October 30, 2005

"So was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax?"

Asks Maureen Dowd in an essay (not buried behind TimesSelect!) that agonizes over the dating and marriage prospects of powerful women:
[T]he aroma of male power is an aphrodisiac for women, but the perfume of female power is a turnoff for men. It took women a few decades to realize that everything they were doing to advance themselves in the boardroom could be sabotaging their chances in the bedroom, that evolution was lagging behind equality.
A few years ago at a White House correspondents' dinner, I met a very beautiful and successful actress. Within minutes, she blurted out: "I can't believe I'm 46 and not married. Men only want to marry their personal assistants or P.R. women."
Ah, who needs to get married if you can go to the White House correspondents' dinner and hang out with a beautiful actress!
After I first wrote on this subject, a Times reader named Ray Lewis e-mailed me. While we had assumed that making ourselves more professionally accomplished would make us more fascinating, it turned out, as Lewis put it, that smart women were "draining at times."

Or as Bill Maher more crudely but usefully summed it up to Craig Ferguson on the "Late Late Show" on CBS: "Women get in relationships because they want somebody to talk to. Men want women to shut up."

Women moving up still strive to marry up. Men moving up still tend to marry down. The two sexes' going in opposite directions has led to an epidemic of professional women missing out on husbands and kids.
So I've heard. Doesn't this make the men sound so unappealing that you wouldn't even want to marry them?

(Much more in the article, if you're interested in this sort of thing. It does include a sex tip involving a doughnut... if you're interested in that sort of thing.)

UPDATE: Don't miss the caption contest Drudge is running for the photograph of Dowd that appears with the essay. I'm sure the Althouse commenters can come up with better!


Icepick said...

Ann, have you seen Drudge's bit of snarkiness about the photo of MoDo?

He asks:
Have a better headline for Maureen Dowd's Latest Photo? Send suggestions to drudge@drudgereport.com

And then he has a link to some results:


bearing said...

So let me get this straight: According to MoDo, a man who marries a woman without, say, an advanced degree or a high-paying job, a woman who might plan to, oh, I don't know, care for their children, is a man who is marrying... "down?"

Forgive me if I don't think this exemplifies feminist writing.

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dave said...

Pardon my French, but Dowd is an ass.

Wade Garrett said...

Bearing -- I think you're selling women short. There are plenty of professional women who are great mothers. Do believe that professional women are necessarily less feminine, or less good at raising children is to be a couple of decades behind the times.

I think Dowd's right, I just don't think that this is news to anybody. Something to realize is that professional women tend to have very high standards, and are competing for a small pool of well-educated men, the same men who a lot of far-less-well-educated women are also shooting for. There are professional women who are attracted to professional men for their intellect; there are low-earning women who are attracted to professional men because they have the money to provide for them and for their children. It doesn't work the other way around, in part, I'd imagine, because men don't have biological clocks. Also, a lot of men want to marry a woman who worships them, who will do what they tell them. If you earn a lot of money, then by marrying a secretary or hair stylist or something, somebody who has far less financial independence, you have far more authority in the house.

For my part, I was raised by a professional woman, went to an ivy league college and am now in law school. At this point in my life, I doubt I could be happy dating any non-professional, non-well-educated woman. After living with and befriending so many brilliant women, I couldn't get comfortable with somebody less well-educated and intelligent.

Unknown said...

I think the site 2blowhards.com did a nice piece on recollecting the excesses of feminism in hindsight a month or so ago.


# From Gloria Steinem: "A woman reading Playboy feels a little like a Jew reading a Nazi manual."

# From Betty Friedan: "The feminine mystique has succeeded in burying millions of American women alive."

# From Kate Millet: "The care of children ... is infinitely better left to the best trained practitioners of both sexes who have chosen it as a vocation...[This] would further undermine family structure while contributing to the freedom of women."

# From Susan Griffin, who wrote a book entitled "Rape: The All-American Crime": "If the professional rapist is to be separated from the average dominant heterosexual [male], it may be mainly a quantitative difference."

# From the immortal Shulamith Firestone: "If there were another word more all-embracing than revolution - we would use it."

# Shulamith Firestone, on a roll: "No matter how many levels of consciousness one reaches, the problem always goes deeper. It is everywhere. The division yin and yang pervades all culture, history, economics, nature itself; modern Western versions of sex discrimination are only the most recent layer. To so heighten one's sensitivity to sexism presents problems far worse than the black militant's new awareness of racism: feminists have to question, not just all of Western culture, but the organisation of culture itself, and further, even the very organisation of nature."

# Play it again, Shulamith!: "Just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of the economic class privilege but of the economic class distinction itself, so the end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself."

# From a 1971 document called "The Declaration of Feminism": "The end of the institution of marriage is a necessary condition for the liberation of women. Therefore it is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands and not to live individually with men ... All of history must be re-written in terms of the oppression of women."

# From a 1988 publication put out by the National Organization for Women: "The simple fact is that every woman must be willing to be identified as a lesbian to be fully feminist."

# From Robin Morgan, the editor of Ms. magazine: "I feel that 'man-hating' is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them."

# From Ti-Grace Atkinson (now there's a name from the past!): "The institution of sexual intercourse is anti-feminist."

# From Linda Gordon: "The nuclear family must be destroyed, and people must find better ways of living together. ... Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process ..."

# From Vivian Gornick: "Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession... The choice to serve and be protected and plan towards being a family-maker is a choice that shouldn't be. The heart of radical feminism is to change that."

# From Phyllis Chesler: "[M]ost mother-women give up whatever ghost of a unique and human self they may have when they 'marry' and raise children."

Here are some Kate Milett-isms:

* "However muted its present appearance may be, sexual domination obtains nevertheless as perhaps the most pervasive ideology of our culture and provides its most fundamental concept of power."

* "Many women do not recognize themselves as discriminated against; no better proof could be found of the totality of their conditioning."

* “Homosexuality was invented by a straight world dealing with its own bisexuality.”

Susan Brownmiller on marriage and sex - "The greatest myth of all is the one which tells us that rape is an aberration removed from the ways in which men relate to women emotionally, sexually and physically. Our experiences over the last eight years have shown that rape is the extreme and logical conclusion of this relationship."


Jeff with one 'f' said...

Bill Maher just wants women, and everyone else in earshot of him, to shut up. Yet somehow I can't picture Dowd in a relationship with a man who was wittier than her (not to hard to fid) or just as self-centered (where ya gonna go?).

Roger Simon has hosted a discussion of the same article. As I posted there:

Dowd's beef is with men who are her peers or betters, status-wise. Period. I rather doubt that she tried her luck dating a high school english teacher who found her "intelligence" attractive, or a male nurse, etc. I wonder why?

Seinfeld outlines one of the fundamental differences between men and women in a more succint manner than Dowd:

JERRY: Women need to like the job of the guy they're with. If they don't like the job, they don't like the guy. Men know this. Which is why we make up the phony, bogus names for the jobs that we have. "Well, right now, I'm the regional management supervisor." "I'm in development, research, consulting."

Men on the other hand, if they are physically attracted to a woman are not that concerned with her job. Are we? Men don't really care. Men'll just go, "Really? Slaughterhouse? Is that where you work? That sounds interesting. So whatdya got a big cleaver there? You're just lopping their heads off? That sounds great! Listen, why don't you shower up, and we'll get some burgers and catch a movie."

EddieP said...

For my part, I was raised by a professional woman, went to an ivy league college and am now in law school. At this point in my life, I doubt I could be happy dating any non-professional, non-well-educated woman. After living with and befriending so many brilliant women, I couldn't get comfortable with somebody less well-educated and intelligent.

Terrence, meet Maureen

EddieP said...

My caption:

"Another boilermaker Maureen?

Unknown said...

To me it looks like Dowd is chatting up Dan Rather.

bearing said...

Terence: Bearing -- I think you're selling women short. There are plenty of professional women who are great mothers.

Hey, I'm not saying they're not. Heck, I have a PhD and my kids seem to be turning out just fine (though to call me professional would be, um, inaccurate.)

What I'm saying is that the idea of "marrying down" is out-of-date... period... and you can't tell me that she isn't selling non-professional women short.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Terrance said: "For my part, I was raised by a professional woman, went to an ivy league college and am now in law school. At this point in my life, I doubt I could be happy dating any non-professional, non-well-educated woman. After living with and befriending so many brilliant women, I couldn't get comfortable with somebody less well-educated and intelligent."

I'd be a little less proud of being a snob.

Dowd uses "intelligence" as a stand-n for money and status. Men aren't put off by intelligent women but are put off by women who are substantially more successful than they are, career-wise and money-wise.

The point is that Dowd and her fellow-travellers want men that are their peers or better. Unlike most men, she wouldn't lower herself to date a well-educated but less successful man. She is a victim of her own snobbery.

Ann Althouse said...

Jeff: You don't know that Dowd would not consider such men. She's not talking about herself here but a large number of women and what is in fact a big social problem. Personal remarks about Dowd are kind of beside the point to me.

Mr. Bungle: A lot of people have said a lot of things about feminism. You could collect the 20 ugliest quotes about any subject. Take something you care about -- your religion? -- and think how easy it would be to find the 20 worst quotes. It's kind of amusing, but it's not really responsive.

Ed said...

Dowd might be agonizing over her dating and marriage prospects for a very good reason: the essay is taken from her soon-to-be-published book "Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide".

Gee, MoDo, if you don't even think us men are necessary, then don't be surprised that we don't bother wasting our time with you.

Gerry said...

"that agonizes over the dating and marriage prospects of powerful women"

The sad part of the articles of this type that MoDo writes on an agonizingly frequent basis is that she obviously imagines herself as one, and she really is not.

Icepick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Icepick said...

Mr. Bungle, I started to read the quotes you had amassed and my eyes rolled up into my head. Fortunately, falling out of my chair and hitting the floor pulled me out of my stupor. Warn people next time, will ya?

