Lately, I have been hearing over and over from a number of single women who I consider to be of high “caliber” in a sense that they are physically attractive, elegant, educated in the traditional sense of the term, and professionally accomplished, that men are not assertive and aggressive enough. These women say that men don’t make a move to approach them, meet them and flirt with them nearly as much as these women would like to. This goes completely against what I have been used to hearing from women until not so long ago – that they are being hit on all the time everywhere they go and that they are really tired of it.
Having looked into this by observing and talking to both men and women in various social situations where people would be expected to mingle and flirt, I wanted to find out why is it that women complain that men are not aggressive enough – at least where I live – San Francisco. My first discovery was not surprising. Men have been discouraged from even looking at women, let alone approaching or objectifying women, because this whole idea of “hitting on” women has been almost criminalized in our culture. The impact of this social pressure to be extra careful and stay away as far as possible from perceiving women as sexual objects cannot be overstated.
Even young men at the peak of their sexuality are not nearly as aggressive as they were in previous generations. This is why the atmosphere at social events and at gyms is completely different from what it was just a decade ago, at least here in San Francisco but probably in many other places. You can tell that there is pretty much no chance that anything romantic will happen between people in these types of places. At social events, men stick to talking to women about such safe topics as work, food, and traveling. These men avoid getting any more personal for fear of being perceived as creepy or too aggressive. At gyms and especially higher end gyms – men don’t even look at women, no matter how attractive and how provocatively dressed they are.
Some would say that this is for better, as women feel safer and more respected today in this new environment of non-aggressive men, created in large part by the new anti-harassment laws, feminism, #metoo movement, etc. Others would say that this is a in a way a tragedy because one of the most exciting things appear to have been taken out of young, singe people’s lives – making eye contact, rising to the occasion and approaching women, being approached, flirting, asking as stranger out on a date after having a conversation that required quite a bit of skill and real confidence.
To me, this seems tragic that all this joy had to be sacrificed for safety. Like many others I believe that we have gone too far in the direction of sterilizing our society of all sexual tension. It’s clear that many women actually miss being “objectified”. That’s one reason they actually seek objectification by posting all types photos of themselves on Instagram. I hope that this pendulum will shift back a little, and sooner than later we find a balance between being respectful, and at the same time enjoying objectifying each other without feeling like we are committing some type of crime.
The good news is that this new order of things is regional. There are plenty of places in the world that have not experienced this yet. Perhaps while we recover from losing one of the most beautiful things in life, other cultures could learn from us how not to go overboard with “protecting” women and find a happy medium that encourages respect without sacrificing the primal romantic and sexual dynamics between the sexes that have been in place as long as humanity itself.