I’m going to take this post and veer in completely different direction because, well, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want.
I am 29 years old, and I do not have a boyfriend. I can barely get a date.
I’m intelligent and decent looking. I dress well, if casually. I can cook. I own my home, I drive a nice (but older) car, and I’m generally easy to be around. Not the perfect catch, but not a total reject, either. So what gives? Why can’t I get a date?
Don’t worry, I’ve asked this question before. I’ve actually taken an informal poll on the subject, questioning both male and female friends alike. The result: I’m intimidating because I’m smart.
That baffled me. I’m not exactly physically imposing, standing just below five foot seven, with honey-blonde hair and a sort of absent-minded aura. My arms lack distinct muscle tone. I’m quiet. How is that intimidating?
The responses that I received ranged from “you use big words” to “you’re really smart” and occasionally, “you exude confidence.”
Great! I like this. These are good things. Yes? Oh, they’re not?
Female intelligence is, apparently, scary. This is where a type of stealth double standard rears its ugly head.
We, as a society, are in the midst of a passionately fought equality movement. We’re telling fashion magazines to stop digitally altering pictures of their models so girls will have a more realistic perception of body image. We’re promoting “fit” not “thin.” We’re telling young women to get the best education they can, so they can get the best job, so they can change the world, which is something we’ve been telling men all across the globe for centuries.
We’re telling girls that the best version of their personality is the one truest to their inner self.
But we’re not getting the same message out to men about the women. I’m mean, I’m sure we’re trying—but the proof is in the pudding, as it were. Men that I know are still scared by intelligent women because they’ve been trained to believe that such women are bitchy, snide, high maintenance, and—most importantly—in competition with them.
I think that last one is what cinches the feelings of terror. It’s okay to be in competition with another man. That’s biology. But competing with a woman is evolutionary blasphemy.
I’ve been told by perfect strangers that I need to “tone down” my intelligence when I meet a guy. To hide it. To censor the big words and play off things that may scare him away, with the implication that to do otherwise would emasculate him.
Men that do the same things I do, like dressing nicely and speaking in complete sentences about complex subjects, are swooned over. Ladies like smart men.
And, to be fair, men like smart ladies. They just…run away from them. Because, obviously, dealing with a woman who is a match for your intelligence would be too hard. It would make you “less of a man” if your girlfriend had a better job, or a better vocabulary, or a higher graduate degree.
It’s tantamount to heresy if she’s in direct competition with you. You know. According to society.
Women are taught to be proud of their male companions’ achievements. To cheer them on. They are taught to cheer on their sisters and female besties as well, and to cheer for themselves.
I’m a little confused as to why the same lesson isn’t getting out to the men.
Fellas, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’s 100% acceptable to have a girlfriend, wife, or female counterpart who is smarter than you. She’s not trying to put you down. She’s not trying to make you feel bad. In fact, she wants to impress you, because if she’s with you, she already thinks you’re the bee’s knees and is hoping you’ll stick around.
Haven’t asked her out yet? (Alternately, did she ask you out and you ran in the opposite direction out of fear?) She’s hoping her smarts and personality will meld with her looks and create an irresistible allure. Smart is sexy. Smart is interesting. Smart is…experimental. Smart girls like to learn new things.
Like astrophysics. Stay with me, boys.
You know what else? Smart girls like men who are willing to learn. If you have no clue what she’s talking about, or don’t recognize that four syllable word, stop her for a second. Tell her to explain it. She’s not going to think you’re stupid. She’s going to think you’re interested.
So, don’t let the stealthy double standard contaminate your interest, gentlemen. Ladies, don’t let the stealthy double standard turn you mute, or worse, make you hide aspects of your personality. Be yourself.
We’re all victims of some mixed messaging. Hell, even women are sometimes afraid of smart women—and it’s because wires are getting crossed.
But it’s time we all got together and straightened it out. Do it for the cosmic, gravity defying sex. Do it for equality.
Do it for me, because I’m free on Saturday.