Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hahah! You've Gotta Read This: On Only Ugly Women Seeking Careers

And you gotta do it AFTER reading my three posts on the study, in order: first, second and third. Promise me.

Then read this popularization:
A controversial study has concluded that the real reason women pursue careers is because they fear they are too unattractive to get married.
The research team, made up of three women and two men, said when men were scarce, "women are more likely to choose briefcase over baby".
Research has suggested the real reason women pursue careers is because they fear not finding a husband. 

And the plainer a woman is, they claim, the more she is driven to succeed in the workplace.
Central to their argument was the idea that women have evolved to become homemakers and men the providers.

This is such a marvelous example of how the bad type of research on women is popularized and made even worse, how the ideas and arguments are sprayed into the slime of society, and how, after a while, what this study supposedly states has become not perhaps common wisdom but at least yet another weapon in the artillery of anti-feminists and misogynists everywhere.

But I do love the juxtaposition! Here I go, in red-hot rage, writing careful and dull prose after careful and exhausting research, and here goes that paper, tralala, making it all into something much worse!

This, my friends, is something you should keep in mind when you read popularizations of research on women. It may be an extreme example but not that extreme.
Added later: I really have to point out that whatever the flaws of the study, it never argued that women have "evolved to become homemakers!" Given that the view of homemaking as women's proper role is most likely something that was created in the nineteenth century Europe and US, and only applied to middle-class women's lives, such an "evolution" would have been difficult to carry out!