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August 26, 2010

Want a better chance of getting married, ladies?

Part of our summer homework for AP Language and Composition was to find ten op-ed (opinion-editorial) articles and respond to them. I wasn't looking forward to it until I realized The New York Times website has a nifty feature where you can "search" for any topic that happens to suit your fancy. I looked up "feminism" and that was it. My next three hours were pretty much set, reading up on tons of issues that I actually care about (sorry politics, I'm just not that into you). One of the best writers I've come across is Maureen Dowd, who infuses humor and a down-to-earth personality into whatever she's writing. Here's my response to her article Men Just Want Mommy:

Maureen Dowd certainly didn’t unearth the alarming trend of men preferring secretaries, assistants, and nannies (among other subservient roles) over successful, career-minded women, but she describes the plight with enough statistics and wit to leave me sufficiently scared for the future. According to countless studies all over the world, men prefer “young women whose job it was to tend to them and care for them in some way.” Dowd muses: “it’s all about orbiting, serving, and salaaming their Sun Gods.”

The sad thing is, women who strive for top corporate positions and six-figure salaries are often stereotyped as manly, aggressive, vain, insensitive, and neglectful of their familial duties. As Dowd observes, “art is imitating life, turning women who seek equality into selfish narcissists and objects of rejection, rather than affection.”

These feelings are never more apparent than in Hollywood, where the “soothing aura of romances between unequals” brings in the big bucks. How many movies can you think of have a leading man falling for his nanny, secretary, maid? Now how many can you think of where said man falls for his (female) boss?* Men are intimidated, it seems, by women who are competitive and self-sufficient, as if they’re incapable of also being friendly, nurturing, and compassionate. This certainly isn’t what feminists have in mind for “equality;” is it fair that women are penalized for being smart, independent, and pro-active, when men are respected for it?

Like always, Dowd uses hardcore facts to put things in perspective. For example, it would probably scare (scar?) a lot of single ladies to know that, according to a study conducted at four British universities, “the prospect for marriage [increases] 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.”

Well that’s... ridiculous, sexist, and little disheartening.

Our conclusion, however, shouldn’t be to dumb ourselves down (possibly by listening to Pat Robertson for five seconds?) until we’re “desirable enough” for a man. We should strive to be all that we can, and if a guy comes along who just happens to love and appreciate our hard work and incandescent personalities . . . great.

*I'd like to point out that the only movie I know featuring a man falling for his boss is Bob the Butler, which I'm pretty sure was pulled from the Disney Channel for a scene involving Tom Green's nipples.