Girls Lowered The Bar – Steve Harvey

Did anyone see Steve Harvey on Friday’s Oprah? His new book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man is at the top of The New York Time’s Best Seller List.

Harvey said some insightful things on Oprah, so insightful that she’s having him back for a whole hour.

The gist of what he said, as it applies to girls is:

Boys and men will do whatever girls and women require them to do to get “the cookie.” If girls require it they will get married, buy them jewelry, get better jobs, take them on various dates, go to college, romance them, behave like gentlemen, and {{{gasp}}} treat girls with respect.

The trouble , he says, is that girls and women lowered the bar out of desperation and required nothing of boys and men. We no longer require respect before we give up the cookie and so we get no respect. We no longer require dates and dinner and courtship and gentlemanly behavior, therefore courtship is dead, gentlemen appear extinct. A text message or a poke on Facebook became enough and so it is.

I wish I could say I was offended by the fact that women were portrayed as desperate for love, affection and attention. But, as I was telling a friend the other day –  I was the cheapest date EVER. I once had a boyfriend who would “borrow” money from his mother to go to Taco Bell and he wouldn’t even buy me a taco  (back when they cost less than 50 cents.) I had another boyfriend who would go on fancy vacations without me because as a hungry reporter I couldn’t afford to pay my way. I had one boyfriend who felt he could just move in with me because he loaned me $100 for my rent one single month.

It totally rang true for me. It still does in a lot of ways. My bar has always been pretty low as far as expectations for gentlemanly behavior, courtship, one-sided sacrifice, dates, and respect in general.

What about the rest of you? Did you keep the bar high or lower it? More importantly, how will you encourage your daughter to raise the bar and expect more from boys and men?

14 replies
  1. Anlina says:

    I’ve set the bar low in the past but as I’ve gotten older my standards have risen. I think this has a lot to do with improved confidence, judgement and self-respect, which a lot of young girls and women are lacking, regardless of how well they are raised and educated. Having a boy be interested in you can feel like a really validating experience when you’re young, figuring out who you are and are naive enough to not realize that there are men who would stick it into anything with an indent and that their interest is no reflection on your self worth. 😐

    I think not only do a lot of women set the bar low because of self-confidence issues and societal pressure to not demand much from men but also because media and fairytales and our friends and everyone around us tells us that all we need is love and that everything else is unimportant if we have love.
    Of course, this is a crock, but it’s something that never really sunk in till I got some experience and realized that love is important, but it’s hardly the be all, end all. I was a light a light bulb going on when it clicked that if you ignore practical considerations you end up miserable and trodden upon, regardless of how much you love each other. Who cares if he’s verbaly abusive – you have love! Who cares if he treats you like his mother – you have love! Who cares if he has no education and a lousy job and you pay for everything – you have love! Obviously not a healthy attitude to have but it’s one that is pushed on us from all sides – love is worth anything and you should give up anything for it.

    My standards for male behaviour don’t include buying me things, getting married or taking a dominant role in the relationship a la traditional chivalry, but I do demand equality and mutual respect. And these days, before I’ll give them “the cookie” I really need to feel that there’s a genuine emotional connection – not necessarily love, but friendship and shared interests. There’s no shortage of men out there – why should you set the bar low?

    I suppose there’s also a different standard for relationship-guys and casual-sex-guys. Certainly there is a certain standard which any guy needs to meet, but my criteria for long-term-relationship guys is different from casual-sex-guys, purely based on what is relevant to the relationship at hand.

    I have no daughters but I do my best to encourage my female friends to have high standards and not compromise on their expectations. Being alone is better than being with someone who treats you like garbage, and being alone really isn’t a bad thing either.

  2. 1001 petals says:

    Though I feel compelled to also say that the way I learned this was by getting lucky and ending up with a guy that treats me as all the other guys should have treated me. It’s sort of like. . . now I know what I deserved all along!

  3. Tamara says:

    I see your point about expecting to be treated a certain way. I can recall Dr. James Dobsons saying on his radio show once, “Be kind, and expect kindness.” I would also like to point out the truth of the John Mayer song “Daughters” — “Fathers, be good to your daughters. Daughters will love like you do. Girls become lovers who turn in to mothers, so mothers be good to your daughters too.

    Having said that, it’s an insult to men and to women to say that men will do anything to “get the cookie.” I’m no cookie. If anything, I’m a full course meal with 21 flavors, and I’m more than something to satisfy sexual desires in a man. Any man who has any sense of dignity or humanity is also looking for much more than that in a woman.

  4. Tracee says:

    You’re not the cookie. Sex is the cookie.

    I think Harvey’s point is that men will rise to a sense of dignity and humanity only IF we don’t give up the cookie for free.

