Give Dick a Chance

She did it again! Margaret Wente lured me into her column with another snappy title; this time it was “What you won’t learn about marriage in gender studies.” I didn’t think gender studies was supposed to teach me anything about marriage particularly, so I couldn’t help but read the thing.

Turns out, the piece is in reaction to the flurry of opinions about the Princeton mom who wrote a letter telling the young ladies of Princeton that they should find a husband at Princeton. I haven’t paid much attention to all that media hoopla because, really, American Ivy Leaguers are in no way a part of my reality. Of course, La Wente agrees with the find-a-Princeton-husband-while-you-still-can argument. She basically rehashes the same stuff  about marriage that I responded to in a post in January; therefore, I won’t go into THAT again.

Ivy League style

Ivy League style

What I do want to respond to is the following statement, which I find supremely lame:

Despite all those gender studies courses, most women want to marry up, or at least marry someone they respect. Few women with advanced degrees in international studies want to settle down with Dick the House Painter. This desire is not socially constructed. It’s more or less hard-wired.

Again, it’s clear to me that Margaret Wente has never in her life actually taken a gender studies class! Let me assure you, Margaret, that I obtained an undergraduate degree in women’s studies without ever discussing, or writing a paper on, whether women want to marry up or down. And we were much more likely to debate whether gender itself is socially constructed than to talk about the mating desires of privileged white heterosexual women.

Now I want to talk about Dick [the House Painter]. (Hey, I’m not the one who called him Dick, of all things!) Wente is probably right about at least that — few women with advanced degrees want to marry Dick the House Painter (or Bill the Electrician, or even Tom the Foreman). But I’m here to tell you, from one woman with an advanced degree to another, you’re wrong! Let me tell you a little about Dick the House Painter:

Dick gets paid money for his work: The very same newspaper that publishes Wente’s column has published articles about Canada’s shortage of skilled tradespeople. Ron the Drywall Installer earns a nice salary and is in high demand; whereas, Michael the Political Science Ph.D. will likely spend his 30s and 40s moving from university to university chasing that elusive tenured position and trying to pay off his student loans. Even my supposed sure thing degree, the Master of Library and Information Studies,  has become less valuable in this town where government libraries are closing faster than you can say “How much for that drywall?”

Alexander Skarsgard as a hot construction worker

Alexander Skarsgard as a hot construction worker

Dick is manly and strong: I keep hearing about the end of men and about how today’s males are either wimpy and insecure, or they’re immature slackers. But guess who’s not being any of those things? Dick — that’s right. He may not be able to create a perfect SWOT diagram (darn, shucks), but he’ll competently build and fix things! And he can carry heavy stuff too because he’s used to it; he doesn’t have atrophied nerd arms like Steve the Computer Programmer. It’s all about complimentary skills. Why would you need 2 people in a couple who know how write a brilliantly argued letter and none who know how to change a tire?

Dick is probably less of a dick than your average MBA: Pretend as we might, we do not live in a classless society. We might presume that someone with a law degree who attends symphony orchestra concerts is less likely to be a cheater or a psychopath than someone without a university degree who listens to commercial radio. We’d be wrong. Look past the veneer; the good men may not be the ones you think.

Dick is fun: Hey, you know what I like to do on a Saturday night? Here’s a hint: it’s not debating cap-and-trade vs. carbon tax, discussing themes prevalent in D.H. Lawrence novels, or deliberating on which historical character I’d have liked to have been. Margaret Wente says that she needed someone that liked to read. Well, that’s her right. I LOVE to read. I love almost nothing more than reading. But reading is a solitary experience while sharing good food and wine, being silly, and going out dancing are things that I like to do with someone fun. Knowledge of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady is not a requirement.

Talk about marrying up...

Talk about marrying up…

Dick is not beneath you; you can respect Dick: Margaret writes, “most women want to marry up, or at least marry someone they respect”. This blows my mind! Respect is earned and has nothing to do with an Ivy League degree. Jeez Louise! This should be really obvious to anyone with any common sense at all.

In conclusion, my advanced degree holding sisters, give Dick a chance! Ignore Margaret Wente and go with your heart. Notions like “marrying up” are useful to no woman who wants to enjoy life and who understands that charity balls and alumni mixers aren’t really all they’re cracked up to be.


  1. You said it girl!!! Not that every man who has a law degree has no personality or is a jerk, but I’ve seen many guys who do have that “wonderful degree” being really boring or annoying people.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: