Friday, 16 July 2010

How Misguided Feminism Prevents Relationships

by Pelle Billing

Do men avoid dating successful women? It certainly seems to be a common perception, and British writer Zoe Lewis is so sure of the phenomenon that she claims to understand why men won’t date successful women. According to Lewis, one of her former boyfriends explicitly broke up with her due to her intelligence and professional success:
He told me that he just didn’t want to go out with a woman who was clever and successful. He said it meant that I could never let any discussion go, or concede a flawed argument; I had to solve problems when they arose, and would argue political points with him.
Apparently Zoe Lewis cannot take a hint. The problem quite obviously was not her intelligence nor her success, but the fact that she would never let any discussion go or concede a flawed argument. That kind of behavior has nothing to do with being clever or successful, it is simply the behavior of an obnoxious person!

Let us have a look at another of Lewis’ examples of how men supposedly cannot handle a strong woman:
I invited my new boyfriend to see me perform my one-woman show on stage in London. Before he walked in to the play, we were tactile and it struck me that I had high hopes for the relationship.

An hour later, after watching me on stage and then networking with a group of high-powered theatre people at the aftershow party, he became distant.
Of course he became distant! You invited him to come with you and then you proceeded to ignore him. If you wanted to be able to network freely then it would have been better not to bring a date. Why are you blaming him for becoming distant when you are the one who ignored him first?

The problem here is not that she is a strong and intelligent person, the problem is that she tries too hard to be strong and independent. A relationship cannot be about independence only, if it is, then there is no actual relating going on. How can you form a relationship without vulnerability and connecting to your partner?

Surpringly, Lewis seems to have grasped some of these insights, in spite of her inability to correctly interpret why men pull away from her:
Modern women have learned to regard men as the competition, in order to get ahead professionally. And while men can accept this female aggression in the workplace, they evidently can’t in relationships.
Why would you want to be aggressive towards a man you’re dating? And why would you expect men to accept female aggression in a relationship? These expectations are absurd, and I’m happy that you’ve finally figured out what should have been self-evident.

These days I try to focus less on the flaws of feminism, and more on the potential in educating people about men’s issues. However, in this case I cannot help but blame feminism. Why else would a woman have these strange ideas about relationships? Common sense tells us that being cold, argumentative and aggressive is a lousy strategy for having a nurturing relationship, and yet this seems to be exactly what the writer has pursued in her dating life.

Towards the end of her article, the writer comes up with the most odd quote of them all:
Men love vulnerable women. We need to accept that, just because we’ve changed, we can’t expect them to. I don’t think they can.
So we cannot expect men to start liking cold, argumentative and aggressive women? Wow, that is a surprise. Do you as a woman like men who are cold, argumentative and aggressive? If not, then why do you expect men to like that kind of behavior in you?

Personally, I believe that men and women (on average) have some different preferences when looking for a relationship. Men place more importance on looks and softness, and women on status and confidence. But there are a lot of similarities too, especially when looking for a long term mate. Men and women alike appreciate a partner who is warm, relaxed and not overtly aggressive.

How can these common sense insights have been lost? The only answer I can come up with is that misguided feminism has taught a generation of women that men are opponents and not allies. This insight makes me tremendously sad.

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