I’m fairly certain that Rush Limbaugh could take Goodnight, Moon and twist it into a tale of shrill harpies hellbent on John Bobbitt-ing the male species and strangling newborn babies with their long, flowing strands of armpit hair.
That is the only explanation for his wildly inaccurate (and, it should go without saying, wildly sexist) April 16 interpretation of a study published this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. According to Rush, the study concluded “the real reason women pursue careers is because they fear they are too unattractive to get married.” (He also wondered, “Is this the real reason liberal women insist on working?”)
According to the actual study … not so much.
It’s the UK newspaper the Daily Mail‘s fault as well, for twisting the study in the first place: a study on whether areas with a scarcity of men affect a woman’s career choice and time she starts a family somehow turned into a piece bombastically titled “Do girls only want a career because they can’t attract a man?” The article claimed:
Forget ambition, financial security and that first-class degree. A controversial study has concluded that the real reason women pursue careers is because they fear they are too unattractive to get married.
In other words: if you don’t think it’s likely you’ll have a life partner and/or someone to share in the breadwinning, you’re likely going to seek out a job that pays better. Yeah, no duh.
The attractiveness aspect that Rush Limbaugh seized upon and distorted refers to one experiment (one of four, in fact) performed by the study’s authors. It asked participants to rate their “self-perceived mate value” — i.e. what you have to offer — and found that women who rated their “mate value” low were more motivated to have careers over families.
Of course, there are many, many, many factors to take into consideration when discussing “self-perceived mate value” and although physical attractiveness is one of them, it is not the only one, nor was it the main one examined in this study. Physical attractiveness is just what the Daily Mail inferred and what Limbaugh seized upon. But I would assume other factors like education level, spiritual/ethnic background, physical health, and mental health just aren’t “sexy” enough topics.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.