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!


  1. Marni,

    I found this post to be insightful and accurate, regardless of the fact that I am neither (1) single nor; (2) living in NYC. I am often approached by single friends of both genders for relationship advice ((b/c I am more or less approachable and I was the guy who, growing up, was every girl's 'best guy friend' (read: too awkward looking to date, too nice and funny to ignore)) and I am forced to give out similar advice every once in a while.

    I see this type of behavior occasionally, and I always advise that 'while we THINK that we have advanced tremendously from our cave-predecessors, when it comes to love/sex/procreation, we have NOT.' Regardless of how one wishes to characterize this fact, it remains a FACT. The majority of us are simply hardwired to certain behaviors. Since we can't change it, what do we do? Learn what to do with it. Nearly all women, be they Senators, housewives, or janitors, want (deep down inside) to be protected and cared for (at least sometimes). Nearly all men have a genetic bent towards providing such protection. It's best to stop demonizing these behaviors, as they may be one of the only truly genuine instincts we have left after years of societally CONSTRUCTED 'distractions.'

    I am not saying every man must be a lumberjack and every woman must stay at home pining for her mate's return, but let's not forget where we came from. Guys, learn to fix something, take pride in hefting a couple suitcases for your girlfriend, do something stereotypically masculine *every now and then*. And your suggestion about women cooking is spot on. For single guys looking to be fathers one day, nothing is more of a turn-on than a potential spouse proudly declaring that they lack (and seek not to learn) one of the single most useful family caretaking skills. While you are at it, tell the guys you hate babies. That's sure to drive the men wild.


  2. Marni,

    How refreshing, that I return to your blog after some time and I see you're spot-on as you have always been.

    Men have another word for such women. It starts with "B." Please don't be offended, Marni. Even the cockiest and most self-assured men will concede that women such as the ones you describe are "powerful" - great looks, financial/career success, confidence, knowledge. But such women tend to be also very pushy and domineering, as you said, and it just drives us men away.

    We men do not like women who are weak, lacking in self-confidence, unable to think for themselves, ignorant, etc. But it is true we want femininity. That's why so many American men like foreign women - they retain that femininity that many American women apparently lost.

    Incidentally, Marni, I was in Canada recently. I visited both Montreal and Quebec City. The women there had this incredible European charm that blew me away. They were elegant in addition to being beautiful, but the way they comported themselves... they just exuded this quiet, confidence grace that just "reeked" of charm and elegance. Not to say charming, elegant, and gracious women do not exist in NY... but it was different from what I see here. And I tell you Marni... I LOVED it.

    - Ex-Syosset Brave, Class of '91

  3. Great commentary Marni. You are spot on with respect to the benefit women receive when speaking in a softer more feminine tone.

    I once dated a woman who I liked but was not "head over heals" for. Yet each time we spoke on the phone I would end the conversation feeling very positive and would have very affectionate feelings for her. I finally realized it was because HER voice was so affectionate and sweet -- she would virtually "sing" to me when she spoke my name or told me "that sounds wonderful" when I told her what I was up to.

    I know this may sound a bit corny or that I was easily swooned - but the tone of voice is one of the characteristics we as humans are incredibly attuned to. Women should use it to their advantage to display their femininity and communicate just how interested they are.

  4. Dear Steve,

    Thank you so much for posting your comment and my apologies for the delay in responding ... that's the summer for you! I am so happy to hear that you enjoy reading my blog even though you are not in NYC and no longer in the single/dating world. Your comment about out still being very much like our cave dwelling predecessory when it comes to dating/procreation is spot on. We are most definitely hardwired to respond to certain behaviors - it is not sexist or antiquated, just reality.

    Thanks again for the input!

  5. Dear Ex-Syosset Brave,

    Thanks again for another excellent and insightful comment.

    Hope you are having a great summer!

  6. Dear Anonymous,

    Great anecdotal story - no question a woman can get a lot of mileage from the tone and quality of her voice and knowing how to use it. This is really something New York women need to learn!

    Thanks so much for commenting!

  7. Marni,

    This was a GREAT one- coming from an Alpha Female- needing more of a dose of that feminine female reality- It becomes a tough feat to conquer in NYC...we Alphas DO need to be reminded every now and again ;)

    Thank you for that! Keep blogging- you're excellent at it!!

    Alpha-female NYC

  8. Dear Alpha-female NYC,

    Yes, it really is a tough feat to conquer in NYC - it is so easy to get sucked into that way of being and then forget to switch gears when you are out with men. I am glad you appreciated the reminder - I have to remind myself sometimes.

    And I am so glad you are enjoying the blog - thanks for the kind words!