Our value system may recognize the uprising of females, but antiquated social mores still dictate that no matter how strong a female is at work, she should let her date choose the wine in a dimly lit restaurant.
18:30 hours: in the candlelit ‘Little Italy’ restaurant, Karen sits opposite her date, who is flipping through the menu for the third time tonight, still unable to make his choice. This date was made a couple days previously, at a common friend’s birthday party where they first met. When her date proposed dinner, Karen immediately said yes, as her dating page had been blank for quite some time. Besides, this guy was still eligible. After a little struggle with her not too cooperative schedule, Karen finally managed to steal four hours for the date between a meeting with her supervisor and her late fitness class.
Once the waiter had left, Karen’s date started the conversation. “So, I hear you got a job offer at BCG. Great! How did you do that?”, he asked. Obviously, Karen took such a casual question too literally. The date suddenly turned into a job interview. Karen’s academic achievements and experience were hard for her date to digest. And the truth was that what Karen had revealed was just half of her whole profile.As they were finishing the main course, Karen struck up a conversation with the restaurant’s owner, in Italian – yes, Karen speaks three languages other than her native Dutch. Karen’s date, nearly choking on his tagliatelle, spent the rest of the date mute. When the bill came, Karen reached for her purse and insisted on paying for her own meal, knowing that her starting salary at BCG far outnumbered her date’s student subsidy. Now three weeks have past and Karen still gets no call from her date.
Perhaps Karen did commit the worst dating faux pas: she had outshone her suitor. But I wonder is it that easy to hide your radiance if you just happen to be an alpha girl?
On the TU Delft campus, you must have met these girls all the time: they get straight A’s, they’re focused, career-minded and appear aggressively confident. They’ve grown up with successful women like Hillary Clinton and Madonna as role models. In future they might evolve into those high-powered women from ‘Lipstick Jungle’. However, these girls may find that the very qualities they’ve needed to get ahead in study or work actually work against them in romance.
Prevailing conventional wisdom – reinforced everywhere from the dating bible to the Mars-Venus series – holds that traits like assertiveness, directness and decisiveness may add ten points to your CV but are definitely turnoffs to guys. If that’s true, what can alpha girls do then? Is hanging up their brains really the only solution?
This reminds me of something I read recently. Some researchers argue that an earlier premise of feminism has been distorted. What the earlier generation of feminists was actually hoping for was for boys to become more like girls – softer and kinder and emotionally mature about human relationships. Well – putting aside the study’s reliability – this does imply a solution: change the rules.
In our world, alpha males always make the rules. Females must struggle to reconcile their femininity with this male working culture built around single-mindedness, competitiveness and self-projection. And this journey usually starts in girlhood. But like another alpha male has said: ‘It’s time for change’. We must learn the art of going ‘yin’, in order to cultivate the feminine traits of serenity, meekness and gentleness in our culture. Although I don’t know what the new world would exactly look like, I do believe it should be a world where girls don’t have to sacrifice their femininity to be alpha.
(Text: Lei Li & Illustration: Ricardo Mejia)
Javier Ricardo Mejia Sarmiento