A response to “Ladies…” @EliteDaily #genderequity #intelligence

Hello, my friends,

I read this article, “Ladies, The Smarter You Are, The More Likely You Are To Be Single,” with some dismay. It’s simultaneously disheartening, since I know it’s true, and a bit defeatist—if intelligent women go into the dating world with the idea that they’ll “never feel bliss” because they’re above average and thus “threatening” to men, then there’s a higher chance of ending up alone after all, as they’re giving off a vibe that says, “I’m never going to get a date.”

The article also points out that, “A beautiful, attractive female isn’t desirable for her mind, and those with strong characters are seen as threatening, masculine and undesirable,” and that intelligent women are viewed as “problematic,” often being “chastised for their intelligence.”

There’s also the faulty logic which suggests “intelligence breeds ambition, which breeds neglect” for the dating life, causing quality men to settle down with more licentious, often less intelligent partners. The idea that this is neglectful suggests these women are somehow at fault for being single—they’ve neglected love the same way one might neglect one’s own health or a young child, resulting in illness and abuse.

This diatribe ends on the very depressing note that “being funny and smart won’t get you dates.” It offers no solutions, no consolations, no success stories, and no alternatives. For someone who appears to be writing to criticize an element of society, the author neglects (there’s that word again) to say that being smart is perfectly acceptable.

I know I’m in the minority when I say this, but I love intelligent women. Vapid people and moronic statements (from anyone of any sex) exasperate me, and I find myself wanting to separate myself from them as quickly as possible. My dating life is fairly limited because I choose not to date and can’t stand casual sex (and again, I realize most men wouldn’t say that), but I would never want to settle with someone who complacently exists to serve me.

Maybe this is because I’m very self-sufficient. I serve myself. I make myself happy. There are no needs, wants, or goals I can’t fulfill of my own accord. At least, not right now. I find my spiritual, non-drinking, abstinent, vegetarian life deeply fulfilling, so someone who wants to please me will ultimately have nothing to do. That’s why I can’t see myself settling with someone who doesn’t use her intelligence to its fullest.

You could ask me why I love intelligent women, and I could give you many answers.

  • It goes back to my mother. She, the first woman I ever knew, is very smart, and capable of doing nearly anything with little to no male help. Whether she’s running her surgery center or building a fence, she works well on her own, and I’ve never seen her face a problem she couldn’t figure out.
  • I went to school with a lot of people who had average or below-average intelligence—or at least below-average educational levels (some were functionally illiterate)—and many were depressed about their states, wishing to be more capable. After seeing these people suffer, how can I justify someone who deliberately acts stupid?
  • I’m a busy guy. I would feel very guilty leaving a partner around the house all day, feeling bored that I’m not there to have my passing whims immediately gratified. An ideal partner for me is one with her own projects, someone who keeps busy and productive, so long as we still enjoy our off hours together.
  • I’ve dated some truly unintelligent people, and they bored the hell out of me. They never challenged me, questioned me, or prompted me to learn and grow.

This isn’t saying all intelligent women make ideal partners, or that those with average intelligence aren’t. Some people like less intelligent partners, and that’s fine for them. Some people like acting dumb, and if that’s what makes you happy, who am I to judge? My point is only that some men really do like a woman who is astute, clever, witty, brilliant, and not afraid to show it.

My statements may be in the minority, but I’ve heard a lot of men my age voicing a desire for an intelligent, self-sufficient female partner. The dating pool is changing—as everything these days seems to be—so I assert that the destructive idea that smart women wind up alone is changing.

Besides, even if it’s not, be yourself! Be who you are, and be your fullest. If you act dumb to please someone, it’s not going to take long before you realize the only ‘dumb’ part is your partner’s ego being so fragile. If you’re intelligent and your partner can’t handle that, your partner can’t handle you.

So get on out there and shine, you brilliant people.

With love,

Kevin

Banned Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale, Censorship, and Feminism (#heforshe)

Hello Travelers,

Here’s a quick review of a classic banned book, as well as my thoughts on why it should not be banned and a note on why we must talk about these topics. I encourage you all to comment, whether you want to talk about my thoughts or the issues overall. Whether or not you do, I wish you the best.

