You may have heard that there is a new predator on the rise: The Maneater.
I grew up in the metropolis outside Atlanta, to a modest middle class family. My mother and father both worked long hours, so I spent the majority of time in daycare or playing in the expansive gardens on my grandparents’ land. Like most millennials, I dreamed big, went to college, and now am fortunate enough to work in Silicon Valley for a top tech company.
My college years consisted of a steady stream of back-to-back monogamous relationships. Back then, finding a boyfriend was like getting a new haircut, if I wanted to try someone new, all I had to do was browse a catalogue (mainly Facebook) and pick him out. When you’re in college, choosing a mate is uncomplicated because your lifestyles revolve around the same goals and schedules.
Getting into a relationship used to be as simple as crashing in a guy’s dorm room every night for a few weeks -- and voilà! you had a boyfriend. Dates were walking to class together, pre-exam study sessions and tailgating. Graduation parties from my southern university coincided with engagement announcements; I watched my college boyfriend of two years graduate while discussing wedding plans with his mother.
But then something odd happened, I became anxious, I desperately needed a change. So I ended my relationship, moved to the west coast, and accepted a dream job offer. Since college, I have made dozens of attempts at connecting with men. In most cases the guys are well rounded, intelligent and the sex has only gotten better as I’ve matured... but a relationship has failed to stick. Most of my girlfriends have had the same experiences since joining the real world. I’m proud to say that all my friends are beautiful, successful, fun ladies with lots to offer, but they are all still single -- so what’s going on here?
Today’s culture often attributes lack of commitment to men. Men are “playboys,” “bachelors,” “bros” and “bad boys.” However, these classifications of male behavior are nothing new. Hugh Hefner is arguably one of the first bros ever to make a name for himself in popular culture, and his Playboy empire peaked in the 70s.
Before him Frank Sinatra “Ol’ Blue Eyes” was singing about broads and undoubtedly boning every woman that came within 5 feet of his piano. No, I don’t think men are the driving force behind my generation's failure to commit. If that were the case, it would have happened long ago. I have a hypothesis, that a new breed of woman is emerging from today’s twenty-somethings.
Having sex with a lot of women is a challenge for most men, which is why they take pride in (and often exaggerate) their “number.” For women, the game is completely different. We can have sex with whomever we want, embracing our slutty powers is as easy as wearing high heels or posting a craigslist ad. So if sex is a known quantity, what’s in it for us? Where is the element of mystery and excitement in dating?
My friends get a kick out of my single stories, and to be honest, I love telling them. I have counted that at least 6 men have told me they love me. That’s my “number.” Anyone can have sex with a man, let’s be real, men aren’t that picky. However having a man fall in love with you is something worth bragging about. I tally my “L” words like most men count their conquests. Sex is not the wild card for women my age, love is.
I understand this makes me sound crass and heartless, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Granted this is from my point of view, but I am not intentionally a malicious person. I do care deeply for people, sometimes even men, and I try to be the best friend, daughter and sister that I can be. No I don’t think women who feel the same way should berate themselves for not knowing how to reciprocate love or settle into a relationship. We aren’t despicable humans or “cold spiders”... as I was once called by an ex.
Are men who have sex with random girls and then never call again bad people? In general no, this is just how men behave. Why play again when you have already won first place? Similarly, love for women is no different than sex for men, once we’ve won the prize, we’re on to the next level.
Weathering our parents divorces, graduating college with unprecedented debt, and then entering one of the worse recessions in history has shaped a new breed of girl. We have thick skin, we’re comfortable in our sexuality, we don’t aspire to be housewives and we identify with childhood idols that are far from the Elizabeth Taylor to whom our mothers looked up to.
My first big purchase was a convertible sports car, not a wedding. In my twenties, I hope to pay off the mortgage of my studio apartment in San Francisco, not have two kids. Meeting someone interesting in bars on the weekends feels more like playing a co-ed sport than dating. Doing well at work and exercising are higher priorities than planning for a family.
The characteristics that once defined femininity: virginity, passivity and fertility have failed to mature with Gen-Y. A millennial girl isn’t jaded or pessimistic, but she is hungry for more than what a relationship on its own can offer. It’s important to note that men and society are not responsible for the shift in female identity. She is a realization of a movement. This is the life that Gloria Steinem dreamed for us.
One thing for certain is that the role that women play in the game of love and sex is evolving and as a result you may hear the term Maneater more often. Personally, I think Unicorn is more fitting. Like it or not, with the rise of the Unicorn, we may see the fall of relationships. In the mean time, let’s not be too hard on ourselves for embracing change.
Wanderlex | Elite.
Photos Courtesy: Tumblr