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What About Women’s Lib?

By Peter Rost

20 November, 2006

I don’t follow the gossip press, and I couldn’t care less what Britney Spears does. But last week I had to get out of my protected environment and take the train to New York to film a documentary and not even I could avoid the headlines and the magazines on the floor of the train. So I figured I’d use Britney Spear’s wellpublicized divorce to make a point about women. And about men.

Apparently Britney, who is worth between $150 and $300 million, depending on which gossip magazine you read, is about to get divorced. To make things even juicier, her husband Kevin Federline, who the press calls K-Fed (by the way, doesn’t that sound like a drug? At least he seems to have been on drugs most of his marriage . . . ) has apparently spent his married years with hookers, strippers and was caught with his pants down at the Regency hotel when his wife stormed in. The hotel staff apparently relented and gave her a key, even though she wasn’t signed in, so he got a bit of a surprise. And now two of the hotel employees have been fired. (Can anyone stomp and demand a key to anyone’s room at the Regency?)

Problem for K-Fed is that Britney had this ironclad prenuptial agreement, so now K-Fed is allegedly threatening to sell a sex tape of the two lovebirds having consensual married sex. Perhaps not what Britney expected.

And the price tag is expected to be around $30 million for that tape. So K-Fed wants $50 million from Britney and the kids, or something like that in return for not selling the tape, to which he holds copyright, of their sex.

First, isn’t it sad, if true, that a sex tape with Britney can bring in more money than any Michael Moore movie has ever brought in? Ok, don’t answer that. I liked “Bowling for Columbine,” but I didn’t like “Fahrenheit 911” so much, so I’m hoping for his next one, “Sicko.”

Second, why is everyone beating up on Britney for marrying this deadbeat who made like $30,000 before marrying her, while she made millions? Shouldn’t we encourage our young and wealthy women to marry down to spread their wealth? Ok, don’t answer that one either, because, yeah, she could most certainly have found someone who appeared less sleazy than K-Fed, but then again, Britney isn’t the most classy girl either.

And here’s my real point, what really concerns me, about women.

I’ve read many times that women really don’t go for men who are authors, artists, photographers and other free professions, unless they are already very wealthy or famous (they apparently like rock stars). As an author that hurts a bit.

Women apparently prefer doctors, businessmen, accountants—anything with a stable income. Funny thing is; men don’t seem to be that way. They simply prefer to marry their pretty secretary, I guess to get the same service at home as they expect at work. In fact, nearly half of single women believe their professional success is intimidating to the men they meet. And that is outright sad.

I don’t know if any of this is really true, but those of you watching “Sex and the City,” may remember the episode when Miranda, the tough lawyer (who turned out to be a lesbian in her real life), tells a man she meets at a speed-dating event that she's a flight attendant. He tells her that he's a doctor. Both of them, however, are lying, she to diminish her status, and he to inflate it.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett has presented a study of smart women who weren't getting married or having children at the same rates as other women. In her book “Creating a Life,” she created panic among successful women, writing “Nowadays, the rule of thumb seems to be that the more successful the woman, the less likely it is she will find a husband or bear a child.” She claimed that high-achieving women who were still single at age 30 had a less than 10 percent chance of ever marrying.

Maureen Dowd from the New York Times has fanned the flames and blamed her own single life on her career success. In her book “Are Men Necessary?,” Dowd wrote, “I was always so proud of achieving more—succeeding in a high-powered career that would have been closed to my great-aunts. How odd, then, to find out now that being a maid would have enhanced my chances with men.” (That sentence sure made me understand how she picked the title of her book.)

I guess it doesn’t help that back in 2004 researchers at the University of Michigan published a study in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. The study claimed that the men in their sample preferred to marry a woman whom they considered to be a subordinate, rather than a woman they considered to be a superior or a peer.

I’m not sure if any of this is true, personally I vastly prefer smart women. But maybe they don’t prefer me anymore now when I’m no longer a doctor or a Vice President at Pfizer, but simply an author. Then again I’m already married so I don’t have to worry. (Uh-uh . . . maybe that means I should worry. I better have a chat with my wife.)

Anyway, as I look around me it certainly seems to be true that men’s fragile ego makes them prefer women who submit to them and make them feel good.

So I think it is wonderful when smart, talented performers like Britney Spears are able to get married. Because, of course, K-Fed didn’t just take her for her money. Then he would be like a wom . . . !

But seriously, one key reason women go for rich men is the same reason people rob banks, “that’s where the money is.”

And the fact that poor men prey upon rich women shouldn’t be surprising. It is only sad that in 2006 so many men still feel emasculated by a relationship with a smart woman and so many women still feel they have to submit to a man to survive.

Peter Rost, M.D., is a former Vice President of Pfizer. He became well known in 2004 when he emerged as the first drug company executive to speak out in favor of reimportation of drugs. He is the author of "The Whistleblower, Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman." See:


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