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Health & Sex

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Fembots: The New Breed of Women

WebMD Feature from "Marie Claire" Magazine

By Theresa O'Rourke

Marie Claire magazine logo

Tired of touchy-feely friendships and being the vulnerable one in romance, a new breed of steely female is beating guys at their own game.

I'm at a sake bar watching a man get drunk on an ice-cold woman. He shamelessly admits he can't stop thinking about her. "Really," she says, devouring a fat slice of tuna in one tidy bite. "That's interesting." Her raw beauty recalls a young Debbie Harry. He soldiers on: Why in God's name is she single? What brought her to New York City? She smiles coyly. "You know all you need to know . . . for now."

Another eavesdropper might have made the assumption that this tight-lipped minx reads dumb-and-dumber books on seducing men. But I prefer to see her as proof of a new kind of woman, one who isn't fighting the urge to prattle on about her feelings. And though I don't know this carnivorous vixen, a part of me wants to shove my fist in the air and cry, "Atta girl!"

I came of age in the gut-spilling '90s, a time of Ally McBeal, "female bonding," Lilith Fair, and the explosion of the self-help section at Barnes & Noble. A decade has passed, but women still seem bent on suffocating themselves with an endless supply of self-indulgent hot air. We're due for a backlash, and I think it has arrived in the form of what I like to call the fembot: the cool, together, emotionally unavailable girl one cube over.

Take a look around, and you'll notice that more women are having their sensitivity chips removed. On Grey's Anatomy, an overachiever played by Sandra Oh cringes when friends ask for a hug, while Courteney Cox's equally ambitious character on Dirt shoos away men in favor of her vibrator. This fall, NBC is remaking the classic '70s show The Bionic Woman — she of the rational mind and superwoman body, an early-model fembot. Even offscreen, our sex symbols are playing against touchy-feely type. Angelina Jolie admits she sees no real benefit to crying. Scarlett Johansson believes that monogamy may not be natural. And Brooke Shields reveals she needs regular time-outs from her kids: "Some people revel in [full-time motherhood]. I revel in a different way."

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