Chrissie turns to the Twittersphere to crack the elusive question.
I have known about this femme-focused special edition of Sunday Life for a few weeks now and, aware that it "would be nice" to have a column in it that addresses the general vibe of the cover story, have been stewing over the question: what do women want?
For weeks. And I've achieved many things in the lead-up to writing this piece: namely, my house has been cleaned four times, my iPad screen disinfected and polished, two spaghetti sauces have been made from scratch, three bunches of lillies have been trimmed and re-vased, and 14 loads of little-boy clothes have been neatly folded into piles that rival the sale tables at Seed for neatness and cuteness. I have even invented a brown-rice salad recipe. INVENTED ONE.
All to avoid sitting here, as I do now, and contemplating what it is exactly that women want. I don't want to disappoint anyone here – but, hell, I know many of you will be shocked to realise that this fairly ordinary advertising copywriter turned radio announcer turned TV host who is currently also a gestating mother of two does not have the answer.
So stumped was I that I did what any self-respecting researcher would do. I put it out there on Twitter. Now, Roy Morgan I ain't, but the answers I received from other women had a common theme. Grab your highlighter because I'm about to share my findings. And you're not going to want to miss a thing.
In no particular order, what women want is: chocolate and Ryan Gosling. And shoes. And to be able to do a wee without a toddler watching. One woman has one seemingly simple request: for the Offspring actor who plays Dr Patrick, Matt Le Nevez, to hunt a bear and then write her a poem about how sad it made him. That can't be too hard, can it? They study bear poetry at NIDA, don't they?
So actors, Mars Bars and bears. Oh my! And here we were thinking this was a complex question that somehow involved equal rights, respect and the frustratingly popular notion of "having it all". How wrong we were!
Is there anything really wrong in believing that a heady combo of confectionery and brooding actors (and bears) is the key to happiness? Does the answer even have to be so cerebral? Most of the women who responded to my question said they actually couldn't possibly answer it. "Too hard," they said. "Changes every day," they said. "When you figure it out, let me know," they said.
A few men even had a crack. Mostly they were of the "who-the-bloody-hell-knows" opinion, but I did have a perplexing exchange with one guy called Jaxzen.
Me: So, Twitter! What do women want?
Jaxzen: It kinda depends on what it is that they want.
Me: Umm ... yep. That's the question. But thanks for playing, Jaxzen.
Then the real responses came flooding in. Words like "respect" and "love" were pretty popular. "Appreciation" was also big. The more I read, the more I realised that there can never possibly be only one answer.
One woman said what women want is security: not material things, just to be secure in the knowledge that the people in their lives will be there for them. I liked that.
And these: to be loved and respected. To do something that matters to someone. To give back and help. And to occasionally be surprised. The crazy lady within me also identified with this: women want both love and space at the same time and a number of other contradictions that make no sense to anyone else but them.
Is anyone confused? And you thought Jaxzen was a worry.
I was lost in a Twittersphere of Louboutins and lollies, kilojoule-free cakes and Christian Grey when I realised there is actually one answer: happiness. That's the goal ... What makes women happy is so utterly subjective, but the goal is the same. And surprisingly simple. Women want happiness. But how we all achieve that is up to us.
For some, being able to gorge on chocolate cake and never put on weight will bring the holy grail of happiness. For others, it's all about justice at work and home. Each to their own. Scott on Twitter thinks the answer is Chicken Dance. Whatever that means.
You know what I want?
I want to be able to have fun wherever I am.
I want to be able to cook with beautiful ingredients always.
I want to laugh. All. The. Time.
I want to have one holiday every year with my family where we have no plans and nowhere else to be.
I want to watch less television and read more books.
I want to be able to whinge about never being able to be alone any more, then, after someone organises a hotel room voucher for me, I want to spend the evening eating chips (that I don't like) from a cylinder and missing my children to the point of tears. I know that last one doesn't make a huge amount of sense, but I just got the devil in me there ... and I blame Jaxzen.
Chrissie Swan is host of Can of Worms on Channel Ten, and co-host of Mix 101.1's breakfast show in Melbourne and 3pm Pick-Up nationally. She's also a mum of two. Twitter: @chrissieswan.