Men never save you

 

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Category: Women 11 Mar 07

 

The network news anchors were sheepish the day the high school dropout and former stripper with images of overtly sexual cleavage, crimson lips and dress slashed thigh high exposing creamy curves died.

 

Apologetic. Self-deprecating. As if to say we know we are serious men and women on whom you can count to bring you the complexity of Middle East politics, Iraq, elections and sound bites from powerful men like Bill Gates, but now among our top stories is the ongoing saga of Anna Nicole Smith, the former waitress and Playboy Playmate.

 

As a journalist I share their dilemma. The value of a news story is usually as clear as cut glass, but it works together with instinct and this time the instinct was spot on.

 

Smith was news not because she affected the world in a tangible way, but because she turned us inside out, touched us in a visceral way and represented women at their most raw.

 

By exposing and magnifying her vulnerability as a woman, by openly playing to the male susceptibility to sex (One survey said men think about sex up to a hundred times a day, which always brings a bemused but disparaging smile on women’s faces as if to say, “we know men are fickle little boys, and that’s why we don’t take them too seriously”) the story was about us all.

 

As a schoolgirl I remember the giggling, chattering, gaggle of us in the depth of that girlhood cult, the breathless precursor to womanhood realising even then that true economic power lay in the hands of older men.

 

In our halting innocence we never trusted our own potential, and made a pact to find the oldest richest man in the world, marry him and after he died, to share the money between us. We picked the prettiest among us to land him.

 

Love my mind

 

She protested at us making her the sacrificial lamb but in the end agreed glad of the power her looks gave her. Despite the Margaret Thatchers, the Indira Gandhis the Condoleezza Rices, the hundreds of thousands commonplace examples of high achieving women in every field, every country, we have never quite believed in our ability to take care of ourselves.

 

We have and continue to note how the starlets like Beyonce and JLo got rich and famous using their prettiness, their voices and most importantly, their sexual allure.

 

We’ve witnessed others like Jackie O and Diana Spencer marry power. We admire Condoleezza and Indira but Smith fascinates us, as we have never gotten over Marilyn Monroe.

 

Men can’t get enough of these women because of their drugging combination of vulnerability and sexuality. It plays to every male need, to control, to spray his seed around, to show off his trophy “look what I can have” and hence his power.

 

Women have an ambivalent fascination with the idea of a Monroe and Smith. There is a perception that beauty gives you a bigger life, access to interesting and powerful men and security.

 

The pursuit of beauty and sex appeal allows women to escape not having equal opportunities to men, to ignore the glass ceiling on which we bounce our heads.

 

It did, for both Monroe and Smith but they, like many women made a fatal mistake. Men never save you. Neither does beauty.

 

Nor fame. If you looked like a China doll, you got broken and discarded even if you married the rich old man, modelled, made movies and landed the reality show.

 

If you don’t develop your mind’s potential with an education and skills that give you real power as an equal in a man’s world, you could end up so empty inside that no drug in the world could fill you up. It’s time to say: “baby, love me for my mind.”

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur