by Leslie Morgan Steiner
DC is buzzing about Elena Kagan, President Obama’s latest Supreme Court nominee, whose confirmation hearings begin in June. Senators, opinionistas and media makers have all weighed in on whether Kagan, our country’s solicitor general and former dean of Harvard Law School, will make a worthy Supreme Court justice when she’s never actually been a judge.
What’s generated the most surreptitious buzz, however, is the question of whether the never-married, non-mom Kagan can fairly represent the interests of American women when she’s never had the experiences of being a wife or mother – plus some snarky speculation about why she’s not been married in the first place.
Predictably, there have been cries of bias and prejudice and double standards for women. Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus dug deeper with “She’s not gay, okay?” in "A Smart Woman With Fewer Choices." “The brutal fact is that a never-married woman tends to not have the same array of choices” as a never-married man in his 40s or 50s, Marcus went on to explain, veering perilously close to Newsweek’s 1986 erroneous claim that educated women over 40 had better chances of being killed by a terrorist than finding a man to marry. In the New York Times, Maureen Dowd deftly shot down the ridiculous debate over Kagan’s personal life: “It’s inexplicable, given that this should be Kagan’s hour of triumph as potentially only the fourth woman ever to serve on the highest court.”
Like Dowd, I’ve got the feeling that Elena Kagan has solved bigger problems than finding a man. But this public riot about the challenges facing smart, single women brings up what I observe to be a bigger problem for successful unmarried gals -- finding FEMALE friends who are not intimidated by their success or suspicious of their unmarried status. The bias against brainy, independent women comes from America’s entire society, not just men on Match.com.