Saturday, January 15, 2005

SWM seeks dummy with dead-end job?

Do men want less intelligent, less accomplished women in long-term relationships? Maureen Dowd seemed to think so in Thursday's New York Times. Unfortunately, two of Dowd's points of reference for her theory (males pursuing subordinant and, in some cases, non-English speaking, women) are the films "Spanglish" and "Love Actually." Not sure you're tapping into the cultural zeitgeist there, Mo.

But it's an interesting question. Do men prefer women who don't challenge them? I say no, but maybe I don't match the profile of the typical guy. And I certainly don't fit Dowd's example of a rich, powerful man. So maybe I have less to feel threatened about. Though I'm hardly in a position to be choosy these days, I'd prefer an intellectual and professional equal (for some "snap and crackle," as Dowd says). Otherwise, wouldn't things get boring?

However, a few of my female friends who have had trouble finding boyfriends and husbands might agree with this. In fact, in trying to console one of those friends, I've often said that men might be intimidated by her intelligence and career standing. And I'm not just blowing smoke; I believe that. The male ego certainly likes to be fed. (I was going to say "stroked," but that invites too many innuendoes.)

Dowd's column cites a study by psychologists at the University of Michigan, which suggested that "men going for long-term relationships would rather marry women in subordinate jobs than women who are supervisors." The U-M study analyzed undergraduate students.

Another study by four British universities found that "a high I.Q. hampers a woman's chance to get married, while it is a plus for men." Furthermore, "the prospect for marriage increased by 35 percent for guys for each 16-point increase in I.Q.; for women, there is a 40 percent drop for each 16-point rise." (Maybe this explains Hugh Grant's character in "Love Actually.")

So is Dowd onto something here? Or is she taking out her dating frustrations on her readers? Do men just want someone who will look up to them, adore them, and not talk a whole lot? I'll have to begin my own survey.