I facilitated a discussion titled “Desperate Women” at a cafe in The Village tonight. About a dozen people came, some regulars of the weekly Salon and others simply intrigued by the topic. I have a lot of experience leading these community talks and this one proved to be very challenging.

I felt like we never really sunk our teeth into the subject. I was trying to use the ABC hit show Desperate Housewives to launch us into a discussion of what drives women to desperation. But some people were dismayed that we weren’t including desperate men in the discussion and that line of thinking consumed much of the evening. We also had people who were uncomfortable with labeling people “desperate.” While I had expected polarization and some circling around the boundaries of political correctness, I hadn’t anticipated such resistance to the topic itself.

As a feminist, I must confess some discomfort with the term “desperate women.” However, I’ve also witnessed them in action and must say there is something to the stereotype. Is it socialization? Is it the media? Hasn’t this behavior been around forever? Why are so many women desperate for marriage, babies, spacious homes, thin bodies?

The life coach in me wants to take these women one-by-one and help them shift their thinking. It can be done. I know. I’ve done it for myself. That’s not to say I don’t still have my desperate moments; certainly we all do. The first step, though, is recognizing the problem exists.

Judging from what I heard tonight, that won’t be easy.