Heart-Shaped Box of Intellectual Arm Candy

February 15, 2006

I meant to blog about this last week, but life intervened.

In the beginning, there was Maureen Dowd, bitchin’ and moanin’ in her book Are Men Necessary? that smart, accomplished women have a hard time finding mates because men find such attributes threatening, and they prefer bimbos.

Judith Warner, in her Times Select blog, questions Dowd’s assumptions and posits that as time marches on, men are increasingly wont to see intellect and earning potential as desirable characteristics in a woman, on par with good looks.

Add to the mix Dowd doubter Ezra Klein, whose response launches a rich thread. His manly take on brainy broads:

I specifically seek out accomplished, intelligent women to date. When my friends and I compare notes at week’s end, more plaudits are given when the girls are impressive than when they’re hot.

Commenters suggest myriad cultural currents that play into this trend. I wanted to add my two cents. In my mother’s generation and cohort, men and women couldn’t be friends. Friendship was suspect, a disguise or precursor to romantic/sexual relations, because why else would a guy want to spend time with a girl unless he was gonna get some? This has changed a great deal. In my generation (X) and younger, many people enjoy friendship with members of other genders, and view it as worthwhile. This necessarily changes companionship expectations, in all contexts. Of course, some guys remain throwbacks to an earlier era. Their loss, eh?