Could I Fall in Love With the Bus Driver?

 

As she continues to gain perspective, Emily Heist Moss realizes a good man may not be too hard to find.

Could I fall in love with the bus driver I see every morning? What about the waiter at my favorite cafe? A bartender, custodian, security guard, taxi driver? Could I fall for someone whose educational background and professional ambitions don’t match my own? The answer was, until recently, I don’t know. But after reading Kate Bolick’s much discussed Atlantic cover story, “What, Me Marry?” the answer is, I hope so.

Bolick’s piece is about the plight of the 40ish woman and the dearth of “marriageable” men. She pleads for a world in which “single” isn’t a pejorative word and that we reconsider the pedestal on which we place coupledom. With that plea, Bolick and I are in agreement; nobody should feel like a failure or social outcast because their family portrait doesn’t look like the Cleavers’. But part of Bolick’s logic is that the current “crisis” facing men—the declining percentage of men with college degrees and the specifically male impact of the recession—has created a downhill slide in the number of desirable males for women of a certain educational and professional class. It’s a scary thought, since I’m on my way to joining the cohort she’s describing. Before I start planning my eternally single existence, however, I want to investigate whether I need to rethink what makes a mate “desirable.” Maybe I’m looking for the wrong adjectives.

♦◊♦

Historically, men have married down—financially and professionally speaking—with regularity. The businessman married the secretary, the doctor married the nurse, the pilot married the stewardess. I’m not knocking those honorable and traditionally female professions, only pointing out that from the angle of prestige and earning power, these roles pale in comparison to the traditional “male” counterpart. The logic in the past has often been that a woman’s career potential was trumped by her potential as a caretaker and homemaker. It didn’t matter how ambitious she was, as long as she possessed the characteristics one wanted in a wife and mother. Empathy, patience, and generosity of spirit were weighted more heavily than intellectualism or ambition. Think of Mad Men’s Don Draper proposing to his secretary after seeing how great she was with his kids.

Obviously, I don’t live in the 1960s, and I want a partnership based on much more than convenience. I’m drawn to people driven by intellect, curiosity, confidence, and ambition, and without giving it much thought, I’ve always assumed I’d wind up with someone of my same professional status. While I stand by those first three qualities, intellect, curiosity, and confidence, Bolick’s conclusions are making me reconsider my attraction to ambition. Just because I have grandiose professional goals, why do I place a premium on that trait in my partner? One can be intellectual and passionately curious without desiring all the professional accoutrements that I spend my days toiling towards. One might even be happier for it.

In fact, now that I think about it, I kind of love the idea of a stay-at-home partner, if that arrangement made him happy, too. I derive too much satisfaction and joy out of the unique challenges of the workplace to think that I’ll ever want to leave it, but I recognize that other people find their happiness in many different ways. Especially given the high unemployment in this day and age, I could very easily meet and be attracted to a guy occupying what I would view as a “dead-end job.” Maybe he’s comfortable where he’s at, or maybe he couldn’t find anything better, or maybe how he spends his day is irrelevant to where his passion really lies. Perhaps he’s a poet, or an artist, or a musician, or perhaps his true calling will eventually be revealed as fatherhood. Maybe he has already figured that out, and is just killing time in a job until he gets to start the family he can’t wait to devote himself to. I certainly know women who think about their futures that way, and it doesn’t make them any less intelligent or interesting. As a society, we celebrate women who are full-time caretakers, acknowledging that some people’s best qualities come out in the home, instead of in the office. Mustn’t this be true of men as well?

♦◊♦

I like to spend time around people with far-flung passions, who are well read, who engage with the world in meaningful ways. I will inevitably look for those qualities in a spouse, since I can’t imagine a satisfying relationship devoid of intellectual stimulation and robust conversation. I’m in my mid-20s, and based on my education, occupation, and the social circles I swim in, most of the people I meet have eerily familiar resumes. I think I’ve been a little blinded by the trappings of traditional success.

If I found someone whose intellectualism played out on a private stage instead of a public workplace, I hope I wouldn’t overlook him because he lacked an impressive business card or a five-year-plan including advanced degrees. I hope that I would recognize that kindness, curiosity, and passion can be found in all sorts of people, not just the ones carrying briefcases or wearing suits. A guy with those qualities might be wearing a different kind of uniform these days, and I hope I’m not too narrow-minded to rule him out.

—Photo Saad Akhtar/Flickr

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About Emily Heist Moss

Emily Heist Moss is a New Englander in love with Chicago, where she works at a tech start-up. She's a serious reader and a semi-pro TV buff. She writes about gender, media, and politics at her blog, Rosie Says. (Follow her: @rosiesaysblog, find Rosie Says on Facebook). 

Comments

  1. This is realistic.

    Based on the ever widening gender education gap, where college graduates are 57%/43% women to men, will be almost 60/40 by 2019, and almost 70/30 by the 2050, a growing number of heterosexual women who wish to have partners will have to partner up with men with at best a high school diploma or GED.

    • First of all, maybe I’m a “special case” but I don’t care about a guy’s education or income level. Like Betsy says, all I care about is that he’s intelligent, ethical, creative, compassionate and has personal ambitions that are meaningful to him (whether or not they ever make him wealthy). Many people pursue their personal ambitions outside of their “day jobs”, e.g. art, music, volunteer work, etc. and so they might actually enjoy working a pretty mindless job just so they can pay the bills and not have too much responsibility at work to the point where they can’t pursue their other goals. All these things are fine and most of the guys I’ve dated for have been below my income level actually. I am a creative type myself, so I know how it is and I like to think outside the box, as it were.

