NYTimes: Romance and Female Empowerment

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on November 30, 2010

The following article practically begged me to copy and paste it onto my blog. My comments, of course, are in [brackets].

NYTimes: “Keeping Romance Alive in the Age of Female Empowerment” by Katrin Bennhold

PARIS — Remember “Sex and the City,” when Miranda goes speed-dating? She wastes her eight-minute pitch three times by giving away that she is a corporate lawyer. The fourth time she says she is a stewardess and gets asked out by a doctor.

What made the episode poignant was not just that Miranda lied about her success, but that her date did, too: it turned out he worked in a shoe store.

Is female empowerment killing romance? [Is female empowerment emasculating men, or rather, making them feel so?]

Sexual attraction in the 21st century, it seems, still feeds on 20th-century stereotypes. Now, as more women match or overtake men in education and the labor market, they are also turning traditional gender roles on their head, with some profound consequences for relationship dynamics. [which makes for an interesting field of study.]

There is a growing army of successful women in their 30s who have trouble finding a mate and have been immortalized in S.A.T.C. and the Bridget Jones novels. There are the alpha-women who end up with alpha-men but then decide to put career second when the babies come. [Nothing wrong with that so long as it’s a conscious choice that the woman is making.] But there is also a third group: a small but growing number of women who out-earn their partners, giving rise to an assortment of behavioral contortions aimed at keeping the appearance of traditional gender roles intact. [Let’s define, or redefine, “traditional”…is this being used in the same way as “traditional marriage” when it comes to the same-sex marriage discussion? If so, then I propose also (re)visiting the term “traditional gender roles”.]

Anne-Laure Kiechel is an investment banker in Paris who makes more than five times more than her boyfriend, a communications consultant. She keeps watch on their finances and pays for all big invisible expenses, like vacations.

But in public, it is he who insists on pulling out his credit card to avoid, he said, looking like a “gigolo.”

“It makes me laugh,” Ms. Kiechel said. “But if it pleases him, that’s fine.” (Not long ago, he asked her to book hotels in his name because he doesn’t like being referred to as “Mr. Kiechel” upon arrival; future bookings would be made in both names, she said.) [Creative solution that work for both, I like!]

Timothy Eustis, once a teacher in New York City, is a proud stay-at-home dad [LOVE THIS! Men have a significant role in the make of a family and the development of their children, too, beyond monetary contributions – embrace (and be accountable to) this!] and occasional wine consultant, who moved to France with his wife, Sarah, when she was offered a senior management post at the French lingerie brand Etam. Neither has a problem that she is the breadwinner [yay] and her salary aliments the joint account [double yay]. But both cherish what he calls “those little traditions” to keep the romantic spark alive. [No qualms about this from me.]

“I make an effort to hold the door [yes], I almost always drive the car [sure], and when it’s time to pay the bill, I pay the bill [okay, no problem],” he said. “Sarah probably intentionally lets me do these things because she thinks it benefits the relationship.” [Ya take some, ya give some, ya share a lot. Also, genuine chivalry doesn’t ever expire. On the other hand, forced chivalry, well, makes things awkward. Haha.]

Some men have more fundamental issues. One 38-year-old Italian manager complained that her boyfriend suggested she change jobs because he no longer felt able to “seduce her” after her salary rose above his. [Seriously? Did he really say that to her?!] A French management consultant said her husband, a teacher, stopped coming to parties with her because he felt inadequate every time anyone asked him what he did. [So unnecessary – educators are such an important, if ever under-recognized, profession that deserve much respect.] A German banker said one reason her ex-husband left her for a physiotherapist was “because she would have more time for him.” [This…I can semi-understand. Making time for any relationship is important.]

“It is amazing how even many liberal-minded men end up having sexual and emotional difficulties being with more obviously successful women,” [Aye, yah, yah…why, fellas, why?!] said Sasha Havlicek, the 35-year-old chief executive of a London research group. A high-flying friend of hers resorted to ritually feigning helplessness with her partner to promote his sense of masculinity. “The male ego can be a more fragile thing than the female ego, which is used to a regular battering and has hence developed a sense of humor!” [Seriously…agree. Haha.]

Anke Domscheit-Berg of Microsoft Germany, who has stories of past would-be boyfriends fleeing after seeing “director” (of communications) on her business card, put it this way: “Success is not sexy.” [Really? I think it is…Success, coupled with Drive, is a very attractive quality.]

Dating sites seem to suggest that highly educated women have more trouble finding a partner than women in more traditionally female jobs. [Pfff…]“Care and social professions work well; the really educated profiles are more difficult,” said Gesine Haag, 43, who used to run in Germany. An elite dating portal at the company, trying to match up highly educated men and women, was abandoned and refocused more broadly, said Ms. Haag, who now manages her own Internet marketing agency.

“Men don’t want successful women, men want to be admired,” [Isn’t it possible to admire each other? For different reasons? Is it not possible that a man can admire a woman for her professional and financial successes while a woman admires a man for, oh, I don’t know, his amazing artistic and culinary talents?] she said. “It’s important to them that the woman is full of energy at night and not playing with her BlackBerry in bed.”