The funny thing is that so many women only want to marry up, but they're offended by men that marry down. Something is deeply askew....

XWL said...

Why do I get the feeling that the real audience for this piece is one person.

This is just an open letter to her mother.

The message being, 'get off my back Ma, I'd marry, but there just aren't any men GOOD enough for me'.

(the subtext being that 'see Ma, I'm not a freak, I'm part of a social phenomena')

and the caption I'm emailing to drudge:

"The shoes, oh those, Judy Miller and I just finished a scene for a new episode of Red Shoes Diaries"

tommy said...

I suspect there are a lot of things at work here and that the issue is being over analyzed. There are people of all economic and social backgrounds that are unmarried not by choice. So are we to assume that all of them would be married if their education level were different? If you aren't an attractive partner to those you are trying to attract, more education is unlikely to significantly change the issue, outside of the possibility of increased income.

Brendan said...

Dowd, the Times' resident snot, is simply trying to rationalize her spinster status.

Maybe it's not your so-called "intelligence," sweetie. Maybe it's YOU.

Google HiJacked My Site said...

I want to know why Ann gets such great intelligent responses to her posts and I get nothing but liberal horse flies over @ my site?


tiggeril said...

One of feminism's biggest failures was to leave "spinster" in the lexicon. Ugh.

Allah said...

My submissions to Drudge:

1. "STOP OBJECTIFYING M-- Oh, all right. Go ahead."

2. This month in AARP Magazine: Mixing alcohol with medication -- is it ever okay?

Jeff with one 'f' said...


I'm basing my characterization of Dowd's standards on my reading of her article, plus things that I've read about her predilection for powerful men. Scant evidence, of course, but what the hey. I don't know Dowd personally, of course, but I'm exposed to more than few of her kind here in New York.

I'm aware that the issue at hand is a problem; I've posted comments about this issue in general many times here and at other sites. I think that you even featured a letter of mine on the topic of dating doctors awhile back.

The issue of men avoiding women of greater status is real and growing. So is the stigmatization of men who do form relationships with more powerful women: freeloader at best, kept man at worst.

One of my closest friends, a professional 30 year-old woman, put it to me like this just two days ago:

"Jeff, my sister loves you as a friend and thinks you're great, but if you wanted to date her she would think of you differently; she'd say you were a loser who made less money than her!"

(This was apropos the general attitude of professional Gen-X women in NY, not me trying to date her sister!).

Note that this is all about status and money, NOT intelligence. It's about the double standard of women who want to have the cake of their own status while eating the cake of their man's greater status (to stretch a metaphor)!

Allah said...

Well said, Jeff. My experience is much the same as yours. In fact, a female acquaintance of mine told me not long ago that she refuses to date men below her income bracket -- because, she claims, they have a problem with their woman earning more than they do.

I strongly suspect the problem is hers, not theirs.

Ann Althouse said...

Tiggeril: Some feminists have claimed the word "spinster" as a positive one. I note that it goes well with life on the Web. You're spinning the web, you're spinning politics...

MD said...

Hmmm, just because a successful, well-educated woman wants to date, er, 'down' (as we are calling it) doesn't mean she can so easily do that. Or so this woman is told.

This is the kind of topic that used to interest me, and now I don't give a sh*t. Try it ladies. It's awesome. Oh, I'm not talking about stupid Sex and the City try-on-a-different-man-for-size garbage; I mean, be a spinster. Rock it. Write and paint and drive cars fast and golf and take your companies earnings through the roof, climb mountains, ask that nice guy home for dinner, and if he gets all thirties/forties-guy wierd (it's just dinner, relax Prince Charming), ignore him and make that fabulous meal anyway and savor it. Really. Life is amazing, innit? Ok, so you don't get everything in life that you dreamed of, but, so? Quite whining. It's boring.

*I may, or may not, be entirely serious here :)

KaneCitizen said...

My (hypertext-)caption entry:

Maureen Dowd

More Endowed

Unknown said...

All this “up” and “down” stuff bugs me. Sure, if you're an attractive, smart woman at the very top of her profession, making a considerable amount of money (like Ms. Dowd or our hostess here) and what you find attractive in a man is one who's more attractive, smarter, more competent, and making more money than you, the pool of candidates will be very, very small. And why should such a paragon be interested in you?

Add to that that lots of men are insecure (and why not?) and you can see where she's coming from.

I was fortunate (or cursed depending on how you look at it) to have been reared in a home with four beautiful, brilliant, competent sisters by a beautiful, brilliant, competent mother. My wife is beautiful (to me), smart but probably not as smart as I am, at least as competent as I am, and makes more money than I do. So, who married “up”?

MD said...

Oh, and to answer your question, yes, I think a lot of successful, single women think: "is that all I'm gonna get? Ok, then. I'm fine single."

Nothing wrong with being picky as long as you are willing to live with the results of pickiness.

CM said...

Doesn't this make the men sound so unappealing that you wouldn't even want to marry them?

Thank you! This is exactly what I think when I read articles like this (also: any article referring to men buying cows).

I think this is a generational thing. Laugh at feminists all you want, but thirty years ago Americans did not take it for granted that men and women were equal. Now we do. And none of my friends -- male or female -- have had any problem finding relationships with their peers. I think our attitudes about gender equality continue to improve -- which, of course, doesn't help you much if you're in your forties or fifties.

Tom Nally said...

In the entertainment industry, it seems that marriage rarely occurs without a subsequent divorce. So, while the actress claims to want marriage, what she will most likely end up with is a marriage/divorce. Since the end state of that experience is her current state anyway, she oughta just avoid all that hassle that takes place in the middle.

---Tom Nally, New Orleans

Adriana Bliss said...

I suppose I'm in the "proof's in the pudding," crowd. My successful female friends have a hard time finding male companionship. The men seem to run at the sight of nice cars, nice houses and a busy lifestyle that isn't theirs. Beautiful, intelligent, fun women go unattached beyond their baby-making years. The men that got away? High track record of marrying women who were non-professional, or non-working. We don't know what the problem is, but it's real. I had the same problem until I met my husband who was much older than me - his maturity allowed him to actually WANT someone who was as successful (if not potentially moreso) as he was.

Sally said...

Jeff, Eddie P,

Why so hard on Terrence? One would think he just said that he'd only marry a woman with big bazoongas from your responses. What's wrong with being attracted to an intellectually equal/successful partner?

For those who are criticizing this article as sexist or snobbish, I think you are missing the point, which is not that women who are nurses/secretaries/mommies/highschool grads or state school grads are lesser than their more career successful and ivy educated sisters. The point is that men are threated by a woman's success and education to the point where it becomes a turn off and these women have difficulty finding suitable partners (which doesn't necessarilly mean they would say nay to the high school english teacher).

And yes, Bill Maher is an outstandingly ugly pig when it comes to women. Ick.

Allah said...

A female friend of mine once took a poll in college of the guys she knew. The question: "What profession would you prefer your wife to have?"

Most popular answer: "Schoolteacher."

Make of it what you will.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Ms Bliss,

But did his maturity prevent him marrying a woman of his own age?

Or did you run from the sight of men who LACKED "nice cars, nice houses and a busy lifestyle"?

Sally said...


But people crave human relationships and sexually intimate connections. Are you faulting these women for wanting that, and trying to analyze what is contributing to their aloneness?

MD said...

Allicent, no. I'm saying that even if you try hard in life, sometimes, despite your best efforts, you don't get all that you deserve or need. What then? I'm more sympathetic than my comments may seem. What I am saying is that you have to make a life for yourself, somehow. I work in a hospital. I see what I see. It's so fragile, this life, and I am not going to waste any of it, you know? That's all I'm saying.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Terrence got it in the neck because he was tooting his own horn as being more-enlightened-than-thou. Also being sure to mention that he was an Ivy Leaguer in law school and would only consider the cream of the crop for himself, while congratulating himself on how enlightened he was.

The gist of all of this is that elite women want elite men only. They somehow find it beneath contempt for men to mate with lesser status women; gone unspoken is the unsuitability of lesser status men for elite women.

The whole thing reeks of some kind of aristocratic horror of miscegenation and blue-state elitism. Non-elites are less intelligent and somehow childlike, it's simply unethical to manipulate the poor creatures into bearing the children of successful men, don't you know.

And as for the elite women to actually marry the gardener, well it simply isn't done in polite society, my dear! It's all well and good for a fling, but one must think of one's position in society. What would the neighbors think?

Synova said...

Can we at least agree that education does not equal intelligence? And that ambition does not equal intelligence? (or trustworthiness or anything else)

What I see is not women saying "I want someone as smart as me" but rather "I want someone as sucessful as me."

And I believe that I *do* blame the feminist movement... for all that it was necessary in so many ways, it's told women that they must be (or at least ought to desire to be) materially successful. Well, sure, if that's what they want, but what happens is that this is portrayed not as a choice of how to live but as an objective Virtue. Success ends up as a measurment of Virtue.

My brother dated several successful, intelligent women. He's a bright guy... really very bright. But an office job would kill him. So were these ladies concerned with his work ethic? Were they concerned about what kind of a father he would be? Did they try to ferret out his underlying assumptions about fidelity? Did they judge him on how comfortable *he* seemed with their success?

No. They judged him by *their* values... which were based on material success.

And he's better off without them.

His wife is a nice lady who doesn't see anything lacking in someone who is hardworking and faithful, funny and smart and who loves her.

MD said...

Jeff, that is so not true. The women I know who are in their thirties and forties, single, successful, don't mind dating men who are not as 'elite' as they are. You are placing this all on the women, and that is not fair. I was being a bit flippant in my earlier comments because I get so tired of single women being portrayed as dopey or pathetic. They are not. Neither are single men.

Here's something to chew on: do you think women feel less compatible with men who are less educated, while men don't have trouble feeling compatible with women less educated? Note, I use the word compatible - not looking down on, or thinking he is beneath her. I just mean that clicking with each other thing?

