Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The View from Outside of Stepford

For some reason I had a Stepford Wives dream the other night.  I don't remember it very clearly, I just have a sense of it.  I remember being in the kitchen during the climatic scene where Katharine Ross' character finds that her friend, played by Paula Prentiss (photo), has been transformed.  But I don't know if I was one of the characters or just watching, but if it was the former, I don't know who I was - the robot or the real, independent thinking woman still.  I don't even know really what was rattling around in my head that caused my unconscious mind to pull a file from the "way back when" section of the memory banks.  I haven't seen the movie in decades, but that kitchen does make it into the occasional dream of mine because, as much as I was old enough to get and appreciate the cultural message the writers were putting out there, I was still in love with that kitchen and wanted one just like it when I grew up, no matter if that made me a wife-bot or not.  So, maybe I was dreaming about the movie simply because I was subconsciously railing against my teensy kitchen, or maybe there was a deeper issue I was trying to delve into and my mind dressed it up in a mid-70's horror flick to give it context.  I think it related somehow to the fact that I had recently seen one of my favorite X-Files episodes, Arcadia, so mass conformity was on my mind, but it still struck me as wildly random that I would have a dream about being any kind of wife at this particular point in my life, since I'm the furthest removed from being a spouse that I have been for over half my life.  Who knows, maybe that has something to do with it in and of itself.  But anyway, here I was, dreaming about a movie that was made when I was a teenager (not the 2004 remake - I never saw it for one thing) that centers around the "ideal" wife from a man's perspective.  Therefore, when I was pondering the dream and trying to work out what it was I was trying to work out, if you will, it occurred to me to ask the question:  what is it exactly that men do want in a woman?  Because I don't know that we as women have it figured out exactly.

Demi Moore seems to think it's the eternal appearance and affect of youth.  Miley Cyrus seems to think it's sex.  Yet, last I knew anyway, neither of them are exactly scoring points in the committed relationship game right now.  I would hazard a guess that if you polled a random sampling of people, both men and women, they'd say "compatibility".  I would test that theory if I had a random group of people around to ask, but I don't, so take it for what it is:  just a guess.  But, I think it's probably the rote answer I would give someone and probably because it's what we think we're supposed to believe.  But, let's face it:  yes, we want our significant other to be compatible with us, but we also want a little wrapping and a bow on the package too.  Ideally, ladies, don't we want our compatible partner to look like a Wahlberg or a Crosby (okay, that's me that wants that - but you catch the drift)?  And, c'mon, straight fellows out there, tell me you haven't fantasized about the perfect mate looking suspiciously like J-Lo?  Nothing unnatural or wrong about that, particularly if you look at your mate and believe you see a bit of Donnie/Mark or Jennifer in there somewhere, if only - and maybe especially - because you love them and that's what colors your lenses.

Of course, then you might also want to add that you want someone to understand you, which is more than just liking the same things you do.  And that's a little more complicated.  Understanding that I like Steelers football and finding that attractive because you like football too is one thing.  Understanding why I actually cried a little when they beat the Ravens on Sunday is something else altogether.  And that's where the division between the sexes gets complicated really to my mind.  We're not the same.  We're just not.  When I hear my single friends talk about the perils of finding a rewarding relationship, I've been known to ponder whether being a lesbian would be easier because you don't have that whole gender gap thing to contend with.  I'll personally never know, however, and I know that because of the little jolt I got when Donnie Wahlberg came on screen wearing this adorable little tweed cap to promote the new season of Boston's Finest.  I was just born that way.  Just like my lesbian friends were born the way they were, so we're playing the hand we're dealt, and so is everyone else out there.  But, the thing is, the older we get the more baggage we bring to any relationship - hetero or otherwise - and that complicates that whole topic of understanding.  Maybe you can relate to being emotional because you're a female, but can you know all the background and life experiences that led to someone needing a team to beat another team SO badly that it would illicit tears of happiness when they did?  Not unless you were right along side of them as they went through it.  So, how does one meet someone who can truly "understand" them?  Seems pretty hard to me.

Your retort then might be that what you meant was someone who "accepts" you.  And ultimately, I think that's probably right.  It's the key ingredient, and it's a bigger part of the recipe the older we get and have more to accept, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

But, truly, what I was chewing on in light of the particular subject matter of my dream, was whether men really want women to be obedient.  Would any man in today's day and age really want to be partnered with a Stepford wife?  I don't know any women who are even close to being one, and for that I'm eternally grateful, but I do sort of wonder if that man is out there.  If perhaps not only is he out there, but if he is part of a large secret society.  Could it be that in point of fact all the men I know secretly want that sort of partner?  I don't know, so I guess I've gone a long way round to ask:  guys, do you?

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