“Anything you can do, I can do better,” runs the old song from “Annie Get Your Gun.” Although once a humorous look at the battle between the sexes, today the song is a fitting anthem to the reign of girl power in society. Women, it is thought, can and should do everything that men do.
Given this mentality, I was a bit surprised to come across an article in The Washington Post which marches to the beat of a different drummer.
Written by a feminist-minded woman single long into her 40s, the article explains how despite all attempts to put herself out there, be independent, and pursue men on her own terms, Jill Kaminsky could never find a good man to marry.
And then she switched her approach.
The result? She is now married to a sweet guy who holds many of the same views she does.
When asked by friends how she landed such a great guy, she offers the following, non-feminist friendly statement: “I say that I met him the instant I gave up control and assumed a more passive, feminine role.”
Kaminsky, it appears, learned three important things about men in the process of dating her husband.
For starters, men want to be pursuers, not the pursued. Unlike her previous attempts at dating, Kaminsky didn’t make the first move with her husband. He asked her out for a date. She said yes. He asked her out again. She sat back, let him do the planning, then allowed him to pick her up and foot the bill. In other words, she allowed him to be the pursuer, a component which the late author Allan Bloom declares is missing from today’s relationships:
Human beings can, of course, engage in sexual intercourse at any time. But today there are none of the conventions invented by civilization to take the place of heat, to guide mating, and perhaps to channel it. Nobody is sure who is to make the advances, whether there are to be a pursuer and a pursued, what the vent is to mean. They have to improvise, for roles are banned, and a man pays a high price for misjudging his partner’s attitude.
The second thing Kaminsky learned about men is that they love being protectors, even in small things like holding an umbrella in the rain. She writes:
As I waited, I calculated the best way to run and avoid getting drenched. As I took a first step into the rain, I could barely see him through the heavy downpour, but I noticed that he was getting out of the car holding an umbrella. I stepped back and watched as he ran to me. He took me by the arm and escorted me to the car, making sure I didn’t get wet.
It may have been a small thing, but it relieved Kaminsky of a burden and also deepened her respect of the man who would soon become her husband. It was, as author David Gilmore says, her future husband’s way of “gain[ing] renown by standing between his family and destruction, absorbing the blows of fate with equanimity.”
Finally, men desire to be providers. Kaminsky learned this when she offered to drive on a trip but found herself silently refused by her guy. She explains:
With each passing mile, my anger grew. I couldn’t hold it anymore. Maybe this chivalry thing wasn’t so appealing after all.
‘Why don’t you ever let me drive?’ I huffed.
He took a deep breath. ‘Because it makes me feel like a man to take care of you,’ he said timidly, apprehensively. ‘You are taking away my masculinity.’
To Kaminsky, driving was no big deal. Yet, it made a great deal of difference to the man who was trying to be a providing caregiver in her life.
In today’s culture, it’s easy for women to roll their eyes at receiving help, scoff at allowing someone to protect them, and decide that they will be the ones doing the pursuing in relationships. But when women take this attitude, do they make life harder not only on the men in their lives, but on their own selves as well? Would we see women who are less stressed if they stepped back and allowed men to take more of a pursuer, protector, and provider role in their lives?
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Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout. When not writing or editing, she enjoys reading, gardening, and time with family and friends.