Womens’ role in dating: Sit and look pretty

I’ve had that phrase, in various reincarnations, hurled at me during conversations with various men about dating and relationships. Most recently, I exchanged an interesting, but upsetting chat with a man who doesn’t appear to even like or respect women. He actually seems to resent the fact that he has to make an effort to get to know women in social settings.

Why are women once more relegated to sitting and ‘looking pretty’? I fear as far as womankind has come over the years, there is the everlasting belief that women are still not as considered a worthy match for men.

I hate to admit the following, but I blame a certain breed of women for this unfair consensus. If it weren’t for the tawdry, tarted up girls who wiggle, giggle, pout, flip their hair while batting their false eyelashes, there would be a chance of actually making a dent in men’s perceptions of women. I blame those men too, for responding to the overtures of barely clad girls who perpetuate the belief that a woman has to dress like provocatively in order to catch a man’s eye.

To add more balance to my theory, I asked quite a few men to detail their personal preferences. Interestingly, the single men I asked failed to respond, save one.

Andrew *, a married man in his 30s, describes the type of women he was drawn to when he was single, “There wasn’t really any rhyme or reason, just girls I was attracted to or those that were attracted to me. I like women that smile, have good eyes and skin, nice hands, tall and voluptuous. Obviously it turns me on to see a woman with  great cleavage or short skirt, but usually it’s the chemistry of someone that gets me, their energy. “If the girl wants to f##k, then yes – that’s the right way forward, but otherwise how about some interaction and personality?”

Based on Andrew’s response, I can surmise that he’s mentally corralled women into two categories: the ones he’s attracted to on a more complex level and the one’s he deems only worthy of spending a night with.

This is the kind of truth that women and most importantly, young girls, are unaware of. The saying ‘if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck; then it’s a duck” ties in with ‘if a woman dresses like a whore…” It irks me that some women are exacting this to the letter, further reinforcing the belief that this is how the dating world works.

I shudder to think that a young girl of thirteen perhaps observing these traits will deduce that she is to follow this pattern. She doesn’t have to hone her social interaction skills or use her well oiled brain. She simply has to don the most revealing outfit and poof! here come the boys!

Jeremy*, an entrepreneur in his twenties who’s also dating, said, “I don’t like when women use their body. Someone who is open, but quiet and maybe a unique way of dressing. Some girls dress like a slut. I like girls that have their own style.”

Nathan*, an associate creative director for an international advertising agency said, “Its like what Chris Rock said, ‘They tell you to be yourself but on a date you’re anything BUT ‘yourself’, you’re someone else, got the push up bra, hair extensions, nails done, eyes pretty. You’re someone else. You’re not on a date, you’re on an INTERVIEW and the LAST thing YOU want to be is YOURSELF.”  Keeping that in mind, a lot of what a man sees first IS external. But personally I have to see behind the initial ‘Wow she’s got nice . . . ‘ to see the REAL person underneath. So Women DON’T have it easy. They HAVE to show the external first to get the guy to see the internal.”

Is that really what it boils down to? A woman has to please a man’s eye if she’s ever to dream of catching one for herself? I refuse to believe that all men are as superficial as that statement alludes. Neil Patrick Harris’s character, Barney Stinson of CBS’s How I Met Your Mother specifically targets ‘insecure women’ because they’re ‘easier to bang’.He’s unabashedly shameless, but he does, rather the writers, make a good point. Women who aren’t secure appear to dress  provocatively because they have nothing else to offer.

This seemingly snap assumption leads to the most disturbing conclusions I can imagine. Some men appear to believe that once  a woman wears a short skirt and a revealing top, she’s automatically giving her consent for sexual relations. Or do they view her as an ‘easy target’ with no work to be done?

Here’s where the issue starts to get convoluted:  Isn’t it a woman’s right to dress how she sees fit? If her style is hooker chic, then, is she supposed to plaster a sign on her forehead that says,”Look, but don’t touch”? to stave off unwanted advances? Is it that men should know that a woman’s apparel doesn’t indicate her profession, unless both of them are on a street corner?

