Stereotypes Wanted

With Valentine’s coming up, my daughter’s class did an exercise in Social Studies, during which the teenage girls and boys were to speak up about the kind of guy/girl they’d like to date, and the kind of man/woman they’d like to marry.

It was interesting to get feedback on what the boys said.  To my daughter’s disgust, all the attributes listed were either physical or to do with the male ego:  She had to be pretty, have a nice figure, beautiful hair, well-manicured toenails (are you listening, single young women out there – this is a hot tip); she had to be seductive etc.  For a date, on average they wanted to pick women older than themselves.

For marrying, the same physical attributes still applied, along with a few extras:  She had to be a good earner but not as good as the guy; she had to be intelligent but not sassy;  she had to be hard-working and be able to keep a nice home.  (Ah, are we marrying or hiring a maid?  Isn’t it supposed to be a partnership?)  The most significant difference was that the woman had to be a few years younger than they themselves.  (The logic here is clear:  A young man “learns” from an older woman during courting and enjoys her experience; but where it comes to marrying he wants to dominate, so younger it is.)

It’s amazing how deeply these stereotypes are embedded still in today’s young men.

As for the girls, what they came up with I found a whole lot more disconcerting than the surprisingly predictable views of the boys.

Firstly they wanted a sensitive guy who doesn’t fart.  (Ok, I think we’ve just entered fairyland.  Such a guy does not exist.)  The parameters for dating and marrying were the same, and the logic here is also clear:  Every man a girl dates, she sees as a potential life partner.  She wouldn’t date him if she didn’t.  Girls on average don’t date guys “just for fun”.  Even if they start out that way, they get “serious” pretty fast.  It’s one of the basic misunderstandings between the sexes.

So on average, they wanted a guy who was slightly older than them; who was a good earner; who treated them with respect and did his part in the house; had a sense of humour, and was not domineering.  Giving her lots of freedom and respecting her decisions.  Falling in with her plans.

Girls!  I have news.

You’ve been lured into thinking it’s cool to date a beta-male.  This guy will impress you with his suave polished appearance (the “metro male”); will let you make every major decision; will let you earn the lion’s share of the income (which means you’re also doing the bulk of the work); hang back and “chill” while you’re running in small circles trying to juggle everything, and back away from conflict.

Twenty years down the line what you have is a work-life of 50 – 60 hours a week; no time for your children; no progress in financial stability because he’s just not a go-getter and your whole income goes to covering the basics; and every time you ask him for help you get a sulk.  The suave polish from the twenties is gone (he doesn’t have to impress you, you’re after all “his”); and there is no backbone, drive, strength of character to replace it but instead a comfort zone around him that is unbelievably difficult to rattle (because you helped him build it, over the years, with all your hard work and his indecisiveness).

Go for the go-getter!  If he drives you nuts because he’s so busy, fantastic!  If he’s a bit pushy, expecting you to fall in with his plans, well, he’s got a goal, he’s got a drive, he knows where he’s going and isn’t going to be your pet couch potato.

Because society who made it uncool for men not to work in past generations, has done a 180 degrees flip and now not only supports men loafing off while women are doing all the work, but actively promotes it.  Think e.g. of PC games.  You try to restrict your son’s hours spent in front of the square box only to realize that the games are really aimed at over 18 – i.e. not really suitable for children at all!  So if kids can’t play them, who does?  Men!  Fully grown men.  And those games are extremely addictive; they feed all the right brain pathways to make the guy believe he’s really been in combat, had a narrow escape, mowed down a lot of enemies and rescued a secret cartridge for the CIA.  So he feels rightfully exhausted and if you, the “little woman” who has just spent 9 hours in a hectic office and 2 more in traffic, ask him to take over cooking supper for the kids, he feels seriously done in.  What’s office work and traffic as compared to a war zone?  You’ve got it good!

No, girls.  Rather look at “your” guy’s dreams and goals.  If something in the real world makes his eyes light up, and if you can see that he’s busy with projects, or that he “gets it together”, which includes organizing his friends, you’ve got a live one.  Otherwise get prepared for perpetual couch-potato-mommyhood.  And no amount of “modern” makes up for that.  Remember what’s modern today is old hat in 20 years and only the comfort zone counts then.

Good luck.

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37 thoughts on “Stereotypes Wanted

  1. I often wished for a sensitive girl that didn’t fart.
    My goal is to see Liverpool win the Premier League again before I die. ( Pushing it , I realise)

    I don’t smoke or drink any more because my wife was too damn lazy to drive to the shop and buy them for me..

