Author Laura J. Wellington recently released her new satirical self-help book all about the elementary days of dating. Titled “What to Do When Jane Knows DICK about Dating: If He Wants You, You Will Know It,” Wellington takes an old school approach to the modern world of dating in the digital age. Using two well-known characters, Dick and Jane — found in perhaps the most rudimentary reading book — she emphasizes just how easy dating and love could and should be.
Throughout the book, the reader is referenced as Jane, and any man we encounter along the journey is dubbed, Dick. This leads to a lot of phrases such as “your Dick” and “the right Dick.” This wordplay makes the material light-hearted and much more entertaining than being told how to spend your dating years.
The tone of the book is established in the first sentence in which Wellington writes, “Whoever convinced women that they are the same as men is a genius.” This is meant to stun the reader, perhaps encouraging them to oppose her opinions on the onset while simultaneously causing them to know just how absurd this woman’s feelings are. We then learn that this was sarcasm, done for those exact reasons. She explains how men and women are different, especially when it comes to dating approaches and ways to woo the opposite sex. This inherent difference is embodied within the two protagonists, where Jane is meant to represent all women, and Dick is meant to represent all men. This, of course, results in objections, which Wellington addresses with many exceptions and outliers.
Along with the comedic nature of the book, Wellington includes many tips that any reader can relate to and take something from. These include: her interaction with two young women at a bar, which inspired her to write this book; the passing of her husband due to cancer and her truly raw experience with love. She establishes herself as a reliable source of dating advice through these anecdotes. She also discusses the intolerance of abuse and violence when it comes to relationships, relating immediately to today’s political and social climate.
By using the 1950s Roy Lichtenstein-inspired pop art cover and the classic example of Dick and Jane, Wellington separates her and some of her advice from the modern world in which the book was published. As the title says, Wellington dejects the pursuit of any Dick types by Jane and instead has Jane to wait for a Dick to approach, which can be seen as a very anti-feminist position. Tips, such as Jane should never pay on a date and find someone who can provide for her financially, date Wellington’s content. She condemns the modern habit of rejecting romantic and gentlemanly actions, as women can open doors for themselves. Although these gestures are kind, it is important to promote women receiving and promoting actions that make them feel comfortable and capable. The use of Dick and Jane is heteronormative, which could repel readers.
All in all, the retreat to basics when it comes to dating sounds enticing, but in some ways is impossible in our ever-changing present we live in today. As gender and sexuality are being bent and questioned more than ever, the fundamental rules of boys asking out girls on the schoolyard do not always apply. That being said, Wellington’s book was extremely entertaining and quick and a light-hearted read. It should not be discarded as many of the tips presented will always be relevant so long as people keep looking for love.
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