Saturday, September 3, 2011

What Do Women Want...

At our ASU new student getaway, our FOCUS missionaries led a fascinating discussion on chastity. They focus (no pun intended) in their formation of college students on three areas where students often struggle: chastity, sobriety, and excellence. The missionaries are all young, attractive, and dynamic people, so they had a good hold on the students attention and they spoke about the whats, whys, and hows of chastity in campus life.

Here's what I thought fascinating. In the Q and A, I asked the men: what do you think women want from you? After all, women seem to spend significant energy on getting men's attention. But what do they want once they get men's attention?

The men's answers were interesting and the guys seemed surprisingly confident about them, along the lines of, "Women want us to love 'em," and "Women want love." After about 6-7 comments like that, there was general agreement: Yessiree, women want our love! We love 'em--them ladies--and that's what they want.

But suddenly it dawned on me that only men had answered, and the women in the room--both the FOCUS missionaries and college women--sat quietly listening. Now I'm no expert in-all-things-women-related, but I know enough to know we men don't have an immaculate track record in knowing how women think...

Then the women responded. And the results were quite different. "We want to be protected, we want to feel safe," and "We want to give our selves to you, and know that we'll be ok," and "we want to know that you'll protect us and take us in a good direction," and "We want you to pursue us, even after we get married, for the rest of our lives."

We want to you protect us, and to pursue us. The men knew the women wanted to be loved...but only the women knew how that is supposed to happen. Frankly, the guys had no idea. But it seemed to be the most obvious thing to the ladies, the most natural addendum, clarification, to what the men had said. The men's answer was correct, but vastly imprecise or incomplete.

I looked around the room. Guys were slowly but attentively nodding like they were hearing the secret location of treasure map for the first time.  Most of the women were smiling and some even had a few tears of delightful recognition--or some strange joyful delight, I don't know--in their eyes. I was flabbergasted--for us men it was like we had discovered the fountain of youth or were kids seeing the secrets of the elves in the north pole. The vibe for the men was like this: So this is how it is supposed to work! It's so simple! Why didn't some one tell us this?

For the women, it seemed to me like some lost mystical photo album of their collective mysterious shared life was open on the coffee table before everyone and we were happily flipping through it. And we all felt a flood of this soothing "memory" of simply who they are--so specific, but so mysterious!--and therefore who we are as men, as well.

Of course, we've known it forever. The Church knows it. Blessed John Paul II reminded us in his encyclical on St Joseph that every man's vocation is the dignity of woman. He told us that St Joseph's two tasks were protecting the birth of Christ and the beauty of Mary. And so it is with every man today, every day of his life, until he dies. It just something special when you see college freshmen get it, surrounded by sad sexual lies as they are. But truly, all of a sudden, to this group of students, I'd say that things like immodest clothing, promiscuity, and the like, came into sharp relief as really quite sad and empty, a pathetic decoy for the Real Thing.

Protect us and pursue us. The guys in the room didn't know that was the answer to the question, "What do women want from you?" but once they heard the women say turns out that those are the very two things they had been wanting to do all along. Just needed to ask.