Comment: A book to enrage gay men – and straight women
Behind Every Great Woman There’s A Fabulous Gay Man, the title of Dave Singleton’s latest self-help tome declares.
Is there? Rachel Charman, herself a great woman, took the book home for a little light reading. She was not happy.
There is a paradox between the title of this book and the text; namely, that Singleton’s presentation of straight women shows them to be weak, needy, irrational and pathetic, their only greatness a reflection of that emanating from their “Gay Boyfriend.”
The book claims to provide advice for straight women, from the perspective of a gay man, on how to “avoid the pitfalls of the dating game” as well as “live stylishly”.
It reads as if it were a list of every stereotype about gender and sexuality ever to cross the mind.
Pressed, preened and pretentious gay men, borderline-psychotic, possessive straight women, emotionally inadequate, sports-obsessed straight men and Black-and-Decker brandishing lesbians rampage from cover to cover.
Singleton’s informal, forcedly affectionate tone, laden with endearments to the reader, is meant, I suppose, to make him seem wise and friendly, in a charmingly camp sort of way.
Instead, he comes across as patronising and disparaging, pronouncing himself a “gay angel” and a “gay godfather”, almost drowning in his self-indulgence.
In fact, the book refers so much to the merits of being a camp, impeccably-dressed gay man hardened by years on the scene (the only type of gay man in existence apparently), the reader is left wondering who exactly the book is about.
Singleton certainly does much to remind the reader how charitable and selfless he is.
One section, entitled, “Why do I do it? Because it’s my job”, provides a run-down of Singleton’s week, solving a woman’s hair/boyfriend/mother crisis on each day from Monday to Saturday.
On Sundays, I assume, he spends his time kissing babies and rescuing kittens from trees.
Behind Every Great Woman is incredibly sexist. Singleton rants against men who “call you baby on the first date”, i.e. disrespect and patronise women.
He then systematically depicts women in much the same light as these men probably would; fragile, hysterical, idiotic distractions from the real world of men.
Every female character described goes off the rails, in floods of tears, when some “hunk” fails to return her affections satisfactorily, normally downing half a bottle of vodka and whingeing endlessly that she will never get married.
The only difference is that Singleton claims he wants to protect and help these poor creatures through his words of wisdom and taste in fashion and interior design.
His benign paternalism is as ironic as it is infuriating.
All of this wouldn’t be so bad if Singleton’s advice was actually sound, or original.
But what exactly is the merit of lying about the amount of sexual partners you have had to make it half of everyone else’s?
Heaven forbid a man might think that a woman is sexually experienced; everyone knows all straight men want virgins.
Most of Singleton’s “advice” could be branded common sense, in the world outside of Sex and the City wannabes. The majority of the book could have been summarised thus: “If he’s useless, leave him.”
Other points, such as the list of ten things never to say to a boyfriend, verge on mind-numbing stupidity.
I think most of us would have worked out by now that telling a partner “I had a hot sex dream last night about my ex” or “I stalked you early in our relationship” may be a bad move.
All of this aside, the book is not even a good exercise in basic writing. It lacks structure, repeats itself, wanders off on tangents, and ignores rules of sentence structure.
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Most irritating of all is Singleton’s creation of “gay boyfriend” terminology: “faux fagging” (straight men pretending to be gay to gauge how attractive they are through gay men) and “gancing” (straight men who like dancing with gay men) are just two examples.
Then come the incessant acronyms. Unnecessarily shortened expressions such as PDW (Post-Date Weirdness), BBB (Bad Boyfriend Behaviour) and BH (Before Him) pepper the pages.
To my knowledge, also, “PMS-ing” has never been a verb. It is, however, Singleton’s favourite explanation of female behaviour.
In short, the book is probably the most offensive thing you will read this year.
I urge you to not to buy it for any self-respecting woman or mature gay man for fear of inducing blood-spitting fits of rage.
Behind Every Great Woman There’s a Fabulous Gay Man is published by Corgi and released on Monday 2nd April 2007, priced £7.99, in paperback