Love At The Top (2)
The Evening Standard 16-09-1986
Love At The Top Day 1 (15-09-86)
Love At The Top Day 3 (17-09-86)
Love At The Top Day 4 (18-09-86)
Even if you don't know Judy Goldhill's name, you'll know her work. As one of London's busiest photographers her work litters the pages of newspapers and magazines just as it covers the walls of her enormous apartment in Chelsea.
Now in her early thirties she is busy, successful and has a highly enviable way of life which takes her all over the world. Assignments take her from the drawing-rooms of celebrities in London to the villages of peasant communities in India.
"The trouble is we just don't have enough time for our personal lives," she says. "I spend a lot of time on my own in a darkroom and it's nice to think that you could spend time at the end of the day with a boyfriend."
Not that there haven't been plenty of those. The problem is finding the right one as a permanent fixture.
"A lot of women would like men to take over all the responsibilities but they just can't find the right man."
"We all want cuddling and affection but perhaps men don't see that. I suppose in the end you want someone to look after you. For example, I've just had a phone call from a female friend a really successful executive who's always jumping on and off planes but she's on her own and miserable."
Although still young, Judy Goldhill feels the dilemma of finding what she wants gets more difficult with the passing years:
"In your thirties you find a lot of men are divorced and don't want to make a commitment. Most of the attractive men I meet are already married or fixed up with someone else."
"Then you begin to wonder why the others aren't why they're still single. What's wrong with them!"
Judy isn't worried about being in her thirties and still single herself. She would rather be single than compromise.
"The best man is the one who requires least compromises. Money for example."
"You get sick of supporting men who are poorer or who can't keep up with you financially."
And her own success doesn't necessarily improve the choice.
"A lot of men are rather dull and if you enjoy a rather exciting work life you want something equally exciting afterwards. In my job I'm meeting different men every day but I've never met anyone I've had an affair with through work. I've made many friends that way but not lovers."
And in any case she prefers working with women there's less sexual confrontation that way.
On the other hand she agrees she does like men to a point.
"They're terribly useful. I use men as photographic assistants and they're practical, good at mending cars. perhaps I prefer the company of certain women more, but I tend not to trust anyone much."
So what is the solution to the problem of being almost too independent?
"I think there'll be a swing back against the career woman syndrome in the future. I often wonder whether they'll do what we do."
"I think it could be trendy to reverse the process so that women don't work. But then it's still trendy for 14 year-olds to indulge in sex and drugs as we did."
More immediately the solution may be still more independence.
"In this generation I've several friends who've gone ahead and got pregnant while living on their own."
"The greatest fear is getting stuck in a relationship that won't work. I'm terrified of failure in relationships or marriage. Is it one-in-two marriages which fail nowadays? Nothing's worse than a relationship that's dead and destructive."
All of which a man might find a little daunting:
"I think men might enjoy our company but they probably prefer to look for someone easier to live with. We might be too difficult to live with, I think. We just expect that they can cope and can snap in and out of our various patterns of life."
"I don't think it's that women get it wrong perhaps it's just that the longer you leave it the more difficult it is. Perhaps it's better to get married earlier. It's easier then to match the criteria you're looking for."
"At this age I think men might feel we don't need them so they leave us alone or treat us like male friends instead."
"You can suss out quite quickly what sort of relationship you might have with each one but then the new health risks make the choice more important than ever before."
"In the end everyone wants someone. It's great that men can cook, look after themselves and their independence is a great asset."
"I wouldn't tolerate life with a man who isn't a good lover. It's terribly important. As important as supporting you in your work."
"And if you're lucky enough to find a man you can go adventuring with in fantasy-land, that's marvellous!"
Hot Nights And Make-do Lovers
"I think sex is more important to women than it is to men. We enjoy it more, we can take more of it and for longer. That power must terrify men."
A former model, TV actress and now a wildlife film-maker, Imi Bickford-Smith believes that love is tough at the top for many single career women because their success can make them too independent.
"We're our own worst enemies: rather than improving our situation our success actually hinders it," she says, referring specifically to relationships with men.
