I had this conversation the other day with a colleague of mine (who’s also a writer, short stories, as if genre really matters, though it does to her because she works firmly in the tradition), and she proudly declared that intelligence is no longer the “most attractive” quality in a man to her. By “intelligence,” I hope you understand I mean “very intelligent,” and by “very intelligent,” I mean really fucking smart, well-read, articulate etc etc etc. But I think you all know what I mean.
To contextualize: I’d just returned from &NOW and was telling her how smart people there were. Not to de-emphasize my own smartness but simply to praise others. Being in a bombed-out midwestern town, one forgets.
In an attempt to tease out exactly what she meant, I came to learn that it was not “intelligence” per se that she found problematic but the unwaning privilege of the floor and arrogance that “intelligence” often demands. Now, she argues characteristics such as “kindness” and “caring” are more important to her. That, and of course, attractiveness. Before, all this things could be ignored for intelligence. Genius, if you will.
But there’s the thing, yeah?, as writers, we do value intelligence. We value smartness productivity publishing reading writing etc etc etc. Do you value it more than “kindness” or “caring”? What’s important in a friend/partner to you?