Men still want fawning, brainless caretakers


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Category: Women Date: 11 Dec 05


“If we flash forward to 2030, will we see all those young women who thought trying to Have It All was a pointless slog, now middle-aged and stranded in suburbia, popping Ativan, struggling with rebellious teenagers, deserted by husbands for younger babes, unable to get back into a work force they never tried to be part of?


“It’s easy to picture a surreally familiar scene when women realise they bought into a raw deal and old trap. With no power or money or independence, they’ll be mere domestic robots, lasering their legs and waxing their floors, or vice-versa, and desperately seeking a new Betty Friedan.”


Maureen Dowd,

NY Times Pulitzer Prize winning columnist


Maureen Dowd’s new book, Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide, reflects our age of confusion. We may have come a long way; are allowed to vote, study and apply for jobs, but we still think we need to look like Barbie dolls to stay afloat and get ahead in a man’s world.


Dowd argues that today’s women have regressed into traditional, submissive roles, not only retreating to our pink Barbie playhouses, but resorting to plastic surgery to emulate the leggy fashion doll with oversize boobs.


Dowd, herself a pretty leggy woman, still single at 53, contends that for all the gains of the women’s movement, men still want fawning, brainless caretakers. And women, she says, are only too willing to oblige them—especially the daughters of baby boomers, who have discovered that independence comes with a huge price.


Dowd’s message is that today’s women are discovering they can’t have it all because if you are too independent, too bright, too go-getting, men are threatened by you, and vanish from your life, so you are left alone on a Friday night, despairingly watching your dying biological clock go tick tock.


And if you choose to be a wife and mother over your career, you’re in danger of being pathetically financially dependent, in addition to having to act like a performing monkey with your too-tight skirts, uncomfortable heels and lipstick, to keep your man.


Everyone was fascinated but the reviews were mixed. Some women dissed Dowd’s book calling it an “uptown treatise about the wealthy, neurotic, Beltway/New York glitterati circle, where women have time and money for Botox treatments, and worry about how to snare wealthy, vain, men.”


They said her book didn’t reflect the real lives of ordinary women, who still have fat in their derrieres and attracting men is the last thing on their minds because they are too busy struggling with low wages, raising children without affordable child or health care, and dealing with the everyday, banal domesticity of marriage.


Male reviewers used lots of silvery words but you could tell they were dying to openly call Dowd a frustrated bitch who couldn’t get a man, thus validating their worldview that a woman without a man is nothing.


But Dowd gave everyone the permission to bring their powder and locker room girlie and man chat out in the open. Our worst fears were confirmed. One reviewer, Katherine Corcoran wrote :


“The news from the younger generation is worse. Several young, accomplished women said they routinely downplay their résumés for fear of scaring off dates. Some marketing and sales guys working out at a Mountain View health club agreed with Dowd that high-powered women are untouchables.


John Cook, 29, of Brisbane, is married to a woman who has been a flight attendant and a veterinary technician. A lawyer or investment banker would be too intimidating, he said.


“They lose their feminine qualities because they’re career driven. They don’t focus on things men find attractive, their softer side,” said his friend, Marco Comianos, 30, of San Jose, noting that career women dress and act too masculine.


Hot on the heels of her book, Dowd’s October column titled, What’s a Modern Girl To Do? made more waves on both sides of the Atlantic. She wrote: “I knew things were changing because a succession of my single girlfriends had called, sounding sheepish, to ask if they could borrow my out-of-print copy of How to Catch and Hold a Man.


To be continued.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur