The Art of Being Attractive

Monday, January 25, 2010
Over the years, I've been exposed to a large variety of people in both my personal and professional lives. The Navy, of course, is a bastion of diversity (in spite of the evangelical's attempts to make it homogeneous), and I'm profoundly grateful to have been exposed to such a wide variety of people, with different beliefs, backgrounds and cultural norms. In my civilian career, I've been a member of several virtual teams, and so have had teammates on three continents.

Most of those experiences have been positive, and some have been negative, but they've all been educational and served to expand my world view.

One thing, however, I've never been able to wrap my brain around, and that's the idea that a woman is more attractive if she's less intelligent than the man she's trying to win over.

Hiding my intelligence has never been a tactic I've been interested in pursuing, regardless of how much I liked the man in question. I could just never see the point - why try to be less than you are? The result of such a strategy is surely either a stifling of your true self, a resentment in holding yourself back, or the discovery by the man that really, you're a lot smarter than he thought you were. Probably all three.

Now don't get me wrong - during my emotional adolescence (which lasted until I was about 30 - go, me), I was as guilty as the next confused woman about compromising who I was for what I perceived to be the needs or wants of my partner. I just never found it necessary to compromise my intellect. Perhaps because the kind of man I've historically been interested in have also valued intelligence.

But I just don't get the attraction in discovering the object of your affections needs a scientific calculator to discover the square root of "4" or needs access to Wikipedia to determine the three branches of our government. While I recognize that there are many, many other qualities that might make someone a desirable mate besides intellect, from my point of view a stunted intellect is something that would need to be overlooked rather than something that was desirable.

Is it simply an urban myth that some women have bought into that men want a mate who aren't smarter than them? Or is this something that men would actually want? Snarkiness aside, I just don't get it, and would be interested in the insights of you Smart Men out there. 

13 comments:

Jeri said...

I am not among your Smart Male audience, but I am a relatively intelligent female. I can tell you that my husband was attracted to and appreciated that - and the male friends I'm closest to now feel the same way. I guess I'm pretty discriminating about that. :)

Janiece said...

Jeri, the thought of you simpering makes my skin crawl.

Of which I'm glad.

Carol Elaine said...

Not a Smart Man either, but my various significant others have always liked my brains. While I might step back to let someone else help me with physical things once in a while, I refuse to play the helpless card. Unless, of course, there's something I'd rather a guy lift or move for me - then I, admittedly, overplay the "eyelash batting" thing so much that it's obvious I'm looking for a favor and just want a little help.

Nice thing is, whenever CuteFilmNerd needs help with technical stuff (mainly computer related), he turns to me. Not because he doesn't have the smarts, but because he doesn't have the patience to figure computers out, whereas I love to poke around and make things go. And sometimes he helps me drag garbage and cat litter downstairs to the trash. Works for us.

Venus Vaughn said...

I think people, in general, don't like to feel stupid, humiliated or less than.

I think women, in general, are trained (socially) to protect the egos of others.

When I come across a man that is less than smart, I'm happy to offer suggestions and alternatives to the assumptions or errors I see him making. How he receives those suggestions determines the amount of respect I afford him in the future.

He doesn't have to accept everything I say blindly, but he has to consider my point of view and respect it. Just as I would listen to and respect his point of view. If he dismisses my opinions out of hand, I'll take my hot little brains and tottle off to someone who's willing to share them with me.

I don't have time to stick around and play games, but I'm not gonna dismiss anyone out of hand for not being knowledgeable. I AM gonna kick 'em to the curb for not being willing to learn though.

John the Scientist said...

Well, Lord knows I like *my* women on the obtuse side...

:D

Jan in CT said...

I am of the male persuasion... and, in my experience, the guys who need to feel smarter than the woman they're with are struck from the same die that the ones who need to feel straighter than the next guy are. The source of the feeling is the same in both cases: insecurity about their own status.

The guy who's comfortable with and knows the limits of his intellect or his sexual orientation won't feel intimidated by anyone else's. But, the one who's very unsure of himself will loudly insist that he's smarter or straighter and will avoid people who are clearly smarter or straighter than he is.

Anne C. said...

