November 3 2006
Maureen Dowd, Scary Spinster From the Past
Sorry, dear readers, the wireless wasn't working at Washington D.C.'s Heldref Building Ballroom, so I couldn't live-blog Christine B. Whelan last night as she entertained us with her well-crunched numbers from "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women," the book that gives the coup de grace to Maureen Dowd's well-publicized theory that accomplished males would rather marry their housemaids and secretaries than successful, well-educated women like...Maureen Dowd.
Whelan's conclusions (drawn from current U.S. Census Bureau stats): Highly highly educated young women who make good money have an even better chance of marrying and having families than their less educated sisters. Once upon a time, men might have preferred wives who looked up to them and well-educated women often stayed spinsters for lack of mates, but it seems that today's highly educated men don't have any objection after all to a wife who's heard of Plato and draws a good paycheck; they're looking for equals to love, not servants to wait on them. The only difference between better and worse educated women seems to be that those with degrees wait a little longer for their mates, marrying at around age 30 rather than in their mid-20s.
You can find all the figures--and even calculate your own chances of getting married (via Census Bureau statistics for your age group) on Christine's website. But the real reason I wish I'd been able to live-blog it all-drat!--were the Q and A's.
Best question, from our friend Phil Terzian, books and culture editor for the Weekly Standard: "So why do you think Maureen Dowd is having so much trouble getting married."
"Well," answered Christine politely, "I think she's one of the last members of that cohort of women from the time that it was genuinely hard for a successful woman to find a husband, so what she's doing is projecting her own situtation onto younger women for whom that's not true.
This prompted The Other Charlotte to quip: "So Maureen Dowd is an older woman scaring younger women."