Forbes magazine has created an Internet firestorm over an article by Michael Noer titled “Don’t Marry Career Women.” The initial article started with this quote: “Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don’t marry a woman with a career.” It didn’t take long for responses to appear. The first one I stumbled on to was on boingboing.net by Xeni Jardin in which she reversed the gender in the opening sentences to make a point, and then wrote regarding the Forbes article: “2006, meet 1956. Pathetic.” The responses seemed to explode and Forbes soon removed the article. It later re-posted it with an adjacent response by Elizabeth Corcoran.

Many other links exist regarding this story (as a google search would reveal). Boingboing includes several in their later postings on the controversy, including this one that points to re-mixes of the article, and this one that talks a bit about what happened. An article by Rebecca Traister in salon.com, titled “Unhappily Ever After,” provides more in-depth coverage about the article and the controversy.

I find this story sociologically interesting for any number of reasons. First and foremost regards its implications for how we define gender in the U.S. and its consequences for opportunity. Further, as Traister points out in her article, ‘The furor over ‘Don’t Marry Career Women’ is a testament to the speed of an angry blogosphere, but also to the anachronistic and wholly outrageous tone of the article.” But it is also interesting because the original piece draws on sociological research that orginally appeared in various sociological journals (including Social Forces, Journal of Marriage and Family, and American Journal of Sociology). This raises questions about how research findings can be interpreted and to what uses they might be put. This may also raise questions about the responsibility sociologists might have to be more engaged in the public sphere so that their findings might be interpreted in the context of the multi-plex worlds within which we live.

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