(Actually, of the women I know who are doctors who are married to male nurses, etc, well, it's usually people outside the marriage who may make snide comments. Why do people do that in this day and age?)

Ann Althouse said...

Dave: "And why should such a paragon be interested in you?" I agree! It will be way more difficult! Marrying "down" is a rational strategy for getting better treatment, right? How hard it is to have a relationship with someone who can easily get along without you. What sort of man would want that?

Richard Fagin said...

An ACTRESS? A COLUMNIST (and a really bad one at that!)? Please! Carly Fiorina, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Libby Dole, heck even Hillary Clinton - none of them seemed to have husband finding problems. If I could remember the name of that hottie that was a senior VP at Enron (way before the scandal and not part of it) I'd have included her name, too. Maybe it's because all those are genuinely accomplished women, rather than self-absorbed whiners such as actresses and bad colunmists.

Sally said...

MD -

I understand now - your statement is more general and philosophical in regard to accepting life as it comes. However, I think sometimes "complaining" can have purpose.

Jeff -

Again, what is wrong with mentioning that one is an Ivy Leaguer and interested in dating well-educated and intelligent women?

Brendan said...

The men that got away? High track record of marrying women who were non-professional, or non-working. We don't know what the problem is, but it's real.

That's because men are willing to date up and down the education/income spectrum but women aren't. Dowd is still a good looking woman, and I can only guess that she was even more beautiful in her prime. Therefore, I find it hard to believe she didn't have a marriage offer or two. Bottom line: she's alone because she wants to be alone.

PG said...

Marrying "down" is a rational strategy for getting better treatment, right? How hard it is to have a relationship with someone who can easily get along without you. What sort of man would want that?

Speaking of men's buying cows, when I was thinking about this I was reminded of The Rules's guide on how to get a good man, which does pretty much follow Althouse's tongue-in-cheek remark.

Also, I remember Dowd's covering this ground before, and Althouse's being more sympathetic to her at the time. Though this essay is far more witless than that column was, and Dowd's generalizations about women in their 20s -- perhaps I only have feminist friends, but I don't recognize my peers in her depiction.

Synova said...

Because of the implied value put on "Ivy League" and "well-educated."

"Smart" I'll give you, free and clear.

(My husband and I solved the smart problem... I firmly believe he's smarter than I am, and he firmly believes that I'm smarter than him.)

But the other qualifiers are pretty much equal to saying that you'd like to date someone from old money, preferably, or from a good family. Because at that point it's not the "smart" any longer, or even the common interests, it's the trappings.

Intelligent ladies (and men for that matter) go to ordinary schools all the time. They make choices constrained by finances every day... can't go to law school? Maybe a teaching certificate is possible... or a CPA vo-tech course.

The thing about this whole conversation is that "down" is presented as a word that has meaning.

Sara (Pal2Pal) said...

So, an IQ of over 160, 3 patents and 2 published books to your credit, a 30 year career where you started at the bottom and rose to managing the department doesn't count because you dropped out of college due to an unplanned pregnancy but chose to become a mother rather than a murderer and have no undergrad degree nor advanced degree to brag about, makes you off limits to the "educated & powerful" contingent of men. Phooey! The powerful and smart men I know say they want most of all to be around a woman who they don't have to "on" with 24/7.

Jeff with one 'f' said...


I don't know anyone, male or female, that wants a
dumber mate, but everyone that I know (here in NYC) is grappling with status questions when it comes to dating.

I know several single women who are frustrated by the paradox of finding that they are attracted to men whose lack of material success renders them unsuitable (to them) for the purposes of marriage, while not finding successful guys attractive on the level of personality.

All of my girlfriends have had careers in intelligent
but low-paying work: social workers, librarians,
children's book editors, school teachers. Many had
master's degrees, which I lack, a few were objectively smarter than I am. As a rule they are less concerned with material status, but even they were concerned with the sacrifices they knew would come from"settling" for guy who made the same salary as they did. Not to mention a guy who made less!

I feel like a broken record here, but the issue isn't intelligence but STATUS. Not even money, but status. A plumbing-supply millionaire with no pedigree will not rate, while a high profile but only upper-middle class income making professor might.

I don't blame women for this state of affairs, entirely, but I do blame women like Dowd who want to jhave their cake and eat it too. You can't have equality AND chivalry. I'm reminded of a friend of mine, a chef, whose college girlfriend worked in advertising. SHe was on the fast track and warned him that if his career didn't keep pace with hers, she wouldn't stay around very long.

The result: he's a still (just a) chef, his girlfriend left him for the reasons stated, and he's dating a bartender now.

Until ambitious women become attracted to unambitious men these things will not change. Not unintelligent men, not unkind men, not selfish, immature men, but unsuccessful, unambitious men.

That would require women being fine with working all day while their husband stays at home doing some light housework, shopping, and playing Xbox until it's time to make dinner for the Wife. Find that attractive? Could you look up to him? No? Why?

Continental Drift said...

I think the problem is that the woman wonders about what her friends/family etc. would think if she married someone less wealthy/succesful etc.

For centuries men "married-down" (defined as mating with someone less intelligent/succesful than yourself). But women refuse to do that. To that I say "tough."

Wade Garrett said...

ytOh, did I take it in the neck? Is that what that was? Funny, I haven't heard any women call me a snob for saying that!
I wasn't judging women who are not well educated. I don't think I'm being a snob when I say that, based on my experiences and reflections, I do not think I could date many of them.

Some people consider a serious reader to be somebody who reads John Grisham novels. Is it snobby to want to date somebody who considers serious reading to be something other than that?

During the 2004 presidential campaign, I was shocked to find that many of the women who I worked with, who were not college graduates, were basing their political votes on such criteria as who was better-looking, who they thought they would want to baby sit for their kids, and other criteria like that, all of which I considered to be absurd. The only policy positions I heard anybody discuss seemed to be based more on what they had heard from attack ads than from anything else.

At that point, I realized that I was holding everybody to a higher standard -- I was sort of hoping that everybody would discuss politics and literature and films at a level I was accustomed to.

Its not that looks and so forth are unimportant to me, its just that I've been around so many really smart women in my life that I feel a letdown when I'm with women who aren't that smart. If feeling that way makes me a snob, or an asshole, then go ahead and call me an asshole.

Knowing what I know now, I pretty much only see myself being happy dating with a woman who is a teacher, lawyer, doctor, businesswoman, etc . . . or else who is studying to be the same. Almost all of my female friends are in one of those groups, and that's who I see myself being happiest with. I think that a lot of professional guys feel the same way.

Bruce Hayden said...

I have always preferred accomplished, intelligent, women, I think primarily because my father is convinced to this day that he managed to marry a woman smarter and more accomplished than he. He has always been proud of that - though I am not sure how accurate the intelligence side is.

That said, I do agree with the status thing over income to some extent. But, rich women have just as much, if not more problem than do women with high status or income jobs. If the money is the woman's to start with (or, really from her family), then in most cases (obviously, not the Hilton sisters) many seem to go out of their way to hide it. Many times, you wouldn't know if you weren't connected in with their families somehow.

But I always found it interesting that in many of these families it seemed like the guys would use their money to buy a trophy wife, while their sisters would hide the fact that they had anything, and end up running from most guys they met.

Hecla Ma said...

Maureen is recycling herself. She told the "beautiful actress" story back in January, when she was writing that men only wanted to marry their mommys and spent her column trashing women who did girly things, even as professionals. This poor woman. She is so sad.

MD said...

Jeff, fascinating point. I think that's true. It's hard for some driven woman to find a man who is not driven, attractive. I suppose that is a part of it. So be it. (And you know, not being catty, well ok, a little catty, women sometimes do think men have married beneath them, and discuss it in such terms. Like, isn't it a shame that such a smart man is married to such a dumb shrill, or something like that. I said it was catty. Sorry)

Anyway, I stand by my original comment on how to live life gracefully. You can't have everything, no one can, but you can make the most of what you've got and you can really enjoy this life, if you are so inclined.

Sally said...


If you live in NYC I know the "power vultures" Conde Naste babes that you are speaking of. But that's not the whole story - those women don't speak for us all and are a minority. Most women just want to find their soul mate, or just a rather good companion.

And thanks to men like Terrence (and my husband!) for valuing women with talent/education/intelligence. The one man that I dated who was less intelligent/well educated than myself was terribly insecure about it, and actually grew to insult my interests in art and literature. This is not uncommon. My Ivy Leauge graduate friend dated a man who worked in a record store and was set to marry him, except for the constant bickering that developed due to this man's competitiveness with her. Well educated women deal with this all the time - men feel emasculated by successful/intelligent women.

amba said...

That essay by Dowd was shockingly badly written, I thought. And callow, as if it was written by a refugee from a '50s Rona Jaffe novel. It's so depressing to see accomplished women fall back into this kind of retro whining.

Again by contrast it makes me think of my friend Dalma's new book DRAMA KINGS, which is so exhilarating in its assertion that women aren't waiting around for men, much as they love them; they're marrying life.

The excerpt posted here begins with a quote from historian Francesca Cancian: "When they are unhappy, women usually think they need more love, but the objective evidence suggests that they need more independence." The chapter goes on:

"Marriage statistics are telling: Two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by the wife! . . . Here's another statistic: Single women are far less depressed than married women. And single men are far more depressed than married men. . . . Marriage isn't just an institution . . . it's as male an institution as the NFL."

I'd love to hear what the traditional husbands here have to say about it , . .

amba said...

She means something quite different from Ti-Grace Atkinson and Shulamith Firestone, however. My choice quotes may be misleading. Read or at least glance at the excerpt before you write her off as one of "them."

EddieP said...

Obviously Maureen can't find a man who is good enough for her and wants her!

A hypothetical: I don't know Ann Althouse nor Maureen Dowd, but based on their writings Ann is far and away the one I'd want to be around and have around me.

Ron said...

MoDo captions:

"Sorry Mr. Friedman, no embeds in my Sunni triangle"

"German? Ja, baby...
French? Oui, oui, but of course...
American? What are you, some kinda pervert?"

