Himglish and Femalese: Why Women Don't Get Why Men Don't Get Them by Jean Hannah Edelstein

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Himglish and Femalese: Why Women Don't Get Why Men Don't Get Them by Jean Hannah Edelstein

Category: Lifestyle
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Amit Vyas
Reviewed by Amit Vyas
Summary: A handy summary of 21st century male/female relations. Lively, engaging, and doesn't take itself too seriously. Whilst the advice occasionally verges on the obvious; sometimes the obvious seems surprisingly fresh.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1848091726

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Men aren't Martian and women don't hail from Venus. We're all Earthlings apparently; which seems like progress of a sort. Even so we still have trouble understanding each other because we speak different languages – Himglish and Femalese. Luckily Jean Hannah Edelstein is fluent in both and has written this light hearted volume to define the problem and translate.

As the author herself notes in the introduction, lack of understanding between men and women is as old as the hills. For most of our history each gender has been content to assume the other is unknowable, any prolonged interaction would inevitably result in women putting hands on hips and exclaiming, Men! and similarly men would end up shrugging their shoulders and muttering, Women! under their breath. This release of tension being the best we could hope for. Plenty has been written about the 'battle of the sexes' in the past, but the march of technology and the freedoms of the 21st century have caused the problem to get thornier as traditional roles for men and women have fallen away. Even today, the view that the other 50% of humanity will remain unfathomable remains entrenched in some quarters. The author asserts that its high time we evolved a little to understand the opposite sex so that we are able to live and love in greater harmony with each other. Bravo!

Having obtained my full buy-in to the project, I ploughed in with the aim of becoming proficient in Femalese. The concepts underpinning the notion of different languages is somewhat underwhelming. You may suspect that it was convenient as a marketing device for the book to hang its hat on, much like the aforementioned Mars/Venus polarity. Men use few words and communicate directly, sometimes in grunts. Women use far more words and can be subtle and circumspect, often making points in an elliptical fashion rather than just spitting it out. Despite the high minded introduction, it looked as if the author was about to fall into the trap of rolling out tedious gender stereotypes.

I can see some people (both men and women) throwing down the book in disgust, claiming that the way they were being addressed was insulting to their intelligence. As an example: men - don't set your Faceboook relationship profile to Its complicated if you are in a steady relationship; its likely to infuriate her. My own feeling is whether you find Ms Edelstein to be patronizing or illuminating depends on your starting point. As an experiment, I pointed my copy at a few gentlemen, some were intrigued whilst another was appalled. This is the kind of testing the author engages in, eschewing rigorous scientific evidence in favour the brief experiment; which together with overheard conversations, homespun wisdom and common sense form the basis for the material.

The tag line of the book Why women don't get why men don't get them suggests that the book is aimed at women who might want to leave it for boyfriends/partners when they have finished. The chapters are broken down into clear subjects e.g. Dating, Commitment, Conflict and written in a lively, anecdotal style which is amusing, if at times light on content. The text is punctuated by boxes containing conversations a modern couple might have, presented in dialogue form with gently amusing translations as to what is really being said. Handy summaries at the end of each chapter are provided in both Himglish and Femalese. As a male, the temptation was to simply skip to the Himglish summary at the end to save time whilst grasping the essential point, which probably highlights that the author is on to something after all!

Much of what is presented is interesting as a snapshot of gender relations in the 21st century, if not all that revelatory. The book aims to unpack and summarise social trends rather than explain human behaviour in depth. The chapter on Dating reveals that large numbers of us now trawl the Internet to find love but cyber couples like to pretend in public that a cutesy 'real life' chance encounter brought them together. The Domesticity chapter discusses how women are less inclined to slave over a hot stove, especially in the early stages of a relationship, for fear of appearing servile while men are increasingly comfortable in demonstrating their culinary prowess. At times Ms Edelstein appears to be trying too hard to introduce new terms to the lexicon, words like ambigudate sit as if they've been forcibly inserted into the text with a crowbar.

Every so often however, usually when you are about to start rolling your eyes at it all; a nugget of simple, grounded wisdom is found embedded within the breezy summarising. Such thoughts shine through like diamonds with their simplicity and clarity and seem especially worthy of airing in these times of instant gratification. You might even be inspired to stop wondering whether your current boy/girlfriend is the one and instead make them your bashert.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Buy Himglish and Femalese: Why Women Don't Get Why Men Don't Get Them by Jean Hannah Edelstein at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Himglish and Femalese: Why Women Don't Get Why Men Don't Get Them by Jean Hannah Edelstein at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Himglish and Femalese: Why Women Don't Get Why Men Don't Get Them by Jean Hannah Edelstein at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Himglish and Femalese: Why Women Don't Get Why Men Don't Get Them by Jean Hannah Edelstein at Amazon.com.


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