What Do Women Want?
What do women want?
No, really – I’m asking. Because I just don’t know. I don’t think any man knows. And here’s why – I don’t think women know, either.
Step back in time with me to the 1950s. This is the last time women knew what they wanted, which was whatever their husband wanted. If you’re of a certain age, you can still see evidence of this in your folks (or grandparents) – the man still calls the shots. At least, when anybody else is around – we all know who really wears the trousers. For appearance’s sake – and that alone is a huge throwback to the 1950s – the man acts as if he is in charge, and the woman humours him by going along with it.
This attitude changed in the 1960s with the second-wave of feminism. Women’s liberation, both as a term and a concept, began in 1964, and first appeared in print in 1966. Suddenly, women really knew what they wanted – and it wasn’t this.
They didn’t want their bras, either. Germaine Greer suggested the bra was a symbol of oppression, designed by selfish men to shape and contort women’s bodies into an aesthetic, but unnatural ideal that only men found desirable. (This led to the urban legend of mass bra-burning. Although, statistically, one assumes that at least one woman went through with it and, let’s face it, there’s probably no middle ground here – she was either really pert or really needed that bra.)
Man was the problem. Man had to go.
Now, it’s the 1970s. The gender line began to blur. Men wore their hair long and their trousers flared. Women wore their hair shorter. They also had dungarees and trouser suits. It was hard to tell who was a man and who was a woman – that’s how crazy it was. I grew up in the 1970s and I’m still a bit unsure about some of my aunties.
The march towards equality was well underway. Even though men and women looked similar, they weren’t acting the same. Man was still man – you know, macho and stuff. Women didn’t like that. Clearly, the answer was to make man more like woman.
Enter, the New Man.
New Man was built around one simple premise – it’s okay to cry, really. Until 1974, no man had ever cried - unless his dog had just died. There’s nothing wrong with that. Five minutes later, though, it’s back to building another outhouse in between bouts of arm-wrestling and push-ups.
Things were different now. New Man cried. He cried a lot.
Then wrote about it in his journal, which he wanted you to read. Heck, he’d read it to you.
When the tears stopped, he’d cook you a lovely meal.
Then he’d massage your feet while running you a scented bath.
New Man was smart. He realised that women often said one thing while expecting another. New Man was well aware that even though feminists say women can open the door themselves, thank you very much, most get angry if you slam it back in their face. Or if you don’t at least offer to pay for dinner. Or pump the gas, get the spider out of the bedroom and carry anything that weighs more than her purse. Without complaining.
He’d covered all the bases. Right until the early 1990s, things were going great.
So what happened to New Man? New Man got dumped.
Why? Because women realised that New Man wasn’t what they wanted, because New Man is essentially a woman. Aside from ladies who sport comfortable shoes and buzz haircuts, women typically don’t want to date another woman. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I encourage it.)
Women – despite what they might tell you to the contrary – don’t want a man who is too sensitive. They don’t really want a man who is sensitive at all. Sure, they like the idea that, if the circumstances were severe then there’s a small, slim chance of a possibility that you might cry (say, at your father’s funeral, and only if he died rescuing kids from a burning orphanage, in between bouts of arm-wrestling).
If you’re the kind of guy who cries more than once every, oh, 10 years, and certainly over everything, then you also know you have about as much chance of maintaining a genuine relationship with a hot woman as Tom Cruise.
Women were confused. Things hadn’t worked out well at all.
New Man was the problem. New Man had to go.
Enter New Woman.
New Woman knew what she wanted. What she wanted was a bad boy. You can’t explain it – even basic analysis reveals quite quickly that it makes absolutely no sense – but women are attracted to guys who are, for want of a better term, jerks.
Women love The Jerk.
Sure, they say they find Al Gore ‘mesmerising’, but then vote for George Bush when they see him in a flight jumpsuit.
Here’s the thing – women see the good in all men or think they can. That guy might be a jerk now, but inside I just know he’s the love of my life. I can cure him. I’m exactly what he needs.
Six months later, he’s dumped. Turns out he was just a jerk after all.
So what does New Woman do? Goes straight out and dates another jerk.
And another. And another. There’s method in her madness – one of them must be Mr Right, surely?
Meantime, New Man went off to lick his wounds. He didn’t understand it. He thought he’d covered all the bases. What went wrong?
New Man evolved. New Man became That Guy.
Every woman has a That Guy. Every man knows a That Guy. That Guy is really close friends with a woman and she always comes to him whenever she’s broken up with yet another jerk who treated her really bad and he can’t understand it and why doesn’t she see how great he is and that he’s much better than those other guys and he’d treat her good and all the people who read his blog like totally agree.
The reality is he has absolutely no chance with that woman. None. Zero. Nada. It’s never going to happen.
How can you improve your romantic prospects if you think you might be That Guy?
Don’t worry – it’s easily fixed. I was That Guy for a short while back in 1996. I was the shoulder to cry on and I was the ‘always be there’ fallback dude when things weren’t going as well as she’d assumed with The Jerk.
Want to know the solution? Just stop returning her calls and look angry and distant when she’s telling you about her day. (My wife and I will be celebrating our twelfth wedding anniversary later this year.)
By now it’s the late 90s. Women are more confused than ever. Feminism breaks up into lots of sub-categories and is so advanced that it’s started to criticise itself – Nadine Strossen, the president of the American Civil Liberties Union, suggests that modern, so-called post-feminism should adopt the revolutionary stance that women are just people and any attempt to separate the sexes is less about feminism and more about sexism.
If women are confused, then men have absolutely no idea what is going on. First women want the New Man. Then they want The Jerk. None of them want That Guy. Now they don’t even want each other.
In 1999, Men united in their celebration of Fight Club. All men want to be Tyler Durden. This lasts about three years when suddenly men realise they aren’t Brad Pitt.
Man goes crazy. Enter The Metrosexual.
But nobody wants that.
It’s 2008. What have we learned?
Men want women. That’s never changed. They’ll pretty much take ‘em however they come. Man has his faults, but he’s been pretty consistent about that.
Women still don’t know what they want. Out of the ashes of New Man, The Jerk and That Guy emerges a comforting truth – it’s never been a better time to be normal.
Women will always be attracted to jerks, but they know it will never work. Women will always like the idea of the New Man, but they know it will never work. Women will always keep That Guy close to hand, and he has no idea it’ll never work.
Being normal doesn’t mean being dull. Normal is really attractive. Normal Guy never turns out to be a stalker or a weirdo. Normal Guy keeps a blog while knowing his way around the gym. Normal Guy will pump your gas and hold your doors open, but likes that you can change the spare yourself. Normal Guy really wants kids – with you, while hating everybody else’s. He’ll tell you he’s dying of flu every time he catches a cold, then expect you to just “shrug it off” after your c-section.
Trust me – women want the Normal Guy.
Well, for the next few years, at least.