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 May 31 - Jun 6, 2012 

Book Review

Dogma Style

Heather Rutman’s anti-climactic guide to sex without love

The Girl's Guide to Depravity: How To Get Laid Without Getting Screwed

Heather Rutman
Running Press
paperback
$14

Many among us remain convinced that unbridled desire should be stuffed down, prayed out or confined to the procreative marital bed. Plenty of policymakers (and presidential hopefuls) echo this notion. With that backdrop, the mere notion that it’s OK for women to seek sex for pleasure is itself political.

Let’s say a woman doesn’t care to kneel at the altar of church-sanctioned, babymaking intercourse. If she chooses instead to take responsibility for her own pleasure, overall sexual well-being and (by association) emotional self-sufficiency, is she not taking a public policy stance? After all, the pursuit of sex for pleasure is inextricable from the pursuit of sexual safety, birth control and self-expression.

It’s not that The Girl’s Guide to Depravity: How To Get Laid Without Getting Screwed by Heather Rutman wants to hold forth on these issues. But the title and packaging allude to something subversive inside—an edgy new take on the pursuit of female sexual pleasure. It’s a handbook, the back cover explains, one laced with comedy and contempt for outmoded dating guides that emphasize female passivity and chastity. “Do something bad if it feels good,” Rutman urges.

I should add that the book was inspired by Rutman’s blog, which also inspired a series on Cinemax. Surprised to hear the feathered-haired network wasn’t relegated to quaint soft-core obscurity years ago? I was. First red flag, ahoy.

It isn’t long before others are flying in your face, flapping an urgent warning to turn sail while you still can.

The Girl’s Guide is based on a grinding sequence of rules—like every other dating/relationship advice peddler reliant on cynical generalizations and absolutes to hide deficits of genuine insight. The book also comes with a legal disclaimer: “The Girl’s Guide to Depravity is a humor book. Its advice and suggestions are not meant to be taken seriously. The author and publisher disclaim all liability.”

The narrator at the center of this humor book is a self-destructive, substance dependent female cad whose sole purpose is a ride on yet another “dirty hot” dude in order to rub out yet another compulsive orgasm. Other women are air-headed, “fugly” competitors. A select (equally drug- and drink-addled) few function as co-conspirators. Men, all selfish assholes, will “take a shit on your heart.” Best just to employ them as sex machines / dildos / ATMs. Drugs and alcohol should be consumed rigorously to facilitate this use: Chemical courage helps with propositions or physical assault (grabbing, groping) of strange guys in bars.

Once a male has been targeted, the key is to stop at nothing to secure intercourse—not even dosing him with penis pills and/or roofies, or “stalking,” all of which are encouraged. Married, committed and gay guys are fair game. If the targeted male in possession of a penis isn’t able to actually perform like a machine (or worse, bails the scene for another “cuntini”), revenge must be exacted—preferably in the form of public humiliation and property destruction.

How … hilarious?

To reiterate: no real issue here with the narrator’s stated objective of “hot monkey sex.” But actual pleasure isn’t depicted anywhere in this book. Plus, I was at least looking forward to chuckling once or twice. The Girl’s Guide is more numbing than the most magically medicated lube known to man. There are 55 (!) rules about how to maintain the aforementioned lady-cad lifestyle. Each is followed by a droll, dryly delivered illustrative story. The rules could easily be abbreviated to a dozen pages, thus sparing the reader the accompanying graphs and anecdotes. As is, the book gradually imparts the feeling that you’ve been locked against your will in a bathroom stall with a wasted, gum-smacking sociopath.

I’m also sincerely curious how anyone finds this exhausting volume, or any of its multimedia offshoots, humorous. Is it because they relate to the desperate, vapid, vomit-caked characters depicted? Is it that their preferred comedy is the basest, least clever form—scatological and fluid-centric, with laughs won at others’ expense? Are theirs the nervous titters of middle schoolers undone at any whisper of words like “peen”?

If The Girl’s Guide to Depravity isn’t comedy, and if it’s not (per the advisement of the publisher’s attorney) a guide—what the hell is it? My best guess: Rutman, a TV writer, wants to milk the cash cow of cheeky, “raw” depictions of sex from a female POV (see “Sex and the City” and “Girls”). I also guess that like Cinemax, her book will fade into obsolescence once the audience tunes out its lame attempts at titillation.

That’s my hope, at least. If the Rick Santorums of the world get wind of this book’s vindictive vodka breath and start waving it above their soapbox as evidence of what happens when women give themselves some sexual permission, we will get screwed, all of us.

 
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