Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Dating and Feminists

Remember that very strange Maureen Dowd article about how 1) Smart, sucessful women will never get dates because they intimidate men; and 2) Women are abandoning the feminist movement in droves in a backlash (implicitly because of #1)? My commentary basically said that was an incredible insult to men, implying the poor things are far too fragile to deal with a strong woman. Well, apparently her studies are a bit flawed:
In particular, Dowd hypes an alleged trend of men rejecting ambitious women based on a 2004 study by psychology researchers. Those findings, by psychologists Stephanie Brown of the University of Michigan and Brian Lewis of University of California, Los Angeles, were wildly overblown.

The study was done on a small sample of 120 male and 208 female undergraduates, mainly freshmen.

The males rated the desirability as a dating or marriage partner of a fictitious female, described as either an immediate supervisor, a peer or an assistant.

Surprise, surprise! The freshman males preferred the subordinate over the peer and over the supervisor when it came to dating and mating.

The study, however, was no barometer of adult male preferences. Rather, it reflected teen boys' ambivalence about strong women.

Men, by contrast, do not reject achieving women. Quite the opposite. Sociologist Valerie Oppenheimer of University of California, Berkeley reports that today men are choosing as mates women who have completed their education. The more education a woman has, the more likely she is to marry. Unlike the single University of California, Los Angeles study, this finding comes from an analysis of 80 peer-reviewed studies.

The rest of the studies were apparently similarly similarly skewed. That British one saying that for every 15-point increase in IQ score above the average, women's likelihood of marrying fell by almost 60 percent? That was a survey of people born in 1921. Oookay.

In fairness, I have to say that in my life I've had more than one man advise me to act less intelligent "if I really want to get a date." My general response: I'd want to go out someone who needs me to be stupid? In what universe is your brain vacationing at the moment?

The Washington Post has this:
Beggan and Allison, writing in the latest issue of the Journal of Popular Culture, found a pattern to the way that Playboy's wordsmiths described the women who graced the magazine's centerfold. They were typically strong, career-oriented, aggressive and, in a surprising number of instances, downright "tough." Adjectives suggesting vulnerability, submissiveness or passivity appeared less frequently.

Hat tip to Matthew Yglesias, who says "Personally, I only read Playboy for its recommendations of awesome bloggers."

Salon blogger Rebecca Trister writes: Yes, Maureen Dowd is necessary
You can love her or hate her, but you can't dismiss her -- or her inflammatory new book on gender politics.

I disagree. She may make a few points in the book that weren't brought out in the article (I would hope so, given the relative length of the pieces). But the only real merit pointed out by Trister is that it brought "gender politics" back for another round in the national conversation. Okay, fine. But it's an inevitable topic that would make the rounds anyway with the next study on the statistical likelihood of marriage.

(NOTE: Salon requires you to watch a commercial in order to read the articles. A pain, but the articles are generally worth it.)

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