I grew up in a world in which I never felt that my mind or my intellect was discounted or undermined because I am female. My dad, raised by a very strong woman, trained me to banter and joke. Living with him, using one's mind and mental flexibility were crucial to growing up. Perhaps my childhood experience gave me a bit more confidence that I needed though as I have yet to feel mentally intimidate or threatened by anyone - male or female. At an early age I debated nuclear policy, politics, labor unions, and other news worthy topics with both my dad and my grandfather - though I admit now that I knew nothing about the topics really. (And what patience they showed while fostering such confidence) My aspirations and dreams were not limited by my intellect or my gender, but more by my physical limitations.
But my experience was not shared by my friends. A good friend wanted to be a doctor. Her parents discouraged her because she was a girl, suggesting that she try nursing instead. As a parent, I understand that there is a need to ensure that our children aim high and dream big, but there is also a need to ensure that those dreams are such that they can be achieved.
After reading Kat's post on funny women, I started thinking about men and women, the things that attract us to one another, the characteristics that might pose a threat to that attraction, etc. I never considered a sense of humor to be such a characteristic, but there are others that are notable, such as height, income, and intellect.
When my daughter was 2, one of her teachers commented about how difficult it was for intelligent women to find husbands. I found the statement interesting, but didn't spend much time thinking about it. I know men that are perfectly content marrying and spending time with intelligent women. But Kat's post left me considering the couples I know, the singles I know, and the factors that play into their relationships or their lack of relationships.
My brother, for example, would not have married a woman more intelligent than himself. He couldn't do it. My sister-in-law is a wonderful person and more well rounded and grounded than is my brother, but were her IQ higher than his, that union would not have happened.
I know other men who freely admit that their spouse is the brighter of the two - confident, well adjusted men for the most part. (Ironically, several of them are the shorter of the two as well.)
Most of the couples I know are fairly evenly matched. Where the man is more linear in his thinking, the woman is more rounded; where he is more black and white, she is more gray. They complement one another while sharing a similar intellectual compatibility. In these relationships though, does the man consider intellect to be a factor? Does he consider himself to be the more intelligent of the two?
My own experience is that intelligence is not an issue. Attraction is something much more primal, if you will. It is a chemistry and a connection that may not have anything to do with a person's IQ. The men to whom I tend to be attracted, and who are attracted to me, share my passion for life and conversation. They tend to be fit and enjoy exercising for its mental as well as physical properties. They are well read, laugh easily, are fairly open to new experiences, creativity, and diverse ideas. They are curious as to all that life offers. And, believe it or not, they are conversationalists (which I love). The question as to which of us is more intelligent never enters the picture, at least for me. I wonder if it does for them?
Kat notes that men may be threatened by funny women. Are men threatened by intelligent women? Does intellect, in the end, matter to either men or women?