Lesley Stahl on Men: The More Romantic Sex?


Lesley joins Liz Smith and Cynthia McFadden to debate the merits of Valentine’s Day, seduction and those red, satin hearts

QUESTION: What are you all doing for Valentine’s Day?

LIZ: I’m not doing anything special. I’m perfectly romantic and in love and good and positive and drawing little hearts on pieces of paper every day of the year. So I’ll just carry on with my doodling. But I love Valentine’s Day because you don’t have to give too much attention to it. You can buy a little present, it’s just as good as a big one. I mean, it’s a harmless, wonderful oasis of positivism in a world gone mad.

LESLEY: Don’t you find that men are more romantic than women? I always forget things like Valentine’s Day — romantic times. I find that my husband — and men in general — are much more attuned to this than women are.

CYNTHIA: Oh, Lesley, I want to know the men you know.

LESLEY: Am I wrong?

CYNTHIA: Oh, God, Aaron has just gone up very high in my esteem.

LESLEY: It’s not just Aaron. The idea that men court women, which they do, must come from the animal kingdom. And I do think that there’s some vestigial thing left over from wherever we came from. There’s a courting thing and Valentine’s Day is part of it. No?

LIZ: You mean where the male flares up to show his feathers?

LESLEY: Yes, that kind of thing. Exactly. I do. I don’t think women are romantic.

CYNTHIA: Really?

LESLEY: Are you romantic?

CYNTHIA: Oh, I’m very romantic. Well, I’m not involved right at the moment, so I’m not … I’m going to see my mother for Valentine’s Day, which is a different kind of heart trip.

LIZ: Oh, that’s sweet.

CYNTHIA: But with my son Spencer, so that’ll be fun. But you know, in the past I must say that I’ve had to drop an awful lot of hints that Valentine’s Day was coming in order to not have a bad feeling, a pouty kind of thing. I guess I didn’t pick very romantic guys. I felt like it was really up to me to plan the candlelight. I notice just from having a ten-year-old boy who’s on the cusp of all of this, I see the girls are much more aggressive with the boys than boys are with the girls. Now maybe that evens out later, but heavens, the boys just seem to be muddling along and the girls are very aggressive.

LESLEY: Well, that’s an age thing. How old is he now?

CYNTHIA: Ten, about 11.

LESLEY: At ten boys think girls are icky, don’t they?

CYNTHIA: And the girls don’t think the boys are — they’re really out there. I mean, heavens.

LESELY: Girls just grow up a little faster.

LIZ: I see something in Lesley’s argument. Valentine’s Day offers a guy a sort of cheap, quick, easy way to be adorable and pleasing, no matter what he does. Just so long as he remembers it, and some of them really come to the fore on Valentine’s Day. One guy in my office never forgets.

CYNTHIA: Really? Gosh.

LIZ: And my former assistant, St. Clair, never fails to send me a Valentine with a big question mark. And so I see Lesley’s point.

LESLEY: I’d drink to that.

CYNTHIA: Oh gosh, I’m going to be more optimistic in the future. This conversation may have changed my life, Lesley.

LESLEY: I go into the office on Valentine’s Day and everybody’s in red and I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just not a very romantic person. I don’t know. I’ll have to go work on myself.

CYNTHIA: I think romanticism comes out of seduction. When men are romantic, it’s because they’re actively engaged in the act of seduction.

LIZ: Can I put the capper on this? There is one thing that has only to do with Valentine’s Day, as we know it in Western civilization. And that is the red, satin heart full of chocolates, invented for men who don’t want to bother, who don’t want to have to spend too much time on this. Every woman who’s ever gotten one knew kind of begrudgingly in her heart that it was a cheap shot; that it wasn’t what she really wanted. But then I was shopping yesterday and I saw all of those hearts, and somebody I was with bought one of them and I thought, “Oh, yeah. OK. Life goes on. That’s it. The Valentine heart.”

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