Media portrayals of single women out on their own have adopted a new idea, namely that a gal of a certain age can, when she decides, find that one guy who will provide her with the lifestyle and social status she feels she’s entitled to, with no further effort on her part. It’s all just a party up ’til then. The idea has become something of a meme in film and television. Preliminary research indicates that, for women seeking a high-status life partner, sleeping around willy-nilly and neglecting their own physical conditioning isn’t a mating strategy that produces positive outcomes.
The most prominent woman to advocate these lifestyle choices is Sheryl Sandberg, a former Assistant Treasury Secretary who later helped Facebook provide the government with a lot of data about its users.
DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 28JAN11 – Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook, USA; Young Global Leader are captured during the session ‘Handling Hyper-connectivity’ at the Annual Meeting 2011 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 28, 2011.
Copyright by World Economic Forum
swiss-image.ch/Photo by Jolanda Flubacher
Sandberg was quoted as saying, “When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.”
And her husband may have met these ideals, though of course he died rather young.
Less prominently, actress/comedienne/writers like Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer have created fairly implausible scenarios in their works. In Dunham’s case, a
Doctor with rock-hard abs can’t get enough, and just wants this incredible beauty to stay with him always.
Even more convincingly, Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck features a doctor who’s been celibate for five years falling madly in love with an overweight 30-something, proud possessor of a 500 credit rating, 300 notch count, and substance abuse issues, because her daddy.
Far be it for myself to ever question what the media seeks to jam down a man’s throat, but, by coincidence, I’ve encountered a uniquely qualified focus group upon which to test Sandberg, et al’s assumptions about what men will accept in a partner.
For the past month, I’ve been walking my dog around the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, here to help out with some family stuff. Baltimore, when not catching fire, has two very good medical schools. Johns Hopkins Med has been pretty much the best in the world since it was founded. The University of Maryland, founded in 1807 just a few miles west of JHU, has, thanks to its urban origins, since inception been pretty much the place to go if you’re shot.
On sunny days like we’ve had recently, one finds a number of men wearing the telltale blue scrubs of an MD wandering about. Taking advantage of this opportunity, I interviewed 17 male unmarried physicians, in the process of completing their residency, about the assertions made by Sandberg, Dunham, et al. No effort was made to identify the participants beyond looking for blue scrubs. Our conversations were brief, heated, and, sadly for the ladies, overwhelmingly negative.
Not one physician accepted the premise offered by Dunham and Sandberg. Nor could any ever conceive of a world where they’d go with a chick like that. Indeed, three mentioned they’d dump a woman with that kind of a notch count the minute they found out, even if they were in a serious relationship, an immediate termination that anecdotally seems to be happening a lot.
The chart of our results looks like this. Note that as the results were unanimous, there is no call for a p-value or confidence interval here.
With such an overwhelming result, the question becomes one of reproducibility. It’s possible that New York City, where Dunham and Schumer are located, has an oversupply of physicians who lack self-respect. NYU Med, after all, isn’t quite on a par with Johns Hopkins. Still, “Doctor” is the most respected profession out there. Perhaps before women are advised to blithely throw their futures away on casual encounters they find deeply unsatisfying, someone should consult Docs up there and see what their opinion is.