    My life is hell.

    • Poo Ark, indeed. You have no idea…

      I am not sure if there is a serious side to your post – I mean, thereis obviously, but is it wrong for people to aim has high as they can?
      This of course does not take into consideration dopamine and endo whatevers…commonly know as lurv … but we should help our kids shoot as high as poss if we can?

    • & allow me to add that lurve is the great tripper upper in that equation. But they set out with certain stereotypes in mind, and if one can e.g. disenchant them from some (e.g. try to steer clear of the guy whose flesh is rotting off his bones due to ‘krokodil’)…

    • Yes we should. Luckily you don’t have to worry about your son, he’s got plenty of drive, but Ems might have a tough time finding someone who can match her stride! 😀

      I have a dark suspicion all my kids are anti marriage whatsoever…

  2. I wonder if you have read The Women’s Room by Marilyn French? It’s not an easy read, because for a long, long way – maybe two thirds of the book – it reads like the plot summary for a soap opera; but suddenly you realise it has taken off, and it has blown relations between the sexes completely out of the water. Reading it was a life-changing experience for me.

    Now then, why do these stereotypes keep coming up? Well, they are embedded in our culture(s) and are socially normative, so they should not surprise us. They reflect the aspirational nature of society*, in which we have been conditioned to accept and value certain things. The state of affairs is self-perpetuating and self-legitimating, but on the other hand it has kept ticking over – we wake up every day and the view looks normal, our food is on the table and the trains are still running.
    *Do we live in a society or an economy? The people of Greece are asking that question right now.

    Here is a question (well, more than one) with which to start a debate:

    Does all our vaunted sophistication simply mask a basic biological factor – the urge to find a pleasant mate to have sex with and reproduce with? Do other considerations actually weigh more than a feather when that kicks in? Do our stereotypical preferences actually reflect this, does the commodification involved play on the basic instinct? Is our questioning of all this nothing more than a bourgeois affectation of moral and intellectual superiority? Those are just to be going on with. 🙂

    • Thanks, M! A very well-formulated point.

      Interesting about Greece, good jolly point. Economy has started to replace society. Even more important that both sides of a partnership can be strong earners and one doesn’t simply create a comfort zone at the expense of the other.

      Of course the biological drives “drive” a lot of this. As a parent one can at best hope to influence; and our influence often doesn’t run the way we mean it to. (We also influence when we argue and the children see, “oh, so it’s a bad idea to settle for someone like Mom / Dad”.)

      I get your drift though, is it so deeply ingrained an instinct that everything gets overridden? It’s possible.

      Still too, there are “trends” at work here, and the weak, directionless male is in high fashion (because girls perceive him as “kind” or because the media love him? Hard to tell.)

    • Interesting. In one of Pratchet’s books he makes the astute observation that from the perspective of a man working a farm, a woman who couldn’t carry a pig under each arm wasn’t worth considering!
      Yet in Going Postal , Moist von Lipwig is smitten by a stick thin Adora Belle who he is rather keen to indulge in a little hanky with and maybe even some panky, even though she chain smokes and probably tastes like an ashtray.
      And of course, Sam Vimes and Sybil seem, on the face of it, to be poles apart: him dirt poor and from the bottom end of the social scale, her filthy rich and all bottom and considered a part of the landed gentry.
      Here we have three different examples of males and their behaviour, but all will inevitably involve sex and, one assumes, procreation at some point.

      Personally, I’d settle for a woman that was stinking rich and stick thin. I would be perfectly willing to drop standards just a tad on the pigs, though if the potential Ark-Mate demonstrated she could mange one pig and maybe a chicken.
      Never let it be said I am not a fair and understanding man who does not recognise the worth of compromise.

    • :-)) I love the reference to Moist von Lipwig. And yes, that’s the point, they all steer towards only one common goal… Nature’s way of tricking us all into making more humans. Thanks for the reblog! I wish you STACKS of feminists to wheedle. Wonder what Violetwisp will say.

    • Sadly heard neither hide not hair of Violet in yonks. But I suspect Neuronotes will tell us all about dopamine-bonking and what not, bless her cotton socks, and Roughseas will castigate me for some sort of sexist allusion, no doubt.

      Odd that you should say ”steering toward only one goal…” yet my brother and his wife made a conscious decision not to have kids before they got married and Roughseas hasn’t any either which suggests the stereotypical hunt for the right mate to swell the ranks of the tribe does not apply in these cases, and no doubt there are millions of other similar examples.