      I also wonder if this doesn’t explain the college gap between the sexes, too. Maybe now that a lot of women are pursuing college degrees and high powered careers, men feel like they have more options besides just going to college and getting a high paying job. Women have always had this option, so why shouldn’t men? Maybe we’ll see it even out after awhile, but more men may be interested in going to trade school or being an artist or even a stay at home dad. Obviously some of them are just sitting around playing video games, but I wouldn’t take it as a horrible sign that more women than men are getting college degrees. I don’t have one and yet have still managed a good career and have my own business. I’m not rich but I don’t care about being rich. I bet a lot of men don’t really care about being rich either, but maybe were only pursuing high powered careers because they thought they couldn’t get a woman otherwise. Maybe that is changing, at least among young people. Just some thoughts.

    • Just a side note: Any woman who uses the phrase “marriagable men” or “good marriage candidates” unironically is talking right out of the 1950s, whether she recognizes it or not. You might as well say “good provider” and pretend the sexual revolution never happened.

  2. What’s causing this education gap? This is not a sarcastic question, why are less men graduating? It’s not like they are less intelligent than they used to be. Is it purely admissions based competition from women? more people trying to get into more spots?

    • Since males are on the short end of the stick, its politically incorrect to acknowledge it as even a potential problem, let alone spend any a time or money to do anything to address it. It is trending down toward 90/10 by the end of the century. Close to a resounding victory for the feminist movement.

      • Speaking as a college admissions professional, it is true that more than half of the college applicants these days are women, but colleges want to keep an even balance (the tipping point is generally seen as 60/40), and so, in point of fact, it becomes more and more women competing for a set number of positions, ultimately making it harder for women to get into college than men.

        • isnt this the exact same argument reactionaries used against affirmative action?

        • Which is unfair to women, speaking as a father of only daughters.  Ultimately, colleges will enlarge enrollment and newer, innovative schools will emerge to meet the demand, which is how the trend will continue.

          The data shows that the education issued start years before college admission.  But again, who cares.  They’re just boys.

          A society only harms  itself by discriminating against a major segment of its population. The Chinese will learn the hard way that preferring boys over girls ultimately harms those boys, especially if they become heterosexual men.

          The west will learn the hard way that prefering girls over boy ultimately frustrates those girls, especially if they become heterosexual women.  

          All of this ultimately weakens the fabric of the society. 

          • Why can’t we care about boys AND girls? I have boys. I want them to have a good education. I’m a girl. I got a good education and I married a man who did too. Why can’t we do both? Why does this have to be so flippin ridiculous????

            • We can and should care about both, but the evidence shows we don’t. As I stated, it’s politically incorrect (sexist) to acknowledge where boys/men are on the short end. So, the issue will continue to be ignored. It’s just like the Chinese gender based abortion pattern. It will have to hit the fan before it’s seen as a problem.

            • Is it at all possible that by pumping up support for girls it only looks like boys are getting the short end of the stick? And frankly I think all kids are getting the butt end of the stick when it comes to funding for public ed…I’m honestly asking here, Eric, I’m not well versed in educational issues pertaining to girls/boys as a rule.

            • Julie:
              I would suggest you read “The Ware Against Boys” by Christina Hoff Sommers.
              There is a lot of good information in that book that details the mechanics of what went on to get where we are at now.

            • Still kicking says:

              Julie – I have a son who graduated with honors from The University of Chicago in 2009. He is looking at graduate school and feeling very discouraged because he sees his female classmates getting fat scholarships because they are female, and he does not see the same resources being made available to him. So it IS a problem.

            • K, but given that women couldn’t get into graduate schools and men could, years ago and the playing field is being evened…that’s a bad thing? I’m guessing you’ll say yes. I think men and women both deserve equal opportunities. And I went to graduate school without scholarships. I have debt. My husband did too. He has debt. Neither of us got discouraged because someone else got more support. We just went forth and did the work and decided the cost was worth it and it was based on earning potential. Maybe those women earned the scholarships, is that a possibility?

            • K, but given that women couldn’t get into graduate schools and men could, years ago and the playing field is being evened…that’s a bad thing? I’m guessing you’ll say yes.
              I’m kinds of late but i have to ask.

              Let’s say we have Sue and Eddy applying to grad school.

              Still Kicking notices that that Sue is getting tons of scholarship offers for being female while Eddy is not getting any. Does that mean that based on your line of thought here this situation is okay because Sue and Eddy’s grandmothers weren’t able to get into grad school but their grandfathers were?

              There is still a need for Sue and Eddy to be educated in this world and while it sounds good on paper I have a few reservations with what seems to be a case of presuming that Eddy doesn’t need any scholarship aid just because he and Sue’s grandads were able to go to grad school decades ago and presuming that Sue does need scholarship aid just because she and Eddy’s grandmas weren’t.

              In short it seems to be a case of, “Sue needs aid because she’s a woman and Eddy doesn’t because he’s a man.”

              I’ll agree that its not right that their grandmothers weren’t able to go to grad school decades ago while their grandfathers could but is it really a good idea to “even” things out by offering the Sues money and leaving the Eddys hanging?

              Neither of us got discouraged because someone else got more support. We just went forth and did the work and decided the cost was worth it and it was based on earning potential. Maybe those women earned the scholarships, is that a possibility?
              Its not so much a matter of being discouraged because someone else got more support its a matter of not being able to do it without that support.

              And while yes it is possible that those women did earn them something interesting comes to mind.

              When people rail on about male privielge this and male privilege that the last thing those folks want to hear is “maybe those men earned what they got?”. In fact some of them will say in one breath, “we aren’t saying they didn’t work for what they got” then in the next say “we are saying that with the way the system is set up they got some amount of help that wasn’t accessible to everyone else”.

              But when women have the upper hand we are supposed to just chalk it up to “well what if they earned it?” (I’m not directly accusing you of this but this does seem to happen.)

