menu

Masculine Christianity’s Problem?

Masculine Christianity’s Problem? February 17, 2012

Stephanie Coontz:

One of the major issues today is the rise of education among women, making some men feel intimidated. I clipped some paragraphs from this article, and it is worth your read. In other words, the problem might be the education and confidence of women, while males are increasingly less educated than women today. That’s at least one of the social factors at work.

For more than a century, women often were forced to choose between an education and a husband. Of women who graduated from college before 1900, more than three-quarters remained single. As late as 1950, one-third of white female college graduates ages 55 to 59 had never married, compared with only 7 percent of their counterparts without college degrees.

Some of these women chose to stay single, of course, and that choice has always been easier and more rewarding for educated women. But the low marriage rates of educated women in the past were also because of the romantic and sexual prejudices of men. One physician explained the problem in Popular Science Monthly in 1905: An educated woman developed a “self-assertive, independent character” that made it “impossible to love, honor and obey” as a real wife should. He warned that as more middle-class women attended college, middle-class men would look to the lower classes to find uneducated wives.

That is exactly what happened in the mid-20th century. From 1940 to the mid-1970s, the tendency for men to marry down educationally became more pronounced and the cultural ideal of hypergamy — that women must marry up — became more insistent.

Postwar dating manuals advised women to “play dumb” to catch a man — and 40 percent of college women in one survey said they actually did so. As one guidebook put it: “Warning! … Be careful not to seem smarter than your man.” If you hide your intelligence, another promised, “you’ll soon become the little woman to be pooh-poohed, patronized and wed.”…

But over the past 30 years, these prejudices have largely disappeared. By 1996, intelligence and education had moved up to No. 5 on men’s ranking of desirable qualities in a mate. The desire for a good cook and housekeeper had dropped to 14th place, near the bottom of the 18-point scale. The sociologist Christine B. Whelan reports that by 2008, men’s interest in a woman’s education and intelligence had risen to No. 4, just after mutual attraction, dependable character and emotional stability.

The result has been a historic reversal of what the economist Elaina Rose calls the “success” penalty for educated women. By 2008, the percentage of college-educated white women ages 55 to 59 who had never been married was down to 9 percent, just 3 points higher than their counterparts without college degrees. And among women 35 to 39, there was no longer any difference in the percentage who were married.

African-American women are less likely to marry than white women overall, but educated black women are considerably more likely to marry than their less-educated counterparts. As of 2008, 70 percent of African-American female college graduates had married, compared with 60 percent of high school graduates and just 53 percent of high school dropouts….

ONE of the dire predictions about educated women is true: today, more of them are “marrying down.” Almost 30 percent of wives today have more education than their husbands, while less than 20 percent of husbands have more education than their wives, almost the exact reverse of the percentages in 1970….

Certainly, some guys are still threatened by a woman’s achievements. But scaring these types off might be a good thing. The men most likely to feel emotional and physical distress when their wives have a higher status or income tend to be those who are more invested in their identity as breadwinners than as partners and who define success in materialistic ways. Both these traits are associated with lower marital quality.

 

 

"If diversity of opinion is not Biblical then why is the Bible so full of ..."

Does Personal Bible Reading Destroy the ..."
"Could you please share your sources for: The bible insists there is 1 proper interpretation ..."

Does Personal Bible Reading Destroy the ..."
""Christian" religious are the most greedy, violent, dangerous people on the planet. The crusades lasted ..."

Does Personal Bible Reading Destroy the ..."
"Amen.....exactly."

My Pastor Was a Woman

Browse Our Archives