Despite Gloria Steinem's best efforts, feminism has confounded for years. Men, women and media were turned upside down, spun around and left with a new world order of equality that apparently threatened it all. We were told that feminism is the root of failed relationships. Feminists don't respect men -- we degrade them. We take men for granted. Feminism robs men of their manliness. And the feminism opponent's motherlode: It steals from women the chance for happiness.
Seriously? Excuse me while I spit take.
From The Rules to the Princeton Mom, modern women are told it's all your fault, blaming the "f" word. Feminism. The irony and beauty is that feminism has in fact enabled women and the men who love us to have better relationships, leaving the repressed and reviled 1950s where they belong -- in the dustbin of 20th century lessons.
Feminism made women self-reliant so that we no longer depended on a man for money or to pay our bills. We can date as equals. We can even ask the guy out, call him, pay for dinner. Finally things were even. Feminism gave us freedom, but as we stepped up, guys stepped back. It created a stalemate. Sure, guys let us pay for drinks or dinner, but then nothing happened. Feminism had screwed up the balance of the sexes! It broke the dating and mating game that had been in place for thousands of years.
In the 1990s, The Rules blasted on to the scene offering the answers for what ailed us. The reason it all went wrong is that it was something we did, starting with not following The Rules. Being assertive was the problem, because men don't fall in love with and marry strong women who know what they want and aren't afraid to ask for it, even pay for it themselves. The Rules provided women with an easy, old-fashion list of dos and don'ts to follow that worked, putting the power back in the hands of men where it belonged.
Are you kidding?
As a relationship expert and advice columnist, I spent ten years in the trenches listening and learning. And guess what? Whether he's single, married, happy or miserable, men have lots of fantasies. And a man who is in love with a woman wouldn't in a million years think of cheating on her or spend time thinking about "the perfect girl" and blaming his restlessness on mother nature and that it's about "genetics" and trying to "propagate the species," as it's described on The Rules Revisited website. If a man has a girlfriend that "never says no to sex, she cleans my apartment, she cooks food for me, she is fun to be around -- everything," but he's still restless, the truth is that "he's just not that into you."
The authors of He's Just Not That Into You obliterated the idea that it's all the woman's fault, because the fact is nothing will stop a man from getting what he wants especially if it's you. Online dating ads are not "the equivalent of going to a singles bar ... for lazy people," as the Princeton Mom claims. They can work and I know because I was a relationship consultant for a big newspaper that at the time monopolized technology dating -- and for years I helped women and men find each other via this pioneering medium, encouraging women to weed out the guys who can't see how amazing they are.
Feminism is actually a woman's best friend, especially if she wants a great relationship, a marriage and career.
I never opened my own door unless I wanted to. I never paid for drinks or dinner unless I wanted to and it was usually when I was done with the guy sitting across from me. Being a feminist doesn't change that a man will always want to do things for you. In a relationship that works it goes both ways, especially when you both have careers and have decided to have children.
What I did do was spend a lot of time finding out what made me happy. For me it was something that gave me purpose. It led me on a wild ride where I landed somewhere I never expected and to an amazing man knocking on my front door, quite literally, whom I would marry. So if I hadn't been following my heart I might not have met him.
Along the way there were other loves, great sex, serial monogamy, heartbreak, and glorious professional accomplishments, along with bone dry years of creative flops and personal torment.
When it all came together it included a man who's as involved in my success and happiness as I am in his. We're equals. But no matter what I can provide for myself I'm always aware that one of the things that makes him who he is includes taking care of me, making sure I'm safe and happy.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank him for the things he does for me that add to my life. Yes, feminists love our men and we're grateful for them.
Decide what it is that you want and let the fruits of your personal journey take you on a ride. What you could attract may astound you.
Taylor Marsh is the author of the new book The Sexual Education of a Beauty Queen - Relationship Secrets From the Trenches out August 5th.