Successful Women Are Scary, Single: Part 7599

The International Herald Tribune and the New York Times are concerned. Concerned about women. Specifically, concerned women who are successful will fail to fulfill their ultimate goal and purpose in life, which is obviously to attach herself to a man so that he can fulfill his ultimate goal and purpose in life of taking care of her. This is how the world is supposed to work and now that feminism has messed everything up, women are paying the price of being SINGLE FOR GOD SAKES and men’s EGOS ARE BEING CRUSHED and we should all take a moment to bemoan this new modern reality because, really, the world just might end.

Or, at least that’s what I took from Katrin Bennhold’s ridiculous contribution to the International Herald Tribune’s ‘The Female Factor,’ which endeavors to explore where women stand in the early 21st century. In pursuit of this goal, all Bennhold could manage to ask was, “Is female empowerment killing romance?” Of course, the backlash to feminism isn’t new and if we looked hard enough and had a strong stomach, we could find the exact same question asked by some concern troll columnist every decade since women got the vote. (I’d rather keep my lunch down – if you do the research, goddess bless you and send me a link!)

In this 2010 incarnation, Bennhold takes us through horror stories of the various ways that successful women scare away men and introduces us to a few men, kind souls, who are willing to make the sacrifice to date successful women as long as they get to drive. But, THANKFULLY, Bennhold also lists three things women MUST DO order to mitigate the impact of their bank balance on their love life:

Leave the snazzy company car at home on the first date; find your life partner in your 20s, rather than your 30s, before you’ve become too successful. And go after men who draw their confidence from sources other than money, like academics and artists.

Ok, ew. I’ll drop the sarcasm for a minute to say that, yes, there certainly are men who shrink at the thought of dating a woman who makes more than him. While it might be easy to write these guys off as unenlightened douches, this inferiority complex is a good example of one of the many ways that sexism and gender roles hurt men too. In this case, men are told their worth is based on their ability to financially support a woman rather than on being emotionally supportive and an egalitarian partner or an equal parent, if one choose the have children. In reality, these experiences should be open to and encouraged in all humans of both genders and the fact that some men miss out on them is yet another reason men should be clamoring to sign up for the feminist revolution.

If the question must be asked how the fact that some women – usually white and straight and a far smaller percentage than authors of these articles are ever willing to mention – are now making more than men impacts on heterosexual courtship, the focus should be on why we hold so tight to the gender roles that might make the question relevant in the first place. Why are men still made to feel they have to be the breadwinner and women feel they have to downplay their success? How can we change these patterns at a personal, political and social level? Are the women who are making more than their male partners still working the double shift (in many cases, yes) and are men becoming more equal inside the home as women become more equal outside of it (in many cases, no)?

I also can’t help but note that while Bennhold’s piece is centered around European experiences, the New York Times gave it credence less than two weeks after the US Senate refused to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and rectify the fact that white women make 77 cents, Black women make 61 cents, and Latina women make 52 cents to the white male dollar. And while Bennhold and many others tout the fact that women have overtaken men in college enrollment, few ever note that this in large part due to the fact that women are more likely to go back to college because they’ve found that they need it to support their families, because it’s still harder for women than most men to find higher paying employment without a college degree. So, along with being pointless, condescending, and based on the assumption all women want to find a man, it’s yet more column inches devoted to a few straight, (mostly) white women and their romantic problems rather than the far more pressing problems stemming from inequality faced by the majority of women.

Sigh. In answer to the question as to the state of women in the early 21st century: both women AND men still have a long, long way to go.

12 Comments

Filed under Feminism

12 responses to “Successful Women Are Scary, Single: Part 7599

  1. Wouldn’t it be great to see a guy write an article to other guys, telling them how to work on their self-esteem and explaining that this is really THEIR problem, not women’s?

    That’s what I’m thinking. ;)

  2. Jorge

    Just my two cents here. I am dating a successful attorney and do not feel intimated at all. But then again, it comes down to self-esteem and how high it is.

  3. I love this post, so glad I found it!

  4. Great point about how sexism hurts men, too. I’m with Becky. Maybe dudes need to get together and form a support group and talk about building positive self esteem so that they can handle dating successful women … that or they should just convert to the gay lifestyle so that they’re with an “equal partner.” (Please note the hint of sarcasm in my voice.)

  5. All true and well said.

    But you can’t look to the IHT or the NYT for a shred of insightful thought on these issues, can you. Really?

  6. Very true.
    I’m currently a graduate student and my boyfriend is finishing his final year of undergrad. He’s a wonderful partner, but it seems likely that our careers will end up pulling us in different geographic locations. Whenever this comes up in conversation, it is immediately assumed that I will be the one sacrificing to stay with him. People note that it’s more LOGICAL for me to follow him since he’ll be getting a larger paycheck. Excuse me?

    • I love women; they have many good qiueitals. I make my own decisions and respect those of others' only if they have merit. Men of leisure create industrial civilization and the U.S. Constitution. Women of leisure create fabulous hats.

  7. Pingback: Why Successful Women Terrify Us - Forbes

  8. Pingback: Why Successful Women Terrify Us

  9. Pingback: Challenges for Powerful Female Writers | Feminism and Women's Bodies

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