by Afiya J. Watkins
If you’re a single woman, you may be tired of the constant questions about why you’re single, the unsolicited advice on how to remedy your “situation”, and the constant messages from society and popular cultural that something is wrong with you. This may be especially true if you are of, or have surpassed a certain age.
A recent Elite Daily article examines the tough terrain of the modern dating landscape, in all of its awkwardness. Disastrous dates and unfulfilling sex are just a couple of the calamities that await the modern woman as she embarks on her quest for a rewarding romantic life. “Women now associate the dating scene with the same risks many face going into the arctic tundra. It’s cold, uncomfortable and it’s more than likely that you’ll die before getting that fire lit”, the article states.
After years of dating and copiously surveying what does and doesn’t work in the relationship arena, women have changed their hairstyles, spruced up their wardrobes in an effort to be more fashionable, learned to interpret male queues, as not to waste their time unnecessarily, but something continues to be a miss. This something is deeper, more intrinsic and to the core of who they are; it’s their intellect.
According to the Elite Daily article, a growing number of accomplished single women are finding that intelligence often hinders their ability to connect with men in a meaningful, non-threatening way. For such women, relationships and marriage can be elusive. The article declares, “All you bright and educated women out there, what you feel is real… intelligent women are more likely to be single”.
But why is this? Do men not want women who are smart, intellectually diverse and well-read? Why would a sensible man want a woman with whom he couldn’t converse and be challenged by? Since when is being a mealy-mouthed, “Stepford” type appealing? Have we all time warped back to the 1950’s without being properly notified? We have questions! Seriously, what is happening, here?
John Carney, a financial reporter for “The Wire,” gives one explanation for this phenomenon. “Successful men date less successful women not because they want ‘women to be dumb’ but rather because they want ‘someone who prioritizes their life in a way that’s compatible with how you prioritize yours”, he stated.
What can logically be deduced is that men want a woman who isn’t going to forsake her responsibilities to home and family to climb the corporate ladder or strive relentlessly to advance her while neglecting everything else. Men want someone who will put the marriage first; seemingly, a less accomplished woman would be more willing to do that.
Some women interpret this male attitude as simply wanting someone who is “dumb” enough to make them a priority at the expense of her own ambitions and dreams, unfortunately, for all those sane, rational and intelligent women out there, there’s a hefty number of these women out there. There is are plenty of women who will give up their lives for men, who will refuse to challenge them, fight them and refuse to see them as their equals, but their saviors.
Deciding what kind of woman you are and how you want to be perceived, can be a minefield, all its own. The balancing act of trying to minimize the wrong self-attributes while attempting to maximize the right ones, is enough to drive any woman crazy. How many of us have been advised to present ourselves more demurely and less opinionated or cerebral? The constant dying to what is natural within can be maddening, yet men, are more apt to be accepted for who they authentically are. Conversely, women are routinely told to be less of something: sexy, outspoken, etc. The prevailing message to women is strong characters are undesirable, masculine and threating.
According to Elite Daily, a study conducted with 121 British participants reported findings that females with high intelligence in male/female relationships were seen as problematic. High intelligence in women was interpreted as a predictor of relational problems, whereas high intelligence in the male partner was regarded as desirable.
Cultural stereotypes and gender biases that we as a society refuse to debunk are inhibiting women from being seen as equals. A paradigm shift is needed if rational and intelligent women are ever to be valued instead of criticized and ignored for their intelligence.
Many accomplished women have experienced the nagging feeling that emerges after a great date has ended with the man deciding they’re too much work and not worth the hassle. These women were taught to pursue excellence through education, but where are the men who were supposed to understand, challenge and support them? There’s a sort of sad phenomenon afoot: women everywhere are dipping far below their standards just to find men who appreciate them. They are giving up things they thought they’re preparation and accomplishments would provide, for nothing more than a simple “he’s good to me.” While there’s something to be said for “comfortable”, it strangely evokes thoughts of a pair of sensible, broken in shoes or a faithful dog that fetches the mail and greets you at the door at the end of a stressful day. This isn’t the mind-numbing, ecstatic feeling that one experiences when they are madly in love and wholly attracted to their mate.
In an article by “The Daily Mail,” Minister of Universities David Willetts asserts, “Successful women will have to ‘marry down’ by choosing partners less qualified than them – and may increasingly select men based on how supportive they might be to their careers, rather than whether they can support them financially.”
Most men are socialized to believe that they are superior to women. Therefore, a woman who is seen as smarter and more accomplished can be off-putting to the male ego. And since the number of college-educated women now surpasses the number of college-educated men, the dating pool has become grossly disproportionate. Many men still aren’t ready to accept being second in the bread-winning competition and this is causing women to either settle or stay single.
Some women throw themselves further into work and career, overcompensating for the lack of love in their lives. Accomplishment at work becomes a salve, of sorts, but one that often contributes to a wider gulf between women and men. Having to forsake your deepest desires can lead to frustration, which is an emotion that if not managed, can turn to anger and bitterness.
While it is true that intelligence breeds ambition, ambition doesn’t necessarily have to lead to neglect. It is possible to have a rewarding career and successful marriage simultaneously. Men and woman should both understand that it doesn’t have to be an either or proposition. Having it all requires some juggling, but those who are committed will reap the rewards.