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November 8, 2023 37 mins
From the moment it was released in 1995, The Rules was controversial. Some people loved it—and swore that the dating manual’s throwback advice helped them land a husband. Others thought it was retrograde hogwash that flew in the face of decades of feminist progress. The resulting brouhaha turned the book into a cultural phenomenon. In this episode, Slate’s Heather Schwedel explores where The Rules came from, how it became so popular, and why its list of 35 commandments continue to be so sticky—whether we like it or not.  Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin and Katie Shepherd. This episode was edited by Willa Paskin. Derek John is executive producer. Joel Meyer is senior editor/producer. Merritt Jacob is our senior technical director. We’d like to to thank Benjamin Frisch, Rachel O'Neill, Penny Love, Heather Fain, Elif Batuman, Laura Banks, Marlene Velasquez-Sedito, Leigh Anderson, Caroline Smith. We also want to mention two sources that were really helpful: Labour of Love by Moira Weigel, a paper called Shrinking Violets and Caspar Milquetoasts by Patricia McDaniel If you haven’t yet, please subscribe and rate our feed in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And even better, tell your friends. If you’re a fan of the show, we’d love for you to sign up for Slate Plus. Members get to listen to Decoder Ring without any ads. Their support is also crucial to our work. So please go to to join Slate Plus today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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