Thursday, January 30, 2003

Transactional Romance & Evolution of the Feminine Ideal: A Choice between "Busted Up Sex & the City Women/Whores vs. True Alpha Female Goddess"

I am Chris London, a Boston University & University of Pennsylvania Law School grad. After a career as a practicing lawyer for premier New York & Boston based international law firms, including Weil Gotshal & Manges & Bingham Dana, I became a legal and executive search professional. Several years ago, I founded what has become known as NYC's London Network. Periodically I send out the London Network Newsletter which I refer to as the "Infomaniacs" guide to Balanced Manhattan living---Strategic Career Development, Health & Wellness & Renewal of the Human Spirit through Activism, Socializing, Networking

I have come to serve as career, business, life, romantic counselor and confidant to some of Manhattan's most driven, intelligent and successful people. The London Network is committed to the success of those who are contributing to a greater sense of community in Manhattan. My friends and confidants have taken me on a journey of enlightenment and I have and will continue to be there to counsel them through it. My friends and confidants span a broad socio economic demographic within our city. Make no mistake, London Network is not a party promotion service, although we do seek to guide and connect our friends for business, life, health, romance and fun. The London Network is much more akin to Jason Kidd than Shaq. I like to "dish the rock" and assist our friends in this town who are genuinely committed to contributing to a better sense of spirit, community and who have worthy business ideas to share. If you want to credit us with an assist, great!

The past few weeks have been an interesting ride. Despite the stagnant economy, a downturn in business and absorbing and counseling many of my friends through some stressful times, I was able to enjoy some light hearted moments. On Sunday like many in NYC and across the country, I watched Chuckys Crew from Tampa Bay obliterate Oaklands men in black in the Super Bowl. I enjoyed the game among some old and new friends at a last minute Super Bowl Party thrown by The Jester Society at Climate 8, which is owned by a fellow UPenn Alum. Later in the week, after having already been quoted in the recent New York Magazine cover story, "The Casual Sex Revolution", I had drinks with the edgy female writer/social commentator Amy Sohn.. Over a few cocktails I had the opportunity to share some andecdotes about my dating experiences in NYC. Though I may have exposed myself a bit, I did not take any personal swipes at anyone or at least I do not recall doing so. In addition, I participated for the experience in some 8 Minute Dating events. With the proliferation of romance based businesses, some of my friends involved in running them like Chris Marashio have gotten alot of media attention lately. While the events were fun, in earnest because of the presence of Katie Couric from the Today Show, New York 1, Timeout Magazine etc. the events at Guastavinos & Turtle Bay did have somewhat of a staged feel. Just an observation but it seems to me that there is definitely a cold, heartless & political side to the dating biz. Nevertheless, I did meet some cool and interesting people...who I may want to be friends with,including a sassy entrepreneur who runs Safina a sex education based business solely for women. Due to a busy calendar, I am disappointed that I was unable to make the first benefit thrown by the "PFI"--Professionals For Israel this week at Sugar in Tribeca.

Also this week, my ever so brief fling came to an end with the Brooklyn Sex & the City Girl (with a dog named Gucci, no less) who I met at Capitale on Thanksgiving Eve. If this thing had gotten any more serious, we may have had a conflict because I could not see naming our children Calvin, Hermes or Prada, Brooks might have been ok. Who knows, maybe she will still be a friend of the London Network, or perhaps not after referencing her on here ;-) My search for a Meadow Soprano or Monica Belluci look alike continues.

A growing concern of mine and that of many men is a growing Princess Complex; the crass and blatant materialism, sense of entitlement and objectification of men based upon the size of their bank accounts or lack thereof. It gives romance a perversely transactional flavor. I was fine with being a piece of meat but if I am going to be reduced to a "wallet", perhaps strip clubs and Escort Services are a better alternative than the Manhattan social scene these days. The line between dating services and escort services has become blurred, e.g, VIP Life & Prime Connections. Its ever so sad that more and more women seem to be emulating a busted up crew of late 30's & 40 years old vapid professional single women who's social angst can be reduced to their pursuit of Manolo Blahniks and a "Mr. Big."

In this era of androgyny & altered societal roles the notion or what is a man or a woman is certainly being reshaped and redefined. The prevailing wisdom and evidence would suggest that women are now freed from the bondage of requiring a man solely as a means of financial support. It would seem that women are empowered to seek out mates that more appropriately satisfy their romantic, sensual, intellectual and emotional needs rather than seeking out a combination of “Daddy Warbucks” and “Father Knows Best”, exclusively.
One would surely hope that female empowerment and independence has and will continue to create new opportunities for enhanced relations between the sexes; perhaps even lead us to a new spiritual awakening. The "Sex in the City" class of women, however, led on by a materialistic and decadent pop culture licensing their petty indulgences have developed a crass sense of female machismo that has unfortunately been embraced by scores of vapid materialistic women as the new feminine ideal. Truth be known this version of the feminine ideal embodies every thinking mans worst romantic nightmare and is an afront to the real women's movement. The womens movement towards equality was focused on the spiritual empowerment, independence and respect of women, not soley the materialistic empowerment of women. This brand of women could use a lesson from Emily Post. There is a very simple reason why a critique of this false brand of feminism has not resonated in the media and that is that "Sex and the City" is nothing more than a materialistic metaphor and infomercial for crass consumerist excess. Basically its good for business driving women into stores to feed their consumerist apetite for everything and anything Gucci, Prada, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo so that they can doll themselves up like their role models while they jet set from the Manhattan Lounge & Charity circuit to the Hamptons, Newport and Ibiza.