            • How many scholarships exist that are for women only? I’m actually gonna look into this here at my school cause there are loads of merit based ones, loads of specific to the college ones, but I’ve rarely seen (and I worked directly with scholarships in one particular college) based on gender or race. Doesn’t mean they aren’t out there and frankly, given how admissions works it’s an extremely complex matrix here in Texas but one that connects to the top 10 percent flat out.

            • Well, when he graduates he’ll find that a bunch of big fat promotions and career paths will be open to him because they are all but closed to women, still. For instance, guys get all indignant about the fire service, saying things like “a white male can’t get hired as a firefighter anymore.” Yet when you look at the fire service, it’s 95% white males and so are the new recruit classes. The upper echelons of business and government are still overwhelmingly white male. Suddenly, though, men have the “short end of the stick?”

              When the playing field is moving towards equal, guys suddenly think they’re being shorted. Welcome to the real world, where things don’t always get handed to you because you’re a dude. This is not going down well with the entitlement generation.

            • Right, sharing opportunities always feels like “losing.” And maybe if the genders in past generations had been sharing instead of hoarding then there wouldn’t have been as much of a push of affirmative actions etc and it wouldn’t feel like things were being taken. Redistribution of equity. One thing seems to always been true, when there is a dominant group in power, they never seem to share. Equity always has to be fought for-race, gender, class, sexual orientation, all the same path, no matter the country or time period. And the dominant group loses it’s dominance and they freak out. Even though in the long term, things might be better for them themselves with more fairness, justice and equity.

            • “when he graduates he’ll find that a bunch of big fat promotions and career paths will be open to him because they are all but closed to women, still.”

              This statement is clear evidence of having no idea how corporations operate, and being out of touch with reality.

            • Julie, these are real numbers (statistics), just as Sydney (above) acknowledged. All boys are gettiing hit but the boys who are getting hit the hardest are minority (Latino and black) boys.

              I must say, that is exactly what our society needs, a steadily increasing number of un- and under-educated, frustrated, angry, and unemployed black and Latino young men as the next generation of fathers.

              Yeah, no need to acknowledge that as a potential problem. It will all work out just fine.

            • By the way, I’m glad you are taking an interest.

            • Of course I see it as a problem. I’d see a steadily increasing number of un- and under-educated, frustrated, angry, and unemployed young women as the next generation of mothers as a problem too no matter the race. It’s the “increasing” and undereducated…unemployed” part that I find problematic. What I”m having a hard time grappling with is why we can’t raise both genders up, teach mutual respect and get on with a happier America. I mean, I actually have a good idea why that’s not working, but I still grapple with it.

            • I think you men young men.

            • No, I mean I’d have a problem with under educated frustrated un or under employed young people of EITHER SEX becoming a next wave/generaltion of parents. Male or female. See how that works? How it doesn’t work well for either gender?

          • “But again, who cares. They’re just boys.”
            Apparently, a lot of people care, given the amount of media attention the education gap is getting. It’s in the news all the time, and there have been countless articles written about it. I think it’s pretty harsh to say that no one cares. It’s just that it’s a relatively recent occurrence and people haven’t really nailed down a) what, exactly, is causing it and b) what to do about it. There’s been a lot of speculation about what may be causing it, but no one actually knows. I’ve read quite a few articles that suggest ways to improve male performance in school. People are trying, even if they’re not there yet.

            • Lindsey,

              ” I think it’s pretty harsh to say that no one cares. It’s just that it’s a relatively recent occurrence.”

              A 25 year old problem isn’t a recent occurence, in my opinion.

              If girls were on the down end, there would have long ago been a federally funded agency (or at least sub-agency in the US Dept. of Education) established to bring this issue to the forefront and effect change to achieve gender educational equality.

              There would be federally mandated/enforced and supervised state and local programs, with policies and procedures to protect girls’ interests (as would only be right). Schools would likely be measured by their performance based on gender equality to ensure that girls were just as well educated as boys.

              I would personally be behind whatever measures they needed to take to ensure that girls got what they needd to get an equal education. Relative to what would (and SHOULD!!) be done for girls if gap were reversed, “no one cares.”

              After all, they’re just boys.

            • Well, girls were on the downside for a very long time yeah? And I think what’s happening (I’m guessing of course), is that 25 years is enough time to see those kids grow up and become disenfranchised from the system that had a hand in the problem. So…let’s take a faster view.
              The thing I’m more concerned with, is there are a number of women here talking about how, yes they do care, and you keep tossing out these really bitter passive aggressive phrases. “After all, they’re just boys.” I’ve pretty much acknowleged that I have a husband and two boy kids and I love them dearly. So yeah, I imagine there are a lot of people who care and isn’t this site a space for that positivity?

            • “The thing I’m more concerned with, is there are a number of women here talking about how, yes they do care, and you keep tossing out these really bitter passive aggressive phrases.”

              ” there are a lot of people who care and isn’t this site a space for that positivity?”

              If a lot of people cared, there would be evidence. There simply isn’t any. Being positive doesn’t mean that you pretend real problems don’t exist.

      • Why though are they on the short end? If Sydney is correct and they are holding open positions for men, why are the men disengaging?
        Why can’t we prefer both men and women? Why can’t men and women equally strive for various levels of engagement and achievement and connection? This either/or way of thinking seems to cause problems. Women have brains. Women are smart. So are men. There is no reason why they both shouldn’t engage and achieve.
        Is this some sort of cultural shake out where men of a certain generation are just pissed at having to change? I mean…and this is snarky, I realize… but you’ve had thousands of years of control more or less (and don’t tell me women have had more control cause of their vaginas, cause if that was their only currency it was a poor one) and only about 50 years of us pushing back hard. Is it really that upsetting? Upsetting enough to ruin boys? I just doubt that somehow.
        for me, I’d look at the disengagement as connected to other things. Economy. Corporations that minimimze all humans, constant war and threat of war. Or at least look at that as much as women.
        As for the article, yeah women who achieve high goals should look in the mirror and deal with their own sexism. No one can have it both ways, unless we all have it both ways.
        Or something. :0

        • Engagement isnt necessarily found within the individual. There has been a ton of research on this topic as it applies to business. For some reason education and the prescribed “path to success” no longer resonates for a large group of young men.

