I have big plans to spend this evening making googly eyes at the lovely man to whom I am married. We make googly eyes at each other quite often, but tonight they are going to be extra-special googly eyes because today is our ninth anniversary. Thus, it is ironic that after being distracted for a couple of days, I learned today of an article published recently in Forbes Magazine (moved from its original location but archived here) that starts off as follows:
Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career.
Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women--even those with a "feminist" outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.
Apparently we career women ruin our husband's lives by having dirty houses and making too much money. To which I (with earnings significantly in excess of my husband's) reply: NINE YEARS, SUCKAS!
Of course, my husband and I are just one couple. The real problem with the article is that it puts all the blame for unhappiness that does exist among career couples on the WOMAN'S career. Apparently, the author assumes that the wife has responsibility for keeping the house clean, doing all the childcare, making sure her husband stays healthy, bolstering his fragile ego by keeping her earnings lower than his, and nurturing his little emotions. What the husband is supposed to be doing and what his responsibility is for any marital unhappiness is left utterly unaddressed. This is an extremely anti-woman piece. While I shouldn't be shocked at the misogyny and contempt for women that routinely pops up in mainstream publications, I have to say this takes the cake. The fact that Forbes -- FORBES! -- would publish this claptrap should say something about how entrenched limiting assumptions about women and men really are.
And as Jill at Feministe points out (see link round up below), this article is pretty insulting to the men too. For example, the article reads:
You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do ( Journal of Marriage and Family, 2001). You will be more likely to fall ill ( American Journal of Sociology). Even your house will be dirtier ( Institute for Social Research).
Translation: You are an insecure baby who needs a mommy to bolster your ego, nurture your health, and clean up after you because you're incapable of doing anything for yourself. (Sheesh -- and I thought it was the feminists who were supposed to be emasculating.)
Of course, even if the solution to all these ostensible problems is for the woman to give up her independence, the article neglects to consider the COST to the woman. Quite simply, if the price of a happy marriage is to sacrifice my individuality and hopes and dreams and autonomy (which I don't believe for a moment by the way), then it's NOT WORTH IT. Maybe instead of me giving up my entire life on the altar of marriage, maybe, just maybe, the husbands can pitch in to make a two-career marriage work. I know that's asking a lot of a husband to want to help support his spouse's vision for herself, but, unlike the Forbes article author (Michael Noer), I have faith that men (and not just my husband) can be as supportive and giving and loving and strong enough not to be threatened by a high-powered wife.
Here is a round-up of links on the subject:
-- After arousing the ire of the feminist blogosphere, Forbes moved the original article and put up a counterpoint article called "Don't Marry a Lazy Man," by career woman/Forbes editor Elizabeth Corcoran. You can read the article and counterpoint here.
-- Jill fisks the original article. She also takes down Jack Shafer's stupid defense of the Forbes piece. Shafer's defense is that the problems cited in the article can be attributed to career men as much as career women. Career men have extra marital affairs as much as career women he crows, thus missing the point. The point being that the Forbes ARTICLE argues that career WOMEN are the problem -- which makes no sense since it takes a career MAN and a career WOMAN to make a two-career marriage. Amanda weighs in here and here, summing up the anti-career woman points in the original article as follows:
#1, #2, #3 are predicated on the notion that it’s fine for men to have alternatives to marriage that women don’t have. #4 and #5 are based on the idea that kids are men’s property but women’s work. #6 is based on the idea that women owe men their unpaid labor. #7 and #8 are based on the idea that women owe men support and loyalty, but men are entitled to actively withhold support and resent women for having a life outside of servitude to them. #9 is based on the idea that men’s very health is women’s responsibility.
But oh no, the article isn't sexist or anti-woman at all.
-- Finally, for a conservative view, see Crystal's post and ensuing discussion.