But when it comes to men as lovers she believes many Englishmen have a lot to learn.
"As lovers Englishmen are either very good or disastrous. Women are usually much more adventurous in fantasy and reality and much more so than men suspect."
"But women don't tell men that so men don't know what we want, what we enjoy."
The point becomes particularly relevant to successful career women because if your success can earn you most other pleasures in life, a lack in that department becomes even more poignant.
"Women talk much more openly to girl-friends and platonic men friends. Men who listen to women are the best lovers and Continental men enjoy giving pleasure more than the English."
"Women will talk to other women when they can't talk to their lovers. I've had relationships where I've never discussed any of it with a girl-friend."
And men, it seems, aren't good at reading women's needs.
"One reason these women can't get it together with the right man is that men don't read the signals that say we fancy them. And women don't know how to signal to men."
So, should women take the initiative and go out and pick the men they want?
"There's always this luck factor. You can get lucky with a row of men all in a bunch like buses or accidents. But I think that's mostly something subconscious at work."
"Of course men have always been able to go out and meet women. I don't believe in women's lib except for the equal pay and opportunities bit and I think women still want to be pursued."
"Men are scared off by women who pursue them it's just not feminine. Women feel more feminine if they are pursued."
But here again the career woman has a special problem, it appears.
"There's always this nonsense of women sitting waiting for the phone to ring. It's even worse for career women. During the day they're accustomed to ringing up and getting what they want in their careers."
"Suddenly, at home, being 'real' women, they have to wait to be asked! What's more, career women are usually less confident and more frightened of being rejected than most people would ever imagine."
"They have no control over this relationship business who pursues whom and who waits to be asked. It makes them feel less adequate."
"Another problem is that because we're so strict and disciplined with ourselves at work we're not prepared to 'make do' with anyone less than the ideal man. Whenever I've made do I've usually behaved so badly they just bunk out!"
But perhaps the new-found independence isn't working entirely against women's interests:
"One advantage is that we can actually take a decision whether to go to bed with a man or not. We can almost always ring up and 'get it' if we want to."
"It throws a lot of men. Instead of hot frustrated nights alone, a woman can order up a lover and it takes the pressure off having to find a committed relationship."
But can a man like that really be called a 'lover'?
"Well, perhaps not a lover, but something that'll do meantime!"
The power of women's sexuality, says Imi, is something very few men have grasped.
"For example, pornography was always for men. Only they could enjoy it."
"It's not true and there's been a brilliant conspiracy by women to let men go on thinking that. It was such a great bargaining position reluctantly giving and trading pleasure in return for a man's fidelity."
"Secretly you weren't giving away anything! You were getting your committed relationship and the pleasure."
And so, if men are slowly cottoning on to yet another aspect of total emancipation among successful career women, the implication is that many men may be happier with the old order, choosing less emancipated partners and still further reducing the
As Imi says, with admirable candour:
"What really annoys career women is that men are so happy with a pretty little girl from the typing pool! It works so well for them both. We can't stand it!"
Not surprising therefore that the younger man gets his chance:
"A younger man who has the nerve to go for an older woman can be marvellous."
Overall Imi thinks that the apparent imbalance of suitable available males will sort itself out in the next generation when women are either less hung-up about their careers or more decide to be wives and mothers at home or men learn how to cope with them better.
In the meantime, however, men are finding women's sexuality hard to grasp.
"Most men would have a fit they'd be horrified if they knew what goes on in women's minds, in their fantasies."
After The Man And After His Job
Like thousands of others, Carina Bee left the warmth of hearth and home with little or no preparation for the price one pays for success in a tough career.
Although still in her early twenties, educated privately and with a good degree from the London School of Economics, Carina believes that the career/man/marriage dilemma is no respecter of age. It hits you as soon as the world learns you're making a bid for a successful career and independence.
After initial training in market research, Carina is poised for success as a research and information executive with a major advertising agency and lives in a shared flat in Kensington while looking for a place to buy.
"To be fair to men, women thought they could go into careers in a man's world as equals. But secretly the women wanted to be more than equal they wanted to be allowed to sit on their pedestals as well. But it's not like that."