          • RIght, and I hardly think it’s simply because women are becoming more educated and ambitious. Women aren’t to blame for the individual choices of these men.

            In my age group (30s) I meet a plethora of men who just have zero ambition because they don’t like to work. Not because they feel subjugated or dominated by women. It’s simply because they prefer playing to working. We call it the Peter Pan syndrome; the Lost Boys who just never grow up.

            Somehow it’s become cooler for men to have nothing and strive for nothing. It’s seen as “freedom” instead of irresponsibility.

            • Interestingly, the phrase “immature” is often applied by radical social-conservatives AND radical feminists to the same group of men who refuse to follow the old model of playing provider/protector for a wife and kids.

              The social-conservatives are longing for the 1950s, as always; what’s the feminists’ excuse?

            • Wow…. seriously? So the women who stayed home in the 1950s while their husbands worked were just refusing to grow up? They had no adult responsibilities? :D

              Now if a guy who wants to marry a career woman and be a stay at home dad gets chastised for being “immature” or otherwise less of a man, then you have a point. I don’t think that describes the men Bobbi is referring to. There are a number of young men who just want to stay in their parents’ home after graduating high school, and play videogames or otherwise try to prolong their childhood. I don’t think a man is immature or weak just because doesn’t want to be a “provider”, and I’m all in favor of men having more options. But he’s got to bring *something* to the table if he wants to be a functioning adult. Like anybody else, he either has to get a job or marry someone who’s willing to provide for him. And if it’s the latter, I doubt she’d be OK with him sitting around playing videogames any more than a man would have tolerated it from a stay at home wife.

            • Missed the point, LF. The social conservatives who want the old whitebread 1950s lifestyle are complaining about MEN who fail to pursue an ambitious, profit-oriented career in order to become “good providers” for a wife and kids.

              And many allegedly liberated women apparently want the same thing from men, even though that role hasn’t worked for over 30 years now. Plenty of men are paying their own bills AND pursuing their own interests (which, yes, can include video games). And those interests DON’T include working full-time at a climb-the-ladder soul-crushing career in order to support a woman who works only if she feels like it, and only if she finds it “fulfilling.” These women regularly complain that such MGTOW are immature or perpetual adolescents–their own version of shaming men for not conforming to someone else’s expectations.

              Fortunately, more men are aware of what a scam the classic role has become, and aren’t interested in playing it. I applaud them. If this be immaturity, let us make the most of it.

            • Blaming the victim.

        • The problem is you feminists talk about men as if we’ve all lived for millennia and have gotten to experience thousands of years of superiority and control. I don’t know about you, but I’m 22 and I’ve never experienced total dominion over women. In fact, I’ve been put under the thumb of many women and have been treated as a second class citizen in many many aspects.

          Is it really that upsetting to be told that because your gender controlled everything for thousands of years before you were ever born you are now going to be ruthlessly punished for something you never did, participated in, or reaped the benefits of? Yes, yes it is.

          • How have you been put under the thumb of women, Colin? I mean this honestly? What are the situations? How is losing some privilege to expand equality terrible? If women have been treated poorly for millenia, and now are getting options to get better education, voting rights etc why is that bad? Are your voting rights being taken away? Nope. Can you apply to schools? Yep. Can you date women? Well, legally you can. Why does my equality mean bad things for you? I always ask questions like to this to people against gay marriage too. My friends getting married has no impact on my marriage. Why would me getting the vote and rights and access to the things you have access to, mean you are under a thumb? Be specific.

            • It sounds like he’s talking about his personal experiences with individual women.

              To be frank- What happened to an individual woman 500 years ago is irrelevant to you. Assuming you are from the US, unless you’re well over 100 years old you have never been prevented from voting. How is that even relevant to the conversation? Some of my ancestors were massacred by my wife’s ancestors in the 1600s. its in the very well documented family history on both sides. Should I be angry at my wife? Do you think she and my inlaws should grant me special privileges to make up for that sin against me?

            • All I want to know is how equality for women diminishes equality for men. I don’t think it does, but he apparently does.
              And because I hear often, on MRA sites, a lot of “back in the good old days” kind of talk about when men were men, and women served them, provided them with sex and so forth and so on. It isn’t like that anymore. Let’s move on.

            • Equality would yield equality. Who can or would argue with that? However, on very life impacting areas (e.g. education) not only is there not equality but it’s getting further and further away from. But, no one seems to care.

            • Well please don’t include me in that “no one.” I’ve obviously been engaging you on the issue and am taking interest. I presume you mean no one important who can influence things?

            • I didnt see Colin say that equality for women diminished men. He said he personally never experienced domination over women. He also said he had personally experienced inequality.

            • Well are we talking about personal moment to moment inequities or cultural ones. Very different topics. if Colin is personally being dominated by people without his consent, he should deal with that-at work, through HR, in his personal life, by fixing the issues or breaking up with the girl or whatever it is.
              He’s not being dominated because someone’s husband beat a woman in 1883, or at least that shouldn’t be the reason. That’s not cool. But if a woman got a job because she was more qualified, that’s not domination. Historically women have had less dominance in the work world and that is shifting.
              He has agency to take control of his life.
              Different issues than how rights and resources have been shifting and changing.

            • Well said.

