What men desire: Wife vs Daughter

I stumbled upon an article today about what three qualities men prioritize in what they search for in a potential partner (wives) and a daughter. The article then goes on to cite other articles commenting on the survey and the paper itself. In summary, here’s the results of the survey:

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Cherry-picking data

The title of the first article, What Guys Really Want In A Partner Is Super Depressing, certainly implies a negative tone. While some of the points are true, the author does pull up statistics which do not represent the majority. They are high however. Meanwhile, the main study actually goes on to explain gender roles are changing and as a result men are changing too. The original study’s findings suggest traditional gender role expectations and ideas are much higher in older generations than newer ones:

Fully 48% of modern men are between the ages of 35 and 49 (just 25% of that age group are traditional men), while 27% of traditional men are ages 65 and older (compared with just 9% for modern men).

It is easy to cherry pick data points to support any argument. In fact, I just did. I prefer taking a nuanced approach which, I feel the original study and that of the “A Woman’s Nation” has taken. The conclusion I personally draw from the article is men are adapting to modern society and both genders are slowly approaching equality. However, there is still work to be done. There is certainly some push back though. The rise of Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) with latent or outright chauvinistic tendencies are a perfect example. However, like any “movement”, there may be some validity to some of their assertions. Here are some quotes from those surveyed in response to whether men today feel it is more difficult being a man than it was in their father’s generation:

“In my dad’s day, women stayed home and the men worked. Now, both men and women work in the same area as men do, so it’s hard for us to be men.”

While I do agree the workplace has changed, I find the statement “it’s hard for us to be men” to be somewhat problematic or require further explanation from the respondent. If you feel compelled to have to act and speak very differently in the workplace based on whether or not women are present, then perhaps you should re-evaluate what “being a man” is. Obviously, gender dynamics are somewhat different largely because of sex. However, some of these are also mental or societal contrivances. Recently, four of my coworkers came to the office wearing the exact same colour shirt:

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One of the [few] women in the team was flabbergasted at how the guys were all laughing about it. Her response was to suggest three of them should be ashamed and go back home and change. I had to explain to her it wasn’t necessary and they were bonding over the coincidence. It took me a while to convince her. I found it telling when she revealed she once spilled her drink on another woman at a party who wore the same dress.

“With the blending of the gender roles and the fact that society is not dependent upon physical labor as much as it used to be, the traditional roles that men play have been dismissed.”

In general, physical labour jobs are declining in modern countries. These jobs are often associated to unskilled labour or requiring fewer skills. However, other factors like globalization and offshore outsourcing, more highly specialized fields and production methods, and automation have reduced the need for physical labour and require more cerebral or mental capacities from the labour force. I would argue the changing economy of modern countries is a significant if not the largest factor contributing to this.

“If you stand up as a man, it is taken as putting females down. No more ‘Man of the House.’”

The “Man of the House” statement is one I feel is an antiquated concept and should be dismissed. Each couple or person should establish their own expectations and roles within the household. Some studies do support the more traditional view though. Establishing boundaries as an individual is important. Standing up for oneself in the face of abuse or actions taken against your interests should be voiced. The problem arises, when these concerns are taken out of context, violate the boundaries of others, or are not up for debate and compromise. If you feel both sentences as one and the same, then this is problematic. I have no sympathy for whomever responded.

“Each generation has its challenges. In the past, it was men conforming to rigid role expectations. In our generation, a man has more challenges finding his own way.”

Here, I agree men have more challenges finding our own way… compared to men of previous generations. To think things are easy on both sides of the gender divide is being obtuse, dismissive or narrow-minded. Women may have more options but the workforce has not adapted to them. In many instances, some women have also not adapted well to the new environment. Where employers have adapted though is in stagnating wages as households are now expected to budget over two incomes as opposed to a single one for previous generations.

What men desire

Going back to the chart on most desirable qualities, I could not find a consensus or definition to describe these qualities in specific terms. Thus, several of these qualities are subjective. For example, I have an IQ of 148 based on testing in high school. My criteria for intelligence is not necessarily on the same spectrum as say Forrest Gump. Just like Stephen Hawking might think my claim to high intellect as cute. For some, it can be quite intimidating to be in a relationship with someone who is significantly more intelligent than you. I’ve been told I can come off as condescending when I use language the other person doesn’t understand.

Why are strength and independence mutually exclusive? Aren’t independent women strong? I associate strength, both moral and emotional, to be key aspects of being principled. I can see how some might equate strength with being supportive too. What if your principles are based on very traditional Judeo-Christian values which require women to be subservient? Why should my version of “principled” be counted the same?

Speaking for myself, I would’ve predicted the results even before reading the article. Of course men ideally look for a partner we are physically attracted to. Attraction comes in many forms: be it physical, intellectual, emotional and even spiritual. The three most popular qualities unsurprisingly coincide with the first three I listed.

If I were surveyed, I’d rate the qualities I seek in a potential romantic partner in the following order: Intellect, shared principles (which I define as including strength of character, independence, integrity, empathy, and ambition as key), followed by physical attractiveness.

Should ever circumstances occur where I would have a daughter, I would definitely want her to be smart; much smarter than I. I would hope to instill my values to her but allow her to form her own value judgements. But more importantly, I’d go off the chart and state I’d want her to be happy.

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