My last blog got a lot of feedback and it raised a lot of questions in the minds of our readers. One theme that kept coming up was that a lot of women seemed very interested in my mention that men like intelligent women. I was surprised to find that many of these women were in university settings, and yet were being told that they would one day have to choose between their education level, or finding a man to settle down with. This intrigued me so Elisabeth and I decided to explore that notion this time.
I’m reminded of a particular young woman who told me recently that she had once been told by an elder in her church that if she ever wanted to find a man who would marry her then she’d better start to, “act dumber.” She’s a very smart woman who enjoys reading and politics, works in accounting, but apparently she would have to somehow turn it down in order to find a guy that would be interested. At first glance one might be tempted to just say, “Oh crazy church people,” and leave it at that because in our effort to preserve feminine and masculine rolls we can often go overboard in one area or the next because while working toward a perfect standard for male and female relationships, we are still working with imperfect tools (our brains, some of which are less perfect than others) to get us there. But then I was surprised to find that even women in highly academic settings, where nobody would even be there if not to pursue high levels of education, were being told by professors that they could choose the Ph.D., but in doing so, they would be choosing against a husband.
So what is really going on here? One might be outraged at the idea at first, or conversely, simply reluctantly say that it’s not the way we’d like it, but we’ve got to accept that as the way it ought to be. I would say that the idea is not a bad one, but it’s somewhere down the line gotten flipped and things have gotten a little out of order. Let me explain.
It’s perfectly natural for a man to feel inclined to lead, and for a woman to desire a strong and intelligent man who has leadership qualities. It’s true that a woman who is intelligent, capable, educated and strong in her own right will not easily be led by a man who is lacking in those or other areas. Well that’s an easy fix right? Just make sure that there are no women who are terribly intelligent, capable or educated. This way everybody wins. Men get to feel comfortably on top. Women get their strong(er but not strong) and (not quite as in)capable man. The planets align and the universe is at peace. Ahhh (sigh of relief). I mean perhaps the few women who simply can’t stifle their brilliance and the few men out there who get frustrated with their wife’s inability to read will have to suffer in silence for the good of society, but that’s a small price to pay. Just like government price regulation, it just makes it easier to sleep at night.
Speaking of society, how does this relationally utopian scenario work itself out? Men’s insecurities and gaps in their understanding are left to stay where they are so that they can get on with the important things in life and not have to worry about some woman challenging their already frail authority. Women get the privilege of raising children in a fast-paced and complex world without the education to do so. Girls would be fine. Not like you need to be a rocket scientist to wash dishes right, but how are weak-minded women supposed to cultivate strong-minded young boys? I suppose that dad could do it but it’s not like he is one to really enjoy a challenge, so how will he teach his son to?
Now I know I’m being a tad bit extreme. After all nobody is saying that women shouldn’t learn to read or anything close to that. I suppose what I’m getting at is that men have no business being intimidated by smart women or crossing them off the list of potential mates because they have a certain job or education level. Therefore nobody has any business telling a woman that she had better act dumb if she wants to find a mate. This view of women as the competition is wrong. The only reason for marrying or even dating a woman is because she is a help, an addition to your life, not because she competes with you in any respect. As a man you want to constantly be growing, in your beliefs, in your knowledge and wisdom, in your skills. A good and smart woman will not compete with your ability to do those things but will place a constant pressure to challenge you to continue to grow. She needs it from you but more importantly you need it from you, and while growing is a responsibility that should be personally initiated, having others to help you along the way is essential. Men need to realize that having strong women around makes them stronger too and that they are not to shy away from a woman whose intelligence presents a challenge to his. Women however would do well to realize that the competition between men and women that our society has sold us is false and while it operates under the guise of liberation and freedom it really works to hurt both sexes. Using education and money to feel as though you are better than someone else, or that you are now in some higher category of worthiness, or even to remind them of how undeservingly lucky they are to have you is foolish and will lead to nowhere but loneliness. Pursue your education, or your job and gain in knowledge, fully knowing that some men will be put off by your smarts, but also understanding that that doesn’t matter. You’re not going to emerge the smartest person on the planet with nobody around you to relate with. For as many men who allow their laziness and weakness to avert them from intelligent women there are plenty more who want nothing less than an intelligent woman. They appreciate the way that kind of woman challenges them to constantly being better and they will adore them for it.