Women most desire the manners and appearance of men from the 1950s, according to a new survey by the men’s skincare brand, Scaramouche & Fandango. (Yes, that’s their real name.) The survey found that more than half of women thought men cleaned up better in the 1950s and more than two-thirds of these poor, beleaguered women said they preferred old-fashioned chivalry. Four-fifths of the women surveyed said they wish their man had a better grooming routine … and half of the men admitted they didn’t groom at all.
So, to translate, a company that sells men’s grooming products wants men to know that women are more attracted to men who take more care with their grooming than the full Zach Galifianakis look. No big news there. Get rid of your nasty beards, hipsters!
However, I do think there is something to be said about our idealization of the 1950s era and what it means about jerks today.
There is no question that people act like jerks today. I don’t blame people for wishing jerks weren’t jerky. But there’s an interesting book called The Way We Never Were: American Families And The Nostalgia, by sociologist Stephanie Coontz, which explores the myths associated with the days of yore. And yes, everyone, you’re clinging to a bunch of myths that are not the slightest bit true. People who long for a return to the 1950s (or ’60s, or ’70s, or any other era) coat it with the shiniest gloss possible: men were men, women were women, children were better behaved, no one got shot up at school. Even conservative politicians today talk about “traditional family values” and how returning to the 1952 nuclear family stereotype will solve all society’s ills.
Coontz proves that those depictions were more how family life was portrayed throughout the mainstream media on shows like “Leave It To Beaver,” not reality. A lot of so-called “chivalrous” behavior was based on the sexist idea that women are silly, emotional, large children who didn’t deserve to be paid equally or have their own bank account. Men have not always been sole providers for their families; some middle-class and lower-class women have always worked because they had no choice. Beating or raping your wife was legal. (“I wasn’t beating her, I was just showing her who’s boss!”) Abortion was not legal. The pill did not exist. Women’s sexual pleasure was not even the slightest focus during sex. You couldn’t buy a vibrator at CVS. And laws and social attitudes were discriminatory towards homosexuals and people of color. People forget all of this when they stare into space longingly for “the good old days.”
All that being said, there are aspects of modern male-female gender relations that I think could use a lot of improvement. I myself am a feminist who prefers more traditional gender roles in my own relationships, because I hate feeling like men need me like a mommy. I prefer to be more “feminine” in the dynamic, while my partner is more “masculine.” I would never force them on other people or prescribe them as a cure for society’s ills. But I do want a man who has retained some of the traditionally masculine stereotypes, like taking the lead to solve problems and being a financial provider for his future family. And yeah, more chivalry would be nice, too — for me, at least.
But maybe I just feel that way today because some guy shoved me out of the way this morning so he could run up the steps to the subway before me. True story.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.