      I wonder what drove these couple together?
      A love of the same beer or football team, perhaps?

    • LOL you are tricksy today, marrster! I say “sus” and you say “so”.

      The “one goal” I means was Nature’s way of trying to force us into supplementing the species. However luckily, mankind has outwitted nature via family planning, so can have the fun without the obligations so to speak. Still the drive towards the attempted procreation is probably the strongest force driving people into two-by-two formation… 😉

    • Is it? Maybe we have evolved beyond this basic rutting mentality ( nothing wrong with a good old rut, of course) and elevated the process somewhat to exclude the biological imperative to make more human beans.
      As we hammer our pitons into the side of Maslow’s Mountain and scale the heights to enlightenment perhaps mother nature ( genetics, god, genes or jeans) kicks in and slows down the urge to produce more little Gipsikas’ or Baby Arks?

  3. I enjoyed reading this post and the comments that follow. It occurs to me that your daughter should look not only at twenty years down the road, but also at forty. After the career-building and child-raising are done, it would be best if her companion had interesting conversation and was supportive during times of ill health. Yes, go for the guy with lots of interests and a network of good friends. Those are indicators of a lasting relationship.

    • Hmm, okay I already picked up 1/2 way through that there are semantic issues with my own post. Possibly I didn’t quite have the same concept of “alpha male” (a muscular, macho gorilla beating his chest and then his wife) as the original stereotype. Perhaps I shouldn’t use the concept of “alpha male”, as the “alpha” in my mind is a highly intelligent go-getter who knows what he wants in life and is going to get it. The non-victim; that doesn’t make him a perpetrator, just not a poor little victim of “never having had a lucky break”. What I wanted to caution idealistic teenage girls against is to go for guys who are passive and accepting rather than active go-getters. It’s funny how passive men end up being the demanding ones. (Think: Whiner.) Demanding of their wives. The go-getters are too busy to consider being whiners.

      Sure, domineering aggressive males are a horror to everyone! (They’re also not necessarily the ones who get the promotion.)

    • “Along similar lines, Jeffrey Snyder and colleagues reported that dominance was only attractive to females (for both a short-term affair and a long-term relationship) in the context of male-male competitions. Tellingly, women did not find men attractive who used aggressive dominance (force or threat of force) while competing for leadership in informal decision making among peers. ” Yes.

      I also see he stereotyped “beta” males into being those who are in fact socially successful, prestigious, intelligent and cultured. I don’t see those as beta males. But perhaps this is the actual stereotype and I shouldn’t have used the outdated “alpha” and “beta” concepts but found more accurate descriptions. If the alpha is a domineering, lowbrow brute and the beta is the prestigious man, which class does your classic loser fall into – that wet blanket who hangs around at home or in the pub waiting for “mommy” (wifey) to bring home the bacon AND fry it up and wipe his butt etc?

    • 😉

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article. From a female perspective, I am definitely attracted to the “prestigious” type ‘alpha’ male, but not the way many tend to interpret the term ‘prestige’ or ‘alpha’. I think the article described it will. Quote:

      “Thus, I think a much more effective and healthier route for men having difficulty attracting women is not to attempt to cultivate the traits of the stereotypical, dominant “alpha,” but to cultivate the traits of the prestigious man. This means developing a skill that brings value to society, and cultivating a stable sense of identity. Such a route will not only make you more attractive to women, but will also create the most satisfying life for yourself in general.

      …prestigious individuals were rated as being better leaders and more athletic, but they were also considered more intellectual, socially skilled, altruistic, cooperative, helpful, ethical, and moral.

      The most attractive male is really a blend of characteristics, including assertiveness, kindness, cultivated skills, and a genuine sense of value in this world. The true alpha is fuller, deeper, and richer.”

  4. @ Neuronotes

    The most attractive male is really a blend of characteristics, including assertiveness, kindness, cultivated skills, and a genuine sense of value in this world. The true alpha is fuller, deeper, and richer.”

    Sounds like a coin flip between me and Arch, … or John Z, maybe.
    On reflection, I think John would win, ‘cos neither me or Arch has such a cool hat as him.

  5. “… a muscular, macho gorilla beating his chest and then his wife…”

    Another stereotype with little basis in fact. Gorillas are largely gentle animals. Chest-beating is most often done remotely, doesn’t require much force, as the sound from it is caused by the cupped hands not by the strength of the striking. Its effect is to avoid conflict, because the males involved in this communication can easily tell which is the stronger without any direct confrontation.

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