A study was made on men’s self-report of the qualities they seek in their wives and daughters. The result was striking to many people in that it showed that what men professed to look for in wives and in daughters was very different. In both cases, intelligence ranked first. But in the case of wives, attractive and sweet followed; for daughters, independent and strong follower.
The writer proposes, as one of the possible interpretations, that men want their daughters to be successful even if it makes them less attractive to other men. This is a natural response: we live in capitalist societies where it is commonly believed that success is strongly linked to intelligence, independence and inner strength (even though this is little more than a myth), and we believe that children must be raised in order to become successful. Therefore men want their daughters (and sons too, one presumes) to have these qualities.
The overwhelming question being asked in the wake of this survey is, how do men expect to raise independent and strong daughters when their wives do not have these qualities and cannot lead by example?
After all, aren’t most daughters supposed to become wives and have children? The vast majority of women do. And we already know that, despite what they say, being intellectually competent and holding your end of a conversation is not that attracts most men. Being smart and independent usually gets a woman called a “bitch.”
But you can look at this from other points of view. For example, it really shows the way in which modern women are being crushed under the weight of expectations: we expect women to both be independent and strong in order to be successful, and we expect them to conform to their gender role by being attractive and sweet. This is an impossible set of standards: no matter what, you lose.