Sunday’s Washington Post featured a review of “Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women” by Christine Whelan, who recently did an event with IWF. Whelan’s speech was fabulous (video available here) and the book is a good read (available for purchase in the IWF bookstore). If you missed the review, here’s the key section:
“Whelan’s book is aimed at the demographic group she calls SWANS — Strong Women Achievers, No Spouse. Whelan commissioned a poll of 1,629 high-achieving men and women ages 25 to 40 and found that almost half the women reported fearing that their success in the world of work was a disadvantage in the world of love. Whelan reassures them that men increasingly do want to marry equals, that most men are not intimidated by educational and career success.
“One poll, a series of interviews with a second sample of ‘high-achievers,’ and a handful of research studies are a rather flimsy peg on which to hang a book. What could have been a focused, attention-getting article is muddled by considerable padding. Whelan’s book does not answer the question posed by her title — why do smart men now marry smart women? — nor does she explore the declining marital prospects for poorly educated women and men. Low-income, poorly educated men have the worst prospects of any group in today’s marriage market, suggesting that it is a mistake to frame the revolution in marriage as a woman’s issue. More men than women describe being married as their ideal state, and men who remain single fare far worse emotionally than do their female counterparts.
“Still, this book contributes to the cultural conversation about marriage by countering outdated stereotypes about male-female relations. Whelan’s polls confirm what authors Rosalind Barnett and Caryl Rivers showed in more compelling detail in their 2004 book ‘Same Difference’ — that in the middle to upper levels of the education and income distribution, men and women are moving closer together, not farther apart, in what they want from relationships.
“Whelan offers encouragement to everyone in her demographic. Career women who postpone marriage, she explains, still have a good chance to marry in their 30s or 40s, and she cites a study by three sociologists who find that, unlike in the past, wives’ fulltime employment is now associated with a lowered risk of divorce. For women who marry too late to have children, her poll shows that many women believe they can have very satisfying lives anyway. For women who don’t marry but want a child, she points out that this is now an option. Half her female respondents said that they’d consider having a child alone if they couldn’t find a suitable partner.”