All a girl wants...is to be rescued. I’ve been at it again – reading books about feminism . . . or rather, how the efforts of our suffragette sisters all failed.
American journalist Maureen Dowd recently published Are Men Necessary? which gives an overview of the balance between sexes today. Now she argues, 30 years after the heydays of Germaine Greer and Gloria Steinhem, we’re returning to a pre-feminist era.
Many girls today have stopped dreaming of playing equals with big bad men because now it’s no big deal anymore. What’s harder to get is true romance. Girls are now dreaming of being wooed the good old-fashioned way like having someone pay the bill on the first date again.
Our favourite cult movies and TV shows all feed us the same message: that a girl doesn’t feel complete until she’s found the love of her life – think Sex and the City, Bridget Jones and Two Weeks Notice.
It seems that as we climb up the corporate ladder, there is the assumption that we don’t want romance, or men, anymore.
How silly. Of course we still do.
But making the post of top dog (or bitch) has its own price.
Dowd speculates, “It took women a few decades to realise that everything they were doing to advance themselves in the boardroom could be sabotaging their chances in the bedroom.”
Which reminds me of a boy at university, Charlie, whom I adored for many months while I was editing our campus newspaper, and he the politics section. After I stepped down as editor, he told me how awful and intimidating he thought I was when we’d first met.
So the compliments that women received in days past have been replaced by confessions of trepidation and fear – all because they are now on equal footing with the big boys.
But let’s face it – no matter how much we want to charge ahead as career-focused, independent women, we still want to be admired and loved by the opposite sex.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s in our literatures, movies, award-winning TV dramas, remnants of fairytales we still carry around within us. It makes us feel good and we want that passion for ourselves.
I know, it’s corny. But consider the paradox of today: the more women meet the equality fantasies of our feminist foremothers, the stronger the tendency for us to revert back to the ideal of a helpless damsel waiting to be rescued.
In the last few decades, there’s been an increasing number of women running companies.
There’s also been a proportionate rise in women putting themselves under the scalpel to turn themselves back into Playboy bunnies, suffering eating disorders to thin themselves down, injecting their faces with collagen to remain youthful.
It’s all gone topsy turvy. See, we’ve risen to the top and shown the whole world just how capable we are of doing a man’s job.
In the process, we’ve scared off the Charlies of the world. So how else is a girl to make an impression? Go back to the basics of vacuous Barbie perfection and adopt the Desperate Housewives as our new role models?
Secretly, we do want to wow the pants off those boys (or anyone else who’ll look). We want to be romanced off our feet, adored and worshipped! The extremities we’ve gone (back) to only illustrate that.
How ironic that our feminist zeal has brought us back to where we started: to the day when a girl wasn’t prized for anything but her looks and ability to smile. Except now it seems far worse.
Deep down, all a 21st-century post-feminist girl wants is to be rescued – from herself. W