February 20, 2007

Reversed trends.

Stephanie Coontz neatly sums up an old theory:
The main reason that educated and high-achieving women have trouble finding or keeping mates, according to observers past and present, is that they won't play dumb enough to assuage a man's ego or act submissive enough to put up with unfair treatment.
And notes the new trend:
[C]ollege graduates and high-earning women are now more likely to marry than women with less education and lower earnings....

The same holds for high-earning women....

[C]ollege-educated couples have lower divorce rates than any other educational group....

Educated men and women are more likely to marry and less likely to divorce than others. And guess what? They have better sex lives, too.
Much more at the link. (Via A&L Daily.)

25 comments:

Pogo said...

1. Yay for smart, high-achieving women. Now, other than fodder for morning TV, Oprah, and women's -er- lifestyle magazines, did anyone actually believe that myth, I mean believe it enough to change their behavior (rather than just worry about it)?

I doubt it.

2. And what of the stupid statistics bandied about when that myth was discussed. Are these statistics any better? Why? Sheesh. No wonder sociology isn't considered a hard science. The data my friend are blowin' in the wind.

3. Now that it's been shown that men are in fact more egalitarian in marriage, will the Ivory Tower feminists stop teaching courses on evil white male history and hegemony?

Nope.

Sean said...

Something Coontz doesn't mention is that with increasing income inequality in America has come a revival of domestic help, so that in upper-middle-class households, no one has to do housework, the maids do it.

Bruce Hayden said...

Sean,

I wouldn't call a full time maid something that an upper middle class family can and would afford. Rather, having someone in once or twice a week. But that does seem to significantly reduce maritial stress.

Maybe I am showing my age, but the only people I know who do have full time, or even half time, maids are better described as upper class financially.

But it does make sense. If both people in a marriage have high powered jobs, why not hire someone to do the traditional female jobs around the house. After all, this allows the wife (or occasionally husband) to make multiple times what is being paid for the maid, cook, etc.

Doug said...

I have never bought into the theory that men want weak, stupid, underachieving women. I am certain some do, but most do not.

I think higher educated and earning women need to be more selective to keep the scumbag dudes away. I know, and hear of, quite a few women who end up falling in love with losersand end up supporting these guys who don't work, or are in a band, just one break away from hitting it big.

For professional reasons, for pride, and just because she is better off, the wealthier woman doesn't have to put up with the low rent male dirtbag. This lowers the supply of men, but since she is a more attractive catch, she can handle it.

Rich men on the other hand have less of a problem dealing with a golddigger or a person they might consider a project that they can improve with seasoning into the higher culture.

Bruce Hayden said...

Luckily, this trend does not seem to have really hit my (older Boomer) generation. Having had an exceptional mother (Phi Beta Kappa, etc.), I have always put brains and education above looks, etc. And because of that, I seem to have an easier time with meeting desirable women than males I know who do the opposite.

What is a bit tragic though is that at least some of the accomplished women of my generation are almost defensive about their brains and achievements. I met one this fall who told me that she scared off a lot of men when they discover her college degrees, etc., and so she hides the degrees from them.

This trend is really good, esp. since women are now more likely to graduate from college than men are, make up slightly more than half of entering law and medical school students, etc.

Pogo said...

Bruce,
You're right about the maids. Maids aren't cheap labor these days (hence affording their work is usually limited to just once per week). More, we're not talking about the lifetime levels of income inequality present in 1898 when this was one's life work, living with the master of the house (as my own house attests, with its maid's quarters), for income mobility is still high in the country. (And why do some people think it's forever 1935 in the US (e.g. John Edwards)? Sheesh.)

But it's harder to outsource the child-rearing. Well, not exactly harder, but the quality is much more variable. If that matters less to you, then high income from 2 adults is clearly the way to go.

rightwingprof said...

"they won't play dumb enough to assuage a man's ego or act submissive enough to put up with unfair treatment."

Of all the nonsense that gets spouted regularly, that is about the stupidest.

Steve Donohue said...

Well I'm a man, and the story rang true for me. I'm looking for an ego-assuaging insult-cushion who I can force to cook and copulate, in no particular order, when I'm not kicking the dog or blowing stuff up. And edumacated women just ain't doin' it for me.

Now if you excuse me, I'm gonna get back to running these two sticks together. They got mighty hot the other day, and I'm thinking I might be onto something.

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, it's a theory. Neither the author nor I am signing onto it! It has a historical pedigree, cited in the article.

peter hoh said...

The "newly" discovered reality that educated and high achieving women are more likely to marry isn't that surprising. What kind of men are educated and high achieving women likely to meet?

peter hoh said...

And wait, didn't the NYT telll me a few months ago that lots of educated and high achieving women were bailing on their careers to stay at home while their high achieving husbands went out and earned the big bucks?

John(classic) said...

The only support that I ever seen for the idea that men want stupid bit-of- fluff mates is in the imagination of the small subset of women who think they are bright and attractive and are seeking a rationalization for why men don't appreciate their ugly personalities.


Of course, when one is twenty, male, and the hormones are pumping, a flash of thigh can get amazing results, upsetting all attempts to rationally explain mating patterns.

PatCA said...

"And wait, didn't the NYT tell me a few months ago..."

Yes! The NYT also told us that singleness was the new life path. IOW they are full of hot air.

I, however, like this present theory the best because it lets American men off the media's 30-year anti-male hook, however briefly.

And, Pogo, I hope I live to see the day when evil white male history and hegemony are relegated to the back shelves of the library.

Mortimer Brezny said...

One theory that seems never to bandied about is that (1) there's a pretty strong correlation between kinkiness/sexual exploration and education and (2) educated women are better at selecting partners/value intelligent men.

Obviously, it is easier for women who put out to find men and you are likelier to find a good one if you know what a good one is.

TMink said...

Mortimer, I agree with point 2, point one I am not so sure about. Is sexual availability more potent than sexual desireability when it comes to getting married? I think that sexual availability would improve the chances of a woman getting a date, but I am not so sure it improves the chances of getting a ring.

Trey

Christy said...

The trend has reversed! Drat, that takes away my comfort in my never married state. Excuse me while I go out in the garden, dig through the ice, and eat worms.

The story rings true for me. I think men have different expectations of marriage today than they did in years past, and are, therefore, more compatible with the successful working woman. I saw a big difference in the attitudes of the men just older and those just younger than I.

Speaking generally and anecdotally, of course.

Wouldn't the Pill have caused much of the change?

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mortimer Brezny said...

Is sexual availability more potent than sexual desireability when it comes to getting married?

I think there's a functional relationship or a trade-off. And every dude has a different optimum.

Theo Boehm said...

"Men of sense, whatever you may chuse to say, do not want silly wives."
—Jane Austen, Emma

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daryl Herbert said...

If I wore a shirt that said "No Dumb Chicks," would that be feminist or misogynist?

Pogo said...

It would be foolhardy, at a minimum!

Daryl Herbert said...

It would be foolhardy, at a minimum!

It would certainly be foolhardy to live out one's life in accord with that principle.

TMink said...

Mortimer, good point, I agree.

In my work with patients, we often talk about relational learning as a series of steps leading up to good enough to be happy. By learning lessons from relational problems and failures, we can update and improve our selection criteria while also improving our own choices and behaviors. In that way we address both supply AND demand, and can hope for more and more satisfying and adult relationships.

Sadly, some people are deeply imprinted with an attraction to relationally unsuitable partners. Breaking that unconscious attraction is a difficult and sometimes lengthy process.

Trey

Maria said...

Speaking of trends Mens Suits is most trending suit in America.