January 13, 2012, 12:16am
THE MAN DIET
BY ZOE STRIMPEL
TODAY’s young women are the daughters of the 1970s feminist pioneers; we’re liberated, financially independent, successful. There are no ceilings we can’t shatter, no asses we can’t kick. And yet. Something has gone wrong.
A new generation of feminists argue that we have defeated the patriarchy, only to enslave ourselves voluntarily in a depressing, seedy world which worships all things sexual. This “raunch culture” feeds on sexualised, porn-tinged notions of femininity that insists real women put out and love it.
Into this debate wades Zoe Strimpel, lifestyle editor of these pages. In The Man Diet, Zoe asks a pertinent question: is this really fun? How have we come to define soul-less one night stands and drunken groping with strangers as a good laugh?
Zoe’s questions are discomfiting. Most young women will recognise the deft portraits she draws of life on the lash. The waking up with a stranger; the self-loathing that warps into a comedy anecdote for your girlfriends over a drink; that turns into ten drinks and a lonely prowl around a dancefloor looking for a man, any man.
She calls it Junk Food Love. We satisfy our justified desires for nourishing relationships with quick fixes of greasy, unsatisfying nosh. The Man Diet is Zoe’s answer. She defines it as “a diet in which you take a break from chowing down on men – literally and otherwise.”
Borrowing from diet manuals, Zoe subverts the clichés by coming up with a mix ‘n’ match set of rules for cutting out junk food love. These range from “Refuse to Have No Strings Attached Sex (NSA)” to “Do Not Pursue”.
In other hands, the rules could be preachy. The argument in favour of modern female culture is that women have moulded it themselves. Empowerment is about choices; not about self-appointed feminist gurus telling the girls what to do. The Man Diet, however, is not a remotely sanctimonious tome. It is helped by Zoe’s personal input. Zoe has been there. She’s binged on junk food love and cocktails. She struggles with the rules herself.
All young, single women should read this book. In its elegant and wry way, it encourages some serious introspection.
Are we empowered, or have we just constructed new mental cages – ones which just happen to be very convenient for men who like all manner of physical gratification with hot chicks?
Zoe Strimpel is the Lifestyle Editor of City A.M.