The Perfect Man

Big news in the Daily Mail Reporter: In a study of 2,000 British women, the search for Mr. Perfect seems to be a complete bust. “While many chaps have positive attributes, the majority are deeply flawed,” the hard-hitting study reveals. “In fact, in [this] study…. most ranked their partner as only 69 per cent perfect.”

NO! You mean….men have FAILINGS?  YES! says this study! And they are really really horrible ones, too, like “failing to make an effort with their partner’s friends, criticizing their driving and….” get this killer of a flaw: “ the inability to multi-task.”

Oh, but women, there’s more dismal unhappiness and disappointment for you ahead. “Leaving the toilet door open, watching too much sport and poor personal grooming.” Can you imagine living with such a creature? Welcoming such a man into your life? Accepting this merely-two-thirds-perfect ambulatory creature who watches Late Night Sports into your BED?

The last time I saw such dumb studies is when I was studying the Conduct Books of the 19th century for my book, Marriage Shock. Then, the word “perfection” was reserved exclusively for women. Then, it was men who were looking for the “perfect girl,” or the “perfect wife” and women judged one another according to this completely fake standard of perfection being divined by a culture trying to get women to be happy as exclusively domestic beings.  Conduct books stipulated how to become that perfect girl and perfect wife, listing not only skills(“She must know how to truss a turkey; clean a chimney; wire a lamp,” it says here in one book) but “feminine” attributes (“She must be cheerful at all times, and welcome home her man with a smile every night”). Then, though, punishment for falling short was severe: A girl might not win a mate. At that time, not marrying meant becoming, oh, a prostitute or a governess, since women couldn’t make their own money in the workplace.

But what’s going on here, now that women are assessing men according to a similarly ridiculous list of attributes? What does this mean, that the top characteristic of the supposedly “perfect” guy is “A good personality”? Sound familiar, ladies? And why are we whipping out this mythical notion of perfection, this tailored-for-women kind of guy, NOW? Are we seeing a kind of centuries-long retribution? I’m sure if I looked carefully into the study, some of this would be simply cynical consumerism.

But one thing it shows is that women don’t need men as much as they once did, or such nonsense wouldn’t make headlines. Women wouldn’t be in the position of judging. “Perfection” wouldn’t be a legitimate term.  I’m sorry for these guys, as I was sorry for those turkey-trussing, smiling wives of yore.  Something weird is going on. Creating a male character that doesn’t exist is as frightening as  that smiling, cookie-baking perfect woman we all tried to emulate, and who also never existed.   

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