So I’m watching the finale of “The Bachelor” and it got me thinking about stereotypes in dating, specifically the dichotomy of aggressive women (i.e. Chantal) versus the damsel in distress (i.e. Emily). In the last episode, the final two women meet Bachelor Brad’s family and his relatives then tell him their honest opinion about which woman they think is right for him. First up was Chantal and Brad’s family seemed to really like her and they commented on her outgoing, friendly nature. They thought she would be great for Brad and that they would have a lot of fun together and that she wouldn’t put up with his antics. Then they met sweet Emily and heard her sob story (seriously, I sob every time I hear it) and watched her very ladylike, shy demeanor. Suddenly they were head over heels in love with her and wanted Brad to pick her.
Brad also appeared to have fun with Chantal but he was enraptured by Emily. With Chantal, he was her equal and she repeatedly pointed out to him that she would never let him “get away” with anything. Meantime, Brad got to be the hero for Emily and her daughter, he got to feel wanted and needed. As much as men say they want a strong, independent woman, when it comes right down to it, those traits are equated as masculine and what straight man wants a masculine woman?
The longer a woman is single, the more aggressive she becomes in her career and in her dating life and therefore the more independent she becomes as well. A 30-year-old woman knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go out and get it. My husband calls me “aggressive” constantly and I hate it, but it’s true. I was single until I was 28 and was in the very competitive world of broadcast journalism. My aggressiveness in the work arena without a doubt spilled into my dating world. But in my marriage that aggressiveness isn’t necessary. Women have been told over and over again that we are just as capable and therefore have a hard time giving up that power. I majored in Women’s Studies, so I have an even harder time admitting that I can’t do something and might possibly need a man’s help.
The more I try to think this out, the more I feel like I’m going in circles, because I vividly recall numerous circumstances where I gave a date the opportunity to open a door, put on my coat, pull out my chair, order for me, pay the bill, call me, ask me out, etc. and was rebuffed. Are men becoming too used to today’s women’s ways? Or did women become this way because men got lazy about chivalry? It seems counter-productive to tell single women to not “act aggressive” because the opposite of that is “weak” and weak women get walked all over by men. No one wants to be vulnerable. Why can’t a woman be ladylike and strong at the same time? Why are men threatened by a woman who doesn’t need him?
Again, I can debate both sides of this topic for hours. What it really comes down to is being yourself – a mixture of that successful woman at work and that vulnerable woman in love – so when a man comes along who complements your personality you aren’t hiding behind a wall of steel scared of getting hurt.