What's a surefire way to attract attention to your story? Call it: "Don't Marry Career Women."
Forbes.com pulled down an article by its executive news editor about career women after it provoked a heated response from bloggers, and reposted the story with a "rebuttal" from a female reporter in their Silicon Valley bureau. The point-counterpoint has bloggers buzzing. "Forbes" is the second most popular search term on Technorati on Thursday, with over 194,000 links.
The article by Michael Noer contains reasons for men not to marry "career women." Noer relies primarily on dry sociological studies – not controversial in themselves and unlikely to spark online furor– but Noer's take on it is undoubtedly provocative. For example, his article begins:
"Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career.
"A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women–even those with a 'feminist' outlook–are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner. Not a happy conclusion, especially given that many men, particularly successful men, are attracted to women with similar goals and aspirations. And why not? After all, your typical career girl is well-educated, ambitious, informed and engaged. All seemingly good things, right? Sure…at least until you get married. Then, to put it bluntly, the more successful she is the more likely she is to grow dissatisfied with you. Sound familiar?"
And if that sentiment weren't enough fodder for the blogosphere, the article originally appeared with a handy sidebar of "Nine Reasons To Steer Clear Of Career Women," illustrated with pictures of some sad-looking men. The sidebar no longer appears on the site but the blog Pandagon includes it here.
In her counterpoint, "Don't Marry A Lazy Man," Elizabeth Corcoran calls Noer's article "downright frightening."
"Studies aside, modern marriage is a two-way street," Corcoran writes. "Men should own up to their responsibilities, too."
Corcoran also points out that despite being a career woman, she and her husband are about to celebrate 18 years of a happy marriage. It's a point that resonates with many female bloggers who consider themselves career women and not surprisingly, took issue with Noer's piece.
"Articles like this are obviously insulting to women because they reinforce outdated and highly sexist notions of what a 'good woman' is, and they imply that if you don't fit the Suzie Homemaker mold (which most stay-at-home moms don't even fit) then your marriage prospects are shot," Jill at Feministe blogs. "And they reinforce the idea that marriage is the highest goal that women should seek."
"I'm still trapped in the house and perhaps going a little stir crazy, but I'm pretty damn sure it's still 2006," bitsandgiggles adds.
Other bloggers point out that Noer isn't one to shirk attention when writing about marriage. After all, he wrote an earlier piece about the economics of getting married versus hiring a prostitute. That article also contained references to several studies on "career women" and how they don't make for an ideal marriage.
Gawker notes that perhaps Noer has a few "issues with the institution of marriage."
But perhaps publicity was partly the intent of writing a potentially inflammatory piece?
"The latest rumor about the Forbes article by conveniently unreachable Michael Noer is that the piece was deliberately provocative. Not to inspire intelligent debate, mind you - but to drive traffic from the hip, highly-female blogger demographic to a publication to which they (I'm projecting here) would not ordinarily purchase a subscription," Jennifer writes at The New Charm School.
Readers on Forbes.com also weighed in. Some question what all the fuss is about. "I can't understand why women are getting so upset with this article. It is just examines statistical trends about social and economical aspects of gender equality," VegasMike writes. "The article is just informative to the reader. Men AND Women should have all the statistical knowledge facing the institution marriage today."
But Newbie disagrees. "Contrary to popular belief on this message board, a highly-educated, motivated, high-earning career woman can be 1/2 of a happy, well-functioning, productive marriage," Newbie writes. "Here's the winning formula - we support each other."
Sure many more people are reading Forbes.com today, but could it backfire? Perhaps. "It's incredibly disappointing to see them publish a piece that makes such gross generalizations about working women," Travelocity president and CEO Michelle Peluso, who has been featured in Forbes, told Salon.com. And she also said she planned to approach the magazine directly about the piece.
By Melissa McNamara