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Career Women’s Houses Are Dirty, and Other Male Delusions

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There's a bit of a brouhaha on the Internet over an article published on Forbes' website. The article was originally published on August 22. The following day, Forbes took the article down. A few hours later, the article was back up on the site, but this time right alongside an article with an opposing viewpoint.

What was all the fuss about? Well, the article in question, written by Forbes news editor Michael Noer, is titled "Don't Marry Career Women". That should explain it all. Right? But wait, there's more. The title is merely the tip of the iceberg. The article itself — in which rocky marriages, husbands' ill-health, dirty houses, dysfunctional kids, divorces, extra-marital affairs and lower rates of childbirth are all blamed on working women — is priceless.

In support of his assertion that men should not marry working women, Noer quotes many "studies." However, in many instances, the author's paraphrasing of the studies, or the quotes he uses, talk about "individuals," "spouse," "people," and not about women specifically. Here are a few examples that Noer ropes in to argue that career women are more likely to cheat and run away with someone:

  • When your spouse works outside the home, chances increase they'll meet someone they like more than you.
  • According to a wide-ranging review of the published literature, highly educated people are more likely to have had extra-marital sex (those with graduate degrees are 1.75 more likely to have cheated than those with high school diplomas). Additionally, individuals who earn more than $30,000 a year are more likely to cheat.
  • "I also find that the incidence in divorce is far higher in couples where both spouses are working than in couples where only one spouse is employed," Johnson [who "examined data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation"] says.

It is baffling that the author relies on these statements to conclude that only working women cheat, run off, have extra-marital sex and are responsible for the rise in divorce rates. In a similar vein, Noer makes an argument about "labor specialization" – if both spouses work, the household suffers. Again, the argument should not and does not translate to mean that women should stay home.

Furthermore, people — men and women — will cheat if they are so inclined and if the opportunity presents itself, whether they stay home or go out. What about spouses who stay home and are exposed to the mailman (or mailwoman), the FedEx man (or woman), the pool boy, the baby sitter?

The essay is chockfull of other "insights" into marital relationships.

  • Households in which the women work are dirty, he says. Really? Is it any surprise? This is a reason why men should not marry career women? And is this really a problem? Where are the men in the equation? Do they really expect the house to be spic and span? If they really do (which I doubt – someone should go check out some bachelor pads and see how they stack up on the cleanliness scale), why not pick up after themselves, take the trash out, mop and dust a little, eh?
  • Husbands in households in which the women work are more likely to fall ill, he says. Are men really such babies? Did anyone check to see if the women in households in which the men work are more likely to fall ill? No? Why not? Because women are expected to take care of themselves, but the men need handholding and need to be taken care of or else they fall ill?
  • Husbands will be unhappy if their wives make more money than they do, he says. Well, all the men need to do is to tweak their attitudes a little bit. How about feeling happy that the family is earning more money? How about feeling proud that your wife is earning more than you?
  • Wives will be unhappy if they earn more money than their husbands, he says. Well, don't worry, Mr. Noer. This character flaw won't last long. I suspect this feeling stems from having a crabby husband around and women will stop caring what their husbands think or feel if their illogical behavior lasts long enough.
  • If women quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy, he says. Sure, there will be some sadness. There's bound to be unhappiness over lost friendships, over the loss of professional connections. But that's life. Priorities change when kids arrive. But is this a valid reason not to marry a working woman? That's a myopic view if I ever saw one. And what about the unhappiness a non-working woman may feel that she doesn't work? Does this not count?

Just in case the men reading his essay are horrified and are thinking they will never, ever tie the knot, Noer exhorts men to marry. Do marry, he says, because marriage is positively correlated to higher incomes for adult men. How wonderful! If you want to make more money, you want to be happy, have children (and children who are well-adjusted), stay healthy and have a clean home, marry. Please do. Just follow Noer's advice and make sure the woman of your dreams doesn't have a college degree and makes less than $30,000 a year.

The puerile and inane ideas expressed in this essay are trumped only by Forbes first pulling the essay from the web and then republishing it with a counterview written by Elizabeth Corcoran, also with Forbes. If Forbes did not think that the essay would not stand on its own merit, why did they publish it in the first place?

And oh, before we go, please do read Forbes? You Suck. Lively and quite on point.

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About Sujatha Bagal

  • http://illness-whyohwhy Jacqui Jax

    I love the artical Mr Noer obviously is still living in the 1920’s with a housekeeper and if married a wife on Valium.
    It is amazing that these attidutes still exist.

  • http://www.abhinspice.blogspot.com Abhishek

    Well i totally agree, coz i am married to a career woman. v r staying miles apart. i feel quite disgusted. i am heading for a divorce, she has ruined my life. she contantly abuses my mom n me. she has physically abused me also. i deserve some1 better. career women r a pain in de a**. marrying a docile household woman sure does the trick. dats how god has made it.