I scanned the room for a smoldering eye, a cocky grin, a knowing look or even a lustful glare in my direction.
None! There was none!
None of the bad boys that I craved so much were at the club that summer night. I returned home with an ache in my heart to an empty apartment. Where were all the men who just whisk women off their feet and take them to a land of ecstasy and unadulterated pleasure?
Fast forward to today, fifteen years later, my life so similar to what it was that summer night while my taste in men has done a full 180.
Some cliches have remained. Like using numbers to emphasize the enormity of something.
“I can’t be available 24/7” is still how I tell men I can’t be their proverbial slave.
So when I say that my taste has transformed completely, I kinda mean it.
Before you hypothesize why this happened and before you tell me how mature women date mature men and should leave the bad boys for younger women, let me halt your misogyny by reminding you how a woman’s maturity isn’t just a work of time.
A woman’s maturity is attained by paying what’s due at the altar of toxic masculinity, the very substrate of the bad boy.
The popular culture makes us want the bad boy. He’s the desirable jock. Tall, handsome, dark, emotionally unavailable, financially unconquerable, a great lover, a consummate man. In a wild jungle of men where men are produced by the dozen, the basic rule of capitalism is proved wrong. Even though the bad boy is the most produced product of that nihilistic factory, he is also the most coveted. The only thing in this world that’s available in abundance and is still expensive is the bad boy.
But time spent with the bad boy is an education in itself if nothing else. It’s the initiation into the patriarchy and even more, into toxic masculinity. It opens a woman’s eyes to how the expression “bad boy” is a literal one.
Maybe I’m an exception and had an eye and a penchant for the bad boy. Some might say I had the luck to match it. Most men who wanted me were narcissists. Most men I wanted were bad boys.
Time made them synonymous with each other.
So the growth that people see in me is questionable but not that much so. It is there, even though merely faintly perceptible. I grew through the process of learning so much about patriarchy that I ended up hating it.
I also fell out with its prodigal son, the toxic male AKA the bad boy.
Now I want a man who is more like a woman. Call me emotionally gay but I can’t get along with the cisgender heterosexual male anymore. My man has to have a little woman in him for me to love him or find him attractive.
He has to know that there are times when my world doesn’t revolve around his existential crisis of being a man. He should know that I have crises of my own, some beyond my gender and sexuality. Some of my crises transcend my self and are my community’s. He should understand that.
With time, the smoldering eye and the cocky grin have become repugnant to me. Men who play vampires have started looking real like they’re merely playing an alter-ego. That this is who they are. I have stopped wishing for them to find me.
With my growing up, I have developed a severe distaste for the bar and the club. Or the pub, as many sophisticated people call it. I have realized that that’s the haunt of the toxic male and I can’t be seen there. It’s a meat market where women are sought through cheap masculine gestures like buying a drink, walking us home, hailing a cab. Even though they did nothing for me in the more profound sense of that expression, most of them won my affection.
I have started to look for the man who can be silenced easily. Who knows when to shut up! Who knows when he is becoming like his toxic brother and can catch himself before he gets carried away. Who knows that there’s a patriarch in him too and he has to watch that patriarch from showing up at all times.
Just as there’s a lover of toxic male in me too, at all times, who can disqualify a perfectly perfect gentleman just because patriarchy taught me that men give it rough and women like it rough. I watch for that lover of the bad boy at all times.
It’s a battle with what I was raised to like and what I know I like. The effeminate man, political disagreements with that term aside, is the man I’m attracted to now. The man who is effeminate in his mind, soul and even his body. The daily shaver, the stubble-hater, the chest hair denouncer. The man who is my ally in every way he acts. That’s the man that I, as a cisgender heterosexual woman, am attracted to.