November 09, 2021

Sex on the Brain

Sign up for my newsletter.

Now, from my "Sex on the Brain" column at Philly Edge:

(I just got my copy of Dowd's new book in the mail! Yeah!)

Do men find successful women unattractive, at least when it comes to long term relationships?

Since the rise, and what some would like to see as the imminent fall of the feminist movement, there has been a power struggle between the penis and the vagina. The struggle has gone from the bedroom to the boardroom, and although a woman’s status in the workplace and in the home has significantly improved, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to equality. As someone who calls herself a feminist, even if I would ultimately like to redefine the word, I find this struggle, especially when it comes to equality in romance, is completely sad and quite absurd.

Why? Well, first of all, I wish there was some way that we could rub a magic bottle and become true equals. After all, besides the fact that one group of us has more estrogen then testosterone, and vice versa, we truly are made of the same materials. But, outside of the fact that a human is a human, I hate the fact that we still have to play games in order to remain seemingly cool.

And when we play these games the first thing we learn is that we’re not equal at all. By the age of 23 I was well aware that a man in my same position would be making substantially more money than I would while doing the exact same job. It happened in my radio career on more than one occasion. Still, when it came to relationships, I wanted to think we were gaining equal footing.

My bubble has been repeatedly burst, but this past weekend it might as well have popped.

When a friend sent me an email with the subject line “The 50’s are back?” I almost deleted it, thinking, I don’t want to read a long, lame story about how a simple life is what we yearn for, but when I clicked to open it, I noticed that this long, and I mean nine pages long, email, was speaking directly to me. The excerpt, “What’s a Modern Girl to do” from Maureen Dowd’s recently released book “Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide” wasn’t about how life was better in the 50’s, it was about how men don’t like strong women, and how we’re reverting back to a simpler time, in order to have the romantic relationships we want. And while I want romance and I want love, I also want to be an independent, aggressive go-get-em type of girl.

Dowd explores gender bias in the media and in life. This particular chapter was all about powerful women and the men they don’t attract. Yes, don’t attract, as if, because of a woman’s ability to enjoy a successful career, an opinion and perhaps more money than her male counterpart, she, in essence, misses out on some of the more familial qualities of life.

The Rules came out in 1995, and it quickly became the bible for “catching” a man. I never read the book, simply disgusted by the games it suggested women play in order to lure in members of the opposite sex. Yet somehow I was in the minority on this one, as it’s status as a bestseller would quickly prove. The rules said that women didn’t want to pay the check or make the first move; instead women wanted to be fawned over and provided for. And now, ten years later, Dowd is essentially saying the same thing.

Dowd has lots of references, like these: In 2004, John Schwartz of the New York Times stated what other people were merely suggesting. “Men would rather marry their secretaries than their bosses, and evolution may be to blame.” This came after a study of college undergraduates at the University of Michigan suggested that men going for long-term relationships would rather marry someone beneath them than above them. And Bill Maher, in his utterly obnoxious way provided another example of what men want, “women get in relationships because they want somebody to talk to. Men want women to shut up.”

Not that women who make less than their male counterparts will shut up, but the truth of those statements sucks. A reader of my blog shared his insights on the man thing “Money is coded as a masculine trait, more importantly as a sign of potency” meaning that if a man can’t make more than his wife, he isn’t being a man.

My friend Heather doesn’t agree with Dowd. “When I look at my career minded, successful, beautiful, powerful girlfriends, 75% of them HAVE found a really great guy that they either have already married or probably will marry. The other 25% aren't looking for a marriage partner yet. Of course, living in NYC helps -- better guy pool to draw from.”

I know the struggle won’t go away, and what upsets me most is that, with a minority of exceptions, Dowd simply states what we all know. Men want to be MEN - and nothing less. Women, well, they can choose to act like women, or they can choose to act like men, but in making the choice to act like a man, they lose the respect of some other men.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Posted by jamye at November 9, 2021 03:01 PM