Watercooler Ammo: And about that 19th Amendment...

Mary
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I really shouldn't be blogging about this -- after all, there's cleaning to be done, babies to be borne, kitchens to be barefoot in -- but Forbes has just published an article with a premise that falls somewhere on the misogyny continuum between Larry Summers and Satan: Don't marry career women. And that's just the headline. It also repeatedly refers to working women as "career girls" and includes this little gem:

If a host of studies are to be believed, marrying these women is asking for trouble. If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2003). They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do (Social Forces, 2006). 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).

Even your house will be dirtier? Surely Bono wouldn't have signed off on this. The article is well on its way to being the talk of the blogosphere, and quite a few delicate flowers who have sought out careers and thus endangered their marriages will no doubt be getting ribbed about it at the watercooler all week. I don't want to cite a bunch of studies that undermine the Forbes article (although I certainly could), because studies of this kind, on both sides, are so often riddled with flaws. I also don't want to get into a discussion of individual choices, because that's exactly what they are. Instead, I'm just going to pose some questions for Michael Noer, the career boy who wrote the piece.

UPDATE! Forbes apparently took the piece down this afternoon!

UPDATE UPDATE! Forbes did not, however, manage to entirely eradicate the piece, which you can still read here.

Here's what Noer says: 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. Question: Is this also true of "professional men" vs. stay-at-home dads? Were Mr. Moms even included in any of the study samples? Are the women who have kids and are unhappy about "it" also unhappy because their husbands don't do an equal share of the housework?

And, of course, many working women are indeed happily and fruitfully married--it's just that they are less likely to be so than non-working women. Question: How does this jibe with the beginning of the piece, which says: "Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career"?

You will be more likely to fall ill (American Journal of Sociology). Even your house will be dirtier (Institute for Social Research). Question: Is that because you'll have to wipe your own nose and pick up your own socks? Do professional women with stay-at-home husbands have fewer colds and cleaner houses? In general, do women who work the same or more hours as their husbands do more or less housework than their husbands?

A few other studies, which have focused on employment (as opposed to working hours) have concluded that working outside the home actually increases marital stability, at least when the marriage is a happy one. But even in these studies, wives' employment does correlate positively to divorce rates, when the marriage is of "low marital quality." Question: So happy marriages get happier when women work, and unhappy marriages get unhappier? Could it be that the reason those marriages are bad is the same reason the men are displeased about their wives working?

The other reason a career can hurt a marriage will be obvious to anyone who has seen their mate run off with a co-worker: When your spouse works outside the home, chances increase they'll meet someone they like more than you. Question: Isn't this also true for men? Also, don't women meet people through volunteer work, PTA meetings, etc? Mr. Noer, are you suggesting that women should not interact with men other than their husbands, lest they get the vapors and swoon into bed with them?

According to a wide-ranging review of the published literature, highly educated people are more likely to have had extra-marital sex (those with graduate degrees are 1.75 more likely to have cheated than those with high school diplomas.) Additionally, individuals who earn more than $30,000 a year are more likely to cheat. Question: Again -- all true for men too, yes? If men should avoid women who make more than $30,000 a year, shouldn't women also do the same for men with that salary? Doesn't this mean that women should refuse to sleep with 99 percent of Forbes' demographic?

And if the cheating leads to divorce, you're really in trouble. ... Other studies have associated divorce with increased rates of cancer, stroke, and sexually-transmitted disease. Question: So if your wife works, you will get cancer?

I'm looking forward to Mr. Noer's responses.

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August 23, 2006 - 12:58pm
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