Fembots: The New Breed of Women
I know where she's coming from. For as long as I can remember, the most
seemingly unnatural things — craving space, delaying commitment — have come
quite naturally to me. I've always understood the power of reticence, while my
mother, so warm and demonstrative, didn't. I remember once, when she was pissed
that my father was out too late with his softball buddies (as he was wont to
be), she asked me to read a note she had written him. I was 12 — and
precocious. "I don't know," I said, pouting my Wet n Wild lips. "Do
you have to tell Dad everything you feel?"
Unlike our mothers, women of my generation make up nearly half the
workforce. We spend seven-plus hours a day at the office, that classically male
arena where men have honed a lot of their own robotic abilities. And we're
learning their tricks: You don't have to — can't, really — think about last
night's spat with the boyfriend; just focus on work instead. Disengage, hold
things together, keep your cards close to your chest, and you'll get ahead.
Fembots have mastered these lessons and can apply them just as easily outside
At the same time, men have spent the past quarter-century on the hunt for
their sensitive sides. So the guy who once joked about firing a magic mute
button on a woman might look up to find that his girlfriend's now holding the
remote. "Lose the skirt," a friend says to her husband when he wants to
cuddle. "Quit with the eggbeater," another tells her boyfriend when,
over dinner, he tries to rehash all that they have to do the coming
Lori, 32, just ended a dalliance with a warm and open guy. "I told him
there was no connection, and he said, 'When I tried to make one, you blocked
me. You never gave us a chance.'"
A few months before the non-relationship began, Lori had separated from her
husband, a lead weight of a guy whom she had worked relentlessly to please. She
decided it was time to focus on pleasing herself. "When you go through a
separation, you learn that you have to take care of yourself. There's a
hardening, for better or for worse. Actually, it's just for the better, I
think." That myopic view influenced her dating life. "I knew I wasn't
letting him in, and it was a shame because he was wonderful. But he knew the
score. He could have walked at any time."
The fembot's effects are hardly limited to how she relates to men. As our
lives become increasingly transitory (by age 30, most of us have had seven
jobs), friends and colleagues grow more disposable. When women do get together,
secrets aren't easily revealed, tears aren't immediately shed, and menstrual
cycles aren't necessarily synchronized. "Sometimes I want to get to know a
girl at my office who seems cool," says Ana, 30. "But I think, Why
bother? It's work to become someone's friend, and I don't know if I'm going to
be here in six months."