Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gender Bender

I recently looked up the term metrosexual and the definitions I came across described a man who has a high disposable income, lives or works in the city, is overly concerned with his appearance (e.g. vain, loves to shop, gets manicures, laser hair removal, etc.) and who displays attributes stereotypically associated with women or homosexual men (that is, NOT stereotypical male qualities). Indeed, modern day life in NYC has definitely blurred gender lines to such an extent that I know certain self-proclaimed Casanovas who are so in touch with their feminine side and/or exhibit such a sense of style that every woman (and non-metrosexual guy) I know is convinced that they are gay. I often wonder if they realize that is the looming question every time they walk away from hitting on a girl.

But, there is the flip side of the coin that no one talks about – the Alpha Female who is as equally unappealing to the men, Ladies, as the uber-metrosexual male is to you. Certainly, we all know her though none of my male clients want to meet her. She is more often than not successful, self-reliant, loud-spoken, opinionated and domineering. She may even be hot with a killer body, wearing a mini-skirt and a garter belt underneath but ultimately she is still exuding a masculine energy and a harshness that is just not attractive. And while no guys are wondering if she is gay when she walks away, they are happy to let her leave. Then they turn their attention to the foreign cutie in the corner or the girl at the bar with the soft Southern accent and enjoy being in the presence of a graceful and sexy woman.

Yes, Ladies, another “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” blog: I hear far too many men complain that New York women simply do not know how to be feminine. And this is really such a shame because femininity is appealing, femininity is sexy and exuding femininity can often be much more powerful than bulldozing your dates, co-workers, etc. with masculine energy.

Unfortunately, this city breeds a certain type of Alpha Female who thinks that power is found in speaking in harsh, loud, strident tones (yes, there is a New York way of speaking a la Bethenny Frankel that simultaneously indicates that the speaker will cut you down to size and castrate you and then tell all of her friends about it). This way of speaking may or may not get results in the office, but in regard to dating scientific studies show that it is not effective as men consistently rate women as more attractive when they speak in a pleasant tone of voice. So, Ladies, why not give it a try - speak in a softer voice and see if you don't notice a little more chivalrous treatment.

Indeed, these same Alpha Females can often be observed virtually marching down the street, office hallway, etc. when they could benefit immensely from walking with a bit of finesse and grace. Just the other week I was talking with a guy friend who commented that he is always drawn to European women because they “just know how to move better than New York women.” Something to think about, Ladies.

Equally unappealing, these Alpha Females are often know-it-alls on their dates ... they know everything about sports, everything about finance, everything about EVERYTHING and there isn’t possibly anything these guys can teach them because, well, they know everything. After a date like that, imagine what a breath of fresh air it is for a guy when he meets a woman who shows curiosity and appreciation for the things he wants to share with her (as I have had to explain to some of my female clients, men like to teach – let them!).
[1] Unlike their Latin sisters who typically go out of their way to make a man feel like a man and who know when to let him take charge of a situation (e.g. to protect those around him – a very natural male instinct), many New York women make sure the guy knows that they intend to wear the pants in the relationship and the pants will be Prada. While the metrosexual male may want to get into those Prada pants, that’s about it.

Now please know that I am not saying that women should be penalized for being smart, successful and having opinions. To the contrary, the men with whom I speak are very attracted to women who can counter a fun loving jibe with a witty retort or who can beat them in a game of tennis or golf. Let’s be crystal clear – the quality guys I know are definitely not looking for a doormat. What I am saying, however, is that it’s no surprise that a guy will often forgo this "metrosexual equivalent" female emitting masculine, harsh energy and who thinks it's funny and cool that she doesn’t know how to cook to instead choose spending time with a woman who is sweet, supportive, appreciative, graceful, feminine and can occasionally prepare a dish or two.

The unfortunate reality is that sometimes it’s necessary for women here to adopt a tough exterior to survive in the dog eat dog world of corporate New York. However, Ladies, if you learn how to skillfully flip the switch and leave your Alpha Female in the office you will likely see a whole new response from the men around you. As I stated in my First Date Tool Box Lecture, men don’t want to date a man (at least the straight ones don’t) – where’s Jean Nate when you need it?!

[1] An additional piece of advice: men love women who know how to let the man lead on the dance floor. By following, it doesn’t mean you are subservient, it just means that you recognize that you can’t have two people leading and dance well together!

[2] For those readers who aren’t children of the 70s, Jean Nate was a famous ad campaign where the protagonist entered the ad swishing her hair and singing how she could bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let you forget she was a woman – ah, the memories!