A former boyfriend of mine once said that equality between men and women will never exist. I asked him for clarification and his response was to tell me an Indian proverb that described the ideal woman. She had breasts like mangoes, hands as delicate as a lotus flower and hips that moved like chariot wheels. Where was the part about her personality and her mind, I’d asked. He laughed. It didn’t matter, he said, because men were visual.
At first, I was offended. Did a woman’s self worth depend on a man’s desires? It took me a while, but recently I think I know what he was saying, and perhaps I might agree with him.
I’ve been dating for longer than I care to admit. I’ve never married because I just haven’t found that match yet. So over the years, being single has taught me to be independent in order to survive and be successful. Ironically, some of my close friends say that my formula for survival will keep me flying solo for a long time.
I’ve watched and coached many girlfriends through relationships. I’ve stood by their side and watched them cry and talk of disrespect, hurt feelings and in most cases, not so nice behaviour from their boyfriends.
My advice never wavered – be strong, be independent, value who you are. I am starting to realize that this might not be the best advice that will allow their men to stick around.
Many women love the idea of being independent. They adore the notion of evenings out with the girls and the feeling of empowerment it brings when they pick up the cheque for their own gourmet dinner. They didn’t have to convince a guy to get dressed up and spend an evening in a dim lit restaurant, eating three bites of an overpriced dinner that cost as much as a ticket to the Leafs game. Nope, their girlfriends need no convincing why a night in Yorkville is a pleasant way to spend a Saturday night.
But I’ve watched as the same girlfriends jump when their phone rings, race to the bathroom and return only to pay their bill and run out with an excuse that ‘something came up’. Oh some will be honest and eagerly blurt that their guy has called and wants to see them. He beckons and they answer. The Leafs game was over.
I’ve also watched women’s eyes flick back and forth to their phones in hopes that the text message light will appear and a message will arrive from a suitor. Once the ring sounds, a fork is dropped, phone is in hand and a response is immediately texted.
The men know. They can tell that the answer has come back within seconds of the question delivered and they realize the power they still hold. Some will go as far as to ask for a date, at the very last minute because they know they will get their way.
This is not new. In the days before cell phones became a common accessory next to our lipstick, I had many friends sit home on a Saturday night, phone beside them as they wait for their guy — just in case he was free. Technology has made it more convenient and makes them more accessible. They can go out for dinner and if he calls and it’s not a problem to swing by his place once their plate is clean.
Personally, I never do any of the above. Sure, I’ve felt anxious when waiting for a guy to call. Yes, I’ve let him consume my thoughts. But I rarely accept last minute dates and I never answer text messages while at dinner. In fact, if he calls, I don’t pick up if I’m with friends. I’m busy and it would just be rude. I’m an independent lady after all.
But at the end of the day, I’m not married. All of the women who’ve dumped their girlfriends for men are still with the men today. So it works!
So yes, perhaps my former flame was correct. Equality between the sexes might be a novel concept, but is it realistic? Perhaps women striving for the same independence men have enjoyed for centuries will have to stop and think about this choice that comes with the possibility of being alone.
Follow Priya on Twitter at @Priya_Ramsingh.
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