Can Dating Books Be Feminist?

People may be hooking up online more than ever, but the biggest love-driven industry remains self-help publishing. It seems everyone has something to say about how we’re screwing up our love lives—from sexual anthropologists to celebrities. And women, of course, are almost always to blame, according to the “experts.”

We dream of a world where love-advice books will be obsolete—especially those that tell women how to “improve” themselves to land a man. The presumption, of course, is that finding a permanent mate (of the male variety) is the ultimate goal for us all. Our feminist panties get in a bit of a bunch over that, but we also recognize that most women do, indeed, seek long-lasting love (with a mate of any variety they damn well please). It’s in our DNA to couple up, so we’re not about to dismiss that anatomic desire. But why must the tomes that are supposed to guide us towards ultimate happiness make us feel so crappy about being both single and female?

In the name of anthropology (and, OK, for personal reasons), we went in search of positive dating books. We didn’t exactly expect to find feminist texts that self-empowered women to be themselves, which would therefore lead them to the best possible partner—one who would love them for who they are (for the record, we’d love to see that book). But we did expect to find at least a few that took the desperation out of dating.

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