Shirley Manson's Ten Commandments of Love
From Details Magazine, June 1996
Copyright © Condé Nast Publications Inc.
By Shirley Manson
Good times can be utterly meaningless if you're experiencing them by yourself. Hardship can be unbearable
if you happen to be alone, so it helps immeasurably to have a partner in crime to help shoulder the load.
The problem, of course, is that a good man is hard to find. I've been through a million dysfunctional
relationships, and this odyssey has made me an absolute maniac about how a man should treat a woman-
specifically me. So for what it's worth (and where the hell is Butch Vig when I need a drumroll?), herewith I
present my personal Ten Commandments of Love.
1. THOU SHALL BE ANYTHING BUT A DAMN ROCK MUSICIAN:
You could say I got into music for the sex. I never harboured a burning desire to sing my heart out to be a "star".
So when I was fifteen, it was a big surprise to be suddenly asked to join a rock band. The invitation was extended
by the lead singer, in a desperate attempt to seduce me. Until his request, I'd considered him a complete arsehole.
I loathed his New Romantic tucker boots, his lipstick, and his unmitigated rudeness. Then I heard him sing. I can
still remember turning my head in shock and horror, thinking, "He has the most beautiful voice!" I quickly fell in
lust, and as he was so very keen on me, I joined his band - and shortly thereafter, his bed. Sadly, during my first
few months with the band I learned my lesson about rock musicians. I discovered that my mate was a little too
susceptible, shall we say, to the charms of other women. Upon learning this, I threw a hairbrush at his head and
put an end to the relationship. Alas, I'd become hooked on the music drug, and by now, nothing could prevent me
from continuing to play with the band. Though there are exceptions, most guys in bands - especially the young
ones- are unable to differentiate between real life and the fantasy world of having millions of screaming girls who
want to sleep with them. Rock stars often need adoration from every one all the time. I need someone who's
going to be around for me - not the whole world.
2. THOU SHALT HONOUR MY BRIGHT-COPPER FRIEND:
On the heels of the above trashing of my first true love, I must add that not only have we remained friends, but I
enjoyed my first truly pleasurable sexual liaison with him. He smelled beautifully of baby powder and a hint of
metal. More importantly, he was the first boy who ever made me feel good about having red hair. Now, to
possess a head of red hair can at times be an inconvenience - some people find it repulsive - but I'm sure I speak
for all adolescent redheads when I describe the horror of realising that your pubic hair is a vastly different colour
from everybody else's. Even blondes, for God's sake are often sprouting a much more ordinary dark brown.
When my aforementioned lover took me to his bed for the first time, he parted my red cotton kimono and gasped
"Amazing," and I had an epiphany. Ahh, I rejoiced, somebody likes it. It took me a while, but now I can proudly
say that I'm glad I don't have a big black bush!
3. THOU SHALT WEAR BOXERS - OR NOTHING AT ALL:
I love it when I pull down a boy's pants and he's got no knickers on, and I think most women feel the same. But if
a man must wear something underneath his trousers, I am willing to accept a man in boxer shorts. What I cannot
stand are what we in Scotland call Y-fronts. I think in America you call them briefs. If a boy wears Y-fronts, he
wants to be clean, tight, and controlled. I like boys who flow easy and hang loose, because that's the way their
minds work too. Plus, briefs give me the creeps because they remind me of my father (not that there's anything
unsexy about my dad, mind you, but you don't want to be thinking about your father during sex). I once went out
with this guy and ranted for ten minutes at him about how disgusting I thought black Y-fronts were on a boy. Then
I got to his flat and, blow me, did I not pull down his trousers to reveal a pair of black Y-fronts. I stared at him in
horror, hoping he'd pull them off or at least laugh, but he just lay there lounging. I said, "See you later - I'm out of
4. THOU SHALT HONOUR MY BODILY FLUIDS:
There's a stereotype of what we are all meant to find attractive and erotic, but I don't neatly fall into those
categories. Satin lingerie, a heart-shaped tub, flowers and champagne don't turn me on. You shouldn't be
scrubbed clean before you have sex. I hate boys who are frightened of pee and shit and menstrual blood. I say no
to boys who want to wake up next to a fully made-up woman. I say no to boys who prefer stockings and garters
to perfect nudity. Who wants a boy who won't kiss you when you've just been sick? I want a man who will let me
pee in his belly button. I want a man to accept the beast in me. I don't want a man who thinks the woman of his
dreams doesn't go to the toilet. One does, you know.
5. THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOUR'S WIFE (WHETHER I'M OUT OF TOWN OR NOT):
Sex is easy, commitment isn't. I have to confess I was once a tad ineffective in the latter category myself. It was
only following the cataclysmic moment when I learned that a friend had tested positive for HIV that I was forced
to reassess my attitudes. Suddenly - call me crazy - a few hours of fun didn't seem worth dying for. Since then, as
Mel Gibson once said, I've been a true believer in monogamy - and I expect the same from my partner. Besides,
screwing around gets complicated. I know a lot of people who are insanely non-monogamous even though
they've got a steady. They explain by saying, "Well, Frank's my boyfriend but he doesn't give good head, and I
really get off brilliantly with Stewart." I say dump Frank, marry Stewart. If one lover isn't enough for you, then you
ain't found the right one. Sadly, since I've been on the road non-stop, I don't even get a chance to practice
monogamy. And the closest I get to infidelity is when my sound engineer uses K-Y jelly to lube up my ear
6. THOU SHALT HONOUR MY PARENTS, AS THEY ARE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE:
As un-rock 'n' roll as it may sound, I have a phenomenal relationship with my parents, and any man who can't
recognise that they are superhuman demigods is unequivocally out of the picture. A man must be able to discuss
philosophy with Mother and do the dishes with Dad. If he is able to do both, comfortably and convincingly, I say
hang on to him for dear life. There is something grotesquely perverse about a "rock babe" like me actively seeking
to hang out in the company of my parents. It's not considered especially "hip" these days to adore those who
raised you. I am, however, an absolute rebel without a cause and always have been. It was the same with our
album: Everyone expected grunge and we gave them pop. There's a pitiful flaw in my personality that
subconsciously makes me want to do the exact opposite of what's expected of me.
7. THOU SHALT EMBRACE CUNNILINGUS FULLY:
I used to go out with this boy who did not and would not perform oral sex. Clearly he wasn't a real man,
because, I'm sorry, a man gives head. Some apparently feel the act emasculates them, that they're being
submissive somehow. Well, if they find that oral sex threatens their masculinity, then there's something far wrong
with them. Get down, get busy, or get out.
8. THOU SHALT HONOUR MY DEEP DEPRESSIONS, BUT DON'T YOU DARE HAVE THEM YOURSELF:
People tend to think I'm always aggressive and strong. The truth is, I've always been wracked with self-loathing,
which leads me into terrible, self paralysing depressions. When I go down to this place, I feel so empty and
overwhelmed I can barely move. But perversely, I find these traits in a man unacceptable - I can't stand someone
who can outdepress me. You know that scene in Babe where the farmer clog-dances for the pig? Sometimes I'm
the sick pig and I need a farmer to cheer me up. And when things get bad, my boyfriend does dance for me, and
it never fails to make me laugh. He's a pretty snappy dancer.
9. THOU SHALT BE PREPARED TO BE UNPREPARED:
A man must be spontaneous. I think everybody is mad about sex in unexpected places - humans need to feel
desired and sexy, and every now and then they have to possess or be possessed outside of their routine.
Spontaneous sex in spontaneous places - in fact spontaneity of all kinds - helps keep the fire alive. I've enjoyed
cars, empty building sites, bathrooms that weren't mine. I love trains because they are unbearably sexy. However,
I draw the line at airplanes. They turn me off completely. I associate them with impending death and everything
hideous about the world. So even if Brad Pitt came up to me on a plane and said, "I need you immediately." I'd
have to say, "Not right now, dear."
10. THOU SHALT HONOUR MY SUCCESS, AND FOR GOD'S SAKE NOT BE FREAKED OUT ABOUT IT:
So I've sold a few records and photographers take ridiculously lovely pictures of me and I'm making a bit of
money. Deal with it. Men have to learn that my success is not their failure. When I walk into a club with a man
and everyone wants to talk to me, it's because they've seen me on TV or listened to my records - not because he
is a loser. People mistake fame for power. Men feel that because you're in a band you have more power, and
they're frightened of you. I may have a higher profile, and I may not be around because I'm touring, but my man
has to be cool enough to say, "What did you do today, darling?" and hear me reply "Well, I put my crotch next to
Gavin Rossdale's for the cover of Details" and not blink an eye. It takes a strong man to love a famous woman.