What Every Woman Wants

Browsing through the weekend papers online, I came across a story in the FT which featured this tagline:

“Forget the lingerie, what every woman wants is a classic accessory and this year’s essential item is the Fendi B bag.”

Now, last time I checked, I am a woman, and I have have no idea what a Fendi B bag is, still less do I want one. It made me think, though, about the use of the phrase ‘every woman wants’. I am generally opposed to lumping together 51% of the world’s population as if we automatically had some secret bond and secret password. But I was curious as to what else ‘every woman’ was supposed to be after. I little Google New search turned up these gems:

Every woman wants to feel sexy

Every woman wants to feel special

Every woman wants to look great

Every woman wants to go on vacation and know that they can swim and sun without having to worry about the mascara running

I particularly like that last one.
It depresses me to think that, while generalisations will always be around, the generalisation for women always seems to tend towards material acquisitions and insecurity. Is this the reality? Let’s have a look at a Google News search for ‘every man wants’. Well firstly, in contrast to 13 results for women, we get only 4 for men:

…every man wants a whole lot of themselves in Carmen

Every man wants to be … a complete Don Juan

Every man wants to date a teenage pin-up

Coble told a woman who ran a stop sign that he wanted “what every man wants” in exchange for tearing up the citation

So that’s fairly clear – sex, sex, sex and sex. Certainly just as stereotypical, but (in this extremely unscientific sample) fewer results. But maybe the sample is really skewed because of the pool that Google News draws from. Let’s have a look at just The Guardian for now:

This season, every woman wants to be a bag lady.

Yet no one likes to mention this for fear of offending feminists who would have us believe that every woman wants to do a job rather than stay at home.

Every woman wants to look good in her Jimmy Choos, but is foot surgery really the way to do it?

Long hair is what every woman wants.

Well, I think it’s just the thing that every man wants – to have a son and heir.

Every man wants to chase a pretty girl if he sees one.

Every man wants to be a superman, to make love to anything.

… every man wants to be in his missus.

So what have we learned? Maybe not that much. Maybe that women are stereotyped as fashion-obsessed shopaholics, whilst men are stereotyped as sex obsessed – which is perhaps confirmed by looking at the magazines aimed at Men’s and Women’s issues. Or maybe that those who write (or are quoted as saying) such lazy phrases as ‘every man/woman wants’ aren’t to be relied on for their lightning insights. Whatever. It troubles me.

It also troubles me that all Motorola has to do to get a runaway success phone is make it pink. And that all a girl wants for Valentine’s day is a pink laptop. Ah well. At least we can vote.

This entry was posted in ideas.

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