"I see Miller and Libby as Stanwyck and McMurtry in the Beltway remake of 'Double Indemnity'."

john(lesser) said...

Somehow western birthrates figure into this discussion.

Unknown said...

Anne said Mr. Bungle: A lot of people have said a lot of things about feminism. You could collect the 20 ugliest quotes about any subject. Take something you care about -- your religion? -- and think how easy it would be to find the 20 worst quotes. It's kind of amusing, but it's not really responsive.

Your absolutely right - point taken.

James said...

I usually delight in making fun of Maureen Dowd for the way she writes, regardless of whether I agree or not with whatever she's trying to say.
But I can't really do that with this. It comes off as just a bit too personal. If I was her age, with my marital status (or lack therof) affecting a lot of my worldview and not sure why things are how they are, I might ramble on about it, too.

I think there's no simple answer to the larger issues. Everyone knows men and women who either fit the stereotypes or don't, or are between the two extremes. For instance, I can certainly understand how men could feel that a high-powered woman might feel (or come across) as being beyond men. Their success speaks more as "I don't need men" rather than "I can do anything a man can" or whatever.

I think for both men and women, too, it's a struggle to both enjoy the challenge of having a partner who is your equal or better intellectually, while not letting that drive you crazzy. Conversely, as nice as it is to get a superiority complex from being around lesser-intelligent, accomplished, etc. people, it can also leave you feeling bored and unfulfilled.
At the least, MoDo's going on and on about it shows she's doing one thing right: she's talking about her issues with these problems and paradoxes. Even if it's doubtful as to whether she's making any progress.

Richard Roe said...

Here's an interesting counterpoint.

wildaboutharrie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wildaboutharrie said...

Richard, what I find so interesting about that article is the idea of scheduling one's life, like the 30 something woman looking around and thinking, "Dear God! I forgot to have children!". Am I the only disorganized woman around here? I was always willing to fall in love, but it didn't happen until I was in my 30s. Now here I am, 39, mad about my husband, raising an infant and a toddler, taking a break from teaching to stay at home.

I shudder to think what would have happened if I had married in my 20s. Believe me, I was no way near ready. And in my family, of those who married in their 20s, two are divorced and one is on the brink.

I gather my experience isn't typical, and I was extremely lucky to find love at my age and to still have the eggs to make, and the energy to care for, babies.

I wish Maureen Dowd all the luck. Lonliness is a terrible thing. I understand that many here dislike her for her politics or her writing style, and sure, go ahead and critique her views on feminism, but Lord - why be so harsh when she's being vulnerable about her personal struggles? Throttle back.

Doug Strunk said...

There's a saying that could apply to Dowd. It's some variation this:

"If you're ticked off at more than three people, maybe you're the problem."

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

Speaking for myself, Men are put off by women who replace character, personality and humility with the status-objects of wealth and material.

In other words, Women who use their money as a cudgel in the battle of the sexes might try to quit overcompensating for percieved deficits in "equality" and simply respond to Men who act toward them in a loving manner.

Tommyboy said...

I'm a 36 year old male attorney. I'm a shareholder in a large firm. I have dated plenty of women like Dowd. My personal experience has been that this type of woman has no interest in a partnership or equality. They want to dominate the relationship.

After dating several of these women and maintaining contact with them, I've witnessed them take up and rudely discard men that they think are "losers" because they don't make enough money or don't have enough status.

I have friends married to "successful" women and to the last I find myself uncomfortably witnessing their wives use their financial status to humiliate, degrade and dominate their husbands.

Why on Earth would I want to marry this type of a woman? So she can place her career above family? So I can worry about her sleeping around at the office with the managaing partner? What if I lost my job? She'd be long gone......

The only regret I have is that I wasted my time on career oriented women and didn't give nice, decent, caring women that would be excellent companions and mothers to my children more than a second look.....I hope its not too late for me.

KCFleming said...

Only one person posting here has it right. Despite all her claims to enlightened feminism, Dowd is beholden to the ancient and unavoidable dominance of status in heterosexual relationships.

It's almost endearing, but mostly sad, how she waxes on about "the aroma" of power. This biological imperative has long been recognized, certainly, and it's funny that she thinks feminism can somehow override biology. Magical thinking is not really all that intelligent, I might add, being a common finding among three-year-olds.

Other comments have discussed how the absence of marriage is no big deal, and quite alot of fun, compared to marriage and kids. In fact, in the US and the EU, people are foregoing having children in favor of "embracing life," essentially exalting individual life experiences over reproduction. As the demographic decline in the EU demonstrates, Western societies are slowly dissolving for this reason. What does it say about a society that it is unwilling to reproduce itself?

Among other things, one can say, "goodbye."

wildaboutharrie said...

Here here! Take the high road!

wildaboutharrie said...

Whoops - a lag in post time. My last now makes no sense in the thread.

The Snob said...

See, the problem is Maureen has it backwards. It's not men who are hung up on dating more successful women, it's women who are hung up on dating less powerful men.

California Conservative said...

What? You mean Carly Fiorina (of former HP stardom) doesn't exude the kind of warmth and maternal goodness that would make her attractive to men?


All you need is a crop and leather skirt.

But in all seriousness, the key word is maternal. Woman can have full equality. Just like men, they can have recreational sex and not get married. Sex in the city.

But nature, not man, has created the ultimate difference: a woman's biological clock. If women pursue career and put off marriage beyond the point of having children, they are less inclined to find a man who wants to start a family.

Thus, feminists have the equality to be bachelors for life.

Salt Lick said...

I don't know much, but I do know one particular secret I would share with Ms. Dowd -- love is an act of will, not the mystical coming together of two people perfectly matched. There are obviously a few people unsuited for each other, but on the whole, you can build a happy, satisfying marriage with one of millions of people. I think the failure of many men and women to accept the compromises necessary to love a person, not just THE person, is the starting point for Dowd's malaise. If you are looking for fun and good times and someone who will always appreciate you for your brilliant accomplishments and personality, you aren't ready for the hard work of building a marriage, or really of any long-term relationship.

wildaboutharrie said...

Nicely put, Salt Lick.

Another angle on this article I find amusing is the "rediscovery" of throwing some mystique into the art of courtship. Why did this ever go out of style? It's one (questionable) thing to have an agenda while looking to fall in love - it's quite another to share it on the first date.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AllenS said...

On Halloween years ago, I tricked or treated at MoDo's house. I had on my Nixon mask, and I still have the little Snickers bar with the ten inch nail in it.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

A wonderful discussion, despite the running theme of bile.

A paradox: If you are very ready to analyze your relationships along the continua of status, money, dominance, etc, you have just stumbled on the reason for your reduced chances.

But also, if you DON'T analyze your relationships in terms of such things, you will likely end up following the stereotype.

What Dowd is describing is what happens when both parties want to dominate the relationship. One party, often the male, has better options than a lifetime of struggle. End of relationship.

I'm not sure I qualify as a traditional husband, but more that than non-traditional, so I'll have a go at amba's question.

I challenge Francesca Cancian's stats about depression and independence, because I think several things are being measured at once in both instances. But, granting for the moment that it is at least partly true, A) I suspect it is because women tend to take more responsibility for how a relationship is going. A bad one will wear them out first. B) Women's words and actions about what they are seeking in a relationship don't match. (Men also, but that's not the discussion here)

a man on the hill. said...

Caption for photo:

"I am ... a ... snarky ... hag."

Pyrthroes said...

Years ago, when LBJ was still ramping and rutting through the DC seraglios, someone reported that his success as Senate Majority Leader reflected an excellent ability to judge character.
And how did LBJ go about this exquisitely nuanced project? He would ask a person's friends, "Did his mother Marry Up, or Marry Down?" We all know what he meant... an "up" mother meant paternal dominance, delivering independent, tough-minded offspring with whom LBJ would have to deal. A "down" mother meant maternal dominance, resulting in wimps that the Master of the Senate could easily roll.

Before scuffing up clouds of PCBS, ask yourself in all seriousness whether LBJ was not a better sociologist in his sphere than a gaggle of academics pussy-footing around the world's reality. One thing about Dowd and her ilk: Their "marriage" will not be to any husband, but as raging narcissists only to themselves. Anyone with a halfway decent sense of family, hoping for children of accomplishment, will avoid them like the plague. I might add, that many a physically attractive female, once you get to know her, has all the intellectual and moral appeal of a rotting stump in Okeechobee.

Maddad said...

Maybe she'd have better luck if she went out and got herself a boob job.

I kid, I kid. . .

puck said...

Live, from the menopause lounge...

Impchucker said...

Isn't part of the problem here that men who would like to marry intelligent and successful women, by the time they get to their thirties or forties, already have? Most of my friends went to elite colleges and married people they met there.

boxingalcibiades said...

That's a bit of an insult to Okeechobee.

Traditional husband here.
I married the woman who is now my wife because out of all the women with whom I was involved, several of whom were quite ready to go for the sort of highly untraditional options popular with both theoretical feminists and callous young men, she was the one I could see myself still having fascinating conversations with when our children were out of the house and Sunday afternoons began to be measured with coffee spoons.

What does Ms. Dowd offer? For a person who prides herself upon her supposed insight, judging by her incredibly abstracted and surface appraisal of men's motivations, she appears to have an astonishingly banal understanding of who men are.

I don't know, and frankly don't care, what the supposed elites of NYC call these women, but down here in unenlightened, heavily-armed Texas, we have a word for ladies like these. And if a man decides that he really wants to marry a gold-digger, then he knows ahead of time that he's not investing in the woman for any of her personal or emotional qualities -- because these women have none, or at least, none you can't buy in a discrete, well-appointed house, available by the evening. Given that, why *not* find a gold-digger who is at least likely to be young, socially compliant, and emotionally untroublesome?

RTG said...

There is about 5% of the single population who has no trouble at all getting a date. The other 95% all have some reason why his or her demographic is singly disadvantaged in finding a good partner.

