9.27.2006

Fantasies Tied to Gender

This morning, while eating breakfast, I ran across a pair of articles: Is He Your Dream Date? and Is She Your Dream Date? with a picture of a fire fighter and a stewardess respectively.

I read the first article, interested in how popular culture is currently portraying the dating scene. It was a series of brief interviews with women who had dated "fantasy" men. It was almost universally cautionary or negative, with only one woman actually marrying the guy in question. Most of the time it was: it was great at first but then I had to compete with the guys at the firehouse or the models he was photographing. Or the guy being too wrapped up in his job - like the comedian or the Hollywood screenwriter.
Curious, I wondered what guys would say about thier fantasy women. I did not really find what I expected. For the most part, they were positive and at least three were still with the women they described.

What does that mean? I find it hard to believe that men are *so* bad and women are *so* good. Of course, there's the possibility that such a small sample of interviews yielded atypical results.
I'm inclined to believe that men and women have different things in mind when they think of a fantasy date. In a way, men are more realistic by having what some might call lower standards. Dating a hot stewardess (excuse me, flight attendant) means getting good sex and high fives from thier friends. That's all they're really looking for. If he gets more, like the model that turned out to be a good friend and mate, he is happy and a little surprised at his good fortune.
Women, on the other hand, tend to set their expectations sky high. Romantic movies make every man into a possible Prince Charming. That rock star boyfriend gets her envious looks from her friends, but when he has groupies hanging on his every look, a lack of commitment becomes untenable.
Maybe it's less about the actual relationship and more about how men and women recall experiences. Men focusing on the positive aspects and the women focusing on the negative.
The final possibility is that one or both of the writers (Maggie Kim & Dan Bova) had different preconcieved ideas about what they expected to hear.

This analysis of course, contains generalizations. There are plenty of men who look for more in a woman, but they don't call those women a fantasy date. Dating is only that -- dating. And there are women who just want to date a restauranteur so they can be escorted about the city by someone with connections. There are always exceptions, but culture seems to perpetuate stereotypes.

Am I wrong? Why are those articles so different? If men and women are equal but different (Nature or nurture? That's another question.) as I believe, what does the results of this informal study mean?

4 comments:

Kevin said...

I wonder if the differences between genders is greater than the differences within the genders? The bits of the article seem to hit the sterotypes right on the head; controling women who don't like compeating with the other firemen or models, shallow men thinking of bragging rights before anything else. Maybe my circle of friends is small, but I don't know a lot of people like that. I know a lot of people who have found their partner and are very happy. Bastards.

Aileen said...

For the most part, like t.v., articles in the newspaper are written with the stereotypical audience in mind. Therefore, the writers like to play on the stereotypical so everyone at home can say, "yeah! That's exactly how I feel!". I would also hazard a guess that there was no "control" in this little experiment. Did they also test and look at the statistics of each gender dating partners in non-fantasy roles. What the hell do fantasy jobs have to do with dating success anyway?! If we could all only have success with fantasy partners, we'd all be shit out of luck!

I'm just not sure I buy into anything the media portrays as "the way it is". I think they're just presenting another article that supports the "Sex in the City" attitiudes about relationships that aren't very representative of reality. It all strikes me as very similar to the whole "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" t.v. shows where are these perfect people are thrown at this perfect guy or gal, and we (the viewer) are supposed to watch the magic happen. In the end, none of these people are perfect as they are presented to be, the situation is not even close to reality and so it all fails miserably. And we are left to think "wow, if she couldn't find someone amongst all those gorgeous, perfect men - how am I supposed to find someone?" This skewed view of reality presented in the dating world and in the married world of t.v. and media really does everyone a disservice, and I think it contributes to the rising divorce rate and general level of dissatisfaction with oneself and with others that seems to be running rampant in our society.

Ok . . . I'm done now . . . :-)

Anonymous said...

What most struck me was that the "fantasy date" for a woman was a fireman! I mean, I am on the volunteer fire department, and I assure you the men on the team are all about as average as they come. Very nice and very ordinary, everyday guys (though they DO seem to get excited about putting out fires).
A "stewdarness" (pardon me, a flight attendant), by her nature, is going to be somebody that is not going to try and tie a guy down because she has a schedule to keep. No nesting there! That is probably why she is a fantasy date. A make-believe nurturer that is impermanent.
As a successfully partnered person, the basic thing for me is that my partner is a FRIEND above all things.

Anne said...

I find that my friends are managing to find mates without resorting to stereotypes either. I do observe it in "the wild" so to speak. Actually, now that you mention it, it's kind of like the time I was living in a suburban townhome development (renting for a year, that's all!) and I walked out the door one morning and looked up and down the street at the identical houses stretching to the right and left. "Is this what I'm supposed to want?" That's pretty much the identical thought I sometimes have while observing the social scene.

Anyway, I'm so pleased to see that this post elicited responses from both genders. And that you all are so sensible about the issue. :)