Friday, November 04, 2005

Goose and gander

From The Daily Standard:
In the marriage market, too, despite what Dowd claims, women are facing less of a choice between love and self-improvement than ever before. She cites, for instance, a much-quoted study showing that women's marriage chances drop as their IQs rise. But she fails to mention--understandably, since it tended to be ignored by the breathless press reports--that the study was conducted on a population of women born in 1930s Great Britain. More up-to-date analyses suggest that the trend is moving in the opposite direction, and highly-educated women are considerably more likely to get married than in the past. A recent study noted that in 1980, a woman in her early forties with 19 years of education under her belt (i.e., a college degree and some graduate work) had just a 66 percent chance of being married, whereas a fortysomething female who left school after high school had an 83 percent chance of wedlock. But today the gap has disappeared: highly-educated women are just as likely to wed as the secretaries, nannies, flight attendants and "upstairs maids" that Dowd is convinced are poaching all the men. OF COURSE, some of these highly-educated brides may be dumped eventually, during their hubby's midlife crisis, for a bright young fact-checker. But this points to the problem with nearly all the "what-happened-to-feminism?" arguments--they ignore the extent to which the problems post-feminist women face aren't the result of feminism's failure, but byproducts of its success. The "trophy wife" phenomenon is a case in point. Feminists wanted women to be able to leave loveless marriages and escape abusive husbands, so they backed the push for easy divorce--and sure enough, no-fault split-ups have made it easier for women to shake free of miserable unions. But they've also made it much, much easier for Woody to leave Mia and shack up with Soon-Yi.
Alright, I confess. I always think of Dowd as a punchline in a joke being told by a skipping record. I can't remember what the joke was, but it's still funny in a twisted kind of way.

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