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January 03, 2006

So...No On "Operation: Sugar Mama"?

From Tierney's column:

A woman's earning power, while hardly the first thing that men look for, has become a bigger draw, as shown in surveys of college students over the decades. In 1996, for the first time, college men rated a potential mate's financial prospects as more important than her skills as a cook or a housekeeper.

Wow. Interestingly, I've always hoped my mate would have far greater earning power than me. The profession I've chosen isn't exactly lucrative, a reality that hasn't fully extinguished my desire to eat at restaurants and eventually ascend out of apartment living, and marrying a breadwinner able to bring home lovingly-crafted, artisanal loaves would be an excellent method of bridging my chosen occupation and my ideal lifestyle. That some folks would find such an arrangement humiliating and/or unacceptable is just unaccountable bizarre to me. Unfortunately, there may be a kink in my plan:

The women surveyed were less willing to marry down - marry someone with much lower earnings or less education - than the men were to marry up. And, in line with Jane Austen, the women were also more determined to marry up than the men were.

You may think that women's attitudes are changing as they get more college degrees and financial independence. A women who's an executive can afford to marry a struggling musician. But that doesn't necessarily mean she wants to. Studies by David Buss of the University of Texas and others have shown that women with higher incomes, far from relaxing their standards, put more emphasis on a mate's financial resources.

Nuts. Oh, and I can't let this column go by without quoting this bit:

"Of course, some women marry for love and find a man's resources irrelevant," Buss says. "It's just that the men women tend to fall in love with, on average, happen to have more resources."

Ouch.

January 3, 2006 | Permalink

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The latest Tierney column says that rich, successful women don't want to marry me. What's that all about? Ezra and I agree that you women should be willing to marry down the economic ladder and share the wealth. If you're [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 3, 2006 9:53:40 PM

Comments

Take heart, Ezra.

A dear college chum of mine married a woman five years older with an ability to out-breadwin him three fold. She's a dentist. He's a journeyman general contractor. She's got a highly successful practice. He mostly stays home with the kids and dabbles in his chosen field as time permits.

Maybe you'll get that sugar mama after all. Just make sure you always groom before exiting the computer cave.

Posted by: carla | Jan 3, 2006 12:24:37 PM

I married a guy with an anthropology degree who does social work. He kind of pulls all the karmic weight around our household while I make decent bucks as a molecular biologist.

Posted by: Sara | Jan 3, 2006 12:39:50 PM

I married a guy who works full time while I work from home and do the nasty errand running during the day. When I get sent overseas, I far out-earn the hubby. But most of the time he out-earns me and we both get a better quality of life because one of us doesn't work full time.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Posted by: emptywheel | Jan 3, 2006 12:51:01 PM

My wife makes way more than me. This year I might demote myself at my job and just start picking up one or two evening shifts a week while pretty much being a stay-at-home dad. Then we can hopefully start fostering at-risk kids, which as Sara says, might help with the karmic levels.

Anyway, when we were first married, there was no inkling that our relationship would evolve this way. What matters is to respect each person for who they are and the gifts they have rather than try to fit them into prescribed roles.

Here's hoping you find that sugar momma. I can tell you from experience that it's great to have one!

Posted by: Stephen | Jan 3, 2006 1:01:40 PM

i tried having a "wife" (dating down) once, in hopes i could land a stay-at-home dad. he cooked like a pro, and was a caregiver professionally. he packed delicious and healthy lunches for me. tres chick.

but his vapid brain consisted of three sections: yoga, chakra, and ayurveda. i couldn't bear to inflict him on people at parties. and he hadn't figured out the if-you-wanna-get-paid-you-better-look-pretty thing, either. there was frequently appalling food in my "wife's" beard.

i went back to crushing on nerds, toot duh sweet. yeah, the one i've got now will probably out-earn me and is about as nurturing as barbara bush. the heart wants what it wants.

(just browsed the other comments and noticed the word "karma" in all the he-mom posts. shudder. good on ya, hippies.)

Posted by: jami | Jan 3, 2006 1:23:15 PM

As a (mid 20s) woman with respectable salary currently and high potential earning power, I am definitely interested in marrying a guy with a lower income. But ... I think that there has to be some balance in power and I would want someone who can pull their intellectual weight. It would be boring I think to feel like I'm in total control of the relationship just because I bring in the $. But I also don't pretend to understand most females so I think it all comes down to finding the right person.

Posted by: rebecca | Jan 3, 2006 2:01:26 PM

Jami-

I have 2 master's degrees and have taught college English overseas. I speak 2 languages in addition to English. I can do scholarly work in 2 more. I also cook well, but when I prepare healthy and delicious lunches for my wife, they tend to be tres chic. I'm not sure what 3 chicks have to do with lunch.

Karma really has little to do with hippies, since the word is a Hindi (the language, not the Hindu religion) term referring to an ancient and nearly universal concept about one's behaviors influencing one's present and/or future circumstances. Such as, for example, dating someone one despises instead of just hiring the housekeeper that one actually wants, and then finding out that - gasp! - it just isn't going to work.

Of course, complaining about it like it is somehow his fault that you are whiny and self-centered is no way to improve your, ahem, karma. But what do I know; I'm just a vapid, he-mom hippie.

Posted by: Stephen | Jan 3, 2006 2:07:16 PM

Maybe I didn't make it clear that my Mr. does indeed make enough to support himself - but social work can sometimes be poorly paid enough that one would qualify for the services they're providing if that's their only income. It's not a well-paid field, but he's good at it and makes a lot of peoples' lives better. I sling horse snot and make DNA, which isn't quite as fulfilling, but it makes paying the bills a lot easier.

