“Figuring out what women want isn’t just a pastime,” ABC’s Matthew Dowd tells us, “it’s absolutely necessary if you want to know the direction of the country, politically and economically.” And so, as “one man (and I emphasize man) who grew up with four sisters, has a daughter, two ex-wives and three sons who have dated a broad variety of women,” he’s here to explain what it is women care about in politics and life:
I think many women are conflicted on this in their personal life choices as well as in their political leaders. Often women express a desire that they want what has been traditionally called the ‘Alan Alda man’ — someone who’s sensitive who will key into their feelings, listen and not be overly masculine.
Someone like this.
But often they choose the opposite. Many women think they have to decide between a man who is gentle but weak and one who is strong but mean. When given the choice, women opt more for the John Wayne type.
Many women want to be in a relationship with a man who is clear, strong, kind, knows where he is going, can stand up when confronted and can make a woman feel protected and safe. They really don’t have a lot of confidence in someone who is passive, unsure and unwilling to fight the good fight when needed.
Looking at the last debate through this prism for women, Romney came across as strong, assertive and clear, while President Obama came across as a bit weak and passive. From this presentation — even with the issue landscape favoring Obama — women began to move to Romney.
Just as it is for many women in understanding what men want from them as they share roles as wives, moms and workers, the balance required as a man in this modern age — whether in a president or partner — is equally difficult and confused. One day, men will be comfortable blending Alan Alda and John Wayne into a new archetype integrating strong, kind gentle and protective in a way that has both integrity and modern chivalry.
What women want in an arbitrary celebrity crush may not be the same thing they want in a president (in fact, they may even care about “the issue landscape”). But if Dowd is looking for a celebrity persona that embodies both sensitivity and chivalry, I think modern women have already found him.