From John Ray's shorter notes
September 27, 2017
We're just too clever to find a boyfriend! It may sound insufferably smug, but these women say their high intellect means they struggle to meet someone
There is some truth and a lot of mistaken assumptions below. Men are less keen on going to university these days because that is no longer where the money is. Tradesmen such as electricians and plumbers are the high income earners these days. So for a woman to find a man with similar interests and background is difficult.
But it always was. Traditionally women were interested in clothes and babies while men were interested in cars and beer. Interests in common have never been a major factor in male/female pairings and it is foolish to expect it.
And the women described below have, if anything, accentuated that difference. They all seem to have done do-gooder studies of some sort. That fits a woman's biological role as a carer but it is not a biological role for a male and is more likely to put men off than elicit approval. And for a women to have done feminist studies is worst of all. That would send most men running. Feminism is just too hostile to them.
And the claim below that a brainy background is uniquely handicapping to women is an example of how identity-conscious people routinely assign to their identity something that is not identity related at all.
Take the example of blacks. Everyone experiences social exclusion and disapproval of some sort for all sorts of reasons but a black will often attribute all such disapproval to his blackness when it may have many other causes -- such as his excessive self-esteem.
And it is true that a highly educated person will be somewhat isolated by that. But such isolation happens to MEN TOO. When I used to go to parties many years ago, I would have two answers ready to the usual "what do you do for a living" question. At that time I was a university lecturer but also drove taxis part time for a bit of extra money.
If I replied to the party question "I am a university lecturer", the space around me would clear within minutes. Nobody wanted to talk to me. On other occasions I would reply "I am a taxi driver". That was a great social success. Everybody would want to talk to me about taxi drivers they had met etc. So the ladies below should stop being sexist about what is in fact normal social segregation. They are feeling unreasonably aggrieved and grievance has its own problems.
The focus on conversation is one I share but it is not necessarily wise. In Australia the population is about 5% Han Chinese so there are a lot of short little Asian young ladies about. And they HATE being shorter than almost anyone else around. So they are determined to have taller children. But the only way to do that is to get a tall man. But the tall men are almost all Caucasians. So that is what the little ladies go for. So it is common out and about where I live to see little Asian ladies on the arms of tall Caucasian men.
So how come those Asian ladies can get a man when the ladies below cannot? Simple. Asian ladies don't want to know what the men think of Mr Trump or social issues generally. They just want to know what he wants and do their best to give it to him. And that suits the men. Asian ladies tend to come across as very feminine and their obliging nature makes the man think he has hit the jackpot. So there will be a lot of Eurasian children about in Australia before long.
So are there any lessons from that for the bereft ladies below? There is a BIG lesson. It is relationships that matter not your hobbies -- intellectual or otherwise. Concentrate on people before all else and you will do well. You might even find that "dumb" electrician to be a nice guy who will keep you in style. And you can have your specialized conversations with your friends.
That's roughly what I do. As a much published Ph.D. academic and as someone who ran Sydney Mensa for a number of years, I am betting that I have even greater difficulty than the ladies below in finding similarly qualified women to relate to. I never have. So I don't try. I seek and find women with a good heart and have my specialized conversations mostly with my son.
What I have just said runs hard against what women are mostly told these days but it is also traditional wisdom. And what has worked for thousands of years may have something to be said for it.
For Natasha Hooper, the most important part of pre-date preparation isn’t getting her hair done, waxing her legs or buying a new dress.
Instead, she is more preoccupied with composing a list of conversational topics which she hopes will bridge the gap between her highbrow preoccupations, and the more mainstream interests of her dates.
Waiting in a bar for a young man a few weeks ago, she ran through possible options, before settling on the subject of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. A surefire way, the 22-year-old undergraduate reasoned, to guarantee an interesting debate.
Yet while the 30-year-old office worker who sat down in front of her was handsome, polite and smartly-dressed, the minute Natasha brought up the Labour leader’s policies, any spark of attraction was extinguished. ‘When I mentioned Jeremy Corbyn he said: “Who’s that?” I couldn’t believe it,’ says Natasha.
After 90 minutes discussing what she describes as ‘benign’ subjects, such as reality TV and football, Natasha made her excuses and left, no closer to finding Mr Right.
With long dark hair, big brown eyes and a stunning Size 8 figure, Natasha — entering her final year at Goldsmiths, University of London — has no problem attracting male attention.
