You would think I had suggested that men should just roll over and play dead while those ball-busting dominant women flipped them over and had their way with them given some of the vitriolic responses to my article Do Women Want More Sex Than Men?
Get real, wake up and smell post coital bliss those who embrace women with high libidos are luxuriating in! Clearly there is a new dating and mating game emerging and it is new enough that the rules and rituals are still being written. Women are taking better care of themselves. They are switching or starting careers (out of necessity and/or choice) at a time in their lives when their mothers were often winding down. For men married to or dating these new women, reclining in the Lazy-Boy Chair and watching sports when their girlfriends or wives are rebooting their lives ain't going to cut it anymore.
But what are the new rules?
When should a man be the pursuer? Make the first date? Open the door? Pay the check? Mow the lawn? Take out the garbage? It depends on the circumstance. The mood. The man. If he agrees to share the check, he can seem like a cheapskate. But if the woman pays for dinner, then whether or not they have sex is no longer simple barter and the game instantly gets more complex. And confusing.
My girlfriend Rachel is dating a guy who loves when she picks up the check, which she does slightly more than half the time since she earns slightly more money than he does -- except when they're out in a group, in which case she "lets" him pay but then pays him back later. At first she didn't mind this more egalitarian arrangement (even with the saving face clause) but after a year she's starting to feel "used" she told me. On the other hand, after years of being married to a man who out-earned her and often used his money to appease or buy her, she loves the power of whipping out the credit card. It makes her feel sexier and stronger than she did in her marriage and she thinks it might be one of the reasons their sex life is still so hot.
But why, according to my girlfriends and the comments on my article, are some men up in arms even if these changes promise to benefit them financially and otherwise? Partly because the rules have changed mid-game for those who grew up with Mike and Carol Brady as their role models. And partly because the rules are still amorphous even for the women who are initiating change.
From my own experience, in relation to men (and women), I first and foremost seek respect for my intelligence and ambition. Yet I like when I turn heads when I walk into a room in my over-the-knee suede boots and flowered fishnets. I am strong enough to carry furniture up to my second floor flat. But love when my boyfriend carries it for me. I often run faster than him but get a thrill that he now sometimes pulls ahead. When I'm in love I like to cook for and fuss over my man and forget that I have as much if not more work to do than he does. It's easy for me to sublimate my ambition even though I'm working hard not to.
When I operate at full capacity, I realize my own power and intensity has barely been tapped. And yet I have no designs on letting my ambition overwhelm my gushy girly nurturing side. So how can I not be surprised that some men are baffled? Confused? I often feel confused myself.
Evidence suggests gender roles are less biological than we were lead to believe. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes says in "Women Who Run with the Wolves" (1996), "A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving."
I didn't know any women like that growing up.
My girlfriends and I are fighting patterns not only set from our marriages but from the templates of our parents and our grandparents and the culture that surrounded and influenced us. The norm was to get married and have babies and put other people's needs above our own. To recalibrate all that takes effort and self-negotiation. I may be strong but I am not always dominant. Nor do I want to be. My boyfriend and I push and stretch and support one another because of our differences.
So what's the downside, Guys, if the new rules allow more freedom for both sexes to be strong and weak dominant and submissive provide and be provided for? I know that I am finding the dating and mating game much more interesting (and hot!) now that the dance is negotiated and renegotiated intimately in the moment, the relationship becoming as much about what I want as it is about being wanted. And I can't imagine why men wouldn't as well.