After an invigorating Sunday morning prenatal yoga class, I waddled my way to the local coffee shop to catch up on some news from the week. Once I got through the depressing news about the Government shut down, I started to read The Washington Post Magazine. For those of you who don’t follow the post magazine, every week they do something called “Date Lab” where they set up two Washingtonians on a blind date and then write about their reactions to the date in the magazine. This week featured two people in their 40’s who were clearly not a very good match. The man raved about his dog – the woman was deathly allergic to animals. Beyond the obvious incompatibility of this pair, the thing I found most disturbing was something the man said:
“My usual type is more…for lack of a better word, a damsel in distress. I got the sense that she was a lot more established and could definitely take care of herself: She is not a damsel in distress!”
The poor woman who had to sit through this date with someone I would qualify, as a non-evolved male was an attractive, intelligent, and successful federal policy advisor. He was the assistant manager of a recreation center. While his job is nothing to be ashamed of, his comments made him appear as though he couldn’t handle the idea of being with a woman who was more financially successful than him. What baffled me even more than his statement was that he didn’t realize how bad this made him look in the eyes of many women. This man is not evolved. While he saw himself as a classic Prince Charming, he was appeared to me as nothing more than a toad who would never become a Prince.
The Evolution of Women:
Gender roles are changing and women are changing rapidly with them. Reading the musing of this man in the Washington Post Magazine, however, made me realize that many men are not evolving at the same rate. It appears as though this man would have been happier with a woman who was less successful, more financially needy, and emotionally distressed. The man on the date was right in that the woman sitting across from him didn’t need a man – she wanted a man. There was once a time in this nation when women did need men for even the most basic things. A woman was seen as a man’s property regardless of how much he loved her. In the age where women are balancing work and raising a family, it concerns me when I see men who aren’t willing to evolve with them.
One of my earliest memories of gender differences occurred when I was about 8 years old. I was driving home with my father from school and bragging about how I had finally achieved first honors on the honor roll for my class. My father, clearly proud and taking a possibly disproportional amount of credit for this accomplishment, said, “It’s too bad you weren’t born a boy.” Eight year old Cappuccino Queen was stunned and confused. ’Why the hell does Daddy wish I were a boy,” I thought confused. I then responded by saying, “I like being a girl. I don’t wish I was born a boy.” (I added a “damn it” in my mind but wouldn’t have dared utter that last part to my father.) My father then explained that he believed it would be harder for me to achieve the kind of success I was destined for because of my gender and she wished that weren’t the case.
My Little Girl:
As a soon to be mother of a little girl, I have given a lot of thought about my feelings on women in society and about what my father said to me when I was eight years old. Despite the fact that we are now seeing women in politics, leading companies, and holding all types of powerful positions across our country, women are still forced to break down gender stereotypes on a regular basis. Many of us have dated Mr. “I want to save a distressed woman” and I am sure my daughter will run into her fare share as well. Despite the fact that I have gone through a tremendous amount of distress, I do not wish to be saved by a man who believes that I need to be dependent upon him in order for our relationship to be complete – and I do not want this for my daughter either.
From the moment my baby girl makes her arrival, I plan on telling her every day how happy I am to have her – how glad I am that she is a girl – and how I am happy that she is who she is. I will also tell her that she is destined for great things, but that she has to realize that she will need to work harder knowing that there are some people who still don’t want a woman to be doing great things. She should never feel as if she needs a man in order to survive. She should want to find a partner who is the kind of person who has evolved enough to realize that he needs to be special enough to be wanted, and not just needed because he is a man.
And to my strong women out there who have been through enough to be justifiably distressed – don’t ever move through life expecting that anyone else will save you. You must first save yourself and get to the point where you can stand on your own two feet. Then, search for that person who will respect your strength, love you like the Queen you are, and make you want him even when you don’t need him.