The issue, she explains, is the calibre of men she attracts. ‘I’m not claiming to be Albert Einstein, but I can’t seem to meet a man I find intellectually stimulating,’ she says. Nor is she the only well-educated young woman who says she is too clever to find love.
Indeed, she is one of a growing breed of women who fear — perhaps with good reason — they will be left on the proverbial shelf because of a shortage of educated men.
Recent figures from the university admissions service UCAS showed that 30,000 more women than men are starting degree courses in the UK. On A-level results day last month, 133,280 British women aged 18 secured a university place compared with 103,800 men of the same age.
The effects of this carry over into the workplace, where women aged from 22 to 29 typically now earn £1,111 more a year than their male peers.
This growing gulf between male and female attainment — the result, many believe, of the feminisation of the education system, with more female teachers, less physical exercise and an emphasis on the arts — is having troubling repercussions when it comes to relationships.
A recent study found more than 90 per cent of predominantly graduate women surveyed were delaying motherhood not to pursue careers, but because they couldn’t find a suitable man.
Some were so despairing they were considering freezing their eggs as an insurance policy.
Put simply, it is an oversupply of educated females. In China, they are called ‘leftover’ women.
‘It sounds cold and callous, but in demographic terms it’s true. There are not enough graduates for them,’ said the study’s author Marcia Inhorn, professor of anthropology at Yale University.
The upshot? Frustrated young women terrified of being left single and childless — and men driven by a sense of inadequacy.
‘Men may claim to want educated women, but don’t know how to deal with those they meet and some say they’re intimidated by me,’ says Natasha, who grew up in Birmingham and is single after breaking up with her boyfriend this year.
‘I feel I’m hitting a brick wall.’
Like many arts degrees, her media and communications course is dominated by female students, and Natasha claims the few male undergraduates ‘lack the intellectual maturity to handle conversations’.
‘One cancelled our date four times because he was too busy getting drunk. In class, their conversations centre around going to gigs and smoking weed at weekends, which is not what I’m looking for in a date.’
She prefers instead to date older men she meets through her part-time job as a nightclub promoter.
Yet even more mature men fail to show the requisite enthusiasm for her university projects — which include a radio documentary she recently produced on ‘the pressure that black women are under to adhere to white beauty stereotypes’.
One can imagine how such a topic could be a little alienating to many men, and Natasha herself admits ‘there’s only so much I can talk about my own interests without sounding patronising.’
She says that men often try to change the subject matter back to lads’ nights outs, holidays and sporting hobbies.
‘I’ll always listen to be polite, but superficial, self-indulgent conversation is an immediate red flag,’ she says.
Since the breakdown of her most recent relationship, with a DJ ten years her senior, Natasha has had a handful of dates, but declined to take things further.
‘Afterwards I’ll text to say our conversations weren’t flowing in the right direction. Most accept it although one, a company director, went on the defensive, saying I thought I was a princess,’ says Natasha.
‘I think he had anger issues.’ British women began to ‘catch up’ with men’s educational attainment levels in the Sixties, when larger numbers entered universities, but only recently have the roles been dramatically reversed, with men falling behind at an alarming rate.
‘In the Sixties there was a gendered way of pushing female graduates into jobs such as teaching and nursing,’ says Nichi Hodgson, author of The Curious History Of Dating: From Jane Austen To Tinder.
‘And only 20 or 30 years ago a man wanted his female partner to be smart because the assumption was that she would be the primary carer, staying at home to raise their children, who would then absorb her intellect.’
But now women are competing with men for the same careers — there are more female junior doctors than male, for example, while nearly two-thirds of practising lawyers in Scotland under 40 are women — their achievements have become more problematic.
‘Smart women raise the issue of who would take time off when they have children,’ says Hodgson. ‘After all, why should a female partner stop working if she’s studied hard for her career?
‘The reality is that with women getting more — and better — degrees, in the next ten to 20 years women will be smarter than men, in terms of how well they’re educated. And I don’t think men are ready for this.’
This is no surprise to Becca Porter, who graduated last year from Manchester University with a joint honours degree in history and sociology, and is now starting a masters in disability studies at Leeds University.
‘The sense of achievement I derive from learning seems alien to most men,’ says Becca, 23. ‘At school I wasn’t bothered about boys, but I’m at the stage where I’d like to share my life with someone.’