Bernard Prieur, a psychoanalyst and author of “Money in Couples,” says men who earn less than their partners struggle with two insecurities: “They feel socially and personally vulnerable. Socially, they go against millennia of beliefs and stereotypes that see them as the breadwinner. And the success of their partner also often gives them a feeling of personal failure,” [Neither of which are necessary. Don’t follow the masses. Don’t conform to the mold. Go against the grain. Be different. Be different especially if you know it will make you happy, irrespective of what others may think/say.] , Mr. Prieur said in the November issue of the French magazine Marie-Claire.

So are ambitious women condemned to singledom? Or are things changing as the number of female high achievers inches higher?

Ms. Kiechel in Paris says her boyfriend actively encourages her career and brags to friends how intelligent and hard-working she is. [Yay!! Supportive, encouraging, and overall positive partners are crucial to solid relationships!] Ms. Haag and Ms. Domscheit-Berg both earn more than their husbands and report that their men actually enjoy watching the waiter’s reaction when they say their wife will pick up the tab. [It’s the little moments that make life together fun and enjoyable :)]

Ms. Domscheit-Berg, who is also active in the European Women’s Management Development International Network, has three bits of advice for well-paid women: Leave the snazzy company car at home on the first date [not a problem as my current modes of transportation are taxis and souk buses]; find your life partner in your 20s, rather than your 30s [hmm…I am in my mid-20s now…25 to be exact…], before you’ve become too successful [ouch..and I do plan on becoming successful in my career, which will include a well-earned salary, so…]. And go after men who draw their confidence from sources other than money, like academics and artists […yes, let’s address this machismo ego now, please. Before my income becomes more than 2,000dhs (~US$250) a month.].

“The more different their activity from your own, the better,” said Ms. Domscheit-Berg, “because that makes an immediate comparison harder.” [Comparisons, comparisons…are they really necessary?]

Indeed, in S.A.T.C., Miranda, the lawyer, eventually finds happiness with Steve, a waiter-turned-stay-at-home dad who doesn’t mind her success one bit.

[Considering all the comments I’ve made to the article, I can only imagine how many prospects I still have. With that said, there’s really only one comment left for me to make:

Bachelors, Applications are now accepted on a rolling basis until further notice.

Inquire within, if interested. ;)]

roaring river

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on November 30, 2010

There’s been heavy rains and strong winds throughout Morocco. Difficulties traveling, housing damage, and even bank ATMs not working have all been concerns. If you have any problems, concerns, or questions, please contact PC or me. Hopefully things will be back to normal in a few days. Stay safe.

– Emergency Warden Matt

From the inside of my house, I can hear the raging river that’s outside my front door. Most of my province-mates have been without electricity and/or water during this rainstorm. I count my blessings in that my electricity has mostly been on and I have water stored. I am also collecting rain water – more than two buckets so far! 🙂


–       No water or electricity. Lots of water leakage. My house is flooding!

  • Sun’s peaking out here! Hope your home gets some respite from water.
  • Me, a little later: Probably not helping, but have you tried squeegying or sweeping water out? I’m collecting in buckets for now.
  • Reply: Yeah that’s what I do. It’s a constant battle but my bedroom and kitchen are dry. Just the other rooms are done. Its why my house is so sparse.
  • Good forsight on your part. Water’s seeped into my bedroom…predicting I’ll wake up in a waterbed tomorrow.


– Nina is still without water and electricity. Tom also has neither and says his house is flooding. Murphys have nowater or electricity since Sunday. How you faring?

–       Counting my blessings. Power went out couple times, but its been pretty steady. I’ve got water but also collecting rain water, more than 2 buckets so far! I picked oranges from my tree so I’ve got nourishment. Thanks for checking in, sky’s kinda clearing! How are you?

–       Electricity is off and on, but generally more on. Water just came on for literally 5 minutes then off. Clearing sky?! Currently a big downpour up here.

–       Yay, someone to text! Roaring river outside my door. I squeegied my salon this AM. Now, if only internet would work…j/k haha.

Normally, I’d include my text exchanges with Nin, but, as mentioned above, she’s without electricity. She’s been so since Saturday. (Nin – you’re in my thoughts! We’re having conversations in my head, haha :))

By the way…

–       Rain water tastes delicious! My tastebuds were shocked, as they’ve become accustomed to drinking bled water on a regular basis now. (Does this mean I’ve integrated? Adapted? Yay!!)

–       Cold weather attire (to date): a beanie, two layers on top, two layers on bottom, toe socks (yes, the pairs I owned in college have returned! Thank goodness I kept them!), and boots with the (faux) fur.

–       I’m grateful that an orange tree grows in my courtyard, as opposed to sugar or honey or butter for that matter. If my orange consumption of late is indicative of how much and frequently I like to snack…well, let’s just say the fatty kid within would be the fatty kid with…out. Haha. Food, how I love thee!

the good and the ugly

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on November 29, 2010

In joining PC, I knew it’d be just a matter of time before I witnessed experienced a couple things about people: their best and their worst.