  5. Tamara says:

    Yes, but that’s one part of what I’m protesting: the idea that men are somehow morally inferior to women, and that they have to be forced to behave responsibly and ethically toward women. I’m a feminist, but I am also a person who believes that most men don’t want to be pigs and get away with it. Some men do, certainly, and I’ve met them and been involved with them. But I just don’t think this is true of most men. I would be deeply offended if I were a man.

  6. lizriz says:

    Gross. That’s what I think of what he said: Gross.

    I mean, the first problem is that it’s based on some whack old-fashioned way of thinking. I don’t want a man to buy me jewelry, I’m down with dutch dates, it’s his business what sort of job and how much education makes him happy, and if the only way to “get” him to marry me is to withhold the “cookie,” then clearly he’s no one I’d want to marry anyway!

    lizriz’s last blog post..There’s a New Moon on my Old Corolla.

  7. Tracee says:

    Steve Harvey said MEN invented your “dutch date logic” so they wouldn’t have to try very hard to get you or your cookie.

    If I’d have been smarter I’d have set the bar WAY higher.

    Which is not to say that my husband is a bad guy or morally inferior or any of that.

    It is to say that had I required him to make more of an effort in the beginning he’d still be making that effort. I’m not talking about jewelry – I’m talking about attention, emotional connection, flirting . . . in other words trying. Effort.

    Which in the beginning is what those dates, movies, dinner, gifts, phone calls, etc. signify. If you’re fine with a text message during dating – expect a text message for 30 years of marriage.

    Be careful. You may appear so “low maintenence” and down with “dutch dates” that you will rob yourselves in the future of what you really deserve. You may be settling before you even get settled.

  8. lizriz says:

    Yeah, but I don’t consider equality settling. I mean, my boyfriend does things for me like bake me bread (wheat because I won’t eat white), talking about us and our relationship, listening when I’m upset, physical affection, etc. Sex is something we both want equally. We’re partners.

    So that extends to financial matters as well. Personally, we prefer the “take turns” model of paying. I don’t believe in engagement rings either.

    Honestly, I really think that starting a relationship with a strange game about withholding sex or expecting him to pay, gets everything off on the wrong foot. I certainly have expectations from my relationship, it’s just not about withholding something I’ve got no interest in withholding! Or expecting him to pay for everything as opposed to taking turns. 🙂

    lizriz’s last blog post..Awesome Interview with BlogHer Co-Founder and President Lisa Stone

  9. rebecca says:

    Today is the 13th anniversary of my wedding day to a man I met 22 years ago. I didn’t care for empty gestures for the sole purpose of obtaining a cookie then, nor do I care for them now. How insulting! I’m no prostitute, nor am I so easily manipulated. Frankly, I’m not sure I’d want a man to do nice things for me just to get in my pants in any event.

    What man could ever do for me what I can do for myself? I married my husband because he saw me as a whole person, body and soul. And that is exactly what has panned out in my marriage – meaningful gestures of dignity and respect, very much like the baking of wheat bread.

    Any man who has the time for lengthy mid-day phone conversations wouldn’t interest me anyway. We have lives and an unexpected text in the middle of the day to say, “hey, I love you” is a lovely thing.

    That out of the way, I think women’s standards for how a man treats them has ALWAYS been low. Marriages are partnerships and before entering into such, women should be sure roles are well defined.

    rebecca’s last blog post..We should all be so well edited.

  10. that girl says:


    I’m so sad to see all these women not seeing the TRUTH in what he said. He’s spot on. Although I do want to be seen as independent and ‘equal’ as far as value and worth – I am NOT down with every single feminist idea. We gave away our power by refusing gestures of RESPECT and affection from men. Get mad if you want – but men DO have a higher sex drive. They DO see sex as a prize of some sort – they WILL respect you for making them work for it. And that doesn’t make them terrible or judgemental. They are just wired differently. Although I think the feminist movement did a good thing by encouraging women to enjoy sex and explore their sexuality – the truth is, women NEED more than casual sex. We just do…sex is emotional for us. There are scientific reasons for this. No woman is gaining any power, confidence, or emotional fullfillment by having casual sex.

    Refusing to recognize the differences in the sexes isn’t doing anyone any favors.

    that girl’s last blog post..Boy-oy-oy-oy-oy-oING!!!!!!!!!

  11. Tracee says:

    You’re so gonna get it Ashley. LOL. You can’t say things like that in public.

    I agree, it’s pretty stupid the way some women are acting like casual, meaningless sex is OUR (women’s/feminist’s) idea. Yeah right. And yet, so convenient for men.

    I think men crave the emotional connection just as much as women do – they are just too emotionally stunted to know it.

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