Marrying for Money

by f

Today, when I was browsing through The Frisky‘s archives I read the following article. It’s made me think seriously about women and money, I hope the ladies at BAL (and the four other people who read this blog) can help me out.

Jessica Wakefield — a Frisky contributor & the author of this piece — writes about her desire to marry a man for his money. Or, as she writes, “Bank accounts—and debts—do matter. And acknowledging that doesn’t make me a gold digger akin to Anna Nicole Smith—it makes me smart.”

Her post reacts to a book that I haven’t read. It’s called Smart Girls Marry Money. Based on the product description I’ve read on Amazon, I don’t want to read it. It looks like post-feminist shockumentary nonsense. If it were in my power to get rid of every book in the genre I would. I swear. But since I can’t, I just pretend these books don’t exist.

(So here I am, breaking my own cardinal rule. Yay.)

I step back and I think, well, there are lots of reasons to want a man who is fiscally responsible. It says something about his character. It’s natural for a woman to want a man who can hold down a job or can show some consistency in whatever (creative, non-creative, whatever) endeavors he may pursue in life. And, although I haven’t read the book and therefore can’t speak for what it says, I did read what Ms Wakeman had to say about herself.

And… yuck.

Some of the comments on the article claim that they are “with her” for the first paragraph or so, but I gotta say, I’m disgusted from word go. She starts off with this humdinger: “Because, for a variety of reasons,” she says, “men earn more money than women, it’s a wise move to marry someone who can provide for you and your family.”

(She mentions, cursorily, the fact that this societal norm is garbage, but says that this is a fact of life. I wanted to ask her this: um. why is it a fact of life? It’s because we make it so. That’s no reason to force some unsuspecting potential spouse to subsidize all of your luxuries. The point of this whole women’s movement thing was to empower you to fish for yourself. It wasn’t supposed to mean, “marry the man who owns the lake”.)

The article goes on to contradict itself a number of times. In the above sentence she says that a man should provide for his wife and family. Later on, she claims: “I’m not ashamed to ‘marry for money,’ if that’s what would you can even call it, because I don’t fundamentally believe it is the ‘man’s role’ to provide for women.”

But everything else in the piece completely negates this. Of course the man’s role is to provide for the woman, or why else would she be so concerned as to what his salary is? Or what job he has? A mere concern for his capacity to be responsible is not enough. She says is pretty plainly when she says,

I know of great guys out there — journalists, teachers, non-profit dudes — who will probably make great dads. But I personally wouldn’t pair up with them because, realistically, our two salaries together just wouldn’t be enough to cut it for what I want out of life.

Ah, so now we get to what really matters. What does she want out of life? Her laundry list: “An apartment big enough for kids, prenatal care, doctors appointments, birthday presents, vacations, summer camp, college, their own car, all that stuff.”

Aside from the notion that I find buying a car for one’s kids to be preposterous, these are all commonplace wants and needs. I know families who have managed to do every single goddamn one of them on very depressed salaries. So I can only infer that she’s lying by omission; she wants more than just this modest list. She just doesn’t want to economize because that’s not the way she’s been brought up.

I’m pretty sure that the average journalist, teacher or non-profit dude wouldn’t want anything to do with Jessica Wakeman either. I find myself wondering, however — what would happen if most women thought like she did? That people who worked in these professions were not able or capable of supporting families? Is it no wonder that in the post-feminist world women are, in fact, hypergamous? (On another very side note: Is this what feminism has supposedly achieved or have we lost sight of ourselves?) What would happen to these brilliant men who have so much to offer future children and can’t, if only because he’s not got a job in the right profession.

Wanting a man who is responsible, can manage his own debt, and holds down a steady job is fine, insofar as character and stability reasons matter. But all of the achievements we have made as women are rendered useless if we admit that all we want to do is stick men in their own confining gender roles while we just run around and do whatever we please. (Note that Ms. Wakeman says nothing about her right not to make money as a journalist.)

Am I right to say that there’s a vast difference between expecting financial stability and some kind of gainful employment versus wanting vast riches to support a lifestyle you can’t achieve on your own?

Please, girls. Thoughts?

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