Maureen Dowd complains about the cinematic trend toward “famous and powerful men” marrying down the status hierarchy, and in particular marrying women who are more or less their servants.
Dowd claims that reflects a real-life trend as well, and cites a study showing that high IQ is a plus for men in the mating market, but a minus for women. What happened, she asks, to the “snap and crackle of romance between equals” in the Hepburn-and-Tracey films?
Well, for one thing, those romances weren’t “between equals;” Hepburn was always shown as Tracey’s social superior, in addition to being stunningly beautiful while Tracey was no more than ordinary-looking. The films were designed in part to feed Depression-era men’s fantasies of catching a rich, beautiful, highly cultured woman despite their own lack of economic success or movie-star good looks. (Put aside for the moment the way the real-life Tracey treated the real-life Hepburn.)
But if, as Dowd asserts, highly successful women find it difficult to find mates, how certain are we that the problem is entirely, or even mostly, on the side of the men? Is it possible that the women’s value in the mating market has been rising along with their success, but that their aspirations for mate quality have risen even faster?
Men learned a long time ago that exceptionally beautiful women have a tendency to exploit their high mating-market value by making unreasonable demands of their suitors. If Dowd’s friends all want to marry Hugh Grant, perhaps it’s not surprising that his ability to pick and choose has turned him into one more arrogant, spoiled beauty.
Don’t get me wrong: I am full of compassion for people of either sex who let their demand for eye candy act as a filter in their choice of mates and thereby find themselves shut out. I have the same problem myself.
Though my tastes in feminine beauty are somewhat eccentric (as the existence of the breast-enhancement business demonstrates) and fairly catholic, on average the women I find myself romantically interested in would stand much higher in a beauty ranking among women than I would in a beauty ranking among men. That helps explain why I’m still single at 53.
Insofar as Dowd is correct, the trend she reports should be good news for me, since I find myself attracted mostly to highly intelligent and ambitious women. And I can use all the good news in this department I can get.
So if you’re the “very beautiful actress” Dowd mentions as being unable to find a date, or the equivalent, drop me a line. I’m only moderately good-looking, but I’m decently prosperous, funny, and one hell of cook.