January 19, 2010

Men are not intimidated by smart or high-status women

From the NYT, and surprisingly not an example of Sailer's Law of female journalism (unless Sam is short for Samantha), we hear some anecdotes about the difficulties that over-30 women who are educated or high-status or whatever are having in keeping a man. Regardless of how common it is, there is a real pattern underneath those anecdotes, but it is not their intelligence or status that turns off men. It must be something else. First a few simple proofs of what is not the cause.

Smart women have been smart all their lives; indeed, their fluid IQ peaked as it does for everyone sometime in their 20s, so if anything they're not as smart as they used to be. Did they enjoy more male attention or less when they were 22? And that's true no matter how smart or dumb the guy was -- low-IQ males would have no problem dating and boning a coed from NYU. Hell, they'd rather date her than some dumb-as-rocks 20 year-old from a trailer park. That all changes when she's a 40 year-old MENSA member. So that rules out high IQ driving men away.

It's not quite that extreme for status, but basically the same as for IQ. The only difference is that she is higher-status when she's over 30, but the complaints are always about men being uncomfortable with a status gap. Again, a blue collar guy would have nothing against sleeping with a chick from Swarthmore. If we go back even further, we remember that it was every low-ranking boy's dream in middle and high school to date a high-ranking girl -- that is, a very popular and therefore very good-looking girl. That rules out high status driving men away.

The same goes for wealth. In college, she might not have been earning big bucks, but she did have access to daddy's credit card -- and probably one of her own too -- which a low-income male might not have had. Once again, he wouldn't mind if his daddy's girl gf had greater purchasing power than he did.

That leaves only two non-exclusive explanations for the pattern. One is that smart, high-status, wealthy females are the ones who have no interest in a relationship with a large gap in their favor for IQ, status, or wealth. The other is that smart, high-status, wealthy females change in important ways from their college years to their mid-to-late 30s and beyond, and that these other changes are what begin to more and more drive men away. The most obvious is looks, although that's true for all women. The next largest change is in personality: as a result of career training and climbing the ladder to success, she tends to develop a more cold, stiff, and bitchy personality, completely unlike the emotionally responsive, fun-loving, and forgivably bratty girl she used to be in college.

So after a few moments' reflection, the pattern is not much of a mystery at all except to nearly menopausal women who have squandered their opportunity to give birth.


  1. Yet another Times thumbsucker which uses a handful of anecdotes to proclaim the existence of a major social trend. At least the author admits, about two-thirds of the way through the article, that educated women are more likely to marry than less educated ones.


  2. Speaking as one of those high-status women, I don't think men are particularly intimidated by it. Then again, I also don't hit them over the head with how important my job is and how much money I make.

    I do have friends who complain about men who are intimidated by them, but frankly, those women scare me sometimes.

  3. If women are attracted to men who are smarter and richer than themselves, then it would make sense for men to be "intimidated" by smarter and richer women. Why go though the effort if the woman is not going to be attracted to you. You would have better luck with someone else.

    Smart men are generally attracted to smart women though and in so far as women do advertise their smartness it only helps the smart men's chances by driving other men away.

  4. As a smart high status (millionaire) guy, I find that most of the woman who think they are "smart" and "high status" aren't all that smart or high status. They just have more attitude than other women. Truly successful women are extremely rare although there are a lot of women who make 100K and think they are some sort of big shot.

  5. Good post, agnostic, but I confess that I choked at about the second paragraph of the NYT article and couldn't continue:

    An analysis of census data to be released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center found that she and countless women like her are victims of a role reversal... [bold emphasis mine]

    Say what? These women are now "victims" of their success and accomplishments in education, career options, and income?

    This is a poor choice of words--but also revealing. As I understand it, women in the U.S. have accomplished or even surpassed nearly all the ambitions of early women's rights advocates: Women have not only achieved parity with men in terms of college education, they've SURPASSED men. And after controlling for education and job type, the gender pay gap has all but DISAPPEARED today. And yet now these women are the "victims" of such accomplishments? How can one be both the beneficiary AND the victim of the same thing all at the same time?

    Oh please. When is this type of thinking going to end?

    I suspect as you've pointed out, agnostic, that these women are indeed "victims" of some sort--but it's of something else not mentioned in the article nor addressed by the Pew Foundation. Blaming their drying social options on feminine gains in income, education, social class, etc. is a red herring.

  6. "The only difference is that she is higher-status when she's over 30,"

    Not sure what you mean by this statement. Perhaps I misunderstand how any woman (who hasn't become an alcoholic or morbidly obese) could be higher status at 30 than at 20.

    At 20 I drove a very expensive car and was thin, attractive etc. Now I have a graduate degree and my own money, and still thin, but I am OLD. There is no way I am higher status than a reasonably attractive, reasonably intelligent 20 year old of the same height, weight.


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