Love At The Top (4)

The Evening Standard 18-09-1986

Concluding our intriguing series

Love At The Top Day 1 (15-09-86)

Love At The Top Day 2 (16-09-86)

Love At The Top Day 3 (17-09-86)

Why Are Men So Weak?

"I think men's greatest weakness is that they don't confront women fairly. Both sexes fear confrontation but anger is often the only way that men and women can stake a position – make a strong feeling known."

"If men constantly avoid the issue or pander to views or say: 'Yes, dear, anything you say, dear', or deflect the anger to avoid a scene, they're diminishing women's status."

According to freelance copywriter and photo-journalist MARY HATFIELD, English men are far more chauvinistic than Continental men. But perhaps English women collude in this:

"In Europe a girl is wonderful because she's a woman and bright and intellectual. In England it's just not cool to be intellectual and being feminine is the opposite of being intellectual."

The same point is made by City banker FIONA GATT:

"In Italy recently I heard three or four men discussing an Italian girl they all knew. They agreed that she was definitely not pretty but that she was devastating because she had such a fascinating mind. You'd never hear that in the City."

On the other hand it may not be entirely the fault of men themselves, according to Fiona:

"I suppose a lot of men are pretty boring but it's largely the fault of women."

"To be honest I know that I and a lot of my girl-friends have used men appallingly – as meal tickets, as bed partners and as things to amuse us and make us feel desirable."

"It's appalling! But it's rather sad that they let us get away with it."

CARINA BEE, advertising executive, thinks the matter is much more practical:

"It sounds simple but we've got a generation of men who were brought up by women who taught them that women look after men."

"I don't think men look after women domestically and they regard women as investments. If you can't cook you're a bad investment."

IMI BICKFORD-SMITH, film-maker, thinks her success can very much threaten some men:

"If they're not successful but they're decent fellers they feel guilty. If they're not decent fellers I suppose they might take advantage of the situation – but I've never met one like that."

"The important thing to remember is that men are just as insecure as women."

"The only problem is that a man with a glamourous job can be very attractive while a woman in a glamourous job can threaten men very badly."

"Men ought to realise that we're just as vulnerable as the next woman – despite all appearances."

Time For Sex...

We live in an era where it's fashionable to play down the importance of sex. A surfeit in the Sixties and Seventies led many to feel that all that joy of sex business was over-rated hype.

The 'new morality' of the mid-Eighties tells us to lay off sex, fags, booze and pills – to concentrate our attention on healthy living, body-consciousness and blatant narcissism instead.

So, for the sake of future generations at least, it's good to hear that our more successful independent career women still rate their sex lives very highly all the same.

"I wouldn't tolerate life with a man who isn't a good lover," says JUDY GOLDHILL. "It's terribly important – as important as supporting you in your work."

MARY HATFIELD feels the same but takes the issue further:

"Sex is important as a barometer of what's going on in a relationship. When women judge men purely on physical performance they're their own part in that. Men get blamed for being useless in bed but often there's no thought as to why he couldn't be a stud in bed or why she was so inhibited."

FIONA GATT says: "London men make good friends. They're fun to be with and good to work with. As lovers? Well, they usually want to go to bed with you, of course, but then they're surprised when you don't open up afterwards."

"The point is that you can be even more closed up in bed."

"The most liberated thing most men have reached is that they do at least realise women need orgasms. Nowadays they're quite upset if you don't!"

And again Fiona thinks men prefer the old tried-and-tested formula:

"I think most men want a whore in the bedroom and a lady in the drawing-room – and I like that too. But I think men aren't relaxed with us because we challenge them."

"As a result they're likely to end up with something soft from the typing-pool as you put it. But that's a pity because I don't think girls like that will ultimately stimulate them enough."

"Foreigners are often much better at leading women into erotic experiences they want to be led into. Englishmen are far too hung-up about it all – nervous of women and feeling they have to perform. It's probably because of public schools or their mothers."

On the other hand the youngest of our interviewees, PIPPA GATT (the determined non-careerist) does indeed believe sex is over-rated:

"I think sex is blown out of all proportion. It's really unimportant. I think men really want the security of a steady relationship – more than just sex."

A Guilty Secret

"I would like to be married or to live with someone with kids, a nanny and an interesting job. I don't mind if it's actually marriage." – CAROL ALLEN.

"Career life feels strange, abnormal. It's forbidden to talk about the desire for marriage, babies, husbands. I can't think of anything I want more but at work it's not discussed – a guilty secret."

"The girl in the typing pool makes no secret of such desires so she looks like a 'real woman' – so men probably prefer her."

"Men can marry whoever they like without gaining or losing much status. Women have to marry people who are as good or better than they are to maintain their status. By better I suppose I mean successful, attractive, richer, etc." – CARINA BEE.

"I think there'll be a swing back against the career woman syndrome in the future. In this generation I've got several friends who've gone ahead and got pregnant living on their own."

"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." – JUDY GOLDHILL.

"Some women talk about their careers all the time. I think they often bore men or threaten them."

"People who talk obsessively about something are usually the ones who are least happy about it. Feminists are the least happy with their feminism or they wouldn't go on harping about it, trying to convince other people how happy they are."

"I'd love to have a husband and children – but as well as my career. I want to make money and have a worthwhile life that will give me the best from marriage and a career." – FIONA GATT.


Evening Standard readers were then invited to respond to the Love At The Top series:
A whole-page was then devoted to many of their letters:

© (1986) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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