I don’t know how enlightening personal experience is, but I suppose it’s all we have to go on, and mine is that there is no shortage of men who are willing to date a more successful woman. My wife is in medical school, and when I mentioned to a group of my friends (none of whom have an advanced degree, or are in a graduate program) that her class was having a party at a local bar they jumped at the opportunity. The problem isn’t a lack of men who fit the profile of, “willing to date a more successful woman,” the problem is a lack of a social mechanism to connect such men to corresponding successful women.

Additionally I think there is a confounding of the ideas of: (1) being “uncomfortable with more successful women,” and (2) a desire to go through some of the traditional courtship rituals of our society. The later can often be mistaken for the former, because our society’s traditional courtship rituals reflect a history of men courting less affluent women. The best example of this is probably “taking the bill.” Part of “taking a woman out” in our society is paying for diner (or the show, movie, etc), a man who wants to do this isn’t necessarily uncomfortable with a “more successful” woman, they’re just following part of our society’s courtship tradition.

Can these clashes between tradition and modern society create difficulties? Sure, but that’s no reason to claim that all, or nearly all, men, are uncomfortable with successful women. Throwing up your hands and blaming your dating difficulties on broad external forces, like “men can’t deal with successful women,” doesn’t solve anything. New social structures require creative solutions, but it’s nothing intelligent people can’t work their way through.

KCFleming said...

Dowd is simply journalism's version of Courtney Love, singing, "I want to be the girl with the most cake," kvetching because she didn't get the best piece (or even the whole cake).

RogerA said...

All I want to marry is a woman who won't ever ask me what I am thinking.

Isn't it great fun to make fun of MODO? She's such a juvenile writer and thinker--And, of course, she possesses no absolute moral authority.

ottotex said...

Well, as a country boy I find all this erudite conversation pretty dazzling. It does seem to me to make more sense that rather than worry so much about finding the right person, perhaps one should be more concerned with making sure that you are at your best for when that person comes along. After all, taking care of something you can control is more sensible than fretting about that which you can't.

amba said...


"Isn't part of the problem here that men who would like to marry intelligent and successful women, by the time they get to their thirties or forties, already have?"

Impchucker, absolutely. Women who, for whatever reasons (ambitious, neurotic, divorced) are "out there" looking for a partner in their 30s or 40s are dating a pool of men who, for whatever reasons of their own, are unfit for, inept at or uninterested in committed relationships. My friend the author dated a collection of such oddballs and only found her loving husband in her 40s because his wife had died of cancer. He was a warm and bonding kind of guy and wouldn't have lasted 6 months single. It really was like getting struck by lightning.

But: there is nothing sadder than a man who finds himself alone in his 50s.

Charles said...

Marrying up or down? What ever happened in her world to marrying for love? I suppose such an archiac concept belongs to the Patriarchy and would never occur to her. I found this another unamusing rant of poor her and found myself skipping huge tracts of boring self pity. And I missed the doughnut thing, so it must have been in the boring part - all 7 pages of it. I also see she is recycling her columns since the White House story has been used at least once before in her work recently.

Otis Wildflower said...




Jeff Faria said...

So Dowd can't get a date, and it's because men are assholes. OK, I think that's been pretty well exposed.

Do men prefer to date their assistants? Let's see, a man has a choice between a woman who shows him understanding, kindness and support all day... or a shrill Maureen Dowd type who is clearly NOT on his side, but judging and competing with him every minute. I'm guessing he heads for those comforting arms. But let's get a dig in and say it's because he's not threatened by her, or because she's younger.

No wonder she's not even smiling in that picture.

And Maher? Is anyone out there taking relationship advice from Bill Maher?

knox said...

I haven't experienced what Dowd is complaining about. I don't know if that's because of my age (and men in my generation aren't as scared of accomplished women)... or if it's the exalted social circles she travels in, which are undoubtedly full of ultra-powerful men (and these men will always tend to go for the trophy wife).

Anyway, the feminist movement was pretty much for women, not men. ... there's no way to make men like it or force them to change. In any case, if it is true for older women, then it's a sad statement about men!

Marcus said...

Well - one final observation. I recall reading, a long while back, and no, I can't recall the source, that the single most telling characteristic for a successful long term relationship was equality in intelligence. (Note: not necessarily education)

So, it's OK to be of average, or even below average intelligence, so long as you marry neither "up" or "down" on the IQ spectrum.

However, it seems that many folks marry for reasons other than that - to wit, power, status, fame, or money.

Seems to me that a further problem with hard-charging, ambitious women marrying similar men is that when each is giving priority to their career path, it leaves little time for the relationship. It cannot be a marriage, a loving relationship, without significant time each week spent with each other.

There are many examples of driven couples having some sort of working "partnership" (Bill & Hillary, anyone?), but I hardly think of those as a viable marriage, just ambition in common.

$CAV3NG3R said...

knoxgirl said: "...these men will always tend to go for the trophy wife"

It's comparative advantage people. There's nothing you're offering that he doesn't have at that point. Status, success etc so he's sure going to go for someone who has something he wants i.e. 'youth'

And what's with all the ragging on Bill Maher? The guy is having fun with his life. At least he's not one of ambas "...sad 50-something year olds". Or do I detect some sort of jealousy/anger that he was never 'snagged'

Wade Garrett said...

I think this has turned into a really good discussion.

I think that it is a mistake to take Maureen Dowd as the prototype for the type of woman to whom she is referring in her article. Prior to reading this thread, I had no idea that she was unmarried. Still, there are a lot of reasons to dislike Maureen Down, for instance her unending sarcasm and general snarkiness.

It is folly to make the generalization that all high-earning, well-educated, mid-30's-or-older single women fit this profile. A great number of the comments have been to the effect: "Why would I date a bitchy career woman when I could date a sensitive, supporting, nurturing, less-well educated woman who would clearly make a better mother?" This misses the point in a number of ways; it is far from true that all successful single women are bitchy, and it is far from true to say that they are not potentially loving wives and mothers. The whole point is that they don't get the chance to BE mothers.

I think there is something to the theory that men who are interested in marrying professional women have already done so by the time they are in their mid-30s. This is true in large part, I'm certain, to the fact that, if you want to become a doctor or a lawyer or whatever, you are in school at least until your mid-20s, at which point you begin an associateship or a residency that takes up an enormous amount of your time and limits the people you meet to, largely, other law students/lawyers or other medical students/doctors. If you're a lawyer/doctor and you want to marry a professional woman, odds are you've asked out/dated/married one of your classmates or fellow doctors by the time you're 35. If you're on the market after age 35, it is often because you are divorced or just got out of a very long-term relationship. For women, especially (to take my ex-girlfriend as an example) a medical student who wants to specialize in a very narrow field of medicine, she will be in school until she is 30. I'm in law school, I wouldn't have ever met her if we weren't both interested in the sport of rowing. She told me that if it wasn't for her working out at the rowing club she'd never meet non-doctors. I think part of the reason is that if you're pursuing one of the professions, the demands on your time are enormous and its hard to meet people outside of your small circle of classmates and co-workers. If, among that group, there is not a single person to whom you're attracted and with whom you are compatible, you're pretty much out of luck!

kaymad said...

My cousin is VP of a large firm. Her husband has absolutely no ambition. He is a house husband and has been one for years. I don't think the marriage really started out that way, but has evolved over time. I quiet like her husband very much. He is intelligent, charming, just not much of a worker.

She has no problem with it and is quiet differential to her husband in the matter of spending money, which they have a lot of. However, her parents who are of Dowd's generation have a HUGE problem with it. It's like a bad (or good) soap opera, my Aunt is always plotting ways to break them up.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

While engaging in a traditional husband job of working on the roof after my last comment, another factor occurs to me.

We have raised four sons, two domestic and two imported, and I have watched each of them struggle to various extents with the brutal truth that hits in early adolescence: boys who treat girls with respect keep losing them to boys who don't. While it is true that the dating cohort is often dominated by the bad boys and bad girls at first, and this gives a false appearance to who is succeeding at what, that sort of abstract analysis holds little appeal to 14 y/o males. Dad's comforting assurance that in time our method results in greater happiness (though true) also rings hollow when girls keep dating older boys, aggressive boys, conceited boys. When you are the Dad, you ache over this with them, even if you don't change your tune.

Girls are the social drivers from about 5th grade on, and a subset of girls sets the rules to their own advantage, to the detriment of both the other girls and nearly all the boys. The long-term rules for social acceptance and happiness assert themselves much more slowly.

Tell me: why do girls not date nice geeks until they are much older, and many women, not even then? We know the answer, don't we, even though we don't like the answer?

Much feminist anger, I think, comes from girls who played by the rules, social or academic, and grew up to find out those weren't the real rules. Boys, who have to scramble in schools and social situations not designed for them, adjust to unfairness more quickly. In the long run, that's the better preparation.

vbspurs said...

Something to realize is that professional women tend to have very high standards, and are competing for a small pool of well-educated men, the same men who a lot of far-less-well-educated women are also shooting for.

Why do feminists like Dowd always blame her "brains" for not having a husband?

Almost all the men I have dated have dated me because they loved my brains, or at least, my spunk.

As my mother (a psychiatrist) once said:

The number one reason a man loves a woman is because he admires her.

That admiration can take many tracks -- her beauty yes, but also her smarts.

And this is always denigrated by feminists, many of whom blame their poor social skills and the fact that they are as sexy as beef jerky, on the fact they are TOO brainy.

Oh please.

P.S.: I haven't married anyone yet, because, well, people (men and women both) in my family tend to marry late. And I'm kinda scared of commitment...that's another relic of feminism. Thanks a lot, Kate Millet.


vbspurs said...

Okay, that was my venting post up top.

Here's my more Victoria-like bit of nonsense below. The Drudge Photo Captions!

"Toto, I don't think we're in the Beltway anymore"

"Every woman knows you don't wear red shoes after Halloween"

"Bartender, one Sex on the Beach, please. Call me."


