Has feminism destroyed civilization and upset the natural order of things? Are we doomed unless we go back to the old days of male dominance and female chastity?
That's the argument made by Charlotte Allen for the Weekly Standard.com that is creating a lot of "buzz "on the internet.
Allen is the conservative writer who penned an article for the Washington Post Outlook section titled "Women aren't very bright," so you can guess where she is coming from.
But her Standard piece, headlined, "The New Dating Game," drags up some hoary "evolutionary psychology" ideas as fact, when that is not the case. My frequent co-author (Rosalind Barnett of the Women's Studies Research center at Brandeis) and I attacked these myths in our 2005 book, "Same Difference." But they just keep coming back.
So here are some REAL scientific facts.
Allen says that evolutionary psychology provides support for "a truth universally denied: Women crave dominant men. And it seems that where men are forbidden to dominate in a socially beneficial way -- as husbands and fathers, for example--women will seek out assertive, self-confident men whose displays of power aren't so socially beneficial. "
She writes, "Not surprisingly, given that "head of the household" is a phrase that cannot be uttered in today's egalitarian homes, many women satisfy their yearning for dominance by throwing themselves at bad boys or even worse. The very day, March 17, 2005, that Scott Peterson--sentenced to death in California for killing his wife and unborn son and throwing their remains into San Francisco Bay--took up residence on San Quentin's death row, he received three-dozen phone calls from smitten women, including an 18-year-old who wanted to become his second wife."
Her anecdotes about dating behavior come from a 21-year-old-college student who throws herself at the Tucker Max, the proudly male chauvinist pig author of "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. He happily calls women "pigs, " except for the "hotties" he chases after.
The idea that the sad women who yearn for a murderer says anything about the state of American women today is ludicrous. And the women who are Max groupies hardly compose a scientific sample of female college students.
The fact is that today, women aren't rushing out after dominant alpha males who won't care for children or help out at home and may slap them upside the head now and then.
In societies with a high degree of gender equality, where women have their own resources, they do not look for dominant men with resources as their genes supposedly make them do. Instead, they seek out men who are caring and able to bond with children, report psychologists Alice Eagly of Northwestern and Wendy Wood of Duke. In truth, what men and women look for most in a mate may simply be someone like themselves.
A 2004 study of dating behavior by researchers at Michigan and UCLA found that young women showed no preference for dominant males over other males for either dating or mating.
And men don't reject high achieving women. Research finds that today, men are opting for women who have completed their education, In fact, the more educated a woman is, the more marriageable she is. Women who earn more than their husbands (some 40 percent of married women) have marriages that are just as stable as those in which women earn less.
Allen claims that, " Women don't get sexier as they get older, at least not in the eyes of the man sitting on the next barstool. Youth and beauty are markers of fertility."
Beauty is a social rather than an evolutionary construct. Being beautiful has no relationship to fertility. A woman can have a face and figure like a barn door and still be a champion breeder. And while men do like good-looking women, the females don't have to be very young. In one experiment, when men were shown pictures of plain women in their 20s and more attractive women in their 30s and 40s, the men chose the good-looking older women. However, for men, beauty is not the prime ingredient in a mate. A worldwide study found that for both men and women, "kind and understanding" were the most sought-after traits in a mate.
Allen also claims, "No woman seems able to escape the atavistic preference of men both alpha and beta for ladylike and virginal wives. (Where has Charlotte Allen been living lately? Inside the Mormon FDS colony?)
Feminism has destroyed marriage, Allen claims
Americans are the marrying kind, but they are marrying later. According to a 2008 study by the national marriage project, the average age for marrying has increased by about five years since 1991 in the united states; the average age now 32 for American men and 29 for women.
Allen does admit that college-educated women have significantly higher rates of marriage and lower rates of divorce than women without college degrees But they "pay a price" because they have lower rates of fertility.
Hmm. What we want is poorer women with more kids? That's really good for society--and for children.
The idea that we would all be happier if we retreated to the 1950s world where men were in charge and women stayed home to tend the hearth is suffused with the rosy glow of nostalgia. Until we remember that in those good old days, women suffered from high rates of anxiety and depression and men were often distant fathers and unemotional spouses.
Compared to those men, younger men today would sacrifice salary and career advancement for more time with their families, according to a report by the Radcliffe Public Policy Institute. They are, it seems, a better bet for the advance of "civilization" than the Alpha males Allen seeks to glamorize.