The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22-23 NRSV

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Strong and Ambitious? Too Bad for Us

Just when I was recovering from the Baisden show, I read the NY Times OpEd article by Maureen Dowd (article)that cited a Ray Fisman study on speed dating that suggested what many of us suspected, that men (of all races) like smart and ambitious women only if the man does not perceive her to be smarter and/or more ambitious than he. I was so intrigued that I read the Fisman article in Slate. I won't go into all of the gory details. I'll just quote the salient paragraph:
When women were the ones choosing, the more intelligence and ambition the men had, the better. So, yes, the stereotypes appear to be true: We males are a gender of fragile egos in search of a pretty face and are threatened by brains or success that exceeds our own. Women, on the other hand, care more about how men think and perform, and they don't mind being outdone on those scores. from An Economist Goes to a Bar

As a strong, intelligent, ambitious Black woman with a religious vocation, I am intimately aware that dating is difficult. Fisman's experiments involved speed dating, which is not likely to be the way that I find my Black Man anyway. But there are deeper issues that Baisden, Fisman, and Dowd point to that affect not only the love lives of Black (and other women) but also speak to the possibilities of fulfilling all of those other ambitions, e.g. being a pastor (me) or President (Hillary). Strong women walk the fine line of achieving our goals with strength and ambition and in spite of strength and ambition. We can't win for losing, as my momma would have said.


K E Alexander said...

I remember a scene in the eighties movie "Network News": Holly Hunter (very bright producer) is "telling off" the network executive over what she perceives to be a wrong decision; he just looks at her and says "It must be nice to always be the smartest person in a room"; she shakes her head and quietly says, "No, it's terrible". My experience, exactly.

Philip said...

A few years after college, I went to a meet and greet, hoping to find some like-minded black folks in the city I'd just moved to. The room was full of Young Black Professionals. I'd just started a PhD program and I didn't have a "real job," so I felt a little intimidated. At some point a seemingly nice young brother strolled over to my spot on the wall and we started to talk. He eventually asked where I'd gone to school. "Harvard," I said and held my breath, knowing this might mean the death of our fledgling interaction. It did. I tried to fill the ensuing silence with some lame comment, but within 30 seconds he'd said, "Nice to meet you," and wandered off. This scene repeated itself with slight variations for almost a decade, until I finally met a brother who viewed me as a person and potential partner, rather than as a possible threat. We hope to teach our boys not to objectify women's bodies OR their minds.