Posted by: Sara | Jan 3, 2006 2:31:48 PM

I zeroed in on the same bit at the end that you did. I found it very telling. He knows what most women are, we" rel="nofollow">

Posted by: eRobin | Jan 3, 2006 2:33:07 PM

I'm in the process of changing fields, and my income potential is now probably higher than my husband's. I asked him how he felt about this, and he said, "I want a 12-string guitar!" In other words, he's relentlessly pragmatic and non-egotistical on such issues. I wish more men were like that.

Posted by: Rebecca Allen, RN, PhD | Jan 3, 2006 2:37:07 PM

I didn't know emptywheel was female, and am suddenly struck that so many of my favorite bloggers are women.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jan 3, 2006 2:40:28 PM

I'd say your odds are reasonable, Ezra: I'm a high-earning lawyer, married to a much lower-earning journalist; our kids' best friends belong to a high-earning banker, married to a much lower-earning professor. Though it shouldn't be true, I'd say there's a real tendency for women not to marry 'down' professionally, in that very few professional women are going to marry a blue-collar man. On the other hand, where the professional status is pretty much equal, I don't see that different income levels are much of a problem for most women, and the ones who it is a problem for, you wouldn't want to date anyway.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Jan 3, 2006 2:41:57 PM

Yeah, you're in what they call a "high status, low income" profession. It's not marrying down.

Posted by: Noah Snyder | Jan 3, 2006 4:04:35 PM

I second Lizard and Noah. Journalists and professors in particular fall into the high class, no money category. In short, rich chicks dig 'em. I have one myself. You'll be fine.

Posted by: Pepper | Jan 3, 2006 4:29:51 PM

What Lizardbreath said. I once dated a man with no degree. He was 1) vapid, 2) defensive about his lack of education, and 3) pretty. I didn't make that mistake again. But not to worry, Ezra, I married my husband when he was unemployed, albeit with a PhD. He has a pretty clever trick. Whenever I start to earn more money than he does, the company he works for crashes and burns and we move. Then my income drops and he gets a whopping sign on bonus and wins the income contest for the year.

Honestly, I don't care that much about income, but adequate education was really important to me. My other criteria were tolerance of opera (I married a tenor), love of dogs, and absolutely no smokers or Republicans. I can't see what woman wouldn't be proud to be married to a successful lefty blogger.

Posted by: J Bean | Jan 3, 2006 7:19:14 PM

dude,

I'll marry you.

Posted by: bladelaw | Jan 3, 2006 7:32:35 PM

Tierney has just argued that because women are such unrepentant sexists, we need to put men back on top in order to make both men and women happy.

That's his argument. Yes, it's exactly that stupid.

He's advancing his political agenda by playing on our natural human insecurities, (both make and female) that we're not good enough and we'll never find someone who makes us happy and supports and respects us for who we are and what we do.

But no, the problem fundamentally isn't that since feminists opened up doors of opportunity to women we've all remained shallow sexist money-hungry bitches while men have become enlightened feminists.

The problem is that people like Tierney are insecure jerks who apparently only hang out with shallow bitches. Tierney believes that a woman won't stay with him unless he's got more money than she does. He apparently believes this is true of every woman, and he also apparently believes that the only way for men to make more money than women is for women to go back to the kitchen. Tierney's got ISSUES.

In Tierney's case, I can see why he'd need a woman to be desperate in order for her to stay with him. In your case, I think you're a lovely fellow who will have no problem finding a women who you respect and who respects you. Sure, it might take you a long time, because decent people are few and far between, but you'll find a good one. Or you just won't get lucky in love and that's life, too.

But ohmigod, it's just not the feminists' fault that you have normal human emotions like being worried you'll never find the right girl. Seriosly, it's just not. And much as it pains me to admit it, it's not George Bush's fault either (though I'm still working on a way to make it his fault...)

Posted by: theorajones | Jan 3, 2006 7:56:44 PM

My spouse is in the process of getting a Ph.D. in film. He will never earn more than I do (I'm a sucessful lawyer). Let me tell you what he will do though:

1) Cook
2) Clean
3) Rub lotion on my back
4) Make plans for nice vacations
5) Make me laugh
6) Stimulate my mind
7) Stimulate other stuff.
8) Tell me I am the most beautiful woman in the world (which I am not...but he says this sincerely).
9) Be presentable at parties.
10) Be nice to my cats.

I, in turn, make money and do the laurndry. I think this is an excellent deal.

Posted by: Kate | Jan 4, 2006 1:30:08 PM

Damn, Ez.
Just go marry a waitress named Jolene and have a couple dozen kids.
You're overcoaching yourself, my man.

Posted by: Jim Madison's Dog | Jan 4, 2006 3:52:01 PM

My husband and I swap the top earner honors fairly often, either because of injuries (his) or change of venue (mine). It has never been a problem for us. As long as the bills get paid, where the money comes from is irrelevant. Of course, neither of us have degrees yet (though our educations have been extensive) so we don't particularly count in Tierney's world.

And, for the record, folks who don't marry for love should hire a divorce lawyer straight off the bat. It saves time.

Posted by: Reba | Jan 4, 2006 4:03:59 PM

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Posted by: judy | Sep 29, 2007 11:43:44 AM

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