Again, not a Smart Man, but I did go through a period (of about a year or so, I think) when I simplified my language in an attempt to be more accessible. Part of it was because I briefly dated a guy who was not as smart as I am (he knew that and never said or did anything that would make me think he was uncomfortable with that, but I wanted to speak in ways that didn't flaunt my big vocabulary) and because I've had issues at work with people (women, not men) thinking I'm condescending. I did a lot of personal work to address the latter.
Then, I dated (again, briefly) someone who, while he never told me what he liked about me, liked smart female characters on TV (like Bones). That made me realize how much I felt I was giving up by altering my self-expression for others and decided to drop it.

For me it wasn't just about the male ego, but about people in general. And women can be just as intimidated (or even more so!) by women smarter than themselves. It's just that in Stereotypical Land, women are "supposed" to compete with each other and not with men.

Nathan said...

Who is this man you speak of who feels the need to be smarter? Smart men? No such thing.

True story: Anon GF and I had sorta been dating for a couple of weeks (we met on a job). One day we had a knockdown drag-out fight in which, I may have been really obstinate and really wrong (really. It coulda happened that way). Anyway, we got back to the office and when I refused to give in, she called me a stupid fucking pinhead at the top of her lungs across the length of the office.

That's when I knew it was true love!

Janiece said...

Welcome, Jan in CT.

I know that the men to whom I've given my admiration and love (at least since leaving emotional adolescence) have all been proud of their women's intellect, rather than otherwise. That's one of the things that made them worthy of my admiration and love, after all.

And Nathan? I really really want to meat Anon GF.

Steve Buchheit said...

It's the flip side of what I told my nieces at Xmas when they asked for advice. "The love of a good woman changes nothing. Don't expect to be able to change (men)."

And my wife has a PhD, so I don't think I'm in the category you want to hear from.

But I have thought that the woman I originally wanted to be with wasn't near my intellectual equal, and that relationship, if it had gone all the way to marriage, would have been doomed to fail.

Or, another story, went to Confluence last year (SF/F convention in Pittsburgh), Catherine Asaro was one of the panelists there. When she went up to the panelist's table my hind brain said, "Hey, she's kind of cute." And then she started talking about feasible methods and technologies of how to create, if not FTL (faster than light) transports, at least Near Lightspeed Crafts using some pretty esoteric theorems and I changed my mind, she was incredibly beautiful.

Darren said...

I'm as lost as you are; I have dated women who weren't as smart as me. It sucked - it is absolutely no fun:

* having to constantly explain jokes
* getting blank stares whenever I talk about work
* not being able to attend interesting events, shows, etc. because the g/f doesn't understand why anyone would be interested in "sciencey stuff"

Among other things.

Then I met, dated, and married a wonderful woman who is much smarter than me, and patient enough to put up with me when I can't keep up (though I'm sure she appreciates that I can usually keep up). This is much better.

Vagabond said...

Hiya! You just knew I wouldn't be able to keep quiet on this one! This semi-smart guy can't stand the 5 watt bulb syndrome. If I have to explain sarcastic comments (mine or those overheard), if you're jealous of the time I spend reading because you never do, if I'm expected to constantly entertain you because you don't have any interests of your own, if you can't hold your own in a witty, quick conversation among reasonably intelligent people, if you have blind faith in anything, a reality TV fixation or if I have to explain sports rules over and over, we are doomed from the get-go. Try as I might, I will not be able to stop myself from wanting to ridicule you. It doesn't matter how sweet or good looking you are. For me, there's no such thing as a "dumb" hot chick. As far as I'm concerned, the terms are mutually exclusive. Please ladies! Don't dumb yourself down for anyone! Besides, if all of the smart men went for dumb Paris Hilton types, smartness would be eradicated from the earth. We all know stupid is dominant! Think I'm wrong? Go to a Wal-Mart some night!

Karl said...

...then she started talking about feasible methods and technologies... ...and I changed my mind, she was incredibly beautiful.

What he said - 'Smart' is hot, and it lasts longer.

Then there's the triple whammy Amazon Warrior Woman swimsuit model with a Phd in Planetary Physics that I met in McMurdo once. (Hi, Carol!) *sigh*