Girls, drop your newspapers, books, and classes! There's an anti-feminist trend emerging. "Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide," a new book by the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, discusses why smarter women are less attractive candidates for long-term relationships.

To support her claim about men's desire for brainless ladies, Dowd cites a 2004 study led by Dr. Stephanie Brown, a social psychologist at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. The research, conducted on 320 undergraduates, revealed that "powerful women are at a disadvantage in the marriage market because men may prefer to marry less accomplished women."

If this is the case, then all of us striving for a leadership role — in college and at work — are ineligible candidates as girlfriends and wives. But does a woman's academic prowess really impede upon her to maintain a relationship? Are men really that intimidated by intelligent, free-thinking women?

On a campus with a liberal reputation, in era of increasingly flexible gender roles, one would assume that independent women are in high demand. Who wants to date a beauty-queen moron? I'd hope the supposed "open-minded" boys in Madison would hate to see their girlfriends in a subordinate role. What happened to equality in relationships? What's so attractive about "less accomplished" women? Maybe she'll be more prone to wash underwear or reorganize a boyfriend's room?

It's true — smart girls are somewhat threatening, and often perceived, or misconceived, as demanding, critical, and too intelligent. But why does this laundry list of qualities scare men and place women at a disadvantage in the meat market?

I'm hesitant to agree that a box of rocks is more attractive than a bold, sharp and motivated woman. Try pursuing a serious relationship with a brainless chick — at first she may make you melt, but beyond that her appeal will quickly dwindle. Try discussing politics with an idiot and you will be left arguing with a blank wall. And while that outspoken girl from lecture may tangle a boyfriend into a few steamy debates, criticize his wardrobe, and ultimately fail to fit the mother-role he craves, she'll turn out to be an admirable role model, capable of offering solid, realistic advice and insightful, stimulating discussion.

Men, by retaining the intellectual upper hand, possess total sovereignty over their significant others. Dowd interviewed a New York producer, who explained that men "prefer women who seem malleable and awed." Okay, let's analyze this statement: "malleable" — synonymous with pliable and flexible, terms associated with a subservience and eagerness to bend toward man's desires; and "awed" — meaning frightened or intimidated. Does this mean men want to marry Barbie dolls they can twist and turn on a whim?

Is retaining control worth sacrificing a partner's intelligence? While selfless mates may be nurturing and caring, independent women make for better partners. Dumb gals can be lusty eye-candy, but after spending a few days or years with this person a man will become vexed and inundated with nothingness. In the short-term, a dim-witted woman can satisfy a man's needs, but in the long-term idiotic females become burdensome and reliant on their partners' advice for every trivial decision.

If Dowd and Brown have drawn accurate conclusions, men need to reevaluate their preferences for "malleable" girls. The University of Michigan study shows that guys may have unrealistic perceptions about the opposite sex. But when it comes to relationships, men cannot "have their cake and eat it too." Opposites attract, but do they endure?

And women can also learn a valuable lesson from Dowd: Even though a psychological study reveals a shift away from feminism, women should stick to their ambitious goals. Without their own share of power and money, women will remain dependent, and "be mere domestic robots, lasering their legs and waxing their floors — or vice versa — and desperately seeking a new Betty Friedan."

Rachel Alkon ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in English/creative writing.