You only have to witness the acute fascination with Joe Millionaire, which is truly nothing more the Male Powerball Lotto for women. Consider the pervasive strategic opportunism & gauche materialism of women suffering from the delusional belief of the existence of a 6 ft 5 Tall, Muscular, Handsome Prince Charming with $50 Million dollars who despite all of these gifts decided he needed Fox TV to help him find a wife. Do these women have no shame or do they still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy? The reality is that nobody on the show male or female would be confused with a Mensa member. In any event this is only further evidence of "How reality TV degrades us all." Justification for the "mindset" can be found in Blu Cantrell song, Hit em up style, "Hey Ladies When your man wanna get buckwild ...Just go back and Hit 'Em Up Style..Put your hands on his cash..And spend it to the last dime." If these are the modern female role models god help men in Manhattan because there is nothing here for men to embrace that they cannot otherwise find at an Escort Service, albeit at a discount. I much prefer the female anthem, "Independent Woman" by Destinys Child, because all the woman are independent... they are honeys making money and all of those girls do not depend on me."

Instead, as one friend observed, women have become the new frat boys, “It’s hard to go out without having to over hear a group of crass giggling females objectifying men by the size of his "Unit", staying power, or even his relative wealth and social status over Cosmo’s or whatever new drink they have seen their role models drinking on Sex and the City.” Forget about the idea of investing in a "male extension." I need to find someone who can offer me a "cash implant" if these women continue to serve as role models for NYC women. In such case, perhaps size really does matter...the size of our wallets. So to my female friend who asked us during half time of a Super Bowl Party, “do men really feel like women are only interested in their money?” Not only but perhaps we have come to understand that your ideal is as Mr. Big as much as ours is Commissioner Gordon’s daughter on Batman who can go from sexy eye glass wearing librarian/mensa babe to Buff Vixen like Bat Girl in nothing flat. I can, however, fondly recall a more simple time, my college days, when you would meet a girl at a party over a Lite Beer or two, joke about whether it really tasted great or was less filling. Before you knew it, your clothes were off in some college dorm room and you realized maybe she did not taste so great and she realized that perhaps you were less filling than she had hoped. In either event, isn't it really all about managing and adjusting expectations?

I must be missing something because even my friend Beth at Flo Inc. has seminars entitled Loving Money and Loving Men, who have money. I refuse, however, to indict the entire female gender in this town because my circle is filled with women who are not representative of that perversification of female independence and empowerment. Give me a woman with the perspective of Amy Sohn, Mama Gena or Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the female manifesto "Bitch--In praise of difficult women." These are women who are bold and independent who have learned lessons, refuse to be or allow other women to be victims. Their brand of feminism does not consume itself with disempowering men in order to empower women, actually much to the contrary. If this is the era of the Goddess or the "Alpha" female, certainly count me in as one of Mama Gena's disciples. Hell, just to prove my point I would pucker up for Tristan Taormino. In fact, I am looking forward to Mamas refresher course for men this weekend. Hey, you know what? You can never know too much about women. At least I do not profess that I do. Maybe Mama Gena can give me some tips about get a date with an older woman, like Katie Couric, who looks like a younger woman in person, and is also charming, gracious and intelligent? What do you think?

In any event, with war looming on the horizon & a stagnant economy, stress levels are high among many of our friends across the spectrum from the professionally employed as well as entrepreneurs. With all of the corporate belt tightening, efficiency measures undertaken, many entities are running leaner operations. The securely employed are overworked with many finding themselves doing the job of two people. The less busy feel that they may be in tenuous or precarious position. They have their eyes on the horizon and wonder how they can remain employed, find alternate employment or otherwise navigate what can be a treacherous job market. Entrepreneurs are feeling the pinch from a customer base & clientele with reduced disposable income. Even I have slacked off on my healthy ways, I need to get back into Balance, back on track with Pilates, taking my Green stuff, lifting weights at Equinox and taking a Schvitz at the Wall Street Spa.

While we are all focused to a greater degree on the career and fortifying the home front, my view is that this not the time to insulate oneself. Since the London Network is a division of a Legal Placement and Career Advisory Firm we shall endeavor to do our part and help our friends navigate the market place to unearth the Hidden Job Market, even when a placement fees are not always possible for our services. I am encouraging our friends to stay connected to us. Morever, if any of our friends are in the HR area and want to get the word out about your hiring needs to a select slice of Manhattan at a great cost savings, essentially eliminating much of the transactions costs associated in doing so, let us know about your hiring needs as there may be someone in our network that you should meet, interview or perhaps even hire. If you want to make a contribution towards covering some of our overhead or pay us a reasonable consulting fee, that would be helpful and we are open to discussion. To a more cohesive & inclusive enviornment and otherwise surviving these challenging times! All I can say is what would I do without Starbucks or Pick a Bagel?

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