On Joe Bovino’s “Field Guide to Chicks of the United States”

On Joe Bovino’s “Field Guide to Chicks of the United States”

It’s supposed to appeal to those dudes who turn to Big Buck Hunter II when bar conversation veers away from Stuart Scott. In other words, this book comes directly from the penis of Joe Bovino, American douchebag who says he got a law degree and pioneered some workout craze.

OK, it’s not that bad. In Field Guide to Chicks of the United States, Bovino examines classifications of women across the country, from Buckethead Betty (rural South) to Jelly Shot (African American-Midwest) to Bumbshell (Brazilian-American), all complete with helpful traits like friendliness (represented by smiley faces), nesting (nests with eggs), and neuroticism (watch out for those bloody butcher knives!).

Okay, sure, bell hooks would have a field day. But really, it’s the kind of book that at 3 a.m. in a frat party basement, when you stumble upstairs to reconsider drinking three Jag bombs and grinding up on a rando, you sit down on the shitter, pick this up, laugh once, and pass out.

Which is harmless, really.

Bovino tells us that “Appalachick” (right) has poor grooming habits but loves to party hard—and talk about the U.S. Coal Industry (just don’t call her a “hillbilly!”). And then there’s “Jacq Mormon” (AWOL Mormon) who engages in “plenty of pre-marital sex,” probably has breast implants, but still defends her religious background (“one to three nights to close the deal”). And don’t forget “Bougie” (African American-Professional), who stays single well into her 30s because she can’t find eligible black guys who will bankroll her stiletto collection (you can meet her at the best gym in town).

Certainly, Bovino can’t help himself at times—“Chinese Take Out” (um, yeah) has eyebrows “like McDonald’s golden arches.” But in the introduction, he trots out his “education” by referencing Malcolm Gladwell when talking about cultural diversity. Bovino argues that “cultural legacies distinguish us from one another in certain ways, and there’s nothing wrong with it.” (Certain. Nothing, etc).

Here it’s clear by Bovino’s preemptory defense that he thinks he’ll get a lot of flack from the political-correctness Nazis out there.

But who gives a shit about that?

My problem with this book—and the problem with his “chickhunter” philosophy—is not that Bovino brings up cultural/ethnic/racial differences in a blatant ploy to get A$$. But rather that these differences don’t exist—at least in his world.

In some respects, Dr. Dre was right when he said, “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks.” Not because, ya know, but because Dre avoided an anachronistic adjective in front of bitches like, “Peruvian-American Bitches ain’t…blah blah blah.”

What Bovino’s book really reveals is boring sameness—but you’ve got to look at the pictures, not just the text. Nearly every single cartoon image of the hundreds of girls is the same thong-booty, winning smile, hourglass figure, with a different shade of topaz. By categorizing the various phyla of women, Bovino just dresses up Betty Boop in like a sombrero, then a hijab, and then a snowshoeing hat. “Chosen One” (Israeli American) in her mini-skirt, cigarette, and Jennifer-Love-Hewitt-hair is basically a more-covered, shorter-earring version of “Hotemalan” (Guatemalan American). The Minnesota girl (“Ice and Easy!”) is basically the same as Southern Belle except she’s wearing a wintery hat and showing more of her round ass.

It’s a cynical gesture to play with the same bored fantasy—role-playing in the bedroom. And guys will eat it up (sorry, bell).

But what’s a real bummer is that so will women.

Bovino—perhaps inadvertently—has put his finger on the superficial ways women seek to distinguish themselves from the rest of the gals in the one-night stand line-up. If you visit any number of online dating sites to go “chick-hunting,” you’ll see girls filling profiles with a couple photos of her in the stands at Target Field, a photo of her out with the girls (just one), a photo of her with a dog by the lake, and maybe one random shot of her at graduation so the guy knows she’s not a gold-digger.

And they all insist how different they are from “other girls.” But like an iPod shuffle, the scary thing about mix-n-matching like this is you start to see patterns. That maybe the punk rock from the late 70s is scarily reminiscent to 40s country bluegrass. Or that Marilyn Manson and Garth Brooks are really singing about the same thing. And maybe a night with the “art school chick” and the “sorority babe” really will go down similarly: futon, bad movies, and bowls of popcorn before/after sex. Which is fine! I’m all for it!

But, the book’s categorization pretends these regional, ethnic, and racial distinctions really matter over intellectual diversity, humor, poetics of movement, and a whole host of neurological criteria that get major props in recent literature like David Brooks’s Social Animal.

Bovino doesn’t make me puke in my mouth because he’s wrong, but because most of us are convinced he’s not that far off.

Dunstan McGill