KCFleming said...

It's odd that Dowd doesn't seem to even consider the idea that the failure of the feminist movement to change the sexual dynamic might be because, on this matter, it was simply wrong.

Instead, she suggests in her article that some new Betty Friedan will reappear in 2030 to reassert feminist principles.

It is similar to die-hard Marxists who maintain that the repeated failure of socialist theory to change human nature and create Utopia means not that the theory was wrong, but rather that it hasn't been really tried yet.

Sorry, Maureen, not a hoax, just erroneous.

Kurt said...

Thanks very much for your comments Assistant Village Idiot and Pogo. In some respects feminists like Dowd are upset that they haven't changed social dynamics that they can't change.

And let's make no mistake. Through her columns, Dowd continually plays the role of the "mean girl," mocking those women who don't play by the rules of her particular feminist clique.

Ace said...

Am I the only one that feels that a single 55 year old woman talking about her dating habits is more than a bit creepy?

Based on her writings, is anyone surprised this woman is single?
I am not, as I live in a town chalk full of the Dowd type (over educated but not that intelligent) and they are all in the same boat.

She is not bright enough to realize that she is contradicting herself talking about feminism ("women need men like a fish needs a bicycle") while whining that she can't get a man.

Continued proof the whole feminist "movement" was a travishamockery from the get go.
These people didn't start their political agenda to further the advancement of all women, they did it to justify their own (often self-defeating) behavior.

James said...

I loved the earlier comment about 5% of the population having no trouble finding a date. It's right out of the "Seinfeld" episode where Jerry declares that 95% of the population is "undateable."
Far from mocking that sentiment, I'm saying that I think a lot of people think that. It's just that they all think they're part of that 5%.
Maybe the problem is that even if 95% of the population is undateable, they aren't all ineligible for marriage, for having children with, and generally those things societies do in order to reproduce, expand and live on past the current generations. It requires big-picture thinking and a little luck, however, to find the right person that way, though.

Pat Patterson said...

I dimly remember that one of the salient points in early feminism was that a women didn't need to succumb to the patriarchal imperative. Does biology trump theory?

Thank God, one ofthe other imperatives from the pre-historic past has also faded away, the unshaven leg.

gm said...

A better caption than Drudge? Yeah. And I'll raise him one.

Polynices said...

I'm really surprised that there haven't been more comments about the child-raising part of this issue. If a man wants to have kids, he may well be inclined to find a woman that will be willing to stay home and raise them, given that society tends to condition men to expect to be the primary wage earner and few men grow up thinking they'll be taking care of kids.

A woman that is willing to stay home is more likely to be in a less hard-core profession, all else being equal. A commenter above said her male friends named a schoolteacher as an ideal profession for a prospective wife and she seemed to think this was a bad thing. But schoolteachers have a great job for taking a few years off to raise kids and then returning to work once the kids hit school age. So men aren't trying to marry down so much as just marry women that want to be moms.

Women, on the other hand, if they're serious professional women who also want kids and a family, are going to have trouble finding a guy that wants to stay home and raise them, no matter his profession. That's just how it is -- not so many men plan on being at-home dads. So if a woman wants kids but doesn't want to quit her career one great option is marrying a guy even more successful than herself because all that money can pay for nannies and excellent daycare and such.

amba said...

Assistant Village Idiot: that's a brilliant post. You could expand it into a book, and I wish you would.

What you're calling the "real" rules are the biological rules, pretty much identical to those in a baboon troupe. What you call the "long-term" rules, or "our method," are the uniquely human, or spiritual, rules which don't have as visceral a grip -- especially on 14-year-olds -- but that expand and enrich rather than contract and cramp one's inner life. Some women and some men learn to prefer the latter, and not only faute de mieux (for lack of anything better). But even the nice geeks who wind up together because neither of them could "get" the football hero or the queen bee may be better off in the long run than the fast starters. I read somewhere that success in high school does not correlate very well with success in later life. High school is hell.

SippicanCottage said...
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wildaboutharrie said...

The most interesting idea presented, for me, is the theory that men in general have a biological drive to date women in "inferior" positions because such women are perceived to be less likely to cheat on them. I'd like to know more about that (while I think Cosmo sex advice is probably not scientifically relevant, though I could be wrong).

All the bashing of the feminist movement is amusing. For all the admitted missteps, you'd think that nothing of good was accomplished. And some of us ARE making career sacrifices, raising kids, loving our husbands, (even giving them a little quiet time). And probably most of us are shaving our legs, though I havn't asked around, and it's hard to tell in cool weather...

puck said...

Get a load of the size of those shoes...

We could breed her with Shaq (or Will perdue) and make an offspring that could bat down WMD's with it's feet.

KCFleming said...

It's not that "nothing of good was accomplished," but rather that Dowd seems to think that nothing was accompished at all because she's single.

A complete misread on her part, I think. Much good was done in ridding the West of much sex discrimination. But despite these massive gains, Dowd still isn't happy.

I think she wouldn't be happy no matter what had been achieved, because because some people are simply never happy. It ain't feminism's fault Maureen's dateless, nor is it a male conspiracy; she might yet be alone in any culture in which people can choose their mate.

Meade said...

"It's clear that American narcissism has trumped American feminism."

Her most profound and only worthwhile observation in the entire article.

PatCA said...

Assistant Village Idiot,

I think girls date bad boys early in life because they're responding to almost a biological imperative to seek out the most agressive, leader of the pack, male. However, as they grow older and learn by experience that bad boy qualities often don't translate into father and husband qualitities, they stop and think about choices for the long term.

Harkonnendog said...
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Harkonnendog said...

Interesting. Many career women look down on women who not career oriented. It is less publicized but makes sense to think they look down on men who are not career oriented as well. So their dating pool is self limited to successful, career oriented men.

But why would a career oriented man WANT a career oriented woman? What's the advantage to him? If he spends all his time working it only makes sense that he would want a woman who will be focused on the home.

So oriented women need to find men who are not career oriented, and can take advantage of their income. But in our culture that pretty much means these women are limited to lazy men. There are exceptions, but I'm sure they're hard to find.

Tough situation for these women, I think.

wildaboutharrie said...

(Pogo, actually, I meant the bashing of feminism in this thread, not Dowd's column...I agree absolutely with your assessment of Dowd's position.)

Skip Kent said...

Men (of Quality ; ) ADMIRE powerful women who 'live in their heads', and will want to bang (but not marry) the pretty ones, but they will only really want to MARRY women who live 'in their bodies'. If this distinction means nothing to you, then you are probably 'stuck in your head', and good luck to you!

I've persued and dated brilliant women who know how to get ahead (and give it, ahem), but while exciting, those relationships were frought with frustration. The last thing I really want to cuddle up with in a realistic and long-term way is someone who has to challenge each and every thing I say day in and day out. It's exhasuting, annoying and unproductive egotistical nonsense. Of course, most powerful women get paid the big money for doing just that, day in and day out, and for that I salute them.

From a distance.

A man much prefers (and more deeply admires) a woman who can put up with HIS egotistical nonsense with a sense of humor and warmth. The women who can do this show us much more quickly the 'errors of our ways' while leaving us more indebted and in love with them with each passing year.

These are the women who embody both aspects, each to a limited degree, and they are the true gems.

Sam said...

"Doesn't this make the men sound so unappealing that you wouldn't even want to marry them?"

That's the problem, isn't it?

Men, often as not, are pigs and should not be trusted to tell the truth, because they won't, and you don't want to hear it anyway.

And women, often as not, are manipulative and needy and demanding.

Neither sex can live with the other, but they can't live without them. You can opt out of the game, but you'll be poorer for it and the game will continue.

wristwatch1271 said...

Interesting discussion. I just wanted to throw something out there because I haven’t seen anyone else bring up the angle of fairness and the impact that it may be having on the conscious and unconscious calculations made by men. This first occurred to me when reading the NYT article that Dowd referenced, which discussed the expectation of a number of women at elite schools that they would opt to be housewives even after having built up a resume which would easily garner them very high incomes. While I certainly don’t begrudge them for making (or predicting that they will one day make) this choice, it is obvious that the ability to make this choice rests on marrying a man with an income that allows them to stay out of the workforce while providing an adequate lifestyle (what constitutes adequate will of course vary with individuals).

Which brings up the point of fairness. It is one thing for a man to accept a responsibility to be the breadwinner when he is the only one who can be the breadwinner, when his income is so greater as to render his mate’s potential financial contribution insignificant, such as in the case of men “marrying-down”. It is quite another thing to marry someone with equal or greater earning capacity and yet still be expected to do the hard and often unsatisfying work of bringing home the bacon while she opts to spend her time doing things that she finds more fulfilling. I can imagine a certain amount of resentment could come into play when a man feels that he is laboring to subsidize his equally qualified and capable wife’s indulgences.

Now to be fair I have no idea to what degree the NYT article that Dowd referenced reflects the mindset of high powered women. It is also unclear whether men actually prefer less accomplished mates (as others have mentioned it could simply be that men don’t disqualify potential mates based on achievement in the way women do which leads to high achieving women vying against an unreduced set of female competitors for the affections of a much reduced set of men). However, that being said I can appreciate how men would prefer to go about the hard and unglamorous work of making money as the discharge of a duty to his family’s wellbeing rather than as a vehicle for his wife, who has already had the cake of proving that she can be successful professionally, to relax and eat that cake too.

In the interest of full disclosure I am a student with no income and a high potential income. My fiance also is a student with no income and a potential income at least as great as my own and quit likely greater. Despite her potential to make a great deal of money she often speaks of working in a field that she finds very satisfying, but which pays very little. Do I mind? No I don’t because there is no expectation/demand that I make a lot of money to offset the lower income that she will have opted for. We recognize that in fairness I should be able to make the same choice if something comes along that I find more satisfying but less lucrative, such as when NASA selects me for astronaut training (a pipe dream I know, but a dream nonetheless). Of course that is what we say now, we’ll see what happens when we have a lifestyle we love and I propose taking a 70% pay cut to follow my dreams.

boxingalcibiades said...

