Sexes: Back Off, Buddy

A new Hite report stirs up a furor over sex and love in the '80s

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The hitch may be that for men to be so, women will have to further alter their expectations. As Farrell points out, despite their interest in openness and sensitivity, "most women still emphasize economics over intimacy" in seeking a male partner. Chances are they cannot have it both ways. "Many of the characteristics that make a man successful in his profession -- mental toughness, discipline, intensity, willingness to work long hours away from home -- can make him difficult for women to deal with," says Farrell. He believes there are many sensitive, willing "new men" out there, but they are rejected by women on the traditional grounds that they are not successful enough.

There is an irony in Hite's ideology. Women are finding that they cannot have it all: they are staggering under the burden of trying to be all things to all people -- the nurturing parent, the successful careerist, the sexual athlete. Now they are asking men to play all these roles too. Can this work, or will it merely leave everybody frazzled? And even if it can work, and both men and women can succeed in playing all these roles, what then will they need each other for? What will have happened to the partnership, to love? Maybe Katharine Hepburn has the answer. "Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other," she once said. "Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then."

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