low-tech explosive devices planted along Iraq's “liberated” highways. If current casualty trends continue, soldiers' family members will likely receive their “present” in a body bag this year.
Curiously, the same advice (“put up and shut up”) is now the basis of a bestselling dating guide which applies to single women similarly ill-equipped to deal with the social landmines planted beneath their strappy, Manolo Blahnik stilettos. He's Just Not That Into You makes the compelling argument that disinterested men, (like the alluringly aloof Defense Secretary himself) just don't have your best interests at heart, so wouldn't it be better if you just planted your ugly-ass carcass in front of someone who at least cares?
Whether you're a backdoor-drafted bullet stopper in the latest Imperial crusade, or simply cruising the singles scene, the message to the disposable grunts on the ground is implicitly clear: You're just not worth the salvaged pieces of scrap metal on your humvee, or even the scraps of “advice” contained within this literary humdinger. Still, to give “HJNTIY” its due, any book that manages the near impossible by dumbing down The Rules (the previous decade's grocery list of dating tips fleshed out into a 208-page opus) deserves the Nobel Prize for quantum linguistics.
Call it the “new contemptuousness”; the ascendant mood of jubilant venality from the powerful and the privileged. And now that they have won a mandate to declare themselves “Masters of the Universe”, these titans of entitlement have turned the media into their own 24-hour bully pulpit from which to berate and belittle those who dare challenge their supremacy in and out of the bedroom.
If the book's sales figures are to be believed (1.2 million copies at last count) women are clawing Santa (and each other) this holiday shopping season for a coveted copy of this media-hyped self-help manual by former “Sex and the City” staffers, Greg Behrendt and Liz Tucchilo. The popular HBO series may no longer be in production, but the show's creative geniuses have not left the boardroom. As soaring sales figures have proven, “HJNTIY” is just the beginning of a multi-million dollar franchise to cash in on the series’ post-mortem profitability. Tragically, we can expect more recycled “Sex” episodes packaged into instant bestsellers based on the prevailing misogyny.
As its title suggests, the Donald Rumsfelds of the dating scene don't call you for the same reason military leadership can't be bothered taking the necessary steps to spare the lives of those carrying out their dirty work. To put it bluntly, you're just not worth it -- a message that impoverished and oppressed populations around the world know only too well, but Americans themselves (even the ones who sacrificed their own economic interests to put “a man of values” into office) may be hearing unfiltered for the first time. Having wrested control of the Senate, the House, the Congress, and every other significant political body, the nation's emboldened and swaggering leadership no longer feels it necessary to conceal their scorn filled spitballs from those they consider beneath them.
The timing of “HJNTIY” (a crudely cobbled together selection of reader letters purportedly written to its callous and over-coiffed co-author, Behrendt) not surprisingly, coincides with the resurgence of bible-based policy making at the highest level of office. To quote the not-so-secular wisdom of the apostle Greg to one woman-on-the-verge of using her dialing finger: “Just because you like to lead doesn't mean he wants to dance. Some traditions are born of nature and last through time for a reason.”
To the slightly retro-feminist “Nikki”, the metrosexual messiah has this to offer:
“I'm not advocating that women go back to the Stone Age...I just think you might want to be realistic in how capable you are of changing the primordial impulses that drive all of human nature.”
Meanwhile back in Kuwait, Romeo Rumsfeld uses his own brand of glibly phrased junk science to respond to a soldier's query about the Pentagon's “stop-loss” policy, which extends military service beyond its contractual requirements, summing up the suicidal policy as “a fact of life.” If the military was not so over-extended already, he might have added “you're fired” as the other Donald would surely have done to teach these low-rung wage monkies a lesson or two about the laws of the jungle.
“Nikki” might soon be asking what she should do if a man’s dialing finger is no longer part of his anatomy. Recent figures put American soldiers in Iraq as having their limbs amputated at twice the rate of previous wars. Does an increased statistical likelihood of meeting a digitally challenged man make it okay to toss conventional wisdom by the roadside with the rest of his mangled remains?
Still, the millions of women who have been crossed off the list as dating fodder can take heart. While babe magnet Greg may have little use for the surplus women clamoring for each savory centimeter of his “dumb stick”, the military at least, has found creative uses for them. According to a Washington Times report, the army told Pentagon officials that an insufficient number of male soldiers “creates an immediate personnel readiness impact.” The report concluded that, “army manpower cannot support elimination of female soldiers from all units designated to be units of action elements.” So even if your looks don't stop traffic, or even inspire a phone to ring, there's still reason to look on the bright side... every woman has the potential to stop a bullet dead in its tracks. Some would call that progress.
Leilla Matsui is a freelance writer living in Tokyo, Japan. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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