    • I don’t know about the root causes yet but this problem has frightening implications for our society and especially the young men themselves. When I read about this problem it looks like a problem of engagement. Many young men seem like they just aren’t engaged in their education and are falling through the cracks as a result.

      • Sorry to reply to my own post but drivers of engagement in EMPLOYMENT are:
        1. Employee perceptions of job importance
        2. Employee clarity of job expectations
        3. Career advancement/improvement opportunities
        4. Regular feedback and dialogue with superiors
        5. Quality of working relationships with peers, superiors, and subordinates
        6. Perceptions of the ethos and values of the organization
        7. Effective Internal Employee Communications
        8. Reward to engage

        Failure in one or more of these factors can cause disengagement.

    • I blame the education gap not on feminism but a lack of “Masculine-ism”. In the old days it wouldn’t be so uncommon for a man to think that he needed a commercially attractive women to both complimented “HIS” life and validate “HIS” existence.  
      In my opinion Women’s progress has lead to an existential catastrophe for a lot of men who now seek validation from video games.

      • Budmin, will you say more about this? So women have more rights now and that is causing an existential crisis? Forgive me for saying..golly suck it up. Find a new way to be masculine? Should african americans go back to being servants and uneducated because it causes white people some existential angst? Hell no. White people need to sit with that angst and learn from it and help build a post racial world alongside people who are obviously their equals.
        Same thing with LGBT. Should they go back in the closet and be good since it causes a lot of straight people to freak out? Hell no.
        Neither should women, back off and take less than equailty in pay/etc. We all have to learn how to deal with each other, see each other as human. Women may have to find new ways to be in new different relationships with new types of men and learn to let go of their own BS.
        What’s crazy about this to me is isn’t like romantic love and the western male/female paradigm is all that old. Cultures throughout time have had widely disparate ways of running love, marriage, sex and childrearing. There is no “one” way.

        • -Julie I’m not contesting anything your saying but I doubt that you have a full grasp of how right you are. Racism was as much a motivating factor for attaining wealth as sexism. LBGT acceptance and multiculturalism are more life affirming for the dis-empowered rather then the established.
          We are moving towards a world where men are more a supplemental necessity. That’s the ugly truth.
          The realization of this is probably causing some men to suffer from an entropy of Purpose and it’s a big depressing problem.

          • I don’t want men or women either to feel like they are a “necessity” I suppose. In a world when men can adopt or hire surrogates, maybe women aren’t “necessary” either. I think both sexes are going through a huge existential period. I have a husband and two boys and believe me, I can see how our relationship is 180 to his parents, and I can see how it tweaks both of us, but and maybe I’m being self congratulatory here, I feel both of us have the critical thinking skills to identify the real issues from the global angst. What if you all were fed a false bill of goods for the past 500 years? What if what we needed you for was BS? What if we can actually WANT each other rather than need to use each other? Those are the things I’d like to see discussed. We all of us have to find a new purpose and that’s hard and scary, but I think it’s better than a world where we pick one winner and place them on top of other’s backs just so they can feel needed or important. Blacks, gays, women…we are human beings and we all are entitled to respect, compassion and things like education, etc etc . White straight men too obviously. How do we do this together??

          • I can completely empathize, Budmin. Most of the changes that have taken place over the last 40 years with regard to education and the workplace have been more about women making huge strides and men either staying the same or going downhill. Some men do indeed perceive this as an existential crisis and I can’t really say I blame them. Equality for women is a good thing, but we’ve overlooked the fact that men can’t just re-invent masculinity overnight, and meanwhile they don’t feel as useful or purpose driven or needed as they once did. I totally get that.

            Mind you I think there are other aggravating forces at work too. Getting a college education in general doesn’t mean the kind of security that it once did. Lots of people, both men and women, go to college and then start life in a mound of debt and no job or a very menial job with few prospects of the situation getting better. So that doesn’t help.

            As an “independent woman” who owns a business and a home of her own and doesn’t, supposedly, “need” a man, all I have to offer is … there are a few things for which we will always need each other, such as love, empathy, companionship, protection, partnership. Of course you can also add sexual intimacy and possibly parenting to the list, but those should be obvious.

            Traditionally men and women have had different ways we were “supposed” to express these values, and a lot of that has gone by the wayside now, but that doesn’t mean we really need each other any less. We all still have those same needs, and we are all still capable of providing those needs for someone else. The WAYS we do it just might be different from what they were 50 years ago. Hopefully this will eventually translate eventually to both men and women being encouraged to develop qualities that make them caring, compassionate, protective human beings, as opposed to just competing for who can play out their gender role to the greatest degree of perfection… which IMO has mostly been a disaster for both genders.

      • Still kicking says:

        Budmin, I think I love you…..

  3. Could you fall in love with a bus driver? Probably. Would he ever get the time of day? Incredibly unlikely. Women are simply more judgmental than men. They run a little checklist in their head and if you fail on one thing… NEXT! Why take the time to find out the reasons when you get to sit there and be the arbiter of human value. I get completely ignored because I didn’t go to college. It isn’t because I didn’t want to go or that I didn’t get into any schools — I was accepted to Columbia among others — but it was impossible because of other life circumstances entirely beyond my control.

    Does that make me less intelligent? No. In fact, I firmly believe it has resulted in a far more robust education because it is something that I have controlled myself. Unfortunately answering the question “Oh, where did you go to college?” with “I didn’t go to college” is a quicker route to not hearing back from someone than admitting you’re a virgin.

    I’ve never met a woman who is willing to actually take any amount of time to get to know me as a person and learn the reasons behind the facts. No one ever asks me why I didn’t go to college. They just assume I didn’t go because I couldn’t get in or because I wasn’t good enough.

    You constantly here memes on the internet that women are less judgmental than men, but I have NEVER experienced this. Every time I think I might have a chance to get to know a woman and have a relationship, I get disqualified because I didn’t go to college or some other fact about me that they didn’t take the time to ask why it is the way it is.

