Not your dating service

Maureen Dowd will never learn; she’s dedicating part of her column to the same whine that drove her book Are Men Necessary?—feminism ruined it for women because it didn’t make men change overnight into more acceptable mates for the smart, sassy and successful women out there.

Fisman ran a study on speed dating and found that the men who indulged in the practice tended to down rate women who they perceived as smarter or more ambitious than them. Yes, this is the same researcher who found that these men didn’t have racial preferences, and yes, the same obvious caveat that I mentioned yesterday seems to apply. I drew an illustration this time, to make clearer.

Generalizing what men want from what men-who-speed-date want is a bad idea, it seems to me. There’s an urgency and shopper’s mentality to speed dating that seems like it would only be attractive to a subset of people, and it’s quite possible that subset is especially likely to have a checklist of attributes that would include, “Smart, but not too smart.”* Still, a moment’s sympathy for Dowd’s problem from Katha Pollitt, who wisely observes that Dowd probably isn’t talking completely out of her ass about her boy problems.

What I don’t get is the advice to dumb it down, or hide yourself. There’s an implicit assumption there that women are always more eager, and more desperate, which is what I really don’t buy. If there’s a conflict between a woman’s success and a man’s frail ego, the assumption that she’s naturally going to take the compromise position to make it work out, i.e. play stewardess.