Monday, May 17, 2010

Shoe on other foot?

So I'm reading this post over at Pelle's place today and get to thinking about something.

The post is about an article over at Daily Mail from several months ago. The article is entitled, "Why won't men date successful women like men?" by Zoe Lewis. Yeah from the title I'm sure you're expected something interesting right? Well don't get you're hopes up because oddly our writer basically sounds just like any other person who is full of themselves and just can't understand why people don't want to date them.

Let's take a look shall we?:
When a long relationship broke down a few years ago, my then boyfriend cited my intelligence as a reason that it wouldn't work. Did he mean I was too stupid? That he couldn't bear to be with a bimbo who couldn't hold a sensible discussion?

Sadly, it was quite the opposite. He told me that he just didn't want to go out with a woman who was clever and successful. He said it meant that I could never let any discussion go, or concede a flawed argument; I had to solve problems when they arose, and would argue political points with him.
Now while I'm not exactly full of relationship experience one thing I do have under my belt is listening to other people and this sounds a lot like women who have complained about men thinking they were so damn smart and wanted to assert their correctness at every turn and not wanting to let discussions go. In short accusing him of being an arrogant know it all. Weird that when the genders are switched it still gets construed to be his fault. So if a guy is too clever its bad because he's a know it all and if a woman is too clever its bad because he will not like her being clever.

Next up she managed to figure out one guy's problem after performing on stage:
An hour later, after watching me on stage and then networking with a group of high-powered theatre people at the aftershow party, he became distant. I knew instantly what the problem was: I was a self-evidently successful woman, he was a jobbing gardener, albeit a clever one. He barely said anything to me, merely mumbled an awkward 'Well done' and positioned himself in a corner looking glum with a beer.
Even though it eventually became apparent that this boyfriend felt emasculated by her success I think its weird that she somehow managed to see it coming by way of her performing on stage then going off to network with some theater insiders. Again if the genders were switched he would be the jerk for leaving her hanging to go rub elbows. Always having his mind on business when it should be on her.

Now on to something a bit more serious:
Much as I hate to say it, I think we successful women are to blame for men's reluctance to be with us. In the process of becoming Alpha women, we've lost our femininity. If we want to be happy in relationships, we have to get that back - even if that means 'unlearning' some of the things that have got us to the top. What do we want more - a relationship or a career?
I'm pretty sure she was being sarcastic when she said this but I'll take a swing at it just in case.

I think she is only partly correct here. I would not say that women are to blame for the reluctance of some men to be with successful women (blame is such a strong word and makes it sound like those successful women did something wrong which is of course not true) but I do think there is a bit of cause and effect. Contrary to what some may say when it comes to competing in the job place it is a zero sum game.

Even if you take gender out of the equation if you have 50 people going after one job there will be 49 losers. Well of course with more contestants coming for that job there will be more losers. And yes that has left a lot men feeling like they are incomplete aka failing at being a man for not becoming successful. Well a part of that feeling of failure comes from that fact that despite more successful women coming into the job place there are still a lot of women out there that judge men by their success in the job place. (So what I think may be happening is that some of those guys are thinking that if said successful woman has X amount of progress going on then she is going to expect him to have X + Y amount of progress (and yes there are women out there like that.) Not trying to give the greenlight for the behavior of such men, just thinking about where it comes from. Gotta figure out where the leak is in order to fix it right?

So I think that in order for happiness to be achieved there are at least two things that need to happen(and I say at least because I'm sure there are more). First society has to get used to fact that men don't have to be successful in order to matter. Second society has to get used to the fact that women can be successful.

And her closing paragraph:
Successful women have reached crisis point and maybe we have to acknowledge we can't undo our evolutionary changes. Perhaps long-term relationships aren't a reality for very high achievers, and maybe we have to accept that our careers will have to be a substitute for love, however sad that might be.

A woman's capacity to be successful isn't something that needs to change (considering that the mere capacity for success is not inherently good or bad, there is potential for either) so there is no need to dwell on that. Long term relationships not being a reality for high achievers is something that men have struggled with for ages. Yeah you can point out how a lot of men have big time careers and families but also look at how a lot of those men seem to have picked career over family by way of how much time they (don't) get to spend with family, the insane hours they work to maintain the home, and how estranged they feel with their own lovers and flesh and blood. (And then there is the havok that wrecks during divorce. On one hand he had to put most of him time into work in order to support the family but come custody time that very same hard work is used against him to keep him from the very kids he was busting his ass to support. But that's another story for another day.)

The whole relationship/career balance is a very sensitive one from what I can tell. Maybe with more mingling of the genders on both ends we may get some insight into just how to maintain that balance.