However, if a woman chooses to dress in a manner that alludes to her sexual proclivities, is she giving cues for men to pick her up? Or is it simply that she’s under the impression that hooker chic is the only way to go in order to attract a man in the first place? Are men to blame for the static communication? Or are they using that excuse to dignify their bad behaviour?

Roger*, a financial analyst currently dating, admits that while he is shy, he notices ‘body language’ the most. Women  who smile,  make eye contact and perhaps send a drink over, are the ones that peak his interest. While Vijay*, a television news producer put it bluntly, “No one is attracted to personality at first look. Looks attract, but personality keeps me.”

There is one thing that is apparent, looks and physical attributes are what really draws men’s attention at first. The other preferences are simply based on each man’s individual taste.

Jack*, an IT professional, stated that, “Personally I’m not interested in the same things most men seem to be attracted to. I don’t like big boobs,  I like the intelligent types. I like opinionated woman with  small boobs, and a larger backside. Don’t ask why, but they have to have nice teeth. Bad teeth is a major turn off for me.”

While there are different views on this issue, I hold true to my belief that I’m worth knowing, but I will not auction my public persona to the sleaziest bidder. I’m not entirely as open as some women who dress well, but who are warm and engaging. It boils down to one thing; self esteem. Two words that are quite fine on their own, but it becomes something completely different when put together. Without self esteem, anyone can fall prey to other people who recognise this weakness. It’s not easy to maintain one’s self esteem either. At any time someone or something can bring a person down, sometimes to such dark places that it’s hard to see the way out. Insecurity is another issue that plagues most of us from time to time, but that comes from a lack of trust.

* Names changed to protect identity.

4 Responses to “Womens’ role in dating: Sit and look pretty”
  1. Chyne says:

    While most of what you have written has some truth in it, I sincerely believe that most men act that way (looking at women as meat..sic) because that is how they were raised or that’s how society teaches them to look at women. In a world full of sexual innuendo etc, a lot of what women poses (i.e brains) is totally ignored because the women themselves are also trying to compete for the few good men, and thus dumb themselves down (scantly dressed etc) to attract the men. So, it absolutely goes both ways. Unfortunately the ‘retardedness’ of a few men completely obscures the fact there are some men out there who amazingly respect women and treat them the way they are supposed to.

  2. aka_lol says:

    Women with the attitude that looks are all that matters usually convince men, without saying a word, that she looks is all that matters – to her anyway. Once a woman radiates this aura it’s no point in a man digging deeper – metaphorically I mean. “Drop dead gorgeous” is not a great asset as some women think as it keeps away the really good men, like myself, because her bar and bar bill might be too high. Most men know that looks and sex are the bait but will take a nibble and scoot if the bait is as good as it gets. Yes, conversation and a good sense of humor will do more to keep a man interested since sex has a price depending on taste and location but good conversations with a woman who gets a man’s jokes is nearly priceless.

  3. Hugo says:

    It’s a good observation on your part that men tend to put women in two categories. IT may be unfair of us to do, but I suppose it’s because men separate the maternal side of their mom from the person who had sex and gave birth to them… and even typing that creeps me out 😛

    And as Vijay said, looks pull you in but personality and intelligence keep you there. We’re physical beings, there’s no getting around that; the important thing id to develop the maturity to look past that and select a partner on the basis of their intellect, core values, and compatibility with your personality. The selection process requires straddling a line between not settling for less than you want, while not being superficial.

  4. Varasya says:

    It irks me no end that a beautiful person – male or female – is immediately judged on his/her looks. And it doesn’t help that dressing-up to look “good” by almost any conventional standards immediately stuffs you into a box – pretty (but not too bright) or bright (but a dawg). It is the most frustrating thing to know that you’re dressing well for YOURSELF, whatever that dressing well means, and then for it to be assumed that you’re doing it to attract a man. And then to really look at yourself, think about it, and realise that to some extent that is true – that’s equally frustrating, if not more so. Since the reality is that MOST guys really ARE drawn first to looks, and that gives you and the person in question an opportunity to at least start a conversation, and URGH. I hate dating. And I hate the pick-up scene. But I love going out, looking beautiful, and having a good time with friends. It’s a constant catch 22.

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