Equality is a waste of time between the sexes. Why should anyone be surprised if one gal can't find the same thing in a guy? Men and women never want the same things, unless they are sunk in solipsism... in romance, they desire the opposite; the woman wants the man, and the man wants the woman...

Icepick said...

Of course that is what we say now, we’ll see what happens when we have a lifestyle we love and I propose taking a 70% pay cut to follow my dreams.

WristWatch, the most probable reality is that you won't even SERIOUSLY consider giving up the lifestyle. You'll talk about it, and fret about it, and worry the issue to death, but most likely you'll stay with the lifestyle. That's how people get roped into, and then lashed onto, the corporate lifestyle. Even those of us who never thought, and never really wanted, to be a part of The Machine. If you have a dream career, better to start now before the filthy, beautiful lucre spoils you to all else!

Russ, you're starting to sound just a leetle bit like The Manolo. Congratulations on that! It is a dream that The Icepick aspires to....

Wade Garrett said...

Wristwatch - Good points. A couple of weeks ago, there was a long thread similar to this one with 100+ replies, addressing that very same NYT article.

I said then that I thought that a lot of well-educated women such as these take time off to raise their children when they are very young, which is absolutely understandable. I think that too few go back into the work force once their kids are of school age. Whether they go to work or not is their business, but often, if a woman has her first children in her late 20s and her last child in her early 30s, then by the time her youngest child is in school, she is still in her mid-late 30s, with potentially 30 years of productivity ahead of her. At the time when so many of their husbands are just making partner, or vice-president or what have you, the bulk of their child-caring duties are behind them. If they can afford to do so, more power to them, but they're not getting a great return on their expensive education, and its just not the most efficient way for society to use its resources. I'm not saying that women who want to raise their kids shouldn't go to professional school; they absolutely should. But I think that too few of them go back to work when their children are all of school age.

For women who do not have children until their mid-to-late 30s, the calculus is much, much more difficult. by that point in their careers, many have already made partner, or are attendings, or vice-president, and leaving the workforce for five years or more at that point in their lives is just killer. They truly have to decide whether to focus on their career or on their family, whereas women who have children at an earlier age have more time to get their careers re-started. Would Dowd want to give up her career, at this point in her life? Being a writer, she might not have to, but most other professional women would.

Sam said...

For what it's worth, I'm a honors graduate from a top 20 law school about to be engaged to a girl who dropped out of high school and got a GED.

She's intelligent and curious, but unlike me, has no interest in politics. She doesn't argue with me for the sake of arguing (a habit of mine that, if indulged, always ends in bitterness). She abides my "egotistical nonsense with humor and warmth," rather than by trying to compete with me.

Probably most important for me, psychologically speaking, she genuinely needs me and trusts me to protect and provide for her. She doesn't think it necessary to prove her independence--to prove she could do fine without me. As a result of her acceptance of her vulnerability, I'm more trusting of her, more loyal to her and more adoring of her.

It's not enough for a man to be told he's needed "emotionally." Men need to be needed in a survival sense. The commitment of marriage is not just a whimsical promise based on feelings of love and a positive desire to "support" one another emotionally. True commitment of a man to his wife has to include an element of existential obligation to her. Under this view of marital commitment, rather than merely "She is my wife because I love her," it is often "I love her because she is my wife."

I know that if I left her, she would not be "fine." She would not be able to simply support herself, have a divorce party, and pursue her dreams without me. She would be lost and destitute. The knowledge of this my weighty moral obligation is the "stick" that supplements the "carrot" attributes of a strong marital relationship.

The increase in divorce rates is directly attributable to this factor, I believe. Women don't need men, so men's commitments to their wives are incomplete. Women don't fear divorce like they used to, and men don't fear it on their behalf. "Sorry it didn't work out. Better luck next time." Thus, divorce is always on the table as a viable option. No doubt innumerable troubled (but salvagable) marriages of years past were saved when the husband looked at his vulnerable, sobbing wife and asked himself somberly, "What would she do without me?"

Eli Blake said...

(on men preferring to marry down)

So I've heard. Doesn't this make the men sound so unappealing that you wouldn't even want to marry them?

Turn it around. Consider, say, a 25 year old guy who got his diploma, joined the army, went into communications, and learned about electronics, and now makes an honest (though not wealthy) living in an electronics repair shop, and never went to college a day in his life (and it's been long enough now that if he went back, he'd 1) probably struggle, and 2) couldn't afford the tuition. No problems with the law, no drugs, just a regular working guy.

Now, what is it about a guy in that situation that turns off professional women?

Just wondering, because there are starting to be a backlog of single guys in just this type of scenario.

Jennifer said...

Terrence said But I think that too few of them go back to work when their children are all of school age.

Why is there something inherently better about women working? I'd really like to understand this mentality because its rather pervasive.

I went to a fairly elite college prep school and then a state university. My friends and classmates from the college prep school all seem to believe (quite politely) that I'm not really living up to my "potential". My children would beg to differ.

My children aren't all of school age yet, but I have no desire whatsoever to return to the stock market when they do. I suppose that may change, but it feels unlikely to me. I don't feel as though I'm sacrificing anything.

KCFleming said...

Jennifer hits the topic square on. As a male, I have often wondered about that very conceit.

What is so great about the workplace? The vast majority of us are cogs in a machine, with no or minimal power, trying to make a living until we can retire. That is the statistical certainty for the vast majority of employees, male and female.

Most. men. don't. control. anything.

Paid labor is just not that great; it's merely a means to a paycheck. It better not be my main identity, because once I leave here, my name will be forgotten in two weeks. Of that I am certain. I am not bitter about that at all; I just cannot figure out why women think they're missing something by being moms at home.

Dowd doesn't seem all that thrilled with things, despite her status and riches. Seems downright angry, really. So where does a job trump raising your own kids?

Icepick said...

Jennifer and Pogo, I think I understand Terrence's point. (If not, please correct me, Terrence.)

Terrence wrote: But I think that too few of [educated, professional women] go back to work when their children are all of school age.

I think he means that a fair number of them just "do their own thing" after the children hit school age, while still in their primes, while their husbands continue to work.

Michael McCanles said...

"Power" or "Dominance" or "Gender" Feminism is an active form of stratification theory (sociologists' domain), where the only thing that is valuable is what you desire, and the only thing you desire is what is out of reach. Ergo the classic definition of a miser as someone who is chronically poor.

To the point: feminism is based on envy of males, which means it involves a love-hate with the status of males and therefore of males themselves. So they--MoDo, e.g., who is suffering precisely the hell that she as a feminist has made for herself--"love" males for the same reason that they "hate" them. Envy itself is a form of radical self-hatred, where you are always fixated on what someone else (here "males") has that you don't.

So powerful feminist women want to know why males pass them by. It's easy: these women has been carrying on an anti-male hate tirade in this country for over a quarter century. They have made their bed and now they are lying in it. Feminists have made themselves the enemy of males, and now they are surprised (you can't get this stupid w/o really working at it) when men don't like them.

I agree with the most rabid of radical feminists: there should be an absolute gender apartheid between all males and all feminists. Having spent a quarter century in academe living--professionally, I must add-- close up and personal with these people, I find them the most odious, repellent and ugly creatues crawling about on the face of the planet.

Jennifer said...

Icepick said I think he means that a fair number of them just "do their own thing" after the children hit school age, while still in their primes, while their husbands continue to work.

This is how I'm interpreting Terrence's comment as well.

What I am not grasping is the widespread belief that focusing on my family and home is wasting my "prime."

I don't understand the inherent superiority in me working versus me "homemaking" or whatever the verb would be.

I guess it doesn't really matter, as I'm perfectly happy and valued by those who matter to me. But, it is curious what a large portion of American society has completely devalued anything other than working and earning and most importantly consuming.

Wade Garrett said...

Icepick - You got my point right. Thanks!

Jennifer - I wouldn't say that you're wasting your prime, that's putting it way, way too harshly. I think there is enormous value in a woman staying home to raise her children. I've also seen a lot of women, who are professionally trained to do jobs that society needs, stay home because they can, I guess. There isn't anyting wrong with it, necessarily, it just strikes me as somewhat self-indulgent. How much more "raising" can a woman whose youngest child is seven years old do by staying home, that a woman who works outside of the home would be unable to do?

There are a lot of women in Maureen Dowd's situation. I've personally met a lot of women who are of Dowd's education level, who could potentially be earning a very high income, who are staying home well past the point where, I would argue, their families 'need' them to stay home. Maybe that's what feminism is about - being able to choose what career path you want, even if that is no career path at all. But I also think that a lot of women, who are educated and intelligent and capable of contributing to society outside of their home, unfairly judging and criticizing the feminists who gave them the ability to choose what they want to do with their lives. Prior to the feminist movement, so harshly criticized in so many of these comments, women didn't necessarily have the choice of whether to work or stay home and raise their kids. It was stay home and raise the kids, or join a convent.

I'm really bothered by the catty attitude so many people have adopted towards feminists! Not everybody is able to stay home while their husband ears money for them. Sometimes, I think that even the most misogynist men don't judge women as harshly as do other women.

Meade said...

Narcissism is named after the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus who was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. In punishment of his cruelty, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, he pined away and changed into the flower that bears his name to this very day.

As a social movement, feminism largely focuses on limiting or eradicating... inequality [of the sexes] and promoting [female] rights, interests, and issues in society.

In America today, love of self or even love of the reflection of one's self trumps the hard focused work of limiting and eradicating inequality, and promoting rights and issues. I do think Dowd got that right.

JodyTresidder said...

Michael Mccanless wrote [of feminists}: "They have made their bed and now they are lying in it."

Rubbish. And premature schadenfreude.

Granted, the sheets are a bit wrinkled and the pillows not yet lined up.

Just give it time. I think we are in an era of confusion right now, but I don't think our grandchildren will be.

wristwatch1271 said...


