Some time ago, I read a piece by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, titled “What’s a Modern Girl To Do?” describing the courtship and career dilemmas of the post-feminist era. Apparently, the entire nation is backsliding on every front, and women are high-tailing it back to the concentration camp formerly known as “homemaking”. As a feminist and freethinker, I have to wonder why I’m not among them. Ms. Dowd cites studies showing two things. First, women tend to pursue powerful, dominant, high-status men, and will choose a CEO or VP over a rank-and-file worker. Second, men tend to choose submissive, non-intellectual women, secretaries rather than Cabinet ministers. She goes on to provide considerable anecdotal evidence that educated, professional urban 20- somethings have felt pressured to choose between frumpy feminism and a lifetime of following “The Rules”.
If our national pundits are going to cite biological justifications for “traditional values” status quos, turnabout is fair play. Here’s my shameful secret, my caveman turn-on: I want a man who can physically defend me. Yes… escape from danger is a turn-on. This is a purely atavistic response on my part, and may also stem from early childhood experiences where I needed a champion, and didn’t have one.
Along with brute strength, there’s something else equally important for you guys out there: your strong right arm should never, ever, be raised on me. Don’t ever try to tell me what to do, when I can do it, where I can do it, and who I can do it with. That’s the real reason why men don’t like powerful and independent women, because having our own base means we don’t have to put up with that same old crap. Furthermore, truly independent people are willing to make hard choices to stand their ground. This is the part where Harvard women are apparently hiding their business degrees and abandoning their careers to “catch” a man.
And for you masterful types out there: if you really want me to submit to you, you had better be worth submitting to. If you want to be my lord and master, you had better be master of yourself first.It means being able to keep your word. It means being able to take “no” as well as “yes” for an answer.
In a broader sense, we all need to become “true human beings.” This means not making promises or commitments we are not willing to keep. It also means not being afraid of commitments that are worth making. It means having moral and ethical courage as well as physical courage, and the humility to keep striving for these ideals for tomorrow even if we don’t succeed today. A tall order? Well, we have our entire lifetime to achieve it.
(excerpted from a longer unpublished essay written in 2006)