Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Today's Hymowitz. How Anti-Feminism Frames Women's Successes

Via Yglesias, I won't read the original because I still have to write and feel cheerful for a while longer. Yglesias quotes her on that age-old topic: Educated women can't find a man and therefore women should not get educated:
Still, the biggest reason we probably won’t see a lot more college-educated women walking down the aisle with their plumber is one we don’t like to say out loud: they want to have smart kids. Educated men and women are drawn to spouses they think will help them produce the children likely to thrive in the contemporary knowledge-based economy. That means high IQ, ambitious, and organized kids who will do their homework and take a lot of AP courses. The preference for alpha kids is the reason there is a luxury market for Ivy League egg and sperm donors. It also explains why, though we don’t have solid research distinguishing between elite and State U mating choices, Ms. Harvard will probably not accept a proposal from Mr. Florida State. The economist Greg Mankiw has quipped that “Harvard is probably the world’s most elite dating agency.” A glance at the New York Times nuptial pages suggests he’s right.
All this is based on the idea that women marry up. If there are few men above these educated spinsters, they will remain bitter and sad and barren all their lives. And anti-feminists care about these women, they do! The implicit advice is for women not to get so educated.

But take off your cultural shades and actually LOOK at the way the problem is posed. Given the roughly equal numbers of men and women in younger age groups, what would a large number of over-educated spinsters also mean in the society?

Yup. A large number of men who couldn't get married. The anti-feminists don't want to speak about these (hypothetical) men, for some reason. Probably because they are anti-feminists and only want women to go back to their proper places. But if one believes the "women-marry-up" idea, then there must, by definition, be men who cannot find anyone to marry, too. And what about men? Are they willing to marry up? Writers like Hymowitz seem to assume that only women have a voice when picking a partner.

That marrying-up business is so intertwined in history with the fact that the only realistic way for most women to survive was through marriage and that men controlled wealth. For women to "better themselves" they had to marry up, because there were few alternative avenues.

Evolutionary psychology explanations for this don't really work because the accumulation of wealth could not happen during a nomadic tribal existence, and mating partners could not be picked on that basis. If anything, the same basic rule about health which ep people apply to men's choices would seem to be the correct one for women's choices, too. Thus, I believe that the phenomenon of marrying up is based on the way the society was constructed (and still is, in most places), not on some unchanging genetic programming.

Speaking about genes, Hymowitz also appears to argue that only educated men will sire intelligent children! However did those smart kids appear in the days when nobody went to college? And where did they learn good work ethics and such? Wow.