Love At The Top (3)
The Evening Standard 17-09-1986
ESTIMATES vary but there may be as many as
15 young, single, successful and available females
in Manhattan for every young, single, successful
and heterosexual male.
Whether New York's experience becomes true for
London has yet to be seen. But without a doubt
it's a dilemma many single London women
are already beginning to experience.
Love At The Top Day 1 (15-09-86)
Love At The Top Day 2 (16-09-86)
Love At The Top Day 4 (18-09-86)
All the careerists interviewed strongly identified with the problem and the one determined non-careerist, Pippa Gatt, felt the cause was crystal clear:
"There's this tiny population of people in the City doing banking and bonds and things that nobody else really understands and it doesn't make sense."
"Making 500,000 in a few seconds ! It's not real life it's fantasy-land. All these huge salaries and competing and doing things which don't relate to real life and real people I can't see how women who do all that can expect to find simple happiness with a man."
According to Pippa, a picture framer and artist, the dilemma is a vicious circle and one she'd rather not join:
"Very few women know what real independence is like even the successful career types. But the more pressurised a woman is in her career, the more she needs emotional support."
"There's no shortage of men. It's just that these women rule out nearly all of them as non-runners and there's only a tiny proportion left and they have to be perfection."
"So, there are too many of these women chasing a tiny group of available men. It's all part of this competitive thing. They're so competitive they even make looking for a partner as competitive as they possibly can."
"I think that the problem's more because these successful women are bored with men who are less successful than they are men who are less forceful."
"Often when a powerful man and a powerful woman get together the result is too explosive."
"They're attracted by each other's success and image but that's not really what makes for a good future. It's not like marriage, is it? What about giving and caring?"
"There's too much pressure put on women to have careers. I was never pressurised and I'm probably the most contented person I know but I earn a pittance ! I'm almost happier when I haven't enough money. I enjoy having to limit myself."
"I feel a lot of women put all their energy into their careers and there's no time for relationships and not a great prospect of happiness at the end of it."
Imi Bickford-Smith, whose great success as a model and TV actress has taught her a lot about the price one pays for a career, strongly agrees:
"My advice to career women is don't pursue a career at ALL costs unless it's all you'll ever want."
"People who only pursue success are usually suffering from low self-esteem and wanting to prove something. If they end up with nasty partners it's probably because they're giving out bad signals of low self-esteem. If you feel worthless (but rich!) you'll pick a bastard."
"Even so," Imi adds, "being rich and lonely is better than poor and lonely."
Pippa's sister, Fiona, a determined careerist, appreciates the dilemma too:
"Career women probably expect a lot or too much because they're naturally ambitious and so will never easily be satisfied. They're always wanting more, better, etc. The men too. So both sexes are playing a game of bluff for increasingly high stakes."
Moyra McGhie thinks careers are worth the price:
"The future is that women have to be responsible for themselves. Women being supported by men just won't work. Men are feeling under threat now they can't support a whole family."
And the dilemma for the single female careerist is that they've taken the enormous risk of going against their feminine instincts and choose a career rather than life as wives and mothers:
"Then men go and choose someone soft and cosy from the typing-pool."
"They'll go for them because they look supportive and men want that alongside their tough competitive career life. they don't want high-flying career women. They'll seek the company of a high-flyer but they'll settle for someone easy and uncompetitive."
"I think there's a fundamental distrust between men and women. I think there's a conflict between liking and desiring. Women desire men just because they're the opposite sex not simply sexually but with an image of what the man can confer on the lucky woman."
"So I think women desire the kind of men they'd most like to be themselves perhaps even the sort of person they'd like to be if they had the guts." MARY HATFIELD
"Do I like men? Oh God! Well, yes. 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. I tend not to trust anyone much." JUDY GOLDHILL
"Do I like men? Yessish, but I try not to think about it too much. Men are just as untrustworthy as women but you're brought up not to trust women. All women know that. You have to learn not to trust men." CARINA BEE
"I suppose I don't really like men in some ways but at the same time some of my closest friends are men. Really close friends are men I knew at university and ex-boyfriends. I suppose the reason I like them and don't like them at the same time is that men are a challenge." FIONA GATT
"Whether you really like men (as opposed to just fancying them) depends entirely on how your relationship's going at the time you're asked !" IMI BICKFORD-SMITH
"Yes, I like men some men! I prefer their company to women's. It wasn't always so. I had more women friends when I was younger. I find men hard to understand now, but then I thought men were the same as women but a different sex!" CAROL ALLEN
It seems women have to present one image at work and a completely different one off duty.
Mary Hatfield, a former model and now a copy-writer and photo-journalist thinks both men and women are confused by this.
"More successful women are still looking for a man to lead them up the garden path to a thatched cottage with roses round the door."
"Emotionally and sexually they're still wanting men to take care of them but that doesn't square easily with slogging away at being more and more financially independent and self-reliant in their careers."
"They don't want to be treated like 'little women' but at the same time they're still looking for the one man who must treat them like a little woman who needs protecting."
"They're going to be dissatisfied with an average man. Someone stronger than her is likely to be someone very dominant if he is going to be able to satisfy her need to be relieved of all responsibility in the bedroom."
"These women challenge all males and despise those who are too weak to see how much they want to be dominated physically and who can't see through their manipulations."
And many men, it seems, may misread a challenge as a rebuff, as Fiona Gatt implies:
"An Italian boyfriend once told me that all men look for a woman to look after. Professional women like me have difficulties because men feel threatened by us. They see our coats of armour and they see them for real. They don't realise that we're really real underneath."
"What I'm saying, I suppose, is that I challenge any man to reveal my gentleness and softness to look beneath the armour."
Carol Allen says she's learnt one lesson at least:
"Men just don't think the way I do. 'So why did he do that?' Answer: 'Because he doesn't see things the way I do'. That's the attraction of men. But men and women find it difficult to be honest with each other if there's any sexually insecure interest between them and there's any fear of rejection."
© (1986) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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