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Advice and self-help books of various kinds have been gaining popularity over the last several years. These books provide fresh insights on the issues that bother the modern population the most. Among such issues there are appearances, success and popularity, financial stability and independence, personal habits and behaviors, gender roles and relationships. The last subject is one of the most popular and frequently discussed topics of the contemporary generation. It contains problems related to self-identification of the representatives of both sexes, their interactions, misunderstandings, sexuality and relationships, psychology and ways of thinking of men and women.
Every more or less mature human being has faced relationship issues at least ones in their life. These issues are the sources of attention of the society and are treated as mysterious and complex aspects of life. This way, almost everyone is looking for answers to the question how to build a successful and harmonious relationship and how to deal with the one that is not working properly. The book called “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken” by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt offers an advice considering the heartache that inevitably comes along with broken and ending relationships. This paper reviews the book and provides a discussion of the main subjects explored in the book and its meanings and implications.
“It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken” has women as its target audience. Its full cover page title says: “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken: The Smart Girl’s Breakup Buddy”. This means that Greg Behrendt, Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt wrote the book to specifically help women going through heartbreaks caused by unsuccessful relationships. The book is rather popular all over the world. It is a bestseller. Over two million copies of it have been purchased within the first years after the book was first published. The previous work by these authors titled “He’s Just Not That Into You” had the same popularity rates.
Generally, “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken” is a manual telling the female readers how to survive a breakup with a “wrong” man. It explores such topics as being able to objectively evaluate a relationship that ended, taking a time to grieve and be depressed but without causing serious damage to oneself, re-gaining personal confidence and female power, avoiding the most typical post-breakup errors such as stalking the ex partner, calling them, letting the breakup depression affect one’s friendships and career.
The authors employ the concept of Superfox they introduced in the previous book. As a term, “Superfox” stands for a free and empowered woman who is in control of her actions and does not let her self-worth get affected by men’s evaluation. The idea is that the Superfox is aware that she deserves only the best and she would not settle down for anything less than that. Superfox represents a woman with high demands, she does not change herself based on social pressure or the demands of a man. She does not waste her time with unworthy individuals and occupations.
The authors discuss the nature of post-breakup pain and sufferings. They describe in detail what a woman feels like after her relationship has ended and it follows her thoughts exactly. The book is well-designed from the psychological point of view. The authors demonstrate their awareness of all the processes a woman goes through after a break-up, her inclinations, desires, wishes, behavior and addresses all of them. This is why the book claims to be the “breakup buddy” for a woman – it is written in order to be able to answer all of the questions a woman has at this period of her life and warn her from making mistakes and causing even worse sufferings for herself or doing things she is likely to regret later.
The authors use very simple language in the book, this way the communication between the reader and the authors is held in a colloquial manner is if a woman is sharing her issues with a friend and the friend is offering an advice. The book does not provide any particularly shocking and eye-opening ideas. It offers a rather mature and rational perspective on a relationship, a point of view of an objective observer who has been through similar experiences in the past.
For example, the part about rebounding is written from the first person perspective, the author shares personal experience of “navigating the rebound waters” (Behrendt and Ruotola-Behrendt 78). The advice given by the authors is logical and reader-centered meaning that the authors know what would be the best for the woman affected by a breakup and what would be a mistake. The authors use simple comparisons and similes that can be used as memorable and empowering mottos for the female readers triggering quicker recovery and re-gaining of self-esteem.
Stereotypes and Assumptions in the Book
First of all it is important to mention that the book targets particularly the women who are suffering from a recent breakup with a male. The authors are aware that during such times women tend to view themselves as victims and support this point of view. As a result, the ex partner of a potential reader is positioned as an ultimate negative factor getting rid of which a woman is to feel happier. The man is viewed as a harmful influence, the authors even say that a woman needs to start a so-called “he-tox” which implies that a man is some kind of a destructive toxin. This way, the perspective of the authors is rather one-sided and biased.
Secondly, the book is oriented only at heterosexual women assuming that the ex partner was a male. In fact, it is rather difficult to find an advice book targeting homosexual women and their relationships. Is it because it is assumed that a relationship between two women is supposed to be more harmonious and understanding? In turn, such perspective again turns a man into a kind of a foreign body in a woman’s life.
Thirdly, in her article called “You can be anything you want, but you have to believe it”: Commercialized Feminism in Gender-Specific Programs for Girls” Sara Goodkind explores an interesting idea that is very popular in the contemporary world. Goodkind notices that the concept of a needy woman is frequently mentioned in relationship advice books as a negative characteristic (398). This way it is assumed that a harmonious and proper female-self is to have very few needs, and it also has to be able to fulfill them without somebody else’s help (Goodkind 404).
Such attitude feeds the belief that it is embarrassing for a female to admit that she needs someone else’s help and to require guidance and assistance. Goodkind points out that such tendency is recognized as the abduction of feminism, during which the feminist ideas penetrate the intimate life carried by the commercial vectors (401). This way, “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken” can be viewed as one of the self-help popular literature item promoting the image of a woman with fewer needs and putting the pressure on females who do not match the image.
Finally, the authors of “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken” assume that all women go through exactly the same experience including such stereotypical behaviors as eating a pint of ice cream out of the bucket, stalking the ex boyfriends on social networks, calling them all the time, engaging into post-breakup sexual intercourse. These are the stereotypes frequently explored in the movies and literature. Over time they have become so common that it is difficult to tell if women really have the desire to behave this way after a breakup or they feel the need to behave this way because they are dictated to do so by the media.
In conclusion, the book “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken” by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt is a very popular piece of literature that is designed to address the needs of heterosexual females suffering from a recent breakup. It provides a helpful objective perspective for a reader whose biased perception of the situation can be misleading for her. The book serves as a self-help manual, but it works through the support of negative stereotypes about men as destructive influences in the lives of women and creates additional pressure on females dictating that being in need of help or support from another person is a demonstration on dependence and weakness.
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Behrendt, Greg and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken: The Smart Girl’s Break-Up Buddy. New York: Potter/Ted Speed/Harmony, 2005. Print.
Goodkind, Sara. “You can be anything you want, but you have to believe it”: Commercialized Feminism in Gender‐Specific Programs for Girls.” Signs, 34. 2 (2009): 397-422. Print.