    I finally got the courage to start getting to know this incredibly attractive woman who I also found out was pretty smart and as soon as she found out I didn’t go to college, that was it. Done. What was the most intense flirting someone has ever directed my way completely disappeared. Another sour taste in my mouth to add to the long history of failure because I simply am not good enough apparently.

    • people are judgemental in general. I dont think one gender has a greater tendency to judgement. Men and women may tend to different selection criteria though. I certainly had a checklist when I met my wife as did she. I only met 2 people in my life who could have potentially filled each box and I dated quite a few women. I’m glad I ended up with the one who had some other qualities that I’ve come to appreciate as well.

      However, if you cannot find someone who meets your checklist thats YOUR fault because its YOUR list. You shouldn’t push the blame onto the opposite sex in general. No one is in charge of minting mates to your order- expecting that is the height of entitlement.

      • Obviously, your reading comprehension is poor at best because I never said anything about my list, having a list, or anything else to do with my standards.

    • Still kicking says:

      Colin, I will call bullshit on you. I have been an attorney for many years. I fell in love with a fireman and had a great relationship with him for seven years, until he cheated on me and I had to say goodbye to him. He was dyslexic and had a high school education . I have two graduate degrees, including my Juris Doctor. I admired his street smarts (much more admirable than academic skills, in my opinion), and his physicality. He was great fun, told wonderful stories, and was a good guy. I loved HIM, for who he was. I would still be seeing him if he hadn’t cheated on me. The difference between me and a lot of younger women is that I have ZERO interest in marrying anyone, or even living with someone. I like my solitude and my privacy. My only interest in men now would be in knowing great individuals, men with street smarts, humor and integrity. I think younger women who run that checklist and think they must marry will get over that delusion once they have married and divorced. Marriage sucks.

    • Kirsten (in MT) says:

      Have you considered that maybe a bigger problem in your dating troubles than not having attended college is that you are giving off incredibly negative vibes?

    • Wow, extremely untrue.

      Of course, I’ve heard this from more than one man, even those that I’ve dated. They were happy that a woman would finally give them the time of day, claiming they “don’t have enough money” for most women. It never bothered me how much money someone had or what job they did.

      How wrong I was.

      What I have finally learned is that not wanting to date a deadbeat is not the same as being a judgmental snob. I still don’t care what someone does for a living as long as they’re solvent, supporting themselves, have their own place, have a plan for the future, and can contribute financially to a stable home. If our bus driver doesn’t have those attributes, I wouldn’t touch him with a twenty foot pole, and it’s not because of what he does for a living. It’s because of how he’s approaching life – paycheck to paycheck, by the seat of his pants, no stability or responsibility.

      If you call that a “little list I’m running in my head,” so be it. How silly. I don’t care what the reasons are for a person not having a stable lifestyle; I still don’t want to date him so why waste my time finding out the “reasons”? That doesn’t make me evil or shallow or mean. It just doesn’t work for me to have a partner who can’t contribute. And a person who isn’t stable in their own life can never be a stable partner.

      Also, what Kirsten (in MT) said. Sheesh, man.

  4. Realistically, you should ask also if the bus driver would want to fall in love with you. The realities of female hypergamy, women generally wanting to “marry up,” are open knowledge at this point. Any man who violates that script has to know that he’s taking the risk that, in five to ten years or less, his overachieving wife is going to meet someone more suitable to her station and nature at work, at which time he’s going to hear that she just “fell out of love” or some similar vague explanation. Then, he’ll be chewed-up and spit out in divorce and child custody court up against a woman who has more financial and social resources and knows more lawyers than he does. Any man who marries up is playing Russian roulette.

  5. Could a bus driver fall in love with an ambitious career woman? I think that’s a question that needs to be answered as well. I’m an attorney, and I’ve found that men tend to be quite intimidated by the idea of dating a woman with more “status” (whatever that means), financial resources and education.

    • Right. I have ample anecdotes pertaining to that too.

    • Still kicking says:

      Same here, Jill. Men generally find me extremely intimidating, just because I am an attorney. I would rather be with a blue-collar guy than a white-collar guy, but the men who would not be intimidated are very rare indeed. I have simply given up, as I don’t want to waste my time explaining myself to anyone, and I don’t want to put up with the suspicion and power-games I encounter.

      • I know plenty of women who are willing to marry men who make less money, but I know very few men who are willing to marry women who make more money.

        Until a majority of men take equal responsibility for patriarchy, we will continue to have this problem.

    • I, too, have had that experience. They say it doesn’t bother them but it quickly becomes an issue.

      I’ve always wondered why men seem to prefer helpless and incapable women to take care of rather than having an equal partnership. This might be just my perception, but it does seem to be a bit of an epidemic.

    • wellokaythen says:

      “Could a bus driver fall in love with an ambitious career woman? I think that’s a question that needs to be answered as well. I’m an attorney, and I’ve found that men tend to be quite intimidated by the idea of dating a woman with more “status” (whatever that means), financial resources and education.”

      Yes, that certainly happens. It could also be that, from his point of view, he prefers someone with a similar background and life experience to that of himself. It would be wrong to assume that because he’s not attracted to ambitious white collar women that he is intimidated by them. Worse, it would be arrogant to assume that if he’s not attracted to one in particular then he’s not attracted to any of them at all. Don’t assume that if he rejects you there must be something wrong with him….

  6. @Colin Your life sound HORRIBLE! Not because you are generally challenged but basically cause you your self don’t even like it. Have you ever heard of the term Self fulfilling Prophesy. You might be falling in love with your problems more that you could EVER love a women.

