“Let the man be the man,” says Patti Stanger from an adjoining room, as I rinse dishes and load them into the washer. It’s just one of many catch phrases she uses on the Bravo series, “Millionaire Matchmaker.”
But Patti Stanger has me confused.
I find common sense in selected suggestions, occasional wisdom in her abbreviated assessments of emotional blockage, and equally – calamitous contradictions in her statements and actions.
Let’s face it – she’s ballsy, mouthy, and often obnoxious – (who hasn’t she offended?) – but it all makes for good (reality) television. Yet in her own propensity for labeling “masculine energy” and “feminine energy,” is she all about “do as I say, not do as I do?”
Fantasy by Falsity and Formula?
Theoretically, the Millionaire Matchmaker helps wealthy men and women land loving mates. If necessary, clients receive style and wardrobe makeovers, quick-fix counseling, and very specific behavioral tips on how to get (and keep) the girl – or guy.
For example, part and parcel of the Patti Premise:
- The (woman’s) body needs to be in shape, the face pretty, the hair straight, the teeth whitened.
- The penis does the picking, therefore women should bring the sexy (not the slutty).
- The man is the hunter, the woman – to be courted.
- To the women she says “Make him want you” (in other words, make him wait for sex), perhaps best summed up by her rule No sex without monogamy.
- As for women with strong personalities, or themselves financially self-sufficient: Let the man be the man.
Is this nothing more than a 1950s Get-the-Guy Strategy, with a boost from Botox and bigger boobs? Clearly, the single matchmaker believes that every girl should be married – if she follows her rules – and likewise, every man – as long as he has bank.
She’s been heard to say to some “just be yourself” and to others, as in last evening’s episode with a problematic pole-dancing millionairess:
“to get this kind of guy, this is what you have to be…”
In other words – don’t be yourself, as she attempts not only to change the woman’s outward appearance, but everything else about her – all in one episode, of course.
Men, Sex, Common Sense
As for that “no sex without a monogamous, committed relationship” rule, it’s the sort of thing that most of us learn when we accumulate a few miles under our Gucci belts. Establishing some degree of emotional intimacy ups the odds a guy will stick around – if we want him to, that is.
As for letting the man be the man, I’m all for it – though I doubt we’ll agree on what that entails.
Still, I’m stymied by Stanger.
She’s a successful and forceful woman, and it grates on me that she reduces other women to the one dimensional doll: face + body + hair + formulaic tricks. I realize she also goes deeper to find a fit for personality, lifestyle, values – yet her dismissive attitude about a woman’s substance – (lead with the looks, stow the smarts) – seems woefully anachronistic, and simultaneously realistic.
What Makes a Good Relationship?
I know what I believe to comprise a good relationship, and for me, it has nothing to do with job title or bank accounts, hair style or eye color, and everything to do with values, character, smarts, humor, and yes – sexual chemistry.
I also keep in mind what it takes to make the other person happy. In other words, what a man wants from a woman – in marriage or a committed relationship. Some of this is self-evident, and exactly what a woman wants: support for our beliefs and our actions, empathy for our feelings, and affection – all too often a need that is ignored.
And when the basics evaporate? The cues that break-up or divorce is imminent? Don’t we know what to look for there, too?
Some insist that deference to the man’s role as provider is a significant factor in a successful relationship. To watch Patti Stanger et al, I’d give that a yes, but then she’s catering to a crowd of millionaire men and typically lesser-earning women.
I may prefer what I consider a “manly man” and one who can provide (at least for himself), but I certainly know well-matched (and long-term) couples in which the wife is the primary breadwinner (or “wears the pants”) in terms of career and/or decision-making. And of course there are the millions of women for whom the role of provider is not only economic necessity, but a fundamental part of identity and self-worth.
That said, men are visual. Check. But so are women. (Last I checked.) This reinforces the Matchmaker’s stance that appearances are important.
Frankly, I can’t decide if Patti is feminism’s worst nightmare, woman’s worst nightmare, or nothing more than a realist in an opportunistic world. Perhaps she represents a hybrid that nonetheless serves a purpose – offering us the oddities of peculiar personalities to amuse us, and occasionally, advice that is spot-on.
For example, men oozing with masculine energy do like women with feminine energy. Sex too soon in a relationship generally yields no relationship. Establishing deal breakers upfront is good sense. And appearances matter, certainly when it comes to first impressions, self-respect, and establishing initial attraction.
As for the contradictions? I’m hardly one to judge – I have plenty of my own which may seem compatible to me and bewildering to others.
But hey, I’m not on television, presenting a strange (and sometimes sad) depiction of men and women and what we supposedly desire – theoretically in the name of Love.
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