On yet another snowy rainy sleeting "work from home" day in Philadelphia, I posed that question to a friend over lunch. I look at her: a smart, financially independent, career driven, funny, gorgeous, healthy, educated, and overall a pretty cool person. She thinks for a bit.
"Well what do men have to offer?"
"Support, companionship, friendship, someone to reach tall places and open stuck jars, affection, love, and sex."
"I can get most of those things from my female friends, except for sex."
"Does that mean we only need men for sex?!"
"You tell me!"
All cheekiness aside, I look around and see amazing female friends who have these qualities that are deemed "masculine": outspoken, charismatic, career-oriented, ambitious, decision makers, independent, and essentially non-shirking violets. All these traits that if it were in men it would be deemed "good" but when the traits reside within women the positives becomes ambiguities, if not negatives. Why is that?
To understand the current situation, let's take a look at where we came from. The right to vote, equal employment opportunity, and equal pay is a relatively new achievement for women considering the long history where women didn't even hold jobs, step outside of the house without a chaperone (well at least the well to do ladies can't), can own property, or were even considered their own entity beyond their family, father, and husband. When I first watched Mad Men I was absolutely livid: what a horribly chauvinist and paternalistic society! Sure Don Draper is this suave, handsome, charismatic, smart, and cool guy but he also cheated on everyone he's been with romantically, objectified women, and had a huge ego. A representation of his time that makes me glad that I wasn't born in the 1940s! How far we have come from that time period.
With the introduction of women to the workplace comes with challenges to both men and women: men now have to deal with women outside the home in a professional setting and women now have to learn a new way to compete in an unlevel playing field. Issues still persists in modern day setting where the ratio of women to men in college, higher education, and entry level jobs are 50/50 yet the ratio drops precipitously as one goes higher up the corporate ladder and of the Fortune 500 companies only 5% have women CEO's. The reasons for these trends are vast, multi-factorial, and complex but clearly the cards are somewhat stacked against women in the business world so that in order to succeed one has to be stellar or very well connected to garner the roles, respect, and responsibilities traditionally accorded to men.
So back to the two women at a diner on a snowy day in Philly. Here we are living our lives without aid from family, government, or men; developed human beings with our own thoughts, aspirations, and many traits that would make any man just awesome. So yes: to a degree we have attained and embodied the men that we would like to be but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. It just means it takes certain personalities and characters to appreciate what we have to offer and conversely we may appreciate different traits in men that others may overlook.
Problem as solved as it can be on this day. Now onto tackling that giant piece of chocolate cake to round out the meal