In my previous column, I offered an answer to the question: What do men want?
I made the case that what men most want from the woman they love is to be admired.
If my answer is correct, and if we presume that the natures of men and women are complementary (a presumption many men and women understandably doubt given how often men and women do not get along), what women most want must be related to that which men most want.
I believe it is.
What a woman most wants is to be loved by a man she admires.
I am well aware that to say this today is akin to announcing that the sun revolves around the earth. For half a century, we have been told that what women most want is professional success and equality. And to the extent that a modern “liberated” woman does admit to wanting a man to love, she will say that she wants a “partner” who is her “equal.” And girls and women have been told — or more accurately, have had drummed into them — that equality means that both sexes are essentially the same (except for the physical differences) and therefore want the same things. Equality and sameness have been rendered synonymous. That is why she cannot say — and ideally wouldn’t even admit to herself — that she wants a man to admire; that would be “sexist” as it would imply an unequal relationship.
The notion that a woman most wants a man, admirable or not, has been scoffed at. This was encapsulated by the famous feminist slogan, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” Even feminism that did not agree with the fish-bicycle metaphor communicated to young women that an “authentic” woman would not have as her greatest desire to bond with a man.
Today feminism holds less appeal for young women than it did for the previous generation, but “equality” remains the liberal god of the day. That renders my theory — that a woman wants to be cherished by a man she admires — politically incorrect in the extreme.
It is problematic enough to say that a woman most wants a man. But that pales compared to the claim that she most wants a man whom she admires. That seems to affirm gender inequality. The image it conjures up is of a woman looking up to her man as if he were some sort of lord and she his serf.
Yet any woman who believes that she is married to an admirable man would laugh at such a dismissal. Admiring one’s husband doesn’t render a woman a serf. It renders her fortunate.
The truth is that almost nothing — including job success — elevates a woman in her own eyes as much as being loved by a husband whom she admires. That is why when married women get together, they don’t talk about their jobs nearly as much as men do. Among other things, they talk about their man if they are proud of him, and complain about him if they are not. Even most feminists are happiest when married to a man they admire.
And what is it that women most admire in a man? From decades of talking to women on the radio and, of course, from simply living life, I have concluded that an admirable man is one who has three qualities: strength, integrity, ambition.
All three are needed. Strength without integrity is machismo. Integrity without strength or without ambition makes a man a milquetoast. And ambition without integrity makes for a successful crook.
Women are drawn to strong men. Though many men, when asked the secret to their long marriage, answer, “I learned to always say, ‘Yes, dear,’” the truth is that most women are not attracted to “Yes, dear” men. They are attracted to a man who exhibits strength in the outer world and at home as husband and father.