Dating a woman with a boyfriend
And I don’t think men are ready for this.’This is no surprise to Becca Porter, who graduated last year from Manchester University with a joint honours degree in history and sociology, and is now starting a masters in disability studies at Leeds University.‘The sense of achievement I derive from learning seems alien to most men,’ says Becca, 23.
‘At school I wasn’t bothered about boys, but I’m at the stage where I’d like to share my life with someone.’With a working-class upbringing — Becca’s mother is an activities co-ordinator and her father an engineer — Becca was not only the first in her family to go to university, but an anomaly among her male peers in Burnley, Lancashire.
Among those from poorer backgrounds, the gender divide is highly pronounced, with young women who were on free school meals 51 per cent more likely to go into higher education than men in similar circumstances.‘The boys at my school mostly went into manual jobs after we left and seemed to think I had a high opinion of myself for going to university,’ says Becca.
‘They say I’m too bright for them.’Becca recalls a factory worker she asked out in a bar while home for the holidays turning her down because she was ‘too clever’ for him.‘We were having a great chat until he found out I was at university,’ says Becca.
‘I’m not claiming to be Albert Einstein, but I can’t seem to meet a man I find intellectually stimulating,’ she says.
Nor is she the only well-educated young woman who says she is too clever to find love.
It lasted a few weeks.‘He thought I viewed myself as a big shot,’ says Becca, who admits she found him ‘monosyllabic’. When I tried to start an informed discussion — about religion or terrorism, for example — he had no idea how to react.‘He didn’t understand that my degree meant I had a head full of information and when I asked him about his work all he could muster was that it had been “fine”.‘In any case, there’s only so much you can talk about when you do the same job every day.’In the event, Becca ended the relationship because, she says, he was always at work — an unfortunate fact of life many of us might sympathise with, but one Becca intends to put off for much of her 20s by doing a Ph D in disability research after her masters.
‘They weren’t generally interested in their studies, whereas my degree was a big deal — I was there to learn.’She acknowledges some of her degree subjects were a bit ‘out there’ — they included gender and sexuality in Africa and reproduction in new medical technology — but adds: ‘It was hurtful that men didn’t want to talk about them.‘One date found the fact I studied from a feminist perspective offputting.‘After all, why should a female partner stop working if she’s studied hard for her career?‘The reality is that with women getting more — and better — degrees, in the next ten to 20 years women will be smarter than men, in terms of how well they’re educated.‘I get the impression they’d rather date a girl without a degree.They don’t know how to react to my different life experiences and see my education as a barrier.’So why doesn’t Becca date fellow students?