Rebecca Kamm: Are men scared off by intelligent women?

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Are women meant to keep quiet to attract a man, or, prevent chasing them away? Photo / Thinkstock
Are women meant to keep quiet to attract a man, or, prevent chasing them away? Photo / Thinkstock

Sometimes I come across an opinion piece that is so potentially damaging - so completely missing of the point, that I want to tear my hair out and drink so, so much vodka.

Today that story is the Daily Mail's 'Are women like me too clever to attract a man?', in which writer Sarah Bridge ponders the idea she's single at 39 because her intellect turns men off. (Strangely, the title of this article has since been changed to 'Are women like me too critical to attract a man?')

Following the advice of her helpful friend 'Steve' - who tells her she's too "snippy" to get a boyfriend - Bridge comes to this depressing conclusion:

"I'd thought I was quite witty, to be honest, with my quick quips and smart comments. Now it seemed that what I thought was funny could be completely off-putting to men."

Cold comfort for Bridge: she's not the only one. Apparently, this is an affliction that's reached epidemic proportions; "a growing breed of 30 and 40-something women who are so snippy, critical and exacting that they have no hope of ever snaring a man".

Just to be really clear about the risk this "breed" of women take, Bridge has us meet anecdotal fable figure 'Anna'. In short, Anna is "sharp". But this is no good thing, because one day she lets her gob run away with her with a man she fancies - so he goes off and marries someone else.

However, as luck would have it, Anna meets the same (since-divorced) guy ten years later, and it's all marriage and babies for them. Why? Because after a decade of watching her wit drain the blood from men's faces, she's learned the error of her ways:

"She let Chris speak, she laughed rather than criticised, and was a much nicer person to be with."

Duh, Anna. We all know a woman is "a much nicer person" when she's not harping on about opinions and stuff. (Also, less intelligent women mould themselves better to your life, which is a massive plus.)

The fundamental problem I have with Bridge is the parallel she draws between "snippiness" and female "intelligence" - as though the two go hand in hand. This kind of weird thinking presents an unrealistic and prescriptive fork in the road: be clever, and scare men away - or pipe down, and get the man.

It also does a disservice to the secure, healthy-minded men out there who actively seek out and prioritise intelligence in a woman. (Possibly because they know how bloody staid things get otherwise.)

If I had more time on my hands, I might extend this into an unbearably long response, titled, 'Have you met a man that sees your intellect as a Bad Thing? RUN.' Or, 'Are some men uncomfortable with highly intelligent women because it interferes with their distorted ideas about how ladies should act?' Or, 'Single at 39? Maybe it doesn't automatically mean you're in some way defective.' Take your pick.

Follow Rebecca on Twitter.

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