[Paleopsych] Dowd: Men Just Want Mommy
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Fri Jan 14 15:13:47 UTC 2005
Men Just Want Mommy
Liberties column by Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, 5.1.13
A few years ago at a White House Correspondents' dinner, I
met a very beautiful actress. Within moments, she blurted
out: "I can't believe I'm 46 and not married. Men only want
to marry their personal assistants or P.R. women."
I'd been noticing a trend along these lines, as famous and
powerful men took up with the young women whose job it was
to tend to them and care for them in some way: their
secretaries, assistants, nannies, caterers, flight
attendants, researchers and fact-checkers.
Women in staff support are the new sirens because, as a guy
I know put it, they look upon the men they work for as "the
moon, the sun and the stars." It's all about orbiting,
serving and salaaming their Sun Gods.
In all those great Tracy/Hepburn movies more than a
half-century ago, it was the snap and crackle of a romance
between equals that was so exciting. Moviemakers these days
seem far more interested in the soothing aura of romances
In James Brooks's "Spanglish," Adam Sandler, as a Los
Angeles chef, falls for his hot Mexican maid. The maid, who
cleans up after Mr. Sandler without being able to speak
English, is presented as the ideal woman. The wife, played
by Téa Leoni, is repellent: a jangly, yakking,
overachieving, overexercised, unfaithful, shallow
she-monster who has just lost her job with a commercial
design firm. Picture Faye Dunaway in "Network" if she'd had
to stay home, or Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" without
The same attraction of unequals animated Richard Curtis's
"Love Actually," a 2003 holiday hit. The witty and
sophisticated British prime minister, played by Hugh Grant,
falls for the chubby girl who wheels the tea and scones
into his office. A businessman married to the substantial
Emma Thompson falls for his sultry secretary. A writer
falls for his maid, who speaks only Portuguese.
(I wonder if the trend in making maids who don't speak
English heroines is related to the trend of guys who like
to watch Kelly Ripa in the morning with the sound turned
Art is imitating life, turning women who seek equality into
selfish narcissists and objects of rejection, rather than
As John Schwartz of The New York Times wrote recently, "Men
would rather marry their secretaries than their bosses, and
evolution may be to blame."
A new study by psychology researchers at the University of
Michigan, using college undergraduates, suggests that men
going for long-term relationships would rather marry women
in subordinate jobs than women who are supervisors.
As Dr. Stephanie Brown, the lead author of the study,
summed it up for reporters: "Powerful women are at a
disadvantage in the marriage market because men may prefer
to marry less-accomplished women." Men think that women
with important jobs are more likely to cheat on them.
"The hypothesis," Dr. Brown said, "is that there are
evolutionary pressures on males to take steps to minimize
the risk of raising offspring that are not their own."
Women, by contrast, did not show a marked difference in
their attraction to men who might work above or below them.
And men did not show a preference when it came to one-night
A second study, which was by researchers at four British
universities and reported last week, suggested that smart
men with demanding jobs would rather have old-fashioned
wives, like their mums, than equals. The study found that a
high I.Q. hampers a woman's chance to get married, while it
is a plus for men. The prospect for marriage increased by
35 percent for guys for each 16-point increase in I.Q.; for
women, there is a 40 percent drop for each 16-point rise.
So was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax? The
more women achieve, the less desirable they are? Women want
to be in a relationship with guys they can seriously talk
to - unfortunately, a lot of those guys want to be in
relationships with women they don't have to talk to.
I asked the actress and writer Carrie Fisher, on the East
Coast to promote her novel "The Best Awful," who confirmed
that women who challenge men are in trouble.
"I haven't dated in 12 million years," she said drily. "I
gave up on dating powerful men because they wanted to date
women in the service professions. So I decided to date guys
in the service professions. But then I found out that kings
want to be treated like kings, and consorts want to be
treated like kings, too."
E-mail: liberties at nytimes.com
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