Friday, November 12, 2010

Can beautiful just let smart live?!

My bestie recently earned her doctorate in neuroscience. She’s gorgeous (no exaggeration). A few months ago, we were complaining about our abysmal dating experiences when I think I made her cry:

Her: “I’m real hopeful about the future.”
Me: “I’m not. You think shit gets better after grad school? I don’t. Negroes are already intimidated by brains… da f*ck you think gon’ happen when they hear you’re a Ph.D.? There’s no hope for either of us. It’s over. We’re gonna be spinsters.”

I speak harshly at times. Ok…most times… so I apologized. I can’t even say I really believe that - I was just having a moment. But beneath my point lies one nagging assumption:

Women can’t be too smart. If you are, no one will like you.

I just cringed typing that. Even looks bad written there. Mostly because I don’t want to accept that I’ve accepted that. But I have.

Enter Kanye West and his Runaway movie. He serves up Selita Ebanks as a feathered-out Phoenix – complete with 12 ft. wing span and 24-karat talons.

I truly enjoyed the flick and CAN’T WAIT for Kanye’s album. Runaway left me with three thoughts:

1) Damn! Selita Ebanks has some nice tetas! Are those things real?!?
2) “Your girlfriend is really beautiful… do you know she’s a bird?” – voted most memorable line. I’m still snickering at the double entendre, even if it wasn’t intended.
3) Society’s conceptualization of ultimate beauty in women is usually coupled with romanticization of naiveté.

I get it. Men fantasize about exposing women to new things and being eternally jocked because of it. Wide-eyed gratitude generally comes easier from dogs and toddlers – and stupid people. Accordingly, men cherish (subconsciously or not) ignorance in women. Oh, you can be smart… just don’t be too smart - meaning smarter than the cute boy you’re talking to.

I know there are men who find smart women to be the sexiest thing on the planet, but I’m willing to bet they’re in the minority. Also, I’ve found that a man’s fascination with a woman’s intelligence usually wears off quickly – right around the time when she’s right and he’s wrong. Suddenly, smart isn’t sexy anymore. Nope, then you’re just a bitch.

I dunno...maybe it’s just me. Perhaps some day I’ll learn to walk these fine lines between intelligent and bitch - between assertive and dike - between opinionated and shrew. Or maybe some day beautiful will go her own way, and just let smart be.


  1. I cant say I see where you are coming from being a guy but well... I dont think a woman should tone down their intellect at all. I for one quite like it, and am impressed by such feats.

    But it is intimidating. Especially the trifecta of smart, beautiful, and funny. Its scary. But not that I wouldnt try, it would just be "What would a unicorn want with a plebian?" Is it really that you cant find a man that is not intimidated by you? Or would such a woman be okay with a man of lesser ability to even consider as a mate?

    If I ever encounter a Unicorn I will have to check myself to make sure I dont mess it up!

    The whole being wrong in an argument thing is silly I know. But I feel most arguments are just lil dominance games, not really about being right. Wrongness is secondary to shame and alpha status, I think. Ego.

    (Selita Ebanks is too skinny :/ )

  2. Tracie G., the Brown Skin LadyNovember 12, 2010 at 7:53 AM

    The older I get, the less inclined I am to believe that guys are just out-and-out intimidated by a woman's intelligence. If anything, and I could be projecting with this since I too feel this way about all human beings, I wonder if it's more them choosing to give up on women who present themselves as having mastered the world, and simply can't be told any different. I've dated a few people like that-hell, my mama used to be like that; you can love to be around intelligent people all day, but after awhile (and with the wrong kind) it can get kinda like, "Fuck it, let me go'n over here, since it's apparent 'I can't tell you shit', even if what we're discussing isn't a topic that's written in stone for it's Ultimate Truth." There are a lot of us educated women who act that way, IMO, and though I agree that some men avoid us out of genuine fear, I think some reasonably good men may elect to rather not be bothered. *kanyeshrug* Just a thought.

  3. @Terror and Love - Unicorns need love just like any other living thing :)

    @Tracie - There's definitely some truth to your point. But I've actually seen an interested guy walk away from my gf once he found out she was a Harvard educated attorney. No lie.

  4. I definitely do think that men have a biological urge to be attracted to women who are super cute and act as if they have no brain and need to be protected and taken care of by men. This also means that if the woman is higher educated or earning more than the man or has a higher social status, many men can't deal with it. Hopefully great role models, the media, maturity and mature decisions will help counter balance this urge. Some of us men take this urge to an extreme and others don't.

  5. @VegasSeven - Well put. It's sometimes a challenge for a woman to remain true to herself, yet still satisfy a mate or potential mate's "damsel in distress" fantasy.

  6. Well, actually not the media. The media definitely doesn't help. I have no idea in the world why I wrote that. I guess I was living in an overly unobtainable reality for a moment.

    P.S. I have done the damsel in distress fantasy and it is so incredibly unsatisfying and a headache.

  7. I cram to understand what type of suckers that sisters are dating to form these generalizations about men. Secy until you're right and he's wrong? WTF? What kind of asshole expects to be right all the time? Have you actually real human beings that flipped 180 degrees like that? Or was that an exaggeration for comedic effect?

