And Now for Something Really Annoying…
Holly Combe // 29 July 2008
…Clearly, men and women are increasingly out of sync, and the key could be in learning to re-balance ourselves as women and reclaim our essential softness.
Emergency! Men and women are out of sync! So what’s the answer? Working together to challenge the stereotypical behaviours that have been handed down to us and continue to stifle our true selves? Of course not! The answer is that women need to suck up to men and pander to any latent machismo they might be harbouring in some desperate effort to slyly and passively ensnare one.
No thank you.
There’s more. The writer tells us:
Two years ago I went to dinner with a doctor who told me that I ‘wasn’t in touch with my femininity’ as I ‘didn’t flirt or wear much make-up’.
His diagnosis also included the undeniable fact that I was in ‘acute need of affection’.
Maybe I just have a lot of faith in men (i.e I’d say there are plenty of good ones around so, if you’re that way inclined, you’ll probably find one eventually) but I reckon she should have been out of there as soon as this condescending prat started spouting such dictatorial, traditionalist drivel. Then again, as someone who admittedly has been known to flirt and wear make-up, I guess that I may have ended up rooting out his bullshit somewhat later on in the date. Still, calling him out on his creepy attitude when his arrogance eventually surfaced, while also helping him understand that “no, this isn’t some Mills-and-Boon shrew performance that will end in my submission to your worldly ways” would have been an interesting challenge…
One truly mind boggling part of the article is when the writer ropes in a cosmetic surgeon, who clearly fancies himself as a bit of an expert on ideal female behaviour as well as looks, to talk about the problem of materialism (sounds reasonable but you know it can’t last!) and how the credit crunch is going to force women towards their “authenticity” because “they will no longer be able to pretend that they are rich or successful.” Really.
Another man who knows all about how we women ought to be conducting ourselves is Psychologist Jeff Allen:
The feminine principle is about allowing things to unfold and happen, not always interfering.
Career women think that they have to be in control to make it happen, but if they stop and tap into some kind of emotional intelligence and empathy, it makes them better problem-solvers.
Incredibly, the writer of the article appears to find this patronising load of bluster enlightening:
I can see that being feminine is about allowing oneself to yield more and control less.
Two nights ago, I went to dinner with a male friend, and for the first time in years I looked more feminine, acted more femininely and, crucially, felt more feminine.
Not in a simpering way, but with a profound realisation that being able to show vulnerability isn’t a female weakness but a sign of a woman’s strength.
I love that “not in a simpering way” bit. Oh, the wise and confident feminine archetype who is no fool but knows her place! That mythological creature who is such a smart cookie that she manages to make patriarchy look empowering. No crude signs of servitude for this cartoon femmie the writer seems so keen to emulate. She yields with complete panache! This is guilt free oppression for the traditionalist man who doesn’t want to look like a brute, because the archetype is designed to enable him to pretend it isn’t happening.
I laughed but, honestly, I dread to think of some lonely woman who fancies men (and hasn’t been with one for a while) reading this. I hate to think of her resigning herself to having to pander to such rubbish when, actually, there’s nothing wrong with her at all and any man worth her time will accept her as a fully functioning human being rather than some modern Stepford wife in training.
Addendum: Overall, Laura and I picked out different quotes but I’ve now slightly cut one of mine to avoid repetition, as I didn’t directly comment on the text in question anyway.