Why are We Conditioned to Thrive Off of Men’s Interest in Us?

I have to assume the millions of TV shows and movies that depict women as constantly obsessing over men have something to do with it. It’s not just the media; we also play a part in this odd obsession with men’s approval of us. What is it about society that has ingrained in us that we need a guy’s approval to matter? Why do we have to evaluate our worth based on the men around us and their opinions?

TV shows like Sex and the City and The Bachelor are some of the biggest media proponents of this stereotype. A large portion of the media marketed towards women is based on dating. Movies like; How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days and John Tucker Must Die. The main focus of most of these TV shows and movies are dating a relationship struggles. Magazines like Cosmopolitan and Redbook push issues about “What Men Really Want In A Woman” and “Men’s Perspectives”. 

Sex and the City is literally all about… wait for it…sex and the city. The entire show is mostly about four women discussing how their relationships are going. Very rarely does the show discuss anything more profound than dating. The only one of the women who isn’t constantly focused on men’s’ opinion of her is Miranda Hobbes (portrayed by Cynthia Nixon).  She’s portrayed as the ‘tomboy’ and the ‘career-focused’ one of the group just because she isn’t constantly obsessing over men. In fact, Miranda often gets a bad rap on the show because she is tired of her girlfriends wanting to only talk about their relationship problems. The Bachelor franchise is one of the worst shows in the media to date. The show is essentially based around women obsessing over one man and forming rivalries with other woman over said guy. The Bachelor has twenty-four seasons and several spin-off shows.

 Most of the aforementioned movies are from the point of view of women scrambling to understand how men think. How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days is a movie about Andie Anderson (portrayed by Kate Hudson) writing an article about her executing all the “classic mistakes women make” in a relationship. That’s literally what it says on the Wikipedia page for the movie. Her goal is to use all of these mistakes on a real man and try and lose him in 10 days. Andie ends up actually falling in love with the man she is trying to write an article on.  Who is actually in a bet with some coworkers that he can get any woman to fall in love with him. Instead of finishing the article and explaining it to the man she supposedly loves, she just quits her whole job. The movie completely ignores the fact that he was betting on their relationship. So, basically, as a woman once you fall in love (due to your relationship that was built on a complete lie) just go ahead and quit your job because he is more important than being able to support yourself.

John Tucker Must Die is a movie focused on a group of three women trying to get revenge on a man (John Tucker) who dated all of them at the same time. He is a well-known heartbreaker. The invite the new girl (Kate Spencer) at their school to be the one who breaks John Tucker’s heart. The movie goes through their fake relationship where John falls in love  with Kate and she breaks his heart. The three girls from the beginning of the movie get their revenge and all is well. At the end, the main character states, “as for the girl who made John Tucker fall in love, well, she's a legend.” All of this character’s worth is based on the fact that she received a man’s approval. 

These magazine articles focus on ignoring what you want as a person and focusing on what the man wants. They push the idea that what you want should go to the back burner, you're not the main focus. Your significant other should never expect you to put their desires before your own. These magazines create an atmosphere that suggests that men's opinions/wants are most important. This is a dangerous climate to cultivate. 

We as women add to this atmosphere by continuing to allow these things to happen. We watch and support shows like The Bachelor and hate on the women who appear on the show. We push these stereotypes by reading magazines like Cosmopolitan and Redbook. The more we support these gender role norms, the more ingrained in our society they become. Parents who post pictures of a little girl looking at a little boy captioned with, “he’s going to be a heartbreaker.” Young girls have strict dress codes in school, while boys can wear almost anything. We are allowing a man’s comfort to be more important than a woman’s. As a society, we have given men this platform on which they get to feel like everything a woman does for them to deem appropriate or not. 

You are so much more than a man’s opinion of you. It is our job to fight back against these gender norms. The only way we can do it is together. While we are a lot farther along than we used to be, we still have a long way to go.