Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Besides the Point

So yesterday I skimmed over this post at Jezebel (which is now owned by Conde Net and which, I fear, is going to go downhill). It's about an article in the Wall Street Journal discussing a study that found that women with MDs, JDs, and MBAs get divorced at a higher rate then men with the same degrees. Women with MBAs get divorced at the highest rate. Prof. Robin Fretwell Wilson, author of the study, advises women with advanced degrees to look for particularly caring and supportive men.


I know women with all three of those degrees. Some are married, some are not, some have kids, some don't. I know women who don't have one of those degrees, same thing. Some married, some not.

But here's the thing, I suspect that if you're in a straight partnership, gendered expectations get played out. By gendered expectations I mean that men expect their working lives will develop one way, and their expectations are influenced by what it means to them to be a man, and women, too. Same influences. Women and men probably expect certain things of each other as partners, as women and men and not just as individual people. What that means for a person and a couple I wouldn't want to guess because those meanings are idiosyncratic. But, seriously, is anyone surprised that they can generate conflict?

Which is to say if marriage and divorce rates reveal cultural expectations and statistical patterns, those patterns can only by useful when they're applied to general situations and not individual choices. Which is to say, now that we know women with advanced degrees get divorced more than men only brings me to the same old-same old point: Maybe, instead of advising women to marry nice men, we should focus on improving flex-time opportunities and reasonable child-care solutions. Sure a good man is hard to find, but a good boss, a flexible schedule, and good childcare are a helluva lot harder.

Update: Check out the comments! Jezebel's Conde Nast acquisition was a hoax! I noticed just now the banner no longer reads: "Conde Nast" over Jezebel. I was so taken in. Should I blame it on the cold? My kids slept until 7 this morning, so should I blame being taken on too much sleep? That's it!


Anonymous said...

Hey, fortunately the thing about Jezebel being acquired by Conde was an April Fool's prank. Phew!

The Pace Posse said...

"Sure a good man is hard to find, but a good boss, a flexible schedule, and good childcare are a helluva lot harder."

So true, so true......

Robin Aronson said...

Really? A prank? I was so taken--what with all that fashion coverage! I've got to stop skimming.