THE BLOG

Have Women Lost Their "Feminine Mystique?"

01/30/2015 05:16 EST | Updated 04/01/2015 05:59 EDT
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I was sitting in the movie theatre this past weekend to see The Imitation Game with my husband Don when a gaggle of twenty-something gals walked into the theatre, continuing past us to sit in the very back row.

Like lipsticked versions of the typical unruly kids at the back of the bus, their antics were soon in full-swing and their volume was set to maximum. Here's what we -- and every single other person in the theatre -- heard.

"I shi*t you not, I was so f*cking wasted I can't remember how I got home!"

"You were like SO f*cking hilarious! You were like dry humping that guy so bad...he probably went in the can to jerk off..."

"That guy sent me a pic of his dick!"

Just as one young woman was launching into a fairly graphic description of the aforementioned "dick," a theatre employee -- oh how my heart went out to this poor chap -- approached them and asked them to keep it down. After finding several ways to argue with and insult him, they finally piped down. And then they left halfway through the movie.

As you may know, The Imitation Game (a fantastic film, by the way) is set in London in the 1940s. It co-stars Keira Knightly as Joan Clarke, a brilliant young woman who was part of Alan Turing's code-breaking team and who spent the war years helping him decode the German's Enigma machine.

We, as women, used to be something of an enigma to men. We used to have feminine mystique, an inscrutable and alluring "something" that men wondered about. And boy, did they try hard to figure us out. They used to trip over themselves trying to impress us with their charm, kindness and wit.

There's a scene in The Imitation Game where a young lady is flirting with a man at a pub. She says to her friend, "He'll be coming over here soon...I smiled at him 10 minutes ago and haven't looked back since."

And guess what? She was right. The man knew exactly what the smile meant: "I like the looks of you, and if you're willing to take the risk and come over here, you'll have a warm reception."

Fast-forward to 2015. Forget the inviting smile and feminine allure. Now, a guy can sign on to Tinder and use GPS to track women who have advertised an eager willingness to have sex. There's no subtlety, no mystery, no effort.

Now, women are fighting each other tooth-and-nail to pose naked on various online sites so their finest assets can be viewed and "judged" by men. If you're really lucky, you might even get the Slut Whisperer to post your pic on his Twitter account. Hey, that's the big time, girls!

The fact is, men have never thought so poorly of women as they do now. Their opinion and treatment of women -- from apathy to disdain -- isn't getting better, it's getting worse. And it's women who are paying the price. Studies have shown that the hook-up culture and living together without a commitment harms women who often "settle" for these things when they would actually prefer marriage.

Yet for some reason women refuse to look at their own behaviour and role in this. The nastiest feedback I have received about my admittedly controversial dating guide, The Modest Minx has been from women who were irate at the message that a woman show "less ass and more class" while dating.

Yet these are often the very women who complain that they're sick and tired of being treated "like garbage" by men. These are often the very women who say one thing, "I'm proud to be a slut!" but who feel something else, "I feel used, discarded and strung along...I feel lonely and sad."

I add my voice to those women who lament how poorly men seem to think of us nowadays. It seems like, despite how far we've come in terms of legal and socio-economic equality, we have never been held in such contempt by men. That matters to me, since I value the relationship between men and women.

Some people blame feminism. I don't. I'm proud to be a feminist. It's just that I don't equate feminism with treating our bodies like sexual trash and thinking that is sexual empowerment. I don't think swaggering into a movie theatre like a group of drunken frat boys means we're liberated. I don't think sending pics of our naked bodies to men for their gawking pleasure is a feminist act.

Oh, I can just hear the groans now. "Ugh, another backwards article trying to slut-shame women..." It's funny how people fall back on that accusation the moment someone expresses an opposing opinion about femininity.

Here's the thing: There's nothing wrong with sexual modesty. There's nothing wrong with conducting yourself with social grace in public. It isn't oppressive to use your manners or send the message that you have some class. In fact, you might find that "acting like a lady" motivates the men in your life to act like gentlemen.

Quality men tend to approach quality women. That's dating, decoded.

Personally, I'm sad to the see the mystique disappear. I find it depressing that so many women prefer to be downloaded and "pinged" instead of romanced. I've always been a vive la difference type of person.

And I'm not alone -- although strangely enough, it's mostly young single men that seem to agree with me. Not a day goes by that I don't receive feedback from a single man who says he's looking for Mrs. Right, but all he can find is Miss Right Now.

If you have the opportunity, go see The Imitation Game. Not only is it a story that deserves to be told, but it's a fascinating study in how feminine behavior has changed over the past several decades. Note how differently we as women now conduct ourselves.

In my despairing opinion, too many of us have become a louder, dumbed-down, sexed-up, selfie-snapping, pouty-lipped, desperate shadow of our former selves. That's what men are seeing, and that's how they're treating us.

Or if you prefer, you can just sit at the back of the theatre and talk as loud as you can about dicks.

Visit Debra's website at MarriageSOS.com

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