I’m all for women’s rights. The struggle for female empowerment is a noble pursuit. It is only fair that women should have choices and voices which can be heard. I’d say that in my neck of the woods we’re pretty much there. Women who want to live, work and drink like men are allowed, and almost encouraged, to do so. Ambition is one of the prerequisites for ‘nice girls’ and relying on a man for anything other than company horribly passé. I’m happy that personal ambition can be realised, but have noticed an unnerving trend – suddenly women are the ones who not only rule the roost but rule the rooster, too.
I visited a large farming family in Northamptonshire this weekend where they do things as they did 100 years ago. The men dote on their women and quite literally bring home the bacon, while the women rule with an iron fist by way of canny conversation and feminine wiles. There is a rather happy balance between men beating their chests and demonstrating their manhood, and women enjoying such silliness in their mate. Both parties in this scenario feel they wield the power, and are delighted to do so secure in the knowledge that their personal competence is matched in their partner. They live by the proverb of the man being the head but the woman the neck, and it seems to make for a rather good partnership.
Not so in the rest of the world. This little balance has been tipped and where some women were once complicit in the roleplay, they have morphed into Madonna-esque powerhouses, no more to be swept off their feet for a smooch a la Rhett Butler. Their bolshy nature leaves the poor menfolk who are supposed to copulate with these crows cowering. Even in the press the men we are supposed to swoon over seem mere little boys on days out with their mothers. Take Ashton and Demi – how could a woman go from a burly Bruce to a pretty boy whose boxers are permanently on display? From his perspective hanging onto her apron strings and being pulled into the celebrity stratosphere must have been terribly appealing. How unmanly.
Cougars are all the rage on that side of the pond, but, more alarmingly, this isn’t just a trend affecting the Hollywood world. These demi-men are all over the shop here now, too. My friends lament the wimpy dates they’ve had where men are afraid to offend in any way, so pleased are they to have a woman opposite them. They think think too much, hesitate too long and commit shamefully slowly, seemingly unsure of their own minds. The women I have seen in these situations don’t help matters much. A friend of mine was so eager to keep her playmate boyfriend that she moved him into hers and he became a kept man, hoping to ensure there was no scope for him to stray. He had previously attached himself accordingly to women he felt would promote him in some way – Evita’s ‘Goodnight and Thank You’ is called to mind. He and my friend played at the Victorian relationship, in reverse. He was fearful of losing his roof, and she of not having something nice to come home to. Needless to say she was cuckolded and they have now gone their own ways, although I suspect he has wormed his way into another sugar mummy’s home…
A mutual friend of ours has discussed this at length with me, making the point that if an ugly codependency is to exist why shouldn’t the roles be reversed and both parties have a chance to play the parts they are comfortable with? Some boys will always be boys and some women are made to conquer unchartered territory. I can’t imagine Bouddica, for example, feeling she ought to wait for husband number two before riding out as a rebel leader. If modern women want to provide support for their men why shouldn’t they? The problem is that eventually (usually during the child rearing years) most women require support and a shoulder to lean on. Then what happens? The men have to man up or shove off. There is seldom room for two babies from two generations in one household. Personally, I am increasingly finding myself delighted that hubs isn’t at all afraid of my bark. He barks back. Whatta man.