Today, I had such an experience. lHamdullah, the best and worst were exhibited by two different women.

Confirmed: my souk gets busy at 8:30am and not earlier.

I’ve been to souk enough times to be comfortable shopping on my own but I’ve never seen an empty lot like today. I later learned this was souk pre-unloading produce. Anyway, so I made my way home with a 200dh bill in my pocket. Clearly, if there wasn’t anything to buy, no one would be able to break it.

As I approach home, whom do I see but Little Fatima’s grandmother chatting with Mohammed’s mother. (Ironically, the Best and the Ugly, respectively, for the purposes of today. When I approached the women, I feigned forgetting my money because I had an empty bag slung limply on my shoulder.

“Go inside and get it,” says Little Fatima’s grandmother, “I’ll wait for you.” So, of course, I enter my house, retrieve smaller bills and coins, and come back outside. I join the ladies but not for long – the Best is heading towards souk while the Ugly is headed home. On our way to souk, the Best fills me in on how souk works on rainy days – not a lot of people, expensive vegetables because there isn’t a lot to choose from. She guides me to the vendors with the best price and I stick with her for a bit before we split our shopping ways. How nice of her, no? I think so.

Fast forward to the afternoon.

I go to the neddi, or Taounia Tawsna as the nominal president prefers. I haven’t been inside with the young women since the president returned. One specifically is just too catty but I digress. Even though I haven’t been in site much, I’ve been trying to get my three cooperatives involved in Marche Maroc Marrakech, a craft fair being organized by a few SBD PCVs (go ladies!). I secured a spot for the neddi so I go in to check the progress and products that will be sold. I bring a few supplies with me, one being my own personal markers (might I add that I’ve had since high school so at least seven years).

Of the handful of females there, Ugly is there with her child.

Ullah (I swear), the neddi president has ADHD. I’m trying to go over logistics with her but she is all over the place, rattling her vocal cords. Finally, I get her to sit still and review her travel itinerary and schedule. Then I get to work making price tags which means bringing out my colorful markers.

Before the fifth price tag is made, Mohammed is trying to quietly ask me to give him a marker. “No,” I tell him. Why, he asks me. “Because they are mine,” I say. Why, he asks again. “Because they are mine.”

When I’m perhaps halfway done, his mother, Ugly, pulls up next to him. “Can you give my son one?” she asks under her breath. At this point in service, whenever I find myself in sticky situations, I raise the volume of my voice and say, “I don’t understand.” Trying not to attract the attention of the others, she repeats her question, “Can you give…just one?” “No,” I say, “these are mine. I’ve had them for…seven years. I brought them from the US. They are mine.” This is starting to infuriate me. I can’t believe she – a mother who should teach her child by example, an adult who knows better – is asking me for stuff. Hell-o, I’m still living in the village, I want to say. I haven’t completed my service yet. I’m not COS-ing yet. It’s not appropriate to start asking for my stuff yet (not that it ever is for that matter). It’s this moment that makes her Ugly.

She goes away. Not more than 5 minutes later, her son is back at it except he’s no longer sitting across from me. He’s now to my left and leaning towards me,

I’m feeling under the weather. The neddi is getting dark and there are no light bulbs installed in the room. The women are working by candlelight – honestly, why I don’t know. There are electrical wires jutting out of the light sockets, which indicate electricity is possible. Oh yes, the other rooms are lit. My eyes are getting tired from writing in the dark…and hearing Mohammed breath so close to me.

I’m don eat 4:30pm, lHamdullah!

I peel myself out of the neddi. Who do I see standing outside but Good! What’s she doing? She’s waiting on her grandchildren who are scared of falling on the slippery mud after a day full of rain. Oh, she makes me melt right then and there! I ask what time they get out of school. “At 5 o’clock,” she says. She’s likely illiterate (and doesn’t have a working clock in her home) so I tell her, “It’s only 4:30 now.” “Oh,” she says, thinking nothing of her oversight. Then she moseys her way back inside the house as I slowly make my way over muddy sands, across a bridge keeping me above fast-flowing muddy water, and through another muddy path before arriving at my front door. The same place where today started.

Post-Thanksgiving Harvest: I picked oranges from my tree! 🙂

let the holiday music begin!

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on November 28, 2010

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I will be blasting Christmas and holiday music in my house and on my iPod when I travel!

First on my playlist: ‘N Sync’s “Home for Christmas.” (Yes, I am admitting a boy band past here! :))

rained-in black out, butter and potatoes

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on November 27, 2010

Rained in.

No electricity.

No running water.

Thanksgiving leftovers for breakfast.

Tea and rainbows.

Hash browns. (Standing in front of the stove for so long, I’m sure I bathed in butter today while cooking 1 kg worth of potatos. No idea how much butter was in it, haha.) Scrambled eggs. Fried turkey. Brownies. Lentils. For lunner (lunch + dinner)

PC family, friends, and food – that’s all I wanted this weekend. That’s what I got…and so much more.