Another Perspective

Is Evolution Leaving Men Behind?

Why women won't marry down.

By 8.23.04

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Here's something Charles Darwin in all his philosophies never imagined. As the third millennium of the common era kicks off more American women than men are graduating with baccalaureate and post- baccalaureate degrees. More women are enrolled in law schools, journalism schools, and soon, they will exceed men in all professional schools, with the exception the dreary schools of engineering and business. At this rate, women will soon overtake men as the top wage earners. Evolution is leaving men behind.

Unless something drastic happens, like affirmative action for males, women that hope to find a man roughly their intellectual and financial equal will find their pickin's slim. Predictably feminists consider this turn of events a boon for civilization. Wendy McElroy, editor of ifeminists.com, plays into the school-girl fantasy of many of her progressive sisters in which women lawyers find fulfilling, long-term relationships in the rough arms of beefy construction workers. McElroy explains, "There is a 'marriage crisis' only for women and in-laws who demand an attorney or doctor for a husband and do not wish to welcome a plumber or mechanic into the family." Feminist writer Germaine "The Female Eunuch" Greer once acted on similar fantasies, and went as far as corralling a young stud. It scarcely took a Kreskin to predict their marriage would self-destruct within the month.

McElroy, who writes a column for FoxNews.com, reports being dismayed at finding educated women who are "genuinely horrified at the prospect of dealing with 'lesser' and 'lower' men as equals in their personal lives." But one of the findings of evolutionary psychology is that females of whatever species are hot-wired to find the best possible mate. When a woman looks for a lifelong companion she is genetically encouraged to look up, not down. University of Texas psychologist David Buss has shown female preference for successful males applies across no fewer than 37 cultures. Other studies reinforce the age-old notion that the more successful the man, the greater the demand.

Meanwhile a 1996 AGB McNair poll found that "one of the major reasons professional women gave for seeking men who were their equals or better was they wanted to ensure they had choices," reports Australia's The Age. "Women knew if they were the principal earners in the family they would be under pressure to keep working, even if they wanted to take time out to look after their own children. Marrying up ensured they would never face that difficult decision." That said, many modern women prefer to believe that they have evolved beyond primitive biology, that only a man's character, and not his ability to support a family is important. But her stubborn genes say otherwise.

McElroy insists that notions of "lesser" and "lower" should be defined according to a man's character, not his income or education, as if the latter had no effect on the former. Indeed, she fails to understand why marriage-minded Vassar girls do not slap on the war paint and head out for the tire repair shop in search of love. According to this logic, a charming, fun-loving tramp would make a more suitable marriage partner than a stoical chemist. Sadly a man's character does not pay the rent, nor does it afford good health care for your offspring or get them into Exeter, and it certainly doesn't help you move out of the slums of North St. Louis and into a relatively safe suburb.

But perhaps this is to be expected from a writer who believes that "marriage is a healthy institution that adapts quickly to circumstance." Healthy as compared to an African AIDS colony, perhaps. And as for marriage adapting, how does one explain the 40-plus percent failure rate of marriages? That's not adaptation, that's extinction.

Darwin would suggest that women will simply have to adapt to their new environment, a setting in which most of the male prospects, though fun-loving and impetuous, are intellectually and financially inferior. Predictably fun-loving and impetuous men do not make the best prospects for long-term relationships. But then perhaps women will adapt to short-term relationships, as have most breeds of dog. Men have already adapted to the end of housewifery, mostly by zoning out in front of the TV, until they are rudely awakened by the swat of the divorce papers.

Some enterprising young researcher should study the marriage and divorce rates of women who marry "beneath them" versus women who marry equally or above them. I suspect, as with Murray and Herrnstein's Bell Curve findings, that feminists will immediately seek to suppress the results.

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About the Author
Christopher Orlet writes from St. Louis.