Khanh the Killjoy

Bechdel test failure

The Break-Up Artist - Philip Siegel
Ninety percent of their sentences begin with “My boyfriend.”

“My boyfriend has the most adorable golden retriever.”

“My boyfriend is taking his driving test next week, and he’s been practicing like a maniac.”

The girls humor me with smiles, then continue their deep conversation. It’s a biological compulsion.

This book is a teenaged boy's wet dream, in which girls are predictably stupid, in a school where every single girl is desperate for a boyfriend because of a low male-to-female ratio.

There is this thing called the Bechtel Test.

It asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

This book would almost completely fail that test.

I'm not sure if the author intended to portray his female characters has shallow, airheaded bimbos at the expense of making the main character look good, or whether he has such a poor opinion of females, or whether the females in his life are actually people who talk about nothing but boys, shoes, and shopping, but I found the portrayal of girls in this book to be incredibly offensive.

This book had an interesting premise. Sadly, that's where all the enjoyment ended for me. What's the point of a book about female empowerment independent of luuuurve when the book portrays EVERY SINGLE FEMALE (except the main character, of course) as shallow, stupid bitches who talk about nothing but...

...boys, shoes or our classmates.

This book:

- Has an incredibly shallow portrayal of high school

- A main character who is hypocritical, judgmental, and so holier-than-thou that Jesus wouldn't be able to pray away her sanctimonious attitude

- Stupid girls lots of stupid girls who do nothing but gossip. Doesn't matter if they're going to Ivy Leagues after they graduate. They still only care about boys and getting a boyfriend.

- Cheating from the sanctimonious main character, no less

- Blames the girls for the failure of the relationship

The Premise:

I’m just speeding up the inevitable.

This book has a pretty cool premise. Becca is a "Break Up Artist." She doesn't believe in love. She hates love. She thinks love only leads to heartbreak and is completely jaded against the idea of love. She thinks that love = weak.

Yeah, she's one of those protagonists.

Becca breaks up relationships. Honestly, I like the idea. It's cruel, but when it comes to our loved ones, we're not nice people. She takes contracts under an anonymous name, and she breaks up the couple in question. It's neat, right? I mean, who among us haven't had a beloved friend date a complete fucking loser that you just want them to dump already?

Becca receives a new assignment. It's worth a lot of money. She is to break up the school's #1 couple, Huxley (who was her former best friend), and Steve. Why does this perfect couple need to be broken up? Because it's the girl's (Huxley) fault that the guy (Steve) is choosing to be with her instead of pursuing his glorious future. Sure, blame the girl.

That kid was born to play football, and he knows it. The only thing stopping him is right between that girl’s legs. Excuse my language.”

First of all, Becca's not completely neutral in this. She hates Huxley because they were BFFs before Huxley spurned her for another group of friends.

We used to be friends.
I have to vanquish the evil queen.

It's a personal vendetta. It is morally questionable at best, and there's no such thing as neutrality anymore. There's no BIG BAD NO GOOD BOYFRIEND scenario. Steve and Huxley are in love, and completely devoted to each other.

Becca isn't doing the right thing, she's just breaking the two up out of spite.

It seeks to portray the main character as this *cue angelic choir here* AAAAAHHHHH~~~~ rational-minded protagonist OUT TO SAVE THE WORLD AGAINST THE EBILS OF WUV!...only to have her fall for this cheesy-ass fucking hit line herself.

“Remember the part at the end, when Harry says to Sally, ‘When you find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to start now’? That’s how I feel about you. Not the ‘rest of my life’ part. But you are the girl I’ve been searching for. You’re so different and interesting. This may sound crazy, but I can see myself falling in love with you.”

P.S. THE GUY? HE'S HER FRIEND'S BOYFRIEND. Get the fuck out of here.

The Setting:

Having a significant other will put any student at Ashland High School on the social radar, and chances are if you’re in a relationship, someone else is talking about it.

My god, there must have been something wrong with my high school. We had a school size of around 2000, whereas "Ashland High School" has a student body of 1500, but that's where the similarities end. For one thing everyone cares about relationships in this book. It seems like that's what all the girls talk about. Who gives a fuck about academics, it's about RELATIONSHIPS, DATING, BOYS! And man, the boys have SUCH an advantage.

Ashland High has an overabundance of girls. It’s a sixty-five, thirty-five split. This gives guys a huge advantage. They can be fat, lazy and pimply and still get to be choosy. Finding a suitable guy to date is a study in Darwinism. Survival of the hottest. The options dwindle with each year.