With a working-class upbringing — Becca’s mother is an activities co-ordinator and her father an engineer — Becca was not only the first in her family to go to university, but an anomaly among her male peers in Burnley, Lancashire.
Among those from poorer backgrounds, the gender divide is highly pronounced, with young women who were on free school meals 51 per cent more likely to go into higher education than men in similar circumstances.
‘The boys at my school mostly went into manual jobs after we left and seemed to think I had a high opinion of myself for going to university,’ says Becca. ‘They say I’m too bright for them.’
Becca recalls a factory worker she asked out in a bar while home for the holidays turning her down because she was ‘too clever’ for him.
‘We were having a great chat until he found out I was at university,’ says Becca. ‘I insisted I wasn’t too clever for him and he agreed to go on a shopping trip together for our first date.
‘But it was awful. I think he felt I should lead the conversation, so he barely spoke and I felt too awkward to say anything.’
Her longest relationship was with a car mechanic from Burnley last year. It lasted a few weeks.
‘He thought I viewed myself as a big shot,’ says Becca, who admits she found him ‘monosyllabic’.
‘Our conversations were mundane. When I tried to start an informed discussion — about religion or terrorism, for example — he had no idea how to react.
‘He didn’t understand that my degree meant I had a head full of information and when I asked him about his work all he could muster was that it had been “fine”.
‘In any case, there’s only so much you can talk about when you do the same job every day.’
Andrea Gould, 41, has two degrees and says her intellect has prevented her from finding love and having the family she longed for
In the event, Becca ended the relationship because, she says, he was always at work — an unfortunate fact of life many of us might sympathise with, but one Becca intends to put off for much of her 20s by doing a PhD in disability research after her masters.
She has dated around eight men in total — all non-graduates.
‘I know deep down they didn’t see me as relatable,’ she says. ‘I get the impression they’d rather date a girl without a degree. They don’t know how to react to my different life experiences and see my education as a barrier.’
So why doesn’t Becca date fellow students? Because, she says, of the class divide.
‘The few boys I met at university came from middle-class families in which a degree was expected of them,’ she explains. ‘They weren’t generally interested in their studies, whereas my degree was a big deal — I was there to learn.’
She acknowledges some of her degree subjects were a bit ‘out there’ — they included gender and sexuality in Africa and reproduction in new medical technology — but adds: ‘It was hurtful that men didn’t want to talk about them.
‘One date found the fact I studied from a feminist perspective offputting. Most mistakenly assume I hate men.’
Many believe the growing number of casualties from the intellectual chasm will be educated women in their 30s and 40s, who’ve failed to find men they deem their equal and are running out of time to start a family.
Andrea Gould, 41, from Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, has two degrees and says her intellect has prevented her from finding love and having the family she longed for.
‘Being an A-grade student has been an obstacle as much as a blessing. It has limited my choices in men,’ she says.
During both her degrees — she first studied English and German at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, then social policy at the same university for an extra ‘challenge’ — she claims male students fell into two camps. ‘There were geeky types into computer games, and leery lads who just wanted to drink and were intimidated by my studious nature,’ she recalls. ‘I didn’t want to be around either.’
Throughout her 20s and 30s Andrea — who worked as a foreign languages teacher before setting up an online furniture store — struggled to find anyone suitable.
Her longest relationship, for two years, was in her mid-30s with a musician. It ended because she disapproved of his use of cannabis.
‘Since then I’ve used online dating and tried to date only those who specified a similar level of education on their profile,’ she says.
‘But we had nothing in common. Men think I’m too serious. I want to talk about psychology and literature — they’re obsessed with UFOs and Harry Potter. Perhaps I’m too fussy, but I’m bored within an hour.’
Dr Elle Boag, a social psychologist at Birmingham City University, says: ‘More women graduate with the expectation of being challenged by conversation in a romantic context as well as in their careers. ‘This in turn can be intimidating for men, who often feel belittled by women who’ve outgrown them.’
For her part, Andrea insists that scintillating conversation isn’t too much to ask for. ‘I’m not after a man with money or a high-powered career, just someone to have an intellectual conversation with.
‘But I’m running out of time to start a family and that gives me a sense of emptiness.’
The solution, perhaps, for Andrea and the growing number of women in her situation, could be to master the art of compromise.
After all, as Dr Boag puts it: ‘A degree might make you think differently, but it doesn’t make you a better person. As women continue to excel, many might be better off exercising a bit more humility.’
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