Imagine a men’s magazine that offers tips on being attractive to women that include: looking fragile, being a bumbling scientist, acting like a helpless meatball, expressing affection to tiny children, blushing, being intensely interested in gorgeous clothes, etc, etc. This is hard to imagine. In fact, these are characteristics that are typically characterized as not ideal for men, because they are coded as feminine. Yet they’re also not only traits that are commonly attractive to women, but are generally accepted as commonly attractive to women, if one looks at “women’s” entertainment (romantic comedies, chick lit, anything in which Hugh Grant appears).
What I’m getting at is that there is a division between what attracts women and what men accept/permit as attracting women. Men are engaged in a constant enforcement of heteronormativity, a policing of women’s desire and their own accession to it. What women want is subordinate to what men decide that women want, and the latter is then culturally broadcast as the ideological “what women want” that becomes accepted.
–septembriseur on what men want women to want.
Go read the whole post, though, because septembriseur goes on to talk about the same phenomena applied to female characters, and the analysis is excellent.