Peace and love,

Kevin

***

People love censorship almost as much as they claim to hate it. There are plenty of examples to make this case, such as 1984, but Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is among the most interesting, as the censored subject is not art, language, or religion, but the human body. This book has been banned for discussing suicide (and in some cases, characters commit said act), government-sanctioned murder, and rape, all of which are understandably difficult to discuss in schools.

Told from Offred’s perspective, the reader is thrust headlong into the Republic of Gilead, a theocracy in a dystopian world where sterility has crippled the population. Men are given the positions of power, ranging from security guard (Angels) to leaders, such as the Commander. Women are divided into: Wives, who are legally bound to their men, as in contemporary marriage; Marthas, who perform home care and routine chores; Aunts, who run the schools and govern the Handmaids; and the Handmaids, who are fertile women sent to breed with ‘healthy’ (powerful and wealthy) men.

The story slowly builds the sense of cataclysmic oppression, bringing in details on how Gilead formed—seemingly overnight as women were fired across the east coast of the United States, had their bank accounts frozen, and in many cases, were kidnapped. Political dissidents and ‘useless’ women were sent to The Colonies, a wasteland where they’d presumably starve and die. The Handmaids, constrained by the Aunts and the strict, Biblical laws, are put through ‘training,’ which amounts to psychological torture, as seen with Janine.

This particular Handmaid confesses early on that she was raped as a teenager and got an abortion afterward (no doubt another reason this book has been banned). Rather than empathize or try to comfort her, the Aunts condemn her and make the Handmaids-in-training chant that it was her fault. She breaks down in tears but is subjected to this repeatedly, until eventually the Aunts pick a new victim.

The main story follows Offred’s assignment to ‘The Commander’ and his wife, Serena Joy, a former singer who, on numerous occasions, is hostile toward her husband’s breeding partner. This is especially complicated by the breeding ritual, wherein the Handmaid must lie with her head between the Wife’s leg, resting on her pubic bone. All parties remain fully clothed during this (aside from the Handmaid hiking up her dress), indicating how mechanical and loveless the process has become.

There are many compelling reasons to check this out from your local library or, ideally, buy, read, and have on your shelf for future perusal. For one, the first-person narration is done wonderfully, giving a direct insight to this hazardous future. Offred’s voice is insightful, remaining strong in the face on constant attacks against her and women in general, and even as she contemplates suicide, it’s clear she’s only striving for control in a world where women have been stripped of all rights.

The suppression extends to their wardrobe as well, as referenced above in noting the censoring of the human body. Handmaids are forced to wear ankle-length red dresses and ‘wings,’ white caps that prevent them from seeing to the sides, like blinkers, which do the same for horses. Japanese tourists smile and take pictures of these women, further marginalizing and objectifying them.

Throughout, the language and structure of the book is such that as horrifying as it can be to view humans degraded in such ways (and I didn’t even touch on the brothel), there is an entrancing quality to the book. Offred is presented humanly, perhaps as the only human in an inhuman world, and this makes each atrocity hit home a little harder than the last.

This book can be challenging for adults to discuss with other adults. It explores depths of depravity that are only seen on the fringes of contemporary culture, paralleling mail-order brides and human trafficking as well as the diminished status many women face today in America as well as around the world.

I maintain that the difficulty people face when addressing these topics is precisely why we should be discussing them in school. Why let youths handle such difficult topics on their own? Studies suggest that one in six American women are rape victims, with 44% being under the age of 18.3. That means one in twelve high school aged females has been raped, or roughly one victim in every single class. This is unacceptable.

But don’t pretend kids won’t be aware of these topics just because we take a book off their shelves.

Today, more so than ever, we must open a dialogue on these topics. In an internet-based global society where ideas can cross thousands of miles in seconds, all citizens must be aware of and able to discuss these topics. To do otherwise—to choose ignorance, shut out all trace of these ideas, and pretend they won’t happen if we don’t talk about them—will only allow them to continue.