Shasta Townsend explains that to most women, men are more than bank accounts, pretty faces or hot bodies.
As filming for the movie version of 50 Shades of Grey began this month, I just can’t keep quiet any more.
I don’t want this to come across as critical or as a take down. I admit I am one of the 40 plus million women worldwide who read it, though I did throw it across the room in frustration and annoyance all the while shouting, “No, no, no. Finally a book about sex and they got it all wrong.”
I am thrilled that women’s sexuality is a mainstream topic these days. With sales over US $90 million, clearly women want sex and dare we say, we want ravishing, throw me on the table and show me you want me sex. I am glad it helped release some of the shame about fetishes and sexual variations which can also be healthy and joyful way to express sexuality but I am not thrilled about the leading male character, Christian Grey. Grey only reinforces an already dangerous and damaging stereotype of men that leave both genders at odds with each other and engaging in projections that are not only unreasonable but also unhealthy.
As a male friend recently asked me,
“Is that what women really want and expect from men – a man like Christian Grey – a gorgeous, extremely wealthy stud with a huge package who can only get turned on from S & M and who is totally emotionally unavailable, borderline abusive and totally misogynistic but all this is ok because he can buy you things?”
No sweetie. That is not what we want.
I still like vanilla. A lot. And I like whole-hearted, loving, perfectly imperfect men and I believe there are millions of women out there who do too. So boys, before you think we are only after your big bank account, beautiful face or body, let’s get clear on what the women I know really want.
Men of the Heart
Men who reflect their own humanity are the sexiest men. I am way over tough mofos, brick walls and emotional unavailability. Don’t even get me started on old school dinosaurs and how totally unattractive I find misogyny. It’s cliché, but men who are emotive; who are compassionate and who are truly ALIVE are extremely attractive. You don’t have to be spouting poetry or saving baby seals, but please LOVE.
I am married to a real man’s man and the times I am the most turned on is when I see him in acts of love. The time he bought coffees for a whole road crew, the time he told his father how much he loved him, the time he cried with me over great news and the times he gave his seat up to a women and not a pregnant woman on the New York subway (which was so unexpected the woman did not know what to do). I recognize it is not always easy for him or anyone to be vulnerable, but I encourage it and expect it. I want a man who can walk with an open heart or at least is open to expressing it. Men who love and demonstrate it – in whatever way that may be are sexy, sexy and that is what women want.
Men of Integrity
Another thing that really turns me on is integrity. It is simple – speak with truth and kindness. Do what you say you will do when you say you will do it. I don’t expect blue boxes full of gold, but if you tell me you are going to hang that picture or get the groceries then please do it. I, along with millions of women will reward you – because when you do what you say you will do we feel we can trust you, we feel safe with you and we believe you and IN you and that makes us want to be with you. When my husband says he will put out the recycling and actually does each Tuesday, my heart soars and so do my loins.
Integrity also means you have a girl’s back. You don’t criticize her, boss her or slag her – ever. There are no “The Wife…” comments when you are out with the boys and you don’t share stories that are not meant for others ears. I have heard way too many men (and women) speak unkindly and with down right abuse to and about their lover. Not cool. Speak kindly of me and to me – it’s what women want.
Men of Perfect Imperfection
Women appreciate beauty but the interesting thing is that what we find beautiful is often assurance and authenticity. We all have body preferences and hey, I like a hard stomach and full chest just as much as the next girl but I am also totally turned on a man who is just totally ok in his skin even if it’s not perfect.
The other day at a hotel, I was standing behind a man around 5’8, a little on the heavy side, with glasses and a crazy head of curly hair but there was something beautiful about him. Although he was dressed well, it was more than the clothes. He appeared comfortable with himself. He spoke with confidence and kindness. He seemed at peace with the world. He was also ordering a bottle of champagne to his room, as a surprise for his wife who I bet is crazy about him. He was not the type of man that would typically make a woman melt but there was something extremely attractive about him.
So men, before you think we want a perfect buff body consider that we want you to be you. You being you mean you being the best version of you, however. Women also want a man who is taking responsibility for “stuff” so he can truly be his authentic self. By this, I mean a man who is letting go of the old school story, the bullshit baggage and his own roadblocks. I don’t expect my husband to be perfect but I appreciate that he wants to be, in his words, “a better man”. And that means a man who can stand in truth, be in his heart, his integrity and his beauty – this is what women want.
It’s time to write a new story about women and men and what we truly want. I hope your story, as a man, is 50 times more delicious than you ever expected. Millions of women are waiting for YOU.
Photo of Charlie Hunnam, cast as Christian Grey, courtesy of the AP