    LEARN TO COOK, HIT THE GYM, VOLUNTEER ANYWHERE THAT WILL MAKE YOU FORGET ABOUT SPOONING WITH SOME SUPER CUTE CHICK WITH BEDROOM EYES!!!

    -LOVE IS THE ULTIMATE EXPRESSION OF A LIFE WELL LIVED.
    Do you know what that means?

    • It is horrible, horrible because I am alone. I know how to cook, I own my own business, I am a classically trained musician, and I have many other things going for me, but I don’t like my life because what value is there in success if you are forced to enjoy it alone. There was a time when I was proud, confident, and enjoyed my talents and success, but it did not bring me the most important thing in life — love and affection — and it slowly lost it’s value.

      Unfortunately, you cannot operate at 110% all the time. Every idle moment you are one step from the edge. Sleep is not a blessing, but a curse; a fitful nightmare through which I must suffer every night. Winding down means wandering down… down dark and lonely roads to the blackest recesses of the mind. Recesses best left undisturbed.

      The void is always moving, always chasing, always closing in. Unlike the human spirit, the void is inexhaustible. Eventually, you must pause to catch your breath but pause too long and you’ll be lost forever.

      Even the hero of the ages could not stand against the void alone. Vanquishing the void requires alliances of friendship, affection, and love. “Stand with me,” I entreat every time I pause to catch my breath, and every time they look the other way. And so I run. Always running to stay ahead of the void who sings its siren song. It serenades you with the peaceful bliss of nothingness. An indomitable will is only thus so long as the ropes keeping you bound to the mast are not frayed and failing.

      Eventually, the ropes will have frayed and failed, and I will stop too exhausted to continue. There will be no last stand, no struggle, no attempt to vanquish the unstoppable force. The sweet bliss of nothingness will wash over me… and it will be over.

      • Two words: Therapy, Anti-depressants.
        Not kidding. Not being mean. You sound terribly terribly depressed.

        • Actually you also sound really overdramatic. But get some support/help. I usually recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help identify patterns not working in your life.

        • I’ve tried both therapy and anti-depressants. The anti-depressants didn’t work and the therapy is… well it’s not particularly effective but I go and talk to her and get to talk to an attractive woman.

          As for being overly dramatic, I wouldn’t say I’m overly dramatic at all. A person who loves constructing flowery prose? Certainly. Overly dramatic… actually yes, a little bit.

          • Get a new therapist. Try working with a man. Get new pills. Change your life, cause you seem very unhappy.

            • Why would working with a man help? I am not comfortable talking to men. I am always changing my life, always making it better, and I always hate it.

            • Maybe that’s why it would help? Sometimes we need to challenge ourselves in therapy by dealing with a person who can mirror some of our issues or feelings. When i was working on father issues I found therapists that triggered that in me (usually they were male), when on mother issues…the same. Let the therapist act as a crucible I guess. You sound pretty miserable and stuck in a cycle of victimization and bitterness. Just “talking” to a therapist, even a pretty one, isn’t going to have the leverage to make real change in how YOU experience the world. My two cents, but Cog. Behav. Therapy worked wonders.

            • Because you’re going to therapy so you get to talk to a hot chick? Jeez, dude, get some real help.

          • What’s your Friggin’ obsession with Commercially attractive women? Do you really want to worship at the feet of a human being that could and probably be just as fractured as anyone of us? REALLY?
            Or worst do you want to PAY that attractive women to give your life meaning only to find out what happens when you run out of money?

            STOP WORSHIPING WOMEN!

      • Still kicking says:

        Colin, women are not the answer. You need to find your core and learn to love yourself. If you keep looking to women to save you, you will be sorely disappointed.

        • Sure they are. I know what my core is and you can’t learn to love yourself unless other people love you. It really is that simple.

    • It is sexist to call women ‘chicks’. Please apologize.

  7. Tom Matlack says:

    Emily you have done it again. Got right to the heart of the question of what it means to be a good man, whether from a man or a woman’s perspective. Thank you.

    • Sorry, Tom, but I don’t think that Emily has gotten right to the heart of the question of what it means to be a good man.

      Tom, a good man, among other things, takes equal responsibility for patriarchy. Most of the time, your website encourages men to run away from that responsibility.

      • Good men don’t take responsibility for something that has absolutely nothing to do with them. Despite what you man-hating militant feminists believe, it is not every man’s responsibility to take blame for things that he has absolutely nothing to do with. That won’t stop you man-haters from trying to blame all of us anyway, but you all are beyond help. The best we can do is hope you are put into a bad situation one day where a man could save you, but doesn’t because you’re an independent woman and you don’t need the help of some filthy, creepy, chest-thumping, gorilla of a man.

      • Hey marie.

        Women don’t get to define men, men define men. “some filthy, creepy, chest-thumping, gorilla of a man.” You hateful misandrist. You are nothing but the equivalent of some idiot ranting about “gold diggers” and “sluts”, about black people being criminals etc.

  8. “As a society, we celebrate women who are full-time caretakers, acknowledging that some people’s best qualities come out in the home, instead of in the office.”

    If we really celebrated women who are full-time caretakers, women wouldn’t have gotten into the labor force. Full-time caretaking has no salary, no benefits, nor retirement savings . . . there are several statistics that show that stay-at-home motherhood is the strongest predictor of women falling into poverty. Anne Crittenden, an economist and journalist, wrote a fine, often brilliant, book about it: The Price of Motherhood: Why the World’s Most Important Job Is Still the Least Valued.

    Indeed, when we read about the great people of history, they’re usually men who had stay-at-home wives who made all the sacrifices. So it’s simply not true that society celebrates women who are full-time caretakers. Society celebrates men who rise to the top of their professions. And most of them have stay-at-home wives. It’s a very unfair, exploitative arrangement that benefits men at women’s expense.

