This weekend’s NY Times article titled “The M.R.S. and the Ph.D.,” detailing the sociological change in men’s respect for intelligence over the last century, can be summed up in the following quote:
“One physician explained the problem in Popular Science Monthly in 1905: An educated woman developed a “self-assertive, independent character” that made it “impossible to love, honor and obey” as a real wife should. He warned that as more middle-class women attended college, middle-class men would look to the lower classes to find uneducated wives.”
The article, which focuses on PhD-earners, goes on to highlight how our last century has, for a large part, been filled with a society that tells women to be or act stupid in order to catch a man. Women were taught to marry up, and men were ok with marrying down, so long as their female counterpart would showcase talent in two fields: cooking and cleaning.
My, how the world has changed…
“ONE of the dire predictions about educated women is true: today, more of them are “marrying down.” Almost 30 percent of wives today have more education than their husbands, while less than 20 percent of husbands have more education than their wives, almost the exact reverse of the percentages in 1970.”
However, the article goes on to highlight research done for an upcoming book on female breadwinners, where women said they wanted to be able to look up to their guy, and he would need to have an equal level of education in order for the equation, and the relationship to work.
Looking at my personal relationships, I find I’m like these women who want a man I can look up to an admire, though that’s more in terms of intellect than wealth. I don’t have a PhD or a MA, so perhaps with just a BA I’m still concerned to be less intelligent than the women this article focuses on. Regardless, I’ve found that I like to date “up” in terms of intelligence, and one of the reasons I love my SO that still gives me butterflies is when he talks to me about his excitement over physics or the inequalities of the world.
But there are still gender dynamics at play in our relationship. Even though I make more than him salary-wise (my $90k to his $20k), I’m still not “allowed” to propose to him. I have to wait for him to propose, even though we’ve been together 6.5 years. He is much less aggressive than I am in terms of asking for raises, and will remain this way throughout his life. While he is not motivated to pursue a professional life, in a way, I enjoy that he is intelligent but not obsessed with his career. This allows me to focus on my career, which is stressful and demanding, and then to come home to someone who isn’t stressed out in the same way. I’ve told him if he can cook and clean for me, I’d be ok in the long run for him to be the “stay at home mom.” I certainly understand why it’s nice to have one person in the relationship play this role, albeit not best from a financial perspective.
What do you think? Does intellect play a role in your deciding who to date and settle down with?