I had lunch with two charming, likable women in their upper twenties and interviewed them about what women in their age group are thinking about sex and long term relationships with men. I chose that age for they have emerged from the earlier more free days, have jobs and are more mature than college students. Though I very much enjoyed their company I was surprised by what I heard and, frankly, curious about their futures. Though I didn’t learn this until the latter part of our conversation, they were both vegetarians. Rather than a long description of what we talked about, it’s best that I put it in a question and answer format. They were both in complete agreement with their thoughts and answers.
Me: “What type of men are you attracted to?”
Them: “On the border, but we really don’t like macho men.”
Me: “How about strong men?”
Them: “Maybe. Not sure”
Me: “Do you have boyfriends and how are they?”
Them: “Yes. Both are effeminate, sensitive and maybe one is also homosexual.”
Me: “Do you plan to marry?”
Them: “Ugh! No way. Marriage is the wrong way to go, and we are not interested-at all! We were told as kids that marriage between a man and a woman was natural, and we should find a good husband.”
Me: “Do you know any happily-enough married couples?”
Me: “How about when your 50 0r 60, don’t you want the security of a marriage?”
Them: “No way! We don’t need it and don’t want it.”
Me: “Do you want to have kids?”
Them: “Not my own by natural birth but maybe adopt one or be a surrogate for another woman. My brother is a homosexual, and if he wanted me to bear his kid, I’ll do it for him.”
Me: “So you’ll have kids a number of ways except through marriage or a long term relationship with a heterosexual man?”
Me: “Are women more attractive to you than non-effeminate heterosexual men?”
Me: “Do you want to become a lesbian? “
Them: “No. And we are not bisexual.”
Me: “What’s your position on non-effeminate heterosexual men??
Them: “We’re man eaters!”
What was impressive about the mindset of these young ladies was that they were both fatalistic and very resolute about their current positions and particularly so regarding their futures. But what struck a chord in my brain is that they are both vegetarians and perhaps there is a connection between their mental and physical dietary positions. I then called a vegetarian lady friend and interviewed her. But there was one big difference: She was in her late 40’s. She doesn’t want to have children; she prefers strong men over effeminate ones and women; not against marriage but probably won’t search for it. Her answer about her life and security of her future resonated with the other two ladies. “I’m not sure, not that concerned and whatever happens will happen.”
I was intrigued by the “fatalism of the future” commonality mentality of the ladies, though only three in number. I decided to interview one more and made a contact with a vegetarian woman in her early-30’s in San Francisco. Her responses were, more or less, similar to the ladies in the 20’s. But I was particularly searching for any “fatalistic” attitude about her future and asked what happens when she becomes a senior citizen without a man to support her. Her answer? “No problem. The government will probably take care of me.” I asked, “Suppose it doesn’t?” “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. But no husband!”
In conclusion, though this is not at all a definitive survey, I’ve might have stumbled upon an unexpected, common finding because of the intensity of their responses. Vegetarian women may commonly be fatalistic about their futures, and somehow this may be connected to their dietary choices. I will try to expand my interview of vegetarian women and also interview vegetarian men as well as vegan men and women and compare the responses.
One interesting aside observation: I’m a poetry fan and was surprised to discover that two of the women were big poetry lovers. I asked them, “Do you prefer T.S. Elliot or Wordsworth?” Both loved Elliot’s and actually despised Wordsworth’s poetry. Elliot’s poetry is complex, difficult to understand and without joy. Wordsworth’s poetry is simple, clearly written celebrating the beauty of nature. Maybe I stumbled upon another finding, whatever that is.
For a long time we have been undergoing a pervasive, national educational effort to change our concept of masculinity. In the past I coined the term, Demasculization Syndrome or DMS to characterize the impact of this movement. Recently, I was curious to find out how the masculinity perceptions of these four controversial men with heavy media coverage and high recognition levels would rate with younger people. The latter are taught that men must be sensitive to women’s needs, non- violent and control their tempers, not use abusive language, not be a sexual predator and so on and so forth. Alec Baldwin, the hot tempered guy who also uses foul language; Charlie Sheen the coke addictive prostitute lover; Eliot Spitzer, the hypocrite about his public and personal “positions” with prostitutes and Anthony Weiner who shows his privates to women by sexting on cellphones certainly don’t fit the new masculinity prototype.
I conducted an informal, non-scientific survey in 28 people: 18 women and 10 men. I asked them to rate each one of these men either as ‘masculine’, ‘not masculine’ and ‘no opinion’. Interestingly enough, there were little differences between the sexes.
Though I didn’t ask specific questions behind their choices, by our conversations I did get a sense of the qualities most admire in Baldwin and Sheen. They were strength, being ‘alive’, ‘have balls’ and irreverent, likeable, physically attractive and would, for example, like to meet them over dinner.
Then I thought of who men and women in my generation –I’m somewhere between 70 and 80– would consider masculine and express similar types of sentiments. Clarke Gable, John Wayne and Sean Connery jumped to mind.
Though hard to believe, only a few souls are aware of this: Most studies and surveys, including this one, are flawed and not to be blindly accepted. (More on this in a later post). But the consistency of opinions of this survey certainly should encourage experts on social issues to further explore, in studies that aren’t flawed, how men and women perceive masculinity instead of continuing to teach the young and not-so young, otherwise. Would it be interesting and illuminating to compare the qualities of the Gables, Waynes and Connerys to the Baldwins and Sheens?