What DO women want, anyway?

I have my own theories about what women want, having actually asked them, but let’s put that aside for a moment.

I’d be surprised if Freud really was the first man to ask, even in a professional capacity, what women want. I don’t know for sure what he came up with, having given up on Freud after learning about the whole castration fear thing, but I gather he determined that women are “un-understandable”.

And the question seems to permeate society. Mel Gibson was in a film entitled What Woman Want, and this week’s Newsweek features a white cover with the words “What Do Women Want?” written in red lipstick. (The cover story has something to do with gender politics as well as Sarah Palin, so I pretty much tuned out from that, and it’s beside my point anyway.) And I have heard it said, sometimes jokingly, sometimes seriously, that humanity has been searching for the answer to what women want for millennia.

I’m curious about this, about the notion that “humanity” has been trying to find that answer. It’s almost as if the 49% of the population that wants to figure it out are the only ones that matter. So we men learn that women are incomprehensible, that no one (by which we mean “other men” of course) can figure them out; and since so much media out there is really men just talking to other men, I can’t help wondering whether women find themselves buying into this concept as well. Do women internalize the broader message, that they are incomprehensible and even if they think they know they want, they’re still too mysterious, even to themselves, to know for sure? Or do women feel left out because 51% of humanity knows the answer to the stupid question, yet the other 49% feels they are the ones who matter? I sometimes think that if I were a woman, I’d find myself feeling left out of society when these questions are put forward. It also implies that everyone knows what men want, so the question isn’t worth asking.

I personally don’t find the question particularly mystifying — at least, no more than the question, “What does your buddy Keith want?” Keith’s been a close friend for over ten years now, but sometimes I just don’t get, say, his love of the Pittsburg Steelers… Or his love of football in general. You take people one at a time, and try to figure them out on a one-by-one basis. So it seems that women just want the same things that men want, but it’s more useful to ask the question on a person by person basis, and not on a gender-wide basis.

So, do you think these questions are valid? Or am I just exaggerating the the whole thing out of proportion?