29 December 2007

What on earth do men want?

by Custodian reporter Goldie Tang

Like every single woman, I walk through life asking: what do men want? Why are my high-maintenance, ambitious female friends living alone? A month ago, I devised an experiment to find the definitive answer. I decided to attend a speed-dating night as a fabulously successful and politically progressive treasury bond analyst, and then another as a sweetly innocent girl who works as a florist. Who would the men fall for?

As the analyst, I walked into a Soho bar. My first date appeared. I smiled at him, and announced: "I am a treasury bond analyst. I work 60 hours a week." And watched him shrivel up. "I'm an engineer," he said. And then he was silent, so I told him I was reading Heidegger. He stared at me as if I had told him that I boil men's heads.

Then came Eric, and I invented a PhD in left-wing politics and feminism from Cambridge. "It was incredibly rewarding. Are you interested in progressive social policy, Eric?" He wasn't; he slunk off, and was replaced by Tony. I told him I have two cats and he looked hopeful. "What are they called?" "Roe and Wade, after the United States Supreme Court case that resulted in the legalisation of abortion." No smile after that, just a chair where a man had been.

I fought about the Arab-Israeli conflict with a fourth man, and about shoes with a fifth. "My shoes are leather, but they have holes in them" he joked. "Don't buy leather shoes," I advised sternly, but he appeared reluctant to take my eminently sensible advice.

As the florist, I went to another bar. I tried to project unthreatening sexiness and willingness to be submissive. Surprisingly, men soon approached. The first was Alan. "Hello," he smiled. "What do you do," I asked (giggle). "I am a geneticist," he said. "What is that," I asked. He told me, and I looked impressed. I told him about my job as florist. He replied: "I'll email you." I bagged one with my florist net! Then came Robert. "I'm a florist," I smiled. The reaction was instantaneous: "Can I buy you a drink?"

I went home and sifted through the evidence. Only one in 20 of the men I met in the Soho bar wanted to date a highly ambitious corporate financier who was passionate about Heidegger. Yet eight out of the 12 men who thought I was a sweet florist who wouldn’t challenge their masculinity, or seek to compete with them in the career arena, wanted to see me again. I just can’t understand it.

Apologies to: The Guardian