And with so few guys available, surely, EVERY SINGLE GIRL MUST WANT A GUY, RIGHT? I mean, my high school was so different. There were people (me! My best friend! My other best friends! Half the fucking school!) who didn't even date in high school. I mean, what the hell?! I mean, it's high school. Who's giving a crap about classes, AP tests, extracurricular activities, sports, volunteering anyway. Clearly high school is all about having a boyfriend or girlfriend. And in such a big school, eeeeeeeveryone knows who's dating who. I mean, they have dating dossiers to keep track of relationship statuses. Everyone gossips. Everyone knows each other's business. My fucking god. Every time a couple breaks up, they make front page news.

His break-up with Bethann was felt throughout the AP hallway, where they had a mini fan club.

Mini fan club! For a couple! Are you fucking kidding me?!

The girls at this school will do anything for a boyfriend. They will pretend to like things they don't usually like. They will pretend to know about movies when they don't give a flying fuck about Martin Scorsese. They will do anything to land a boy in order not to appear to be pathetic loveless losers.

One of the biggest joys coupled girls have is giving their single friends dating advice. Just because they lucked out—and it’s luck, nothing more—they believe that makes them dating experts. I’m sure it’s one of the reasons Val worked so hard to land a boyfriend. She’s always wanted to be on the other side of this conversation.

They will give up their vegetarianism for a boy.

“Aren’t you a vegetarian?” I ask her.
“I was, but I’m getting back into red meat.” She rubs Ezra’s thigh. He grabs her fingers and squeezes.

The Shallow Bitches:

“I need a boy.”
I can’t tell if she wants Ezra, or just a boyfriend. Someone to give her an oversize, inconvenient teddy bear. Val may not know the answer either. Vulnerability and desperation flicker in her eyes.

Give me a fucking break. All the girls in this school talk about are "boys, shoes, and classmates." Really? I'm sorry, I am female. I know a lot of females. I went to high school. I went to college. Neither me nor my friends ever had entire conversations revolving around nothing but shoes or boys. And I had a friend who was obsessed with Nikes! She collected them, but she never talked about them! We had classes. Family. Friends. We had hobbies. We had funny stories to tell. We laughed together. Rarely did relationship issues ever surface in our conversations. The girls in this book, whether they're book-smart or "slutty" cheerleaders, discuss boys and relationships incessantly. They all want boyfriends. They all keep abreast of who's dating who. They love romance movies with sad endings because they're silly, contradictory girls.

Why do none of the movies girls at my school love have happy endings? One half of the couple either dies or moves away. But they can’t get enough of those films. Titanic, Shakespeare in Love, Atonement, The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, every other Nicholas Sparks film known to man.

They looooooooove Romeo and Juliet, none of them think that it's a silly, shallow love story like the STRONG ANTI-LOVE Becca.

“But there was love at the core. There was something spiritual, some subconscious connection that was pulling them together. It wasn’t logic. You don’t go through all of this for someone you think is so-so.”
Ms. Hardwick hops off her desk, happy to have control of her classroom again. “Let’s put it to a class vote. Who thinks Romeo and Juliet were not in love?”
None of them raise their hands.

All the girls are sheep, easily led around by a Queen Bee. Except for the main character. All the girls are cruel, secretly sadistic at heart, wishing for the downfall of a friend.

I always thought girls at Ashland adored Huxley, but I guess she’s like any celebrity. They’re eager to see her fall.

Except for the main character. And speaking of...


“Ezra, do you even know what a one-night stand is? Victoria only felt one thing inside her that night, and it wasn’t love.”
He nods, taken aback by a girl not talking like a girl for a second.

Oh, I'm sorry. Is there a way a girl is supposed to talk? Meet Becca. Special, special Becca. Becca, who is portrayed to be the only normal fucking person in a school full of idiots. Becca who actually talks like normal people, not like "a girl" and gets attention for it, in comparison to all the other girls, who talk about boys and shoes and are reeking of desperation.

Becca, who is anti-love, and yet who cheats on her own best friend with her boyfriend.

“I kissed Ezra, Val’s boyfriend.”
“Are you going to be one of those girls who happily ditches her friends for a guy?”
That leaves a bruise.

Because it's true. Becca, who portrays her own sister as a pathetic, weakling who's comatose for her lost love. Becca, who maintains her integrity throughout the falling for a creep.

“He sounds like a creep,” she says.
“No, he’s a good guy.”
“He’s dating your best friend and openly pursuing you. I don’t have a dictionary on hand, but I’d say that’s a creep.”
“It’s not like that. You don’t understand.” I picture the way Ezra acted with me, so delicate and sweet. He didn’t have a secret agenda.

Becca, who's the biggest hypocritical fucking tool in the world.