Friday 31 October 2014

Forget that Wall Street advice about women – just treat us all well

Published 24/09/2013 | 05:00

Don Draper: the perfect man?

You are never too old or wise to take advice. Men around the globe should thus have been delighted to see the 'sage' advice from the unofficial Goldman Sachs' 'Guide to Being a Man' believed to have been written by an anonymous insider. I think many women will learn a thing or two – some of it alarming – by reading the advice being doled out from inside this Wall Street mecca of testosterone.

The list of rules includes some fairly derogatory advice. This is not a list pandering to women. This is a list compiled for brash Wall Street males. It urges them to "buy expensive sunglasses. Superficial? Yes, but so are the women judging you". Harsh.

Then there is the even more insulting: "Hookers aren't cool and, remember, the free ones are a lot more expensive." Ouch!

When asked if he considered the guide sexist, a Goldman Sachs tweeter said: "In no way do I feel that I have characterised women in that way. If I have somehow implied that women are superficial, it's because I think most people are in general, particularly the people of Wall Street."

To be fair some of the advice is fairly scathing about his own sex. He tells his fellow men to stop talking about where they went to college. He warns them that they will regret their tattoos and says "people are tired of you being the funny drunk".

He is also anti-pretension. "The 'New Yorker' is not high-brow. Neither is 'The Economist'." Excellent advice given how many unfortunate women have sat beside a 'Wall Street type' at a dinner party only to be bored to death with his CV of achievements, followed by his pretense at being their intellectual superior. If you really are clever, you don't need to spell it out.

But what makes a man, a real man? Don Draper, the main character in the hugely popular 'Mad Men', is a self-centred, borderline alcoholic who cheats on his wife and barely acknowledges his children's existence. And yet he is often described in women's magazines as the 'ultimate man'. Really?

Does the average woman want a 'real man' that's going to cheat on her, put himself first and stay out all night drinking with his buddies? Are we still not attracted to the 'nice guy'? Haven't we moved on?

Aren't these Wall Street types arrogant enough without women throwing themselves at them because they have fat wallets and swagger? Don't women have fat wallets and swagger now too?

Why is there no mention of being kind and considerate? Honestly, women are not that complicated – if you want to be a man, treat your girlfriend/wife/partner well. It's really that simple.

Thankfully some of the advice on the long list is welcome and one can only hope that men will take it on board. For instance: "You probably use your mobile phone too much and at the wrong moments." There is nothing more infuriating than a man checking his phone in the middle of dinner. I have one friend whose date stopped to check his phone while they were in a compromising position.

One excellent piece of advice on the list is based on a particular quirk that every woman has – to never order, but always eat, dessert. My own husband, having no sisters, was incensed when we first dated and I proceeded to wolf down his dessert. The Goldman tweeter helpfully explains to men that: "Desserts are for women. Order one and pretend you don't mind that she's eating it."

A really clever man should ask his date what she would like for dessert. She'll say: "Chocolate cake but I'm too full to eat another morsel." He will then order the chocolate cake with two spoons, sit back and say nothing while she devours the lot.

The Goldman Sachs/Wall Street man has always had the reputation of being a chest-thumping, self- promoting, over-confident alpha male. Perhaps it's time to tone that down, especially as they are now sharing their offices with bright, smart, ambitious women.

It's all very well to be 'manly', but men, please remember that it was Richie Cunningham who ended up with the beautiful, loving wife, while The Fonz rode off on his Harley into the sunset – alone!

Irish Independent

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