Libraries and bookshops might be great places to meet people, but I fear sexual equality is in peril in these houses of intellect and tripe. I was at the biggest mall in the world yesterday, and in it is one of the largest bookshops I’ve had the pleasure of losing myself in, Kinokuniya. Yesterday was part of the Eid holidays here in Dubai, so we were there trying to consume time in the largest possible chunks. What better place to do that than a book shop that never ends?
Having casually browsed through the bestsellers, pored over the spines at astronomy, ogled at science-fiction, and muttered gypsy protection hexes near the sports section, I found myself rambling through one of those smorgasbord general-interest areas (might have been self-help, health, or any one of the completely meaningless subgenres) when I saw a bright blue cover on the top shelf that attracted my wandering eye.
The book had a large overly-photoshopped image of a wedding ring on the cover, and its kitsch typography announced: How To Marry A Multi-millionaire: The Ultimate Guide To High Net Worth Dating. Cool! I thought in my head. I could have said it aloud, of course, but I had already scared enough people by doing that at regular intervals near the comic section. So I held back. I picked it up, took a cursory glance at the back matter and then flipped through, scanning titles, chapter headings, and random snippets of body text. If I was a melodramatic person, the blood might have drained from my face, my hands might have trembled, my mouth gone dry. None of those things happened, but I was appalled!
Here was a book that purported to help you find your perfect rich mate. I had no problem with that. It was trying to tell you how to circulate in all the right company to meet your goal. Nice to see a thorough manuscript. And it even went so far as to indicate how to change yourself to be specifically attractive to the money bags you were going after. Excellent! But wait, what’s this?! “Meet your knight in the shining Gulf Stream?” “How to get on the High Net Worth dating circuit where most single multi-millionaires meet their wives?!” I don’t want to be a millionaire’s wife! I’m not that broad minded, thank you very much! It was only after a few moments of mental turmoil that I realised the book was automatically assuming I was of the fairer sex.
That’s just wrong, I thought. After all, we’ve come so far in the whole sexual equality race. Professional barriers are becoming less rigid, the kind of behaviour that is considered appropriate for the different sexes is becoming less defined, so why in this temple of knowledge must I be shunned so?
I went to book shops because I thought all the reason and balance of the world resided there. After all, was not the collection of thrillers featuring male adolescent fantasy heroines perfectly complemented by the pastel coloured hordes of the bustier-busting latin lover novels? Were not the millions of pages of literature supposedly written by sports personalities balanced finely by the miles of shelf space sacrificed to the glossy female media personalities who could do such fascinating things as gluing sea shells to vases while cooking dinner for 63, and sexually satisfying their husbands in the kitchen at the same time? Were there not alarmingly more naked skinless men on drawing anatomy book covers than naked skinless women just to make up for the indignity of the very existence of Pamela Anderson? Why then should this precise balance be broken by the brazen discrimination against men in the lucrative career of holy matrimony? I’m not sure whether this is insulting to women for automatically assuming all millionaires are men, or insulting to men for insinuating they can’t make it with millionaire women. This is an insult to humanity itself!
Moving on from the offending book, I wandered through the vast and wondrous design and architecture section, settling down between photography and the shelf with the naked skinless people on the covers. I was still troubled by my encounter with the glowing blue book though. You must understand, as a member of urban humanity, I am entitled to outrage and entitled to feel entitlement itself. It matters little what the balanced facts of the matter are when it comes to my personal perceptions of suffering and persecution. Who cares how many women in the world suffer in silence? Who cares how many men and women suffer domestic violence? Who cares if the majority of sexual assault goes unreported? I am a clinically entitled and perpetually outraged member of modern society, and considering the current economic downturn, I want to be a gold digger too, damn it!