Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Saturday, May 06, 2006

Metro Plus Chennai

What do women want?

Given a choice between the retrosexual and the 

metrosexual male, women are a confused lot,


Back in the old days, it used to be far easier. The relationship
between the sexes was one-dimensional, contained no surprises.
 Men were men, macho, less than refined, not in the least
sensitive and more than a bit chauvinistic. Women, well,
always the resigned lot, they just put up with things,
contriving to bring about change in subtle ways, doing their
complaining in hushed tones to other women for the most part.

Then came the New, Improved Male. He got in touch with his
 inner self; he went in for facials, manicures and pedicures.
 He was a hands-on father, a demonstrative husband and
what do you know, some husbands even started bringing
 home flowers for no special occasion! It was out with the
 boorish behaviour, in with the caring behaviour.

So, you'd think women would be over the moon with delight,
 right? The reality is a bit more complicated. There are some
 women who, while acting thrilled to bits with the new man
and shouting the fact from the rooftops, are secretly wondering
 if this changed man requires a changed woman in turn.
There are some other women who prefer the times as they
were, before they (the times) changed and the men changed,
 too. Handling the chauvinistic male (and the Indian species
is in a class by itself, any woman will tell you that), took finesse
and dexterity but women were getting to be experts at it.

Ground reality
Now here is the ground reality: women are not too sure
 how they ought to react to this man, Mark II. Which in turn,
 has the man unsure about whether he ought to continue on
 this enlightened path or revert to being man, Mark I.
Altogether a confused scenario.

Let's take a few situations. Ms Post-Modern is out at dinner with
 a male friend. It's a swank joint, great food and it's been a
 lovely evening. The bill arrives. He reaches automatically
 for the bill and pays it. She is immediately affronted
that he didn't have the courtesy to ask if she'd like to go
 Dutch... after all, this isn't a date. Then again, the act
was a masterful one and she is secretly appreciative
of the way he took the initiative.

Scenario Two involves a bus. A man refuses to give up
 his seat for a woman. Women's lib and equal rights
notwithstanding, the woman promptly feels upset. Never
 mind that the man may have had a long, hard, tiring day
himself, Ms Post-Modern sees herself as the injured party.
She, of course, is a secret believer in the saying that while
all are equal, some
are more equal than others.

Other situations occur when he holds a chair out, or the door,
 for her. The feminist in her cringes at such `patronising'
gestures, while the woman in her smiles in sweet acceptance.
The Metrosexual male waves bye at the end of the street
and lo, the woman expects him to see her home to her
doorstep! He says her hair looks great. She smiles awkwardly,
 not sure how to accept personal comments from
a man who is not father/brother/husband/cousin. She wonders,
 is this a pass; he, of course, is only being the observant
 and appreciative New Man.

The confusions multiply. He doesn't call like he said
he would. She can't bring herself to call... that's not
how women do things. He forgets special days, anniversaries,
 birthdays, and the like. She shrugs but smoulders. Ditto
when he forgets to bring her flowers. And when he says
not tonight, he has a headache, she is outraged and
embarrassed beyond words.

At the cinema, her eyes fill when the hero dumps the heroine.
He offers his hanky. She takes it, inwardly cringing at this show
of weakness on her part. And the best one of them all, in this new
 scenario: "You're one of the guys," he says and she grins. Seething
 like a volcano, inside.

Sure makes you long for the old days, when men came in one
 type and format only and women knew the ropes, every warp
 and weft, very well, indeed. The one consolation, if you can
 call it that, in this is that the Old Male outnumbers his
 Improved Model — 40:10.

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