That conclusion, which landed her on the "Today" show and made her the subject of countless blog posts, tweets and newspaper columns (none of which, including this one, have the space to adequately represent the scope of her article), mostly earns Bolick the predictable charges of being a man hater or a casualty of feminism, particularly the kind heralded by '70s-era moms who raised their daughters to become, in Gloria Steinem's words, "the men they wanted to marry."
Translation: An educated, well-compensated woman over 35 is out of luck in the dating economy. Not just for Darwinian reasons (as fertility decreases, so does attractiveness and therefore "market value") but for a very new, very unsettling reason: Men traditionally considered marriageable by such women (their wage equals or betters) are rapidly becoming an elite minority.
Of course, at the same time that Bolick's basic question — Is marriage still a significant benefit to women? — was shorting out buzzometers everywhere, another urgent brouhaha was trending fast: The Occupy Wall Street (and points north, south, east and west) protests. The sprawl of both phenomena is striking: The Bolick crowd is tackling feminism, love, monogamy and the history of matrilineal family systems; the protesters are taking on corporate greed, healthcare deficits, environmental destruction and nuclear proliferation. But both also clearly, unavoidably boil down to this: an economy that's just not functioning in most people's interest.
Here's something worth noting: One of the constituencies of this year's Arab Spring movement are young men who have their own marriageability problems, because of joblessness and lack of access to education. On our own protest front lines, a heck of a lot of the young men might fit into a similar cohort.
It's hard not to watch Occupy Everywhere without thinking about Bolick's article. Sure, the face painters and zombie-costume wearers seem to be getting the most airplay. But look a little closer and you see a lot of ordinary guys whose currency in the world has been pulled out from under them, who might be considered "unmarriageable" by women who've found equality just about everywhere except in a partner.
Maybe Bolick and her single friends should trot their Jimmy Choos down to the rallies and take these men out to dinner (OK, not the ones whose hardworking wives wouldn't appreciate the gesture). As Bolick points out, the women who are coping best with the new order are those most willing to recalibrate their expectations: "Whether it's women choosing to be with much younger men, or men choosing to be with women more financially successful than they are (or both at once)."
That won't solve the economic crisis, but at least it's a start. In the meantime, as someone who remained happily unmarried until the geriatric age of 39 (and, for the record, is also now happily married), let me say this: There are far worse things than being single. For instance, marrying the man you wanted to become rather than becoming who you are.