"Men feel more comfortable with other men at work and as men still have the power to promote, women become paranoid about the equality of achievement."
"And numerically women are up against it. A lot of women meet men at work but can you have a relationship with a man whose job you want? Women think it's unprofessional to use their sexuality at work."
"Women want men because marriage is the norm. Being single is a sign of failure incompleteness. Also, romance is a very strong thing and there's no good, satisfying alternative to a relationship with somebody else."
"The reason I don't pursue men is that all day I have to think of work and nothing's more distracting than a relationship that's going wrong except perhaps a relationship that's going very right!"
"Women have entered a man's world which always seemed rather mystical. But all they've learned is how callous and uncaring men can be if they feel threatened by them."
"It's not that men are nasty to women at work. The problem arises because it's difficult to know what image to project."
"How many Barbie Dolls get promoted?"
"At parties you can afford to be cute and soft and attractive old-fashioned. But that's under false pretences because most of your life, at work, you're not able to be old-fashioned."
"A lot of men can't think how women are going to benefit from being independent. They don't regard their careers and independence as a great achievement just something they've been brought up to do, a chore which they have to do in order to survive. They're still trying to readjust to us."
"I do want a relationship but a career hardens you. Also, you're so tired at the end of a day that it seems impossible that you could cope with a job, children and domestic chores."
"It's a vicious circle. The less dependent you become on relationships to keep you occupied the more you find alternative ways of enjoying yourself. The fewer relationships you have the fewer you want."
"I don't think women know how to treat men any more than men know how to treat women."
"We say we want sensitive men but then we call them wet so that rules them out. Or we say we want them strong and we decide they're cold and uncaring which rules them out too."
"We've all got an idea of the ideal man who's often based on what our mothers and childhood and fairy-stories and fathers and uncles have led us to expect someone more or less caring, more or less attractive and almost always in control and protective."
"But even if we're secretly looking for someone like that we find those qualities are patronising and over-dominant at work even if they suit us fine at home."
"So we still go for this old stereotype rather than the practical reality of a man who would be better suited to understanding us in today's world the sort of man we could find at work quite easily."
"Before, you always knew what you were supposed to pretend to be. Now you don't know what to pretend."
"Before, you always felt you had to care more about how other people felt than how you felt about yourself. That doesn't work in a career where you don't get Brownie-points for being kind, nice and thoughtful."
"Women have always lived vicariously with their status based on someone they're attached to. Now we're just the result of our own success or failure."
The Shy Flyers
"A successful career woman is nine-tenths a fragile jelly inside," says Moyra McGhie.
Now in her thirties, Moyra thinks she's like most women who never started out thinking in terms of a career. It just happened.
Her 'career' has ranged from organising Pink Floyd to running her own picture gallery in Westminster and from being an advertising copy-writer to grabbing whatever came along.
"I think most women up to about 25 are strongly primed to meeting a man to marry and have children with."
If they don't find the right man early enough then self-sufficiency makes a career all the more essential.
"So most women don't start out thinking they're career people. It comes with time. If they're married they think at some stage: 'I'm not 100 per cent happy as a wife and supporter alone'. She becomes aware that she's half of a relationship but under his rules."
Either way, it seems, men are confused by the switch in women's desires when he, after all, has never had a choice. So he may well choose the company of an unassertive secretary rather than the ambitious career woman:
"Someone soft and cosy from the typing-pool is usually under 25 and men go for them because they look supportive and men want that alongside a tough, competitive career life."
"He doesn't want a high-flyer but will settle for someone cosy and uncompetitive."
"The future is that women have to be responsible for themselves. For economic reasons women being supported by men just won't work."
"Men are feeling under threat now he just can't support a whole family alone. Let alone supporting two or more households at present divorce rates."
"Men and women who are shy and insecure are often more determined in careers because they have to compete against themselves or other people to prove something."
So, despite appearances, maybe the go-getting careerists are already handicapped in the relationships game because fundamentally they're backward in coming forward.
© (1986) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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