I hear what you are saying and I think that there is something to be said for asking what sort of obligations the ultra-educated have to the society that gave them those opportunities (opportunities that were until fairly recently unavailable). But as I understand Dowd’s article, she was lamenting the romantic situation that she and women like her find themselves in. The problem with her article is that once she defines this problem she focuses almost exclusively about the choices that women make even though the issue, as she sees it, is about the mate selection choices that men make. She has a few anecdotes about how men just want to marry assistants and secretaries and such and then, after she has painted men as so shallow and emotionally frail that they want nothing to do with successful women like her, leaves it at that. If she really thinks the problem is with the choices that men make she really ought to give a little more thought to why men would make those choices.

I’m still not convinced that men actually do make those choices (at least in large enough numbers to have much impact). But to the extent that men do decide to marry less successful women I do think that fairness may be part of their calculations (sorry if no one else thinks this is an important point, I promise to stop harping on it after this post). You raised the issue with Jennifer that her decision to stay home may be short changing society. I want to raise the issue that a woman’s decision to stay home (when she has the ability to command a large salary) may be short changing her husband. Why is it that in a relationship between two equals one member should be forced to bear so much more of the burden. Maybe some men are thinking to themselves, “if I am going to have to work anyway, I want it to be a necessary duty, I don’t want to feel taken advantage of while she and her Harvard/Princeton/Yale diploma goes to the gym, has lunch with her friends, and watches Oprah.”

I think staying home is a great choice for someone to make for themselves, I’m just suspicious that men may not want to be the financial means to their successful and capable wives’ lifestyle choices.

(I promise I won’t mention this again)

PS- everything I have written has taken into consideration the older NYT article about Ivy women who want to stay home. To the extent that successful women either want to continue to be successful and/or are willing to grant their husbands the same freedom to make career choices based on satisfaction rather than money I have no idea why any man wouldn’t want one of these smart successful and frequently sassy women. I got one and I love it!

KaneCitizen said...

PS - I was just kidding about Maureen Dowd / More Endowed - I think Maureen is a hottie!

vbspurs said...

I'm still reading the comments on this prodigious thread (another ace on Althouse), but let me just say this.

Mo Dowd's argument just doesn't hold water.

Or are you telling me she can't find ONE nice feminist GUY, who leans left as she does, in the whole of this world, to marry her?

Because then the retort is that no matter how mean lean politically, no matter how sensitive they are to men's issues, there is an inherent need for men to always be surrounded by dependent women who don't outshine them, or heaven forbid, bring home a bigger paycheque.

If Hillary Clinton can find a guy like that, ugly as she was in the 1970's, bless her, then so can the stiletto-wearing Maureen Dowd.

(Subtext: unless of course, she's "the problem"...)


vbspurs said...

This line should read:

"Because then the retort is that no matter how men lean politically, no matter how sensitive they are to women's issues,"...

Meade said...

"Because then the retort is that no matter how men lean politically, no matter how sensitive they are to women's issues,"...

I sort of liked it the first way.

jult52 said...

A lot of great posts.

Asst Village Idiot: thank you for bringing up the power angle and the effects of teen socialization. Just tell your sons: he who laughs last, laughs best!

Sam: I'm married to a professional woman, but I feel exactly the way you do about my wife. Your post resonated with me.

Sippican: 10/31 12:51 you win a prize for using the word "jape." LOL.

boxingalcibiades said...

Eli Blake wrote:
"Now, what is it about a guy in that situation that turns off professional women? "

Well, quite simply, money. When a woman says that she wants to marry a professional man, this is polite speech for "I want to find a man who will keep me in comfortable estate." Hence my previous comment about gold-diggers. (q:What's the difference between a gold-digger and a whore? a: the quality of the marketing plan!)

The advantage to being in the situation of the male, is that he is much more likely, once he finds a woman, to find a woman who actually looks at *him*, rather than his credit card statement.

The *irony* is that a true feminist, rather than a solipsistic harridan like MODO, would actually be far more inclined to value the quality of the guy in your example.

Jody: actually, this problem pretty much vanishes once you're past the Baby Boomers. Gens X and Y generally disregarded this particular hyper-ideological nonsense ages ago.

geoffrobinson said...

This is not rocket science. Berate your husband or boyfriend at your own peril. Show them kindness, respect, love and understanding and they will go into the gates of hell for you. Constantly pick on them about their shortcomings and they will be cold and distant at best, looking for someone else at worst.

Ace said...

your post brought home a point with me as well.

I was engaged to a woman in the MoDo mode who didn't need me.
Needless to say it didn't work out.

What Dowd can't seem to get is that she is bringing some inherent problems into a relationship that most men did not have to deal with 50 years ago. She can't see that the change in social and economic dynamic is in itself an issue but ignores it while wondering why men go for the secretary type.

It should be quite obvious. We're talking some very basic nature stuff here which she is either not aware of or ignorning.

The feminists wanted some sweeping societal changes, now they're complaining about the results.

SippicanCottage said...
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Jennifer said...

I want to raise the issue that a woman’s decision to stay home (when she has the ability to command a large salary) may be short changing her husband.

I have to admit that I've never really considered OUR decision for me to stay home to be shortchanging either society or my husband, much less to be a self-indulgent decision.

But, I suppose this is our consumption obsessed culture taken to its logical extreme. The idea that I'm not carrying my weight unless I'm bringing in money is just really far from my husband's and my own perspective.

I suppose if I was going to the gym, having lunch with my friends and watching Oprah, he might feel taken advantage of. And, maybe that is more likely with the Harvard/Yale/Whatever type. But, I think y'all might be watching a little too much Desperate Housewives if you really think such is the life of the majority of stay at home moms.

I don't personally feel I'm contributing more to society in institutional equity research rather than raising my own children. In fact, the whole world of stocks, etc... made me feel rather like a vulture. I guess to each his own.

wristwatch1271 said...


I agree with you entirely. I do not pretend that the gym-going-ladies-who-lunch are representative of the majority of stay at home moms. I guess I just didn’t stress strongly enough that I am not talking about the majority of stay at home moms or those couples (such as you and your husband) who decide together that the wife will stay home. I am addressing the fact that Dowd and company lament the fact that they cannot find men and attribute that to decisions made by men. I was simply trying to sketch out a possible psychological motivation for men to make those decisions that they are being accused of making (though I’m still not convinced that they are by and large making those decisions). I cited the much stereotyped Harvard/Princeton/Yale minority of women not because I think they are representative, but because Dowd is very explicitly talking about women who are hyper-resumed. I never meant my comments to extend to the general case of male-female mating decisions. I was just trying to raise a potential issue relevant to why Dowd and her friends don’t seem to have any luck getting married. My posts were really more a thought experiment than an empirical claim.

I also want to be clear that I don’t think there is anything wrong with the decision that you and your husband have made. It is very likely that my fiancĂ© and I will make a similar decision at some point and I won’t feel bad about that because it will be OUR decision just as it was in your case. I wasn’t trying to suggest that I disagree with such decisions. I was just suggesting that some successful men might be leery of women like Dowd (keep in mind that these women are ONLY considering men who have the means to support them in high style). While I think it is fine for a couple to decide that the woman (or man) will stay home I reject the notion that if the husband makes enough money it is the wife’s prerogative to work or not, and I suspect that some highly paid bachelors feel the same way. Keep in mind that in response to Dowd’s article we’re not talking about decisions made within a marriage between husband and wife. We’re talking about how single men who are going out on first, second, and third dates with Dowd and company respond to these women. I’m just suggesting that when these men are getting to know these women the men may start to feel a bit like means to an end, and given the equality of their status may resent the presumption that, if they continue the relationship, he has financial obligations that she does not.

I recognize that previously I didn’t state my point as clearly as I could have and I hope that this helps. It was never my intention to be judgmental towards you, though I see how it could have come across that way. Please accept my anonymous internet apology.

JodyTresidder said...

Maureen Dowd's precious notion of how feminism has "hoaxed" her would make the original suffragettes choke on their force feeding tubes.

Jennifer said...

No apology necessary, wristwatch1271. I didn't take personal offense to your comments, even when I was misinterpreting them. Thanks for the clarification.

Jeffrey Boulier said...

Y'know, thinking about it, shouldn't someone of Dowd's political persuasion be pleased with men marrying lower-status women simply on equity grounds? Ire should be reserved for those women unwilling to share their income and their lives with lower-status men.

wildaboutharrie said...

I’ve been hearing that “feminist” had become a dirty word, but I had no idea how bad it had gotten. I guess I’ve been out of the hurly-burly for too long.

I am a feminist. I believe women the world over should have the right to vote, to own property, to run businesses, to show their faces in public if they so choose, to leave abusive relationships, to be protected from sexual abuse, harassment, crime, etc. I believe women and men should have equal or equitable access to educational and work opportunities, equal pay for equal work. I think of these as core feminist values. Maybe I'm naive - I generally assume everyone I meet is a feminist unless I hear otherwise.

From there, you can find many shades and stripes of feminism – conservative, radical separatist, transgender, pro-life, on and on. Maureen Dowd is not “feminism”.

This idea that The Stately March of Progress (isn’t that an attraction at Disney?) actually provided for women, all on its own, and that the tireless work of women and like-thinking men was actually negligible, is interesting. Perhaps we should tell those feminist organizations working in, say, the poorest regions of India to pull up their stakes and let the women there know that once they get easy access to cheap fabric, they’ll probably see far fewer bride burnings.

Tom Cuddihy said...

You know, you see the men marrying up/ women marrying down thing all the time in the Navy. It's all too common for a young, higher paid female lieutenant to meet & fall in love with a chief or senior enlisted on the same boat. And that's working against not just culture but also UCMJ. One of them usually has to get out.

Although the man is usually still older...

Slac said...
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Slac said...

Tom, I was just about to ask to that effect.

Does anyone think that successful women will start dating/marrying younger more often? There have been a number of young men coming out of college who have grown up in a post-feminist society.

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