In Defense of Men (and Smart Women)

This article called "Does this Law Degree Make My Ass Look Fat," has been making the rounds of internet law blogs (blawgs). Written by "Legal Tease," a regular columnist on the female-run lawyer blog "Sweet Hot Justice," it laments the particular plight of Biglaw lady-lawyers trying to get a date.  Legal Tease accuses men of being "afraid of" successful female lawyers.  Then she appeals to these same men by explaining "We're not really that together," and informs them that the lonely hot-shot litigator they rejected "cries herself to sleep at night."

This article been popular enough to be featured on Above the Law and receive some fervent, lauding commentary from TechnoLawyer.  It's well-written, funny, and clever.  But you know what?  I call bullshit.

As a young, female, recent law grad, I may have felt that my education hindered me in the job market (young lawyers have it rough these days what's wrong with a nice technical school anyway?), but I've never felt it hindered me in the dating world.  I have certainly never found that saying “I’m an attorney” – or, more accurately from my "dating" days, “I’m in law school” – operated as a turn-off. 

In fact, most intelligent, ambitious, successful guys I know complain more about their inability to meet motivated, opinionated, educated women than their inability to find someone hot and stupid.  The guys I know don't pine for bimbos, or date them (at least not for very long).  And the older the guys get, the more they desire a put-together anti-gold-digger who brings more than her Marc Jacobs clutch to the table. (Nothing against Marc Jacobs I have one and it's adorable.)

Sure, there are some chauvinistic, ridiculous, 80s-Manhattan-type guys who prefer arm candy to life partners, but my experience has been that those tools are the exception, not the rule.  I contend that men do want intelligent women.  Men want women capable of making meaningful conversation, making their own money, and making their men proud at work events.  But apparently I'm in the un-embittered minority.

Legal Tease is part of “Biglaw,” the nickname given to giant national and international law firms with $150k starting salaries (pre-recession?) and floors upon floors of nameless suited associates.  What it takes to be a Biglaw associate is great grades, graduation from a top law school, and the motivation and desire to work all the time.  What it often doesn’t allow, however, is any semblance of a work-life balance.  I think this lifestyle, more than superficial jerks with antiquated double standards, is the source of singledom among young female professionals.

Does that mean women shouldn't choose a fast-paced, high-paying career if they want a husband?  Of course not.  But it does mean that we should be prepared to make some sacrifices to have it the same sacrifices that men do and stop blaming guys when we go home to a Lean Cuisine and our DVR.  (Fall shows start back this week, ladies!)

Equilibrium may be temporarily difficult for young women, but eventually it's the key to a satisfying, non-digitally recorded social life.  One commentator asks, “Why aren't fortitude, ambition, and guile more appealing traits than, say…spending a precious (and potentially billable) hour blow-drying your hair to get prettied up for a suitor?”  My question is: why can’t you do both?  Can't there be some balance between your ruthless ambition and your ability to (literally) let your hair down?  Femininity doesn’t have to die at the hands of feminism.  And before you say that my response, too, is the kind of backtracking double standard that kept women at home for so long, let me point out that women want the same qualities in a mate: women want attractive men who dress well, are in good shape, and look professional, too.  And yet somehow this commentator begrudges and disdains the idea that physical aesthetics could be important to anyone.  Guess what: showing up to work with blow-dried hair isn't just going to get you points with that cute Public Defender, it's also going to get you points with the Judge, the jury, and your clients who see that you value your professional appearance.

Legal Tease and subsequent commentators cite “aggressiveness” as date-killer. Men “hear 'litigator' and think 'bitch',” says one.  Look, if a guy is such an insecure tool that he can't handle an impressive, outspoken woman, then put away the blindfold and handcuffs because he just missed out on the closed-door benefits of an "aggressive" girlfriend.  But I really, sincerely disbelieve that most gentlemen, upon approaching an attractive young woman, would take the phrase "I'm a litigator" to signal anything other than "I'm self-sufficient, worth talking to, and a huge baller."

The problem may lie on the other end of that conversation does Lady Litigator think Sir Tax Attorney is impressive?  Or does she need another dirty martini and for him to stop saying the word "hotchpot" every three minutes?  Professional young women inevitably have higher standards than their bimbo equivalents: it might be enough for Bambi that her boyfriend is a “lawyer,” whatever that means.  But Lady Litigator may think “so he’s a lawyer, so what, I can’t believe he agreed with Scalia in Lawrence v. Texas.”

So yes, Lady Litigator has a smaller pool of acceptable mates. And yes, it’s because she’s a hardworking professional.  But no, it’s NOT because eligible males disdain her feminism, her work ethic, or her intellectual prowess.  And, in my personal opinion: Legal Tease, arguing that you're actually an insecure mess on the inside is not how you're going to win your case. Or get a boyfriend.
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Write comments
September 23, 2010 at 2:00 PM delete

Maybe the problem is that her ass is fat, and she just needs a man who'll appreciate it instead of pining for skinny-assed broads.

September 27, 2010 at 9:07 PM delete

I love smart, driven women. I just don't like lawyers. They're mean.


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