  8. I think that mostly dumb guys like girls of less intelligence. or have some underlying domination complex... I like smart girls :)

  9. Many "smart" women confuse being educated with being smart. These are two different things. Many dudes confuse an educated woman for a smart woman as well; re: dude who walked away from your girl upon hearing her pedigree and w/o having a convo with her that might prove or disprove his assumptions. That said, there are indeed many men intimidated by a smart or educated or successful woman. Conversely, there are many men AND women who believe they are smart because of their success in a particular field or academic background. I tend to consider a woman or man to be smart if she/he is a combination of inquisitive, thoughtful, bright in terms of ability to grasp new concepts and ideas quickly and funny/witty. I find professional or academic success is rarely ever a good indicator of the aforementioned. It is occasionally the case
    that the "smart" man or woman who claims to be intimidating, is unaware that they
    come off as dismissive, self-important, unaware of their audience, and as Tracie put "Can't-Tell-Me-Shit"-ish. The Can't-Tell-Me-Shit types are the worst as they tend to discuss and argue from their course syllabus as opposed to arguing from their minds.

  10. @Calhoun - Point taken. But I have to disagree with you on academic success not being an indicator on intelligence. While academic success is not necessarily an indicator of intelligence, the two are generally correlated. I find most doctorate degree holders to be truly brilliant. While dumb academicians definitely exist, they are rare exceptions IMO.

    What I was trying to get at with my post is that the "dismissive, self-important, unaware of their audience, Can't-Tell-Me-Shit" attitude is really a stereotype. Not all academics fit into it (in my experience, most don't). Unfortunately, it's hard to escape those presumptions. (Which is why a lot of successful women don't toot that horn).

  11. I hear you, but to clarify my point I inaccurately used "academic success" to refer to those who simply went to a good undergrad and grad school, not those who continue on and remain in academics. As someone who attended ivy-league schools for both undergrad and grad, I found that for many folks the ability to understand the coursework in their particular area of study did not necessarily translate into intellectual, cultural or political curiosity about anything else...whatsoever.

    Regarding my comment about the "dismissive, self-important, unaware-of-their-audience, Can't-Tell-Me-Shit" attitude, I wasn't stereotyping academics, I was referring to the individuals who vocally express the fact that their "intelliect" intimidates people and that often times the sole evidence of their self-perceived "intellect" is matriculatin' yale undergrad and georgetown law, but absolutely nothing else indicates that they know shit about anything. In my experience these people are typically ass-hats who are often delusional about the sort of image they're truly projecting.

    Anyhow, I don't doubt that this is a reality for many educated black women, I was just giving some food for thought. I'm fortunate to have a heaping handful of black female friends who are sharp as SHIT and I've heard many of their dating stories and have been apalled at the pussy-assness of some of the niggas they've dealt with regarding the petty way they've behaved when they could'nt handle the fact that the chick went to a better school than them. On the flip, I've often had to tell one of my female friends "nah homie, you was being a fuckin' asshole, don't try and sweep this one under the rug of your vast intellect cus you'll do your personal growth a disservice by not acknowledging your part in this..."

    So in terms of where I fit into your post, I'm speaking of those instances who sweat pedigree as intellect cus that happens frequently.

    I've had many a chick tell me I'm smart after they've asked me where I went to school and I've had to be like, "I've been standing at this bar imbibing copious amounts of alcohol,slurring out half-ass game and leering at you, I haven't done one damn thing to suggest to you that I'm smart or otherwise and right now i'm about as smart as a 4yr old, in another hour I might not be smart enough to let my taxi driver know where I even live. but yes, my kungfu is fast, however tonite you will see no proof of it"

    But I guess some folks rely on the fast and loose indicators to cut out the chaff quickly.

    I've enjoyed rambling on yer blog.

  12. "Also, I’ve found that a man’s fascination with a woman’s intelligence usually wears off quickly – right around the time when she’s right and he’s wrong."


  13. Hi sweetie. I came across your blog by complete coincidence. But let me tell you a couple things if I may. First, you're cute and smart. Believe me, YOU can find a man. Second, there are a lot of single geeks out there. They aren't intimidated by intelligence, but they are turned off by women who (on account of feminist training and enculturation) attempt to rule their men. If you can let your man be himself, and accept that you're getting a man and not another woman, then you'll do better at keeping him. If you take the feminazi bullshit too seriously, you're going to go the way of lots and lots of professional women. So many of them are uninviting bitches, they're cold, they think they're better than you, they don't support their men emotionally but instead, after a while, wind up undermining them. Want to know what's really sexy? A smart, pretty woman who cares and understands her man...

    1. Uhh... thanks for the vote of confidence, I guess????

      With all due respect, I think you missed the point of the whole blog. I acknowledged that there are men who aren't turned off by intelligence, but noted that they're in the minority. The point is: society doesn't allow beauty and intelligence to occupy the same space - particularly for women. I was simply loathing the unfairness of this dynamic. It doesn't mean that I, or any other smart woman hasn't learned how to navigate the system. I just think it's a shame that we have to.

      There really isn't a need to bring up "supporting your man emotionally", or accepting that "you're getting a man"... all of that sounds to me like you're suggesting women should just let a man "win" or "be himself" (as you called it), regardless of how it makes her feel. It sounds to me like you just want me to accept that my desires aren't important (cuz after all, snagging a man is the end-all-be-all of every woman's life...).

      I guess what I'm trying to say is that it doesn't always feel good to keep quiet or pretend to be naive for the sake of a man's pride. Women do it all the time. My point is that we shouldn't have to.

      On another note, it's interesting to me that a discussion of intelligence in women immediately conjures in your mind thoughts of women trying to "rule" men and "feminazis". That says a whole lot IMO about how the very societal dynamic I'm writing about has affected your views. I dunno... I'm guessing you have trouble seeing a woman's perspective b/c you aren't one.

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