Female power a turn off for men


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Category: Women Date: 18 Dec 05


When Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd fired off her column, What’s a modern girl to do?, it made you squirm the way you would when you look at an embarrassing photograph of yourself thinking, “God, I’ve really let myself go.”


Dowd believes men want to pair up with women who are dumber than themselves, and women catch their prey (men) by playing dumb, while submitting to the torture of tight heels, painful surgery and gooey lipstick. If they dare to be too educated, self-reliant, clever, assertive, they run the risk of ending up on the shelf. What a shock! Nobody told today’s woman that!


Dowd illustrates her point: “At a party for the Broadway opening of Sweet Smell of Success, a top New York producer gave me a lecture on the price of female success that was anything but sweet. He confessed that he had wanted to ask me out on a date when he was between marriages but nixed the idea because my job as a Times columnist made me too intimidating.


“Men, he explained, prefer women who seem malleable and awed. He predicted that I would never find a mate because if there’s one thing men fear, it’s a woman who uses her critical faculties. Will she be critical of absolutely everything, even his manhood?


“He had hit on a primal fear of single successful women: that the aroma of male power is an aphrodisiac for women, but the perfume of female power is a turnoff for men. It took women a few decades to realise that everything they were doing to advance themselves in the boardroom could be sabotaging their chances in the bedroom, that evolution was lagging behind equality.”


Dowd makes one wonder how, after coming a long way, we turned right around and headed back. In the 1960s, angry feminists were noisily breaking off centuries-old shackles: burning bras, wiping off yucky make-up, kicking off high heels for flats that allowed mobility, loudly proclaiming their equality to men. Good for us. We thought we could have it all. But we clearly can’t. Dowd writes: “A few years ago at a White House correspondents’ dinner, I met a very beautiful and successful actress. Within minutes, she blurted out: ‘I can’t believe I’m 46 and not married. Men only want to marry their personal assistants or PR women.’


“I’d been noticing a trend along these lines, as famous and powerful men took up with young women, whose job it was to care for them and nurture them in some way: their secretaries, assistants, nannies, caterers, flight attendants, researchers and fact-checkers.


“A 2005 report by researchers at four British universities indicated that a high IQ hampers a woman’s chance to marry, while it is a plus for men. The prospect for marriage increased by 35 per cent for guys for each 16-point increase in IQ; for women, there is a 40 per cent drop for each 16-point rise.”


And which woman, no matter how clever, wants to deprive herself of love and children? So we regressed. Dowd saw the signs in 1995 with the publication of The Rules, a dating bible that encouraged women to return to pre-feminist mind games by playing hard to get. (“Don’t stay on the phone for more than ten minutes... Even if you are the head of your own company...when you’re with a man you like, be quiet and mysterious, act ladylike, cross your legs and smile... Wear black sheer pantyhose and hike up your skirt to entice the opposite sex!”)


Is it then the new woman’s lot to roll over and play dumb? By no means. Dowd concludes that women have discovered that playing dumb is a “raw deal and an old trap” when they are “deserted by husbands for younger babes, and unable to get back into a work force.”


Given a man’s mercurial DNA, the worst case long-term choices women actually face are to be self-sufficient and manless, or dependent with (unreliable) man.


If we are to believe Dowd in this depressing scenario, the only way out for young women today, is to be self-reliant and treat men like icing on the cake or eye candy.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur