Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Too much grooming?

What do women want? According to young, attractive Australian journalist Amy Cooper the answer is not a prissy kind of metrosexual man. In a column in the Sunday Age, Amy Cooper notes that women once,

steered clear of the guy with the manicure or the waxed eyebrows because fastidious grooming signified self-absorption, narcissism, and general dodginess.

What Amy Cooper believes women want in a man is,

heroism and emotional literacy, with just enough dirt under the collar.

This is not, as Amy herself admits, a small ask. She wants not just a minor display of manhood, but a fully heroic one. And she wants a man to be able to express romantic thoughts and feelings, something which takes a bit of time and effort for most men. As for appearances, she wants men to be at least a little rugged.

Why would a man try to impress a woman by developing these qualities? Amy Cooper wants men to,

still keep trying to win us because ... we're worth it. And there aren't any barbarians or savage beasts any more so you might as well concentrate on conquering us instead.

Which raises an interesting point. Nature is on the side of women here. Most young men so much want to win over a woman, that they will go to great lengths to develop masculine qualities. However, women still do have to come to the party. They have to keep themselves appealing enough to keep men encouraged.

Which means that at least some of the time the question shouldn't be "What do women want?" but rather "What do men want?" And the answer here isn't just sex. What is heroic in men isn't going to be drawn out just by women making themselves sexually available.

Men have their own romantic ideal of women. It involves women being appealingly feminine, both physically and emotionally. Women don't have to entirely meet this ideal for men to admire them and want to pursue them, but they do have to have at least some attractively feminine qualities.

Can a woman entirely lose her womanly charm? I think so. If a woman tries hard enough, she can make herself mannish and uninteresting. During the height of third wave feminism I believe some young university women fell into this category.

How rare it is, though, to find in the mainstream media any intelligent discussion of what men want. The few trendy women's magazines to deal with this question usually do so superficially by seeking a few short responses from guys who live in nightclubs. There's not much intelligent information from the male mainstream.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! Although some time has passed since your post, I just wanted to thank you for the kind comments about my column. It just came up for the first time in the search from my cuttings/online archivists. I particularly liked the 'attractive, young' part!! Anyway, three years later my views on the subject are still the same- in fact probably a bit stronger. Although my column hs moved inside the paper to the S section and focuses on parties rather than more weighty matters these days, I also have a blog on the Sun-Herald website where I hope to tackle those interesting issues. Keep up the good work on yours, and thanks for the shout! Take care,
    Amy C