“How to avoid turning your home into a MANrepeller”, the Daily Mailproclaimed from atop the mountain on Sunday. “Interiors therapist reveals the items that could be making your abode offputting to men.”
It could be forgiven for wanting to jump on the Marie Kondo bandwagon, but the twist obviously had to be that the gaze you must please is not your own, but a man’s.
Femail’s nominated manrepeller was a journalist named Liz Hoggard, and her salvation came in the form of life coach Suzanne Roynon, whose mission is to “clear your past and present clutter to create a new relationship in your life”.
How does it work in practice? Well, there are a number of rules. You should not have too many paintings of “strong, iconic” but single women in your home; cacti are bad because they’re “too spiky”.
Bedrooms should be “a boudoir to welcome a man into”, where he feels comfortable and “not squashed out by anything else”. We’d already been told that men can feel threatened by confident women, women earning more than men and women expecting pleasure from sex but “menacing bedside furniture” is a new one.
Speaking of bedrooms – books apparently aren’t allowed in there, as they are a room for “sleep and love”. This raises some questions. Does it mean that if you like reading a book in bed you must then go put it back elsewhere in the house just before falling asleep? Is one book (singular) in the bedroom fine but two or more forbidden? What if you do find a partner thanks to your attractive new flat and he also enjoys reading in bed, does this create a loophole? Should you read this singular book together at the same time? Any word on Kindles?
Roynon doesn’t expand on these particular quandaries, but does offer more advice on books. As it turns out, a single woman in search of companionship should not own novels with “depressing titles” like Little Deaths or The Suspect.
This presumably means that sad or brutal novels with deceptively cheerful titles are AOK. Jonathan Littell’s Holocaust fiction bestseller might have a scene where a soldier bashes the head of a newborn child against a kitchen counter, but it is called The Kindly Ones so on the happy shelf it goes.
It is also telling that when it comes to books, we are left with a number of don’ts but no do’s – what we read cannot be in view when we fall asleep and cannot (seem to) be a bummer, but that’s pretty much it.
Perhaps we should try to go further. If you are a single woman and would like a man to come to your flat and not run away weeping and screaming, why not let your book collection do the talking for you? Buy 35 copies of Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick and leave them lying around every corner of your house, in places where he will least expect it, so he is constantly reminded of the fact that you’re up for it. It doesn’t matter that the book is about a bit more than that; as we’ve established, men only ever look at the covers.
Or maybe put Normal People by Sally Rooney in a place where he is sure to spot it. Not only is it a good book, but it will subconsciously tell him that you are, in fact, normal. Just a normal woman, looking for a normal man, so you can be a normal couple together, living in your normal house. Normal, normal, normal. What’s not to love?
Actually, scratch that: get rid of all your books. After all, looking for love should be a full-time occupation, and you have a welcoming boudoir you need to get started on. Do consider stuffing your cacti in one of the cushions; if endless nonsensical relationship advice catered towards women has taught us anything, it’s that a man likes to be kept on his toes.