We Attract How We Act
I watched a taped segment from The Oprah Show the other day that has me fuming. Now generally I enjoy Oprah, and highly admire her as an example of how absolute power needn't corrupt absolutely. But she had matchmaker Patti Novak on her show earlier this week, and some of the advice dispensed by this 'expert' was truly horrible.
Ms. Novak apparently hosts her own show on cable somewhere, on which she helps hapless women discover why they can't seem to find Mr. Right after years of trying. The impression she gave on Oprah's show is that she teaches these women to discover why they are attracting inappropriate men. I agree with this approach, in general - self-analysis and self-work to become ready for a genuine healthy relationship. But her advice also included:
- Expect the man to pay for the date, and allow him to orchestrate the whole event.
- Act as if we 'need' him for our daily functions, something that she calls the Pickle Jar Principle. In other words, hand him a jar to open and ask for his help because we want him to believe he is needed.
She spent most of her show segment bashing men as evolutionarily inferior to women. So her message became "Girls, men are stupid but we have to make them feel as if we're the ones who are stupid if we really want such pathetic creatures in our lives." Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.
Ms. Novak kept saying that her principles allowed women to be their true selves. But how is pretending incompetence going to allow us to be real? And how is starting a relationship with paternalistic views going to lead to equality? I think we need to simply be real - not feign incompetence nor ooze superiority. I don't believe in fighting about who is picking up the dinner tab, but I also think that we need to stop expecting men to do this just because they are men.
Pepper Schwarz, reknowned sociologist who studies equally sharing marriages, says that to attract an equal partner we should date peers and act as equals from the start. A man who wants an equal partner doesn't find it important to rescue women from stuck pickle jars. His satisfaction doesn't come from the surface-level appreciation he might get by paying for dinner or doing heavy lifting; it comes from mutual respect and from a partner who knows and deeply appreciates him - period.
I agree with Ms. Novak that we need to pay attention to whom we are attracting, but I disagree wholeheartedly with the falsehoods she recommends. Men are neither superior nor inferior to women, and if we act and believe this we can attract an equal partner.