Saturday, June 23, 2007

what men want

I bought both installments of the "Bridget Jones's Diary" movies on DVD after DaisyK mentioned the book to me yesterday. I really do love these movies, especially the first one. Bridget is such an endearing character.

I tried watching some of the special features but gave up in disgust after watching "The Young and the Mateless: An Experts' Guide to Being Single." The "experts" include an editor from Allure magazine and the creator of “Sex and the City.” They begin by talking about how great it is to be single, but it quickly turns into a discussion of "what men want." I found it especially revolting that the editor of a fashion magazine would complain about what a narcissistic society we live in. Hmm, I wonder where all of us got these ideas that appearance was so important?

It got me thinking. I had a conversation a while ago with a guy I know who is in his 20s. He's a big music guy, and plays in a very good garage band. He asked what I was interested in in college. I said that as sad as it was, I spent a lot of time in college focused on finding a boyfriend and/or keeping the one I had. Sure, I did my schoolwork and got excellent grades, but if I am honest with myself, my primary focus was always the relationship thing. I also spent a lot of time trying to lose weight, mostly because it would make me more attractive to guys. He thought that was "messed up." I agree, now.

I don't think that I was particularly shallow or unusual in my focus. This was pretty much what my friends did. They thought about, talked about, and agonized about guys. Movies, television shows, magazines, and popular books all show women characters doing the same thing. Meanwhile, men's magazines are about cars, money, sports... OK, there are magazines with naked or nearly naked women in them, but the focus isn't on relationships as much as relations. They have the freedom not to think about us because we spend our whole lives thinking about them. The fact that women are able to accomplish so much in other areas of our lives while focusing so much time and energy on relationships really speaks to our intelligence. Imagine what we could do if we were less preoccupied with boys.

In "Bridget Jones's Diary," when Bridget finds out that Daniel is cheating on her in a particularly humiliating way, she has a brief period of empowerment. She throws away all her self-help books and finally takes some action in her career. She tells Daniel off publicly and starts to really respect herself. But that empowerment just empowers her to end up with Mark. Then it's back to being insecure, flighty, and obsessed for most of the sequel.

I'm happily married, and so I think about men less. I would say that my focus has shifted from 90% on relationships to only about 40%. I think being in a committed relationship has freed up a lot of mental space for other things. And to be honest, my husband has provided a lot of support for me while I worked on my goals. But I would be willing to bet that I spend much more time thinking about and doing things for my husband than he spends thinking about or doing things for me. This isn't because he's a bad guy. I think as far as guys go, he's fairly thoughtful. He just doesn't have the years of training that I had.

I would like to think it's different for girls growing up today, but my niece showed me her video games last weekend and they were all about virtual pets (nurturing) and shopping (looks). At least I hear that she also loves art and science.

I would be completely bored with a partner whose primary interests were his looks and his relationship with me. Maybe if we thought less about men, they'd think more about (and of) us.

2 comments:

  1. You are so insightful and right on the money on so many things. I spend a great deal of time thinking about relationships, but reading your post has me thinking about how little my husband does. Very interesting.

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  2. very interesting and thoughtful post. i haven't been in relationships much because I have major self-worth issues. But, as a result I have had plenty of time to cultivate hobbies and worry about my relationships ... with my friends. It sucks because they are always worried about their relationships with the guys in their life. i'm starting to think i'm ready to start dating/hanging out with guys. i'm scared, but life alone just isn't good enough anymore.

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