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Shhh, I'm changing your life
CATEGORY : [News Articles] 2009/03/12 03 : 05
Pianos, jerks, even trolls -- why everything has a 'whisperer' now

By Mark Peters | March 8, 2009

IT'S EASY TO misunderstand the title of Thomas Paine's new book, "How to Treat a Woman: The Art and Science of Sex Whispering." What sounds at first like a lexicon of seductive pillow talk is in fact about "whispering" in the horse-whisperer sense, a guide to subtly managing one's partner in the bedroom. If this seems like a curious new approach to intimacy, perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise - Paine is just the latest entrant in the increasingly crowded world of whisperers.

If there's a job title of the decade, "whisperer" has to be a contender. More than a decade after "The Horse Whisperer" appeared on movie screens, and four years after the debuts of "The Dog Whisperer" and "The Ghost Whisperer" on TV, "whispering" is still gaining steam among a huge range of consultants and instructors who promise subtle yet authoritative transformation in pretty much every aspect of life.

Besides a seemingly endless roster of self-described animal whisperers - really, a tarantula whisperer? - there's now the MBA Whisperer, an online consultant who helps applicants get into business school; the Relationship Whisperer, an author and dispenser of dating and marriage advice; the Startup Whisperer, who mentors new entrepreneurs; the Jerk Whisperer, a teacher of workplace communication; and the Sales Whisperer, who promises "money, prestige, achievement, and success." The Potty Whisperer and the Plot Whisperer unclog blocked toddlers and writers.

What is it about whispering? The word has long carried the sense of subtlety and secrecy. Its newer meaning dates to the early 19th century. The Oxford English Dictionary defines "whisperer" as "an appellation for certain celebrated horse-breakers, said to have obtained obedience by whispering to the horses." Despite the name, the job was anything but subtle: Horse-breaking requires subduing a bucking horse's spirit sufficiently to allow saddling. Often this was a violent and coercive process; "whisperers" promised something less disruptive.

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