Q. Looking for a Mrs. Degree: I attend a small university studying engineering. I hold traditional values and I would like to get married to a woman willing to stay home and raise our children. I am lucky enough to not have any student loans and will be able to support a wife and children on my salary. Preferably, I would like to marry a woman who has a college degree and is smart because we would match intellectually and she would provide the best environment for my children. Women I meet on campus frequently call me sexist. I never thought of myself as sexist because I have no problem whatsoever with women who work in general and I respect my fellow female students and professors. Just because I don’t want my wife to work does not mean I think women in general shouldn’t work. Am I sexist? Is there any way I can meet a woman who shares my values, or was I born 40 years too late?
A: You sound like the male equivalent of the bride in the letter above who much preferred planning her wedding without the bother of a real person to marry. Of course we all have ideas of what our ideal life would be, then life happens and we have to—even want to—adjust to reality. Yes, there are women, even well-educated ones, who would prefer to stay home with their children. But dictating these terms before you’ve even gotten far enough to go steady makes you sound rigid, dictatorial, and yes, sexist. Instead of announcing your life plan for the so-far nonexistent woman you plan to marry, you should just date interesting, intelligent women and find out what they want out of life. But if you’re determined to only spend time with women who meet your qualifications, go to a rally for Rick Santorum. He shares your views of women’s roles, and during his Q&A ask if he can fix you up.
Sorry Charlie, but it is 100% sexist to want to marry a woman who has “traditional values” and will stay home and raise your children (note the letter-writer’s use of “my children” instead of “our children.” He likes his property!). Is it 100% sexist for a couple to work out their own childcare situation, which may involve the woman staying home? No. Of course not! Couples make arrangements to do what they need to do. And yeah, more often than not the arrangements that get made are dependent on or related to historical sexist social practices / stereotypes about who is more naturally nurturing / gender-based income inequalities / or just plain old sexism, but of course it’s not necessary sexist to have a wife who stays home with the kids.
But yes, it is sexist to expect that the woman you marry, by simple virtue of being a woman, will be expected to stay at home because that’s what Women Should Do (if they are married to you). That’s Sexism 101, friend.
Also? It’s kind of a red flag. A dude has decided outright that he doesn’t want his wife to have financial independence? That her intellect is important because it creates a positive environment for his children? RUN GIRL RUN.