Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A conflicted modern girl

Andrea Burns is young and pretty and a columnist for the Sunday Herald Sun. Her latest piece is a complaint about the men of her generation. Having been jostled out of the way for a taxi by a group of young men she writes,

What happened to the days when a boy would throw his coat down in the mud so that a lady might pass over? Were they a fantasy or did chivalry really exist at some point? ...

Women have wanted to be treated as equals for generations, but now that we live in this "liberated" new millenium, I have to wonder if we have been a tad hasty ...

Going dutch at a dinner and taking charge of the parallel parking are my rewards.

Of course I want to be treated as an equal, fight my own battles and wear the pants, but I would relinquish all that when I am left footsore and jacketless and my cab is stolen by a rowdy group of boys on a Saturday night...

An older man will hold the door open for his date, he will pay for dinner and will hold her chair while she sits down. All this may seem a bit outdated, but it still has its place in the modern dating scene.

A typical date these days can consist of you picking the guy up from his house, paying for yourself at the movies and dinner at McDonald's drive-thru on the way home - plus an invitation to come inside on the first date.

... it would be refreshing to meet an old-fashioned man.

Young men are different to women, but they do not feel compelled to place us on a pedestal.

It seems a lot of young men think that women will be offended or feel degraded if they treat them differently ...

Forget the metrosexual hairstyles, the Tsubi jeans and expensive aftershave; try listening to our conversation and being content with the anticipation of hitting that home run, not smacking the ball out of the park on the first date. (Good manners get you everywhere, 1/09/06)


Andrea is wrestling with some big issues here. She makes clear that what she wants romantically is a traditional recognition of gender difference, in which men treat her with special courtesy as a woman rather than diffidently as one of the guys. She isn't impressed by a metrosexual attention to grooming, but by an old-fashioned masculine chivalry.

At the same time, she still expresses some support for the independent modern girl ethos. She writes, for instance, that she wants to "fight my own battles and wear the pants".

She seems to be aware of the conflict between her old-fashioned romantic wants and her modern girl philosophy, but she leaves this unresolved in her article - perhaps because it's not easy to find a resolution.

It would be helpful if young women like Andrea Burns were more aware of the psychological adaptations men have to make to get along with the independent modern girl.

What happens if a man really comes to believe that women are independent and don't need masculine support? There is a kind of psychological chain reaction to this, in which the older categories of the mind gradually collapse and aren't easily reconstructed (meaning that men are unlikely to "swap over" in their mindsets, between the traditional and the modern, as readily as women might expect them to).

Most men start out with masculine instincts toward women, of the kind which Andrea Burns is looking for romantically. But if men inhabit a culture infused with the idea that women don't need masculine support, then it's possible for men to be forced toward a new mentality. Men will look to answer the question of what they are to do when the masculine connection to women appears lost.

For some men, the answer might be to direct the masculine drives elsewhere: into work, or sports or even masculine friendships. Over time, though, a lot of men will respond to a female individualism with their own masculine one: they will try to get what they can for themselves out of the new situation.

They might look to the apparent advantages of not being expected to be a provider (the opportunity for more creative work or part-time work); or, if they aren't expected to be traditional husband material in their 20s, they might see an advantage in being a player and scoring those home runs with many partners.

Remember too the imagery presented to young men today. How many times are men exposed to representations of "kick-ass" type of women, who kick-box or wield machine-guns, with the "deal" being that these women will redeem their attractiveness to men by acting sexy? Too many times for the cultural ideal of male gallantry to survive intact.

Anyway, what I would suggest to Andrea Burns is that women would get further if, instead of sending mixed messages, they opted more decisively to expect and appreciate the masculine support of men.

A traditionally masculine man can always be worked on by a woman to get what she wants in terms of independence, but there's not much women can do to get what they want romantically from men, once men have made the psychological adaptations to an independent girl culture.

9 comments:

  1. Perhaps she needs to meet an old-fashioned man like in this Charles Bronson ad from the 1970s (via Mangan's):
    http://mangans.blogspot.com/2006/10/sex-wish.html

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  2. Rhetorical Feminists, like Andrea, can see the solutions required of their predicament – but refuse to do anything about it, because it will, (a) Mean that they must admit to feminism being a lie (the thing that wymyn have held as religion for decades), and (b) Relinquish the undeserved concessions that feminism has given them.

    Can you imagine the petulant character of feminism willfully relinquishing power? – no, neither can I.

    It leaves women like Andrea in a stalemate. The typical “Having it all” mentality of the modern women, where they refuse to logically structure a working model that encompasses nature and all things around them – but, rather expects the world to revolve around their desires & feelings.

    It’s unworkable.

    Unfortunantly, feminists refuse to listen to any solution that requires responsibility on their part. As Andrea has so commonly mentioned, it always reverts back to “Why aren’t men more like this, or like that.” Moreover… it simply manifests itself in women’s desires (like Andrea’s) where it is men that should clean up the feminist mess. It comes down to (hear the feminists bristle) – a man coming to the rescue of a woman again.

    The problem today though… is that we (men) are both the enemy & the hero. It’s an impossible bind. Men are simply the fall guy for feminist. Feminists like andrea are not looking for solutions (when one looks at their contradictory statements), but rather someone to blame or wallow in their pity.

    Most men, like myself, have given up on women. They can have their independence, for it is impossible to talk any sense to them. It seems that anything that deosn't capitulate to feminist sensibilities gets one labelled a misogynist, or woman hater.

    With such a female-only-centric 'narrow' view of the world - it is impossible to discuss 'open' ideas to improve the lives of men & women. It seems that the only way feminists approve of men discussing anything with them, is with the same spinless attitude a teenage boy would, to a gilr he's hoping to have sex with. That is, agree with everything she says.

    Unfortunantly, feminists have driven the price of sex so high, that any thinking male would laugh at it's cost. Once a man gets older (approaching his 30's and beyond) it will not 'solely' be sex on his mind. He will ask, "So what else can you offer me besides sex?" - as its importance to me is diminishing.

    What indeed.

    As the feminist approaches 30, with her looks fading, child-bearing years dissappearing, and refusal to do housework - what exactly of value has he to look to her for?

    The answer of course, is very little. Only sex.

    I do hope it changes some day.
    I'm not holding my breath though.

    Bobby.N

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  3. Bobby, I've been meaning to commend you for a particularly acute sentence in your comment. You wrote:

    "they refuse to logically structure a working model that encompasses nature and all things around them - but, rather, expect the world to revolve around their desires and feelings"

    This is a problem within modernist politics in general, not just feminism.

    You've expressed it very well.

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  4. If women wish to be cherished and worshipped, then they should cultivate the qualities that men cherish and worship.

    Some of these qualities may be: chastity, modesty, femininity, kindness, service to family (for later, after initial attraction wears off).

    Is there any sign that the modern woman has or is developing these characteristics? No.

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  5. Anonymous, a good comment. Along the same lines, a woman will be loved if a man can think of her as lovely.

    I do see a few promising signs that things are improving. Where I live (a middle class suburb of Melbourne) the women are tending to dress in a more classically feminine way.

    Also, when younger women do find a guy they're serious about, they seem to drop some of the "ladette" behaviour which has been popular in recent times.

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  6. Mark said:
    Also, when younger women do find a guy they're serious about, they seem to drop some of the "ladette" behaviour which has been popular in recent times.


    The problem is that men (unlike many females), don’t expect their partner to ‘change’ once they’ve chosen them. Therefore, a man is more unlikely NOT to chose a feminist women ‘hoping’ she’ll change. He’ll take her at her word (or character) and will dismiss her as ‘hard work’, or incompatible.

    The old adage:
    “Women marry a man hoping he’ll change. - Men marry a woman hoping she’ll stay the same.”

    This is why i still think women need to 'turn around' from feminism, because honourable men won't chose them. Otherwise, they'll get more of the same dis-honourable men we see today.

    Bobby.N

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  7. Bobby, that's an excellent insight.

    Men won't try to rescue a woman from her own bad characteristics; they're more likely to turn away and wait for someone who meets their sense of romantic appeal.

    I remember meeting women in my 20s who gave very mixed signals. They would show signs of interest but then act in an exaggeratedly ladette way (e.g. by talking about how drunk they'd been, who they'd let pick them up the night before etc). It was almost as if they were projecting a desperation they wanted someone to see through and conquer.

    But as you say, like most men it wasn't my instinct to do this. I wanted a woman who was naturally appealing and didn't have to be made that way.

    By my 30s though I decided that modern culture had distorted things so much that it wasn't likely I'd meet such a woman.

    I remember struggling against my own instincts to accept that I'd have to try to choose a woman I sensed was good hearted and then hope that placed in a good relationship that the natural femininity would assert itself.

    Which is what happened. It's unlikely, though, that men will do this easily or in large numbers.

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  8. And that’s the point Mark.
    Younger men tend to find women who are ‘difficult’ (or wrong for them) challenging or appealing, whereas the older a man gets – the less “risks” he wants in life.

    There’s a saying:
    “What man seeks is not knowledge – but certainty.”

    Once a man gets into his 30s and his libido doesn’t cloud his vision as strongly as it used to (and is disappearing) – he is using his level-headed judgement more-and-more. He is able to (as Im sure you can attest to) walk past a gorgeous female without the same heart-pounding reaction he did in his 20’s.

    Men tend to ‘outgrow’ women (in a sexual sense) – the older they get. They’re just not that important to them sexually (in their lifestyle) anymore. They tend to have better things to do with their time, than ‘jumping through hoops’ simply to get between their legs. The payoff for men (especially through experience) proves that there is ‘not’ gold between ‘them-thar-hills’.

    Bobby.N

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  9. Andrea Burns Said: Young men are different to women, but they do not feel compelled to place us on a pedestal.

    It seems a lot of young men think that women will be offended or feel degraded if they treat them differently ...

    Forget the metrosexual hairstyles, the Tsubi jeans and expensive aftershave; try listening to our conversation and being content with the anticipation of hitting that home run, not smacking the ball out of the park on the first date.


    Chris Key Says: The underlying theory of the woman's first premiss is that young men are not placing women on a 'pedestal' for being 'women'.

    The underlying theory of the woman's second premiss is that young men are scared to place women on a pedestal.

    The underlying theory of the woman's conclusion is that men should *admire* women, which is more or less saying that men should place women on a pedestal.

    The problem with the woman's argument, is her reasoning fails to prove that women as a collective group are *worthy* of being placed upon a pedestal; therefore why should men feel *obliged* to greatly and uncritically admire women?

    A review of the Oxford Dictionary definition of 'pedestal' will allow one to develop a better understanding as to why the woman's argument is absurd:

    pedestal
    n noun
    1 the base or support on which a statue, obelisk, or column is mounted. Øa position in which someone is greatly or uncritically admired: you shouldn't put him on a pedestal.


    Based upon the definition from Oxford, placing a women on a pedestal would mean women are to be admirred both greatly and uncritically by men. In other words, a man would have to *accept* the bad qualities of any woman he dates, as it's *wrong* to question the behaviour of any creature that is placed upon a pedestal.

    Young men should be lauded for NOT placing young women on a pedestal, as it shows that the former are perceptive enough to avoid following a concept that will allow themselves to be manipulated by the latter.

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