    • It is a shame that you simply have no idea what you’re talking about, and you’re probably one of the most hate-filled ignoramuses ever to grace this message board. The simple fact is that someone HAS to raise the children and take care of the house, and generally that has been the mother. Certainly not a thankless job, but one that had its own rewards and did not need any salary, benefits, nor retirement savings because the family was one UNIT. A married couple counted as one unit, as in everything is shared.

      I love how you act like only stay at home women make sacrifices. Men don’t make sacrifices… nah. It isn’t a sacrifice to work 12 hour days, or go down into the coal mine, or off to war, or putting yourself in some other stressful situation all day. Man, we should feel really bad for the sacrifices those women staying at home make while their husbands are losing arms and legs and putting themselves in mortal danger every single day just to keep food on the table.

      Give me a break.

      • What did your dad do for a living Colin? Miner? Army? Fireman? There are a lot of men who do work in the world that is completely NOT dangerous. Advertising, anyone? You think all women hate men, just because they want respect and equal opportunities. This is not an equivalency.

      • I wonder if any of you are stay-at-home parents… I am, you can read my story on GMP here: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/june-cleaver-with-a-sex-blog/

        First – one reason my husband and I are happily married is because neither of us disrespects the other enough to argue that the other’s work is easier. We have sacrificed equally, in different ways, at different times. They are equally hard, though sometimes mine is easy and his is hard, and vise versa. To question his sacrifice over mine would undermine his intentions and also our mutual commitment to our family. Same goes for him. He would never come at me and say, “your life is a cakewalk” as some of my friends’ husbands have said. But that’s why we’re still together and many of them are not, perhaps.

        The difference between my husband and I at this point is our earning potential. Mine is literally less than a quarter of his at this point, partly because of the economy and partly because I left the workforce to stay home with my kids. My good (female friend, a woman) friend who was in the exact same position as me at the same company at the same time, with the same quality education and background as me, has continued with her career and is currently earning as much as my husband.

        If he some how disappeared, I couldn’t afford this house, this neighborhood (for the public schools), or even this city. I’d have to go live with my parents in another state. This is the inherent insecurity of being an at-home mom. Yes, the family unit should be all-things-shared, and fortunately for me ours is, but in many it’s not and there’s nothing a woman can do about it. Dead beat dads are everywhere, either unemployed or hiding income or even just breaking the law. I have made the sacrifice of my individual security for the betterment of my family and with complete faith in my husband to do what’s right, but it’s a gamble.

        And, Collin, are you aware that women go to war too? That mothers die in combat more than anyone would like to look at? Did you know that women work in factories, mental hospitals, prisons, are firefighters, police officers and corporate head-honchos? I know you probably know all that, but I wanted to remind you.

    • “If we really celebrated women who are full-time caretakers, women wouldn’t have gotten into the labor force. Full-time caretaking has no salary, no benefits, nor retirement savings . ”

      That’s a collection of lies. The family wage is a shared wage by definition and the caretaker can have the worker evicted on a while still retaining them as an income stream.

  9. “Empathy, patience, and generosity of spirit were weighted more heavily than intellectualism or ambition.”

    Subservience was weighted more heavily than intellectualism or ambition. Get real, Emily.

  10. Great article Emily! I have seen several friends take this road and be very happy. There is inevitably the challenge of having conversations about traditional gender rolls and how they impact our sense of self (whether we like it or not…it’s been in the water). I have seen it really work when the woman in the relationship is intentional not to emasculate her husband with phrases like “I’m the breadwinner, he just can’t seem to make enough money for me to stay home…” These are the times I cringe inside and worry for the success or health of this kind of union. I especially cringe when I know that behind the scenes it’s her desire to work…and her insecurity that causes her to make such degrading comments.

    Seems every pairing will have it’s issues and need for honest dialogue. I agree: kindness, integrity and great conversation are good values to seek. I look more at how he follows through with his commitments than how high he’s climbed the latter of this unstable economy.

  11. Emily, you should let us know if you can overcome your hypergamy in practice.

  12. Emily,

    Nice article. I really liked it. It was honest on all fronts and it’s hard to face up to the fact that you might be ruling people out based on success, ambition, etc. I think we all have certain things we look for and value in a potential partner. Some of those can be considered superficial by some. It was good to have an open and honest account.

  13. Does anybody else have the problem with trying to enter a comment and the site refreshes and deletes your comment. I do and its really annoying

    • I’ve had that happen a couple of times. I suspect it’s something to do with the auto-refresh/reload on the page’s ads.

  14. How many scholarships exist that are for women only? I’m actually gonna look into this here at my school cause there are loads of merit based ones, loads of specific to the college ones, but I’ve rarely seen (and I worked directly with scholarships in one particular college) based on gender or race.
    I don’t know exact numbers but at the time that I was applying for college (back in 1999) I specifically recall coming across several scholarships that were for women only and to this day I have yet to see even one that was for men only.

    And even at that there is still a matter of scholarships being “advertised” in a gender neutral manner but then being awared in a gender specific manner. Mind you this is not limited to scholarships as it can happen in hiring practices, laws, etc…. But for some reason folks like to think that only ever happens in one direction, or if it does happen in the other direction its somehow okay.

  15. wellokaythen says:

    Somewhat dependable generalities about bus drivers in many places:

    They have a fairly stable, unionized job, with a decent benefits package and a consistent work schedule. Their jobs improve the lives of many people on a daily basis. They have to be responsible, reliable people with some basic people skills. They are not pushovers, and they can smell BS from a long way away. They see the nitty-gritty real world on a daily basis and deal with it as it happens. They have very little time or space to be snobs or think they’re better than everyone else. They deal with real-world issues and real-world insanity on an hourly basis, and work with every sort of person imaginable as part of the job.

    You could do far worse.

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