This past weekend was the annual retreat for Beck State’s residency program. For the second straight year her father had a convention in the area and so her parents went with us (last year her youngest sister came, but not this one). I’ve got a few posts coming up on various observations that I made over the weekend. This is the second.

During the retreat I got to meet Lex Rogan, a soon-to-be-second-year resident from Delosa that I’ve heard quite a bit about. I also got to meet Brit, his freshly-minted wife.

One of the little interesting tidbits of medical school is the gender-relationship disparity. Most of the men in medical school are either married or engaged while most of the women are not. The reasons for this are many.

In some quarters, young ladies are still explicitly or implicitly taught to seek in a man the ability to provide. At least moreso than men, to be sure. The ability of a man to financially take care of himself and a family is just higher on the average female than the average male. Chalk it up to evolution or antiquated societal norms or however you like, it remains generally true however not universally so.

Inversely, guys are conditioned, trained, or inclined to look for other traits. Birthin’ hips, beauty, grace, whatever. While I believe the alleged intimidation that men generally feel when confronted with a woman with higher income is greatly exaggerated, it remains true that a woman’s wealth and income potential won’t mean as much to the average man as it would for the average woman. Sometimes it does indeed work in the negative when a particular man has a machismo streak, a man figured (per previous paragraph) that a woman wants a man with equal or greater income (or “ability to provide”), or a man figures that a career-oriented woman is not interested in starting a family. While the latter two erroneous assumptions can be disproven, it becomes a lot less likely because guys are less inclined to approach an unknown female that they are not romantically interested in as readily as they would approach one that they are.

So rightly or wrongly (which is the question, explored below), a male doctor gets more mileage with the opposite sex than does his female peers. Armed with that, a lot of financially successful men that are not otherwise extraordinarily generally date upwards in terms of beaty, grace, background, etc. Dr. and Mrs. Rogan struck me very much along those lines. So the question of the day is how we, as a society, should look at this.

Not long ago I was talking to a coworker who was frustrated with his lack of relationship success. It was a not-atypical girls-only-like-jerks rant. He’s 20. Girls at that age – particularly the type he is interested in – often do have an unhealthy preference for jerks or are at least indifferent to jerkitude. That subsides (as does men’s indifference to a woman’s intelligence) as they get into their twenties, but that’s small comfort to the frustrated 20 year old.

It reminds me a bit of the movie Reality Bites, among others. In Reality Bites, Winona Ryder is left to choose between the authentic, unemployed, and intemperate Ethan Hawke and the responsible, personable Ben Stiller. She choses the former and we’re supposed to applaud her decision because Hawke’s character is authentic and real while Stiller’s is a sell-out. Poppycock. Hawke’s character is lazy, arrogant, and generally worthless. Stiller, meanwhile, actually contributes to society and and the arts (if one can call the MTV-knock-off he works at the arts). He also demonstrated the ability to care a little more about her than himself.

Which brings me back to Mrs. Rogan and the tendency of male doctors (and other rich males) to go the trophy-wife route. I can’t say that I’m particularly keen on that, either. A man is more than his pocketbook. I can’t imagine someone marrying for money being happy in the long-run just as I can’t imagine being happy having married someone that doesn’t appreciate my personality quirks. My authenticity. But in my single days I certainly did feel that the work I put in to school and my career should count for something and would get agitated at times when it seemed not to. And shouldn’t the time and effort they put in to medical school or Harvard Business School or whatever count for something?

In other words, if Stiller’s chances with Ryder should be positively reflected by the fact he holds down a full-time job (”can provide”,”is responsible”) over Hawke (”lazy”), shouldn’t then Wall Street Banker man’s chances with random female be positively influenced by his wealth when compared to earnest-but-middle-class civil engineer man? If not, why not? After all, he probably worked a lot harder to get where he is than the civil engineer. If sufficient employment is good, shouldn’t super-employment be super-good?

Am I drawing the line where I am simply because to my left are the super-authentic slobs and my right the stiff shirt accounting wizzes? Oftenly convenient, don’t you think?

Category: Coffeehouse

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