July 07, 2010

Wanting It




WERE I 17 AND A POT OF MUSH, “those three words” would mean something entirely different. But as an almost-32- year-old (ooh, how I love announcing an upcoming birthday :mrgreen: ) who has seen a bit of life and the world, the three words that get a rise out of me are these: What Women Want.

It has been the title and subject matter of a movie. Blogadda recently declared it the topic of their weekly contest. Freud pondered the question before reportedly labeling women “the dark continent”. And I have a sneaking suspicion it was part of undergraduate coursework in Aristotelian times. What Women Want 101: Enlightening souls, one confused sucker at a time.

My question is: Why?

Why have we as women participated in our own mystification and perpetuated an image of womankind as being enigmatic, conflicted and unfathomable? According special status to women’s supposedly inscrutable desires is a huge honking excuse for men unwilling to make an effort to reach a basic level of understanding about their current/potential partners. It’s offensive to be thought of as so irrational as to be the subject of such pondering. Just like it isn’t a compliment for all women to be called emotional creatures. Is this the kind of importance we need to be at the receiving end of? That my needs are supposedly so divergent from a man’s strikes a false note somewhere.

It’s puzzling. Did I miss a memo? Don’t men want the usual suspects—health, happiness and fulfillment— too? Meaningful work, a social safety net, monetary comfort, interesting experiences, solitude, overall well-being, learning and personal growth, the opportunity to contribute to the planet, perhaps a partner/family of one’s own/casual relationships? Are these really gender-specific? Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m curious to learn whether there is a gender divide when it comes to human wants, so do share in the comments section and specify your gender. Until then, this niggling feeling of sweeping generalization and gross gender stereotyping won’t go away. If there is something I do want, it is for people to realize that it is frequently okay to divorce your gender. I write this as a person. And this is what I want.

6 comments to Wanting It

  • Agree! I found the topic ridiculous also – especially the tagline “This question has perplexed people since generations”. I’ve always found men much more mysterious than women, because women actually SAY what they want on a regular basis, whether anyone listens or not. Moreover, how is it possible to generalise the wants of an entire gender, even if one subscribes to the belief that there is a gender difference in wants.
    The good thing about these sort of contests is the comment section; it reminds me that there are all types out there.

  • Dilnavaz Bamboat

    The Bride: 🙂 Bill Cosby summed it up pretty neatly in this quote: http://thinkexist.com/quotation/sigmund-freud-once-said-what-do-women-want-the/411510.html

  • Sreeparna

    Dilnavaz at the risk of perpetuating the myth of the enigmatic woman I actually believe that there are some gender-specific differences between men and women. If you look at human evolution and most women’s roles as gatherers (and the primary source of nutrition for a tribe), we adapted so that some traits endowed us with an evolutionary advantage. For instance it is highly profitable that the average woman has higher social and emotional intelligence than the average man. Little girls on an average develop language skills earlier than little boys. Also females have lower testosterone than men, a biological advantage when survival depended more on the glue of social relationships than wars. I don’t want to imply that our biology is our destiny, but that what women want may be different from men because of inherent differences between men and women that would make health, happiness and fullfillment (the key aspirations) highly subjective and perhaps fractured along gender differences.

  • victor

    Hi, this is Victor in California.
    Yes, I agree. There are simple basics that women
    and men want; the bottom line is security from harassment: Harassment from the sky when it pours too much and births mud or flood or freezes the ground. Harassment from other people who want want want, too much in taxes, too much in attention and time. Harassment from our own bodies wanting wanting food, drink, sex.
    In short, we all want survival and then satisfaction of desire with some balance in it.
    Give and take is the core of life and we want balance in it—meaning give without self impoverishing, which needs acknowledging a limit on taking because who will not reciprocate if you exploit them?
    And something interesting to do—that besides bread and sex which fascinates and satisfies.
    Beyond this, women often want children and a safe and stable home for them and a man who will
    provide some or all of it. Women want the obligations upon the man because they want the children who place obligations upon the women.
    Sometimes after they have the children they don’t really want the man anymore. A live out lover is better—and alimony.
    No children? Then companionship and love and something settled. Delight in another cherished.
    But such coupling births couple conflicts of desire and vision—-and the unending project reconciling your impetus with mine.
    It can be tiring, this project, this calming of winds, this cultivation. The effort, the confrontation with self itself
    is the agent of alteration and smoothing of rough edges.
    Beyond all this—- transcendence and end of desire–peace–is the last desire.
    The mind and body left as chattering roadside companions seen upon the distant road below–
    with only round blue sky all round.

  • Sorab

    While there maybe gender specific differences in what men and women want in our past that may have evolved because they were dictated by biology, we should remember that evolution implies change and behavior changes much faster than physical biology because it can be influenced by environment and doesn’t necessarily require genetic change. Therefore, to use our past to justify this sort of bias in the present and future is not really correct.

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