Are men afraid of intelligent women?
The claim that men prefer women with more boobs than brain cells has been a long-standing one. There is, no doubt, a stereotype that men are scared shitless by women who are smarter than them, but there's been pretty limited research to confirm or deny that cliché.
That is, until now. The results of a new study of speed-dating by Polish economists have just been analyzed by Adam Karbowski and his colleagues from the Warsaw School of Economics, and it turns out that not only do men value looks over brains to a much greater extent than previously thought, but that there's an actual, tangible point at which men consider a woman too smart for them to handle.
Over 500 students participated in the study, which took place at a regular speed-dating event. After each date, the participants stated whether they'd like to meet their date again with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.' They also rated their date on a 10-point scale for both intelligence and hot babeitude in an attempt to see if they could discern any patterns in the dating choices women and men made.
First, Karbowski looked at women's choices.
He and his team found that women were remarkably predictable in their mate selection: handsome men were more likely to be chosen than weird-looking men, but if said man was weird-looking and smart, he still had a chance at glory. In fact, the smarter he was, the better chance he had in spite of his looks.
So, women like hot, smart men ... but if they can't get a hot one, they'll settle someone who's just plain-old smart and not terribly Quasimodo-like. Great. That makes sense.
Moving on to men.
Oh, men ... Where do we start with you? Men showed some remarkably sad dating preferences that made their own insecurities stand out like a bulging neck-vein, preferring good-looking women over smart ones by a factor of 70 percent.
However, we already knew that. That's not the kicker here.
Instead, the most interesting result of men's dating preferences was that there was a clear point at which men stop valuing a woman’s increasing intelligence.
That point translates exactly to 6 on a 1-10 scale for attractiveness.
If a 6 is any smarter than a 7 on a 1-10 scale of intelligence, men will be less interested in her than if she was categorically stupid.
In other words, good-looking, smart women are attractive until a point, and at the point, the hotter and smarter a woman is, the less desirable she becomes.
Let us explain this to you using real world examples.
Say Adriana Lima and Kate Upton both score a 10 out of 10 on an attractiveness scale.
Now say Adriana scores a 7 on intelligence, but Kate scores a 10.
Men would rather date Adriana. Kate is chopped liver because she's too smart.
As Psychology Today put it, "It's always the case that a woman with a brain the size of a planet will be less appealing to men than a woman who is attractive, but less intelligent."
Well, because the urban legend that men are intimidated by intelligent women is true as the sky is blue and soaked in greenhouse gases.
A paper published in late 2015 suggested this is purely because smart women damage men's fragile egos. Men don't consider themselves sharp enough to keep up, so they automatically nix brainy babes from the running.
According to the paper, "When evaluating psychologically near targets (e.g., in real interactions, spatially near interactions), men may be less attracted to women who outperform them, and this could be due to momentary shifts in their self-evaluations (e.g., feeling less masculine from being outsmarted by a woman)."
This wouldn't be a problem if so many men weren't plagued by the pervasive gender role that says they have to be the "smarter ones." In our culture, we're socialized to think men must "support the household" with a higher cash flow, and that higher cash flow comes from greater professional capability and work ethic, which in turn are borne out of intelligence itself. So, when a man is unable to grasp at that faux intelligence differential in the presence of a smart, sharp woman, it's almost as if the very concept of his gender crumbles before him.
It also reported if men were attracted to smart women, it was only if the woman was at a distance. Yet, these women were found to be "unattractive," both physically and emotionally, when they were in closer contact with the same men. So, guys like the idea of intelligence in a partner, but when it comes down to it, they can't hang.
Another study found that men who are outperformed by women who take the same test as them find them less attractive after the test than they did before. The researchers tentatively concluded this was because men felt these smarter women were a threat to their masculinity. Oh, please. Spare us.
This explains why clever women threaten men, or why some women downplay their intelligence in an attempt to be more sexually appealing.
... Which is stupid, especially for women who are smart. No one should ever have to dumb down to be considered attractive, especially when it's so the male in the relationship can feel more secure in being the (falsely) more intelligent partner.
That kind of behavior — where women concede their brain-power in order to seem more "attractive" to insecure men — is the direct result of life in the patriarchal society in which we live in. In this society, women are expected to value the comfort and security of men (and people other than themselves in general) over their own because doing so fits in swimmingly with traditional gender roles that demand a woman be the more submissive partner. It's "polite, proper and motherly" for a woman to stoop down to the low brain count level of her male partner because it just feels like what hundreds of years of conditioning tell us women should do. On the other hand, if a girl exerts her brain power, she's embodying manly characterisitcs ... and is therefore unattractive.
This is the exact same reason why so many women fake orgasms and are scared to tell their male partners when they don't like something in bed — because men's fragile, special snowflake-like egos could be damaged by the suggestion they're anything but virile, sexually potent fuck-gods. The potential fallout of that — the rejection or the angry suggestion that there's something wrong with the woman for not enjoying sex — can be too uncomfortable to overcome.
On a broader level, men being scared of smart women limits women's roles in society. Although there are increasingly more leadership opportunities for women, as well as positions in previously male-dominated industries like engineering and medicine, men, by and large, still run shit.
The pansy-egoed men in power who are intimidated by female genius will force them down under the myriad glass ceilings we've imposed upon women in our country, effectively keeping them out of leadership roles and power positions. This ensures the patriarchy prevails and that women's ideas stay where men think they belong: trapped inside their brains with nowhere to go.
This leaves no room for equality or progress. This means we miss out on innovation and expertise and new, unheard of points of view that female minds could bring to the table if they could only get there.
It's not that all men subscribe to patriarchal beliefs, or that all men are intimidated by smart women; but it is true that all men could benefit from the realization that being around smarter people, be it men, women or fucking horses for all we care, benefits not just them, but everybody. When men finally feel secure enough in themselves to realize that, that's when we can make progressive strides on issues suffering from a stuffy lack of innovation. That's when we become a better, more whole society.
In the meantime, maybe it's not women who should be dumbing themselves down; it's men who should be getting smarter.
Part of getting smarter means contending with your own self-doubt and insecurity to realize that you can learn something from people who know more than you ... even when that person has boobs.