Sunday, July 19, 2009

Her Name Is Jessica Wakeman And She Sounds Like A Keeper

Marriage seems to be the topic du jour lately. 

Sandra Tsing Loh of The Atlantic caused a minor internet stir with her treatise against marriage.  I implore everyone to give it a read.  It's like a baseball player who is bad at baseball things blaming the game itself for his shortcomings.  Aaron Traister's rebuttal in Salon offers something much more wonderfully nuanced and real. 

But maybe it's the recession causing people to reexamine value systems and maybe it's our culture's thorough embrace of unfettered narcissism finally coming to a head.

While I agree that way too many people get married (and get married for the wrong reasons) in the world, if you're going to make a case against marriage, the only prerequisite is you probably should write it well.

This...unfortunately...is not one of those. 

Via CNN.com (Natch)

By Jessica Wakeman

(The Frisky) -- There's a new book out called "Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into the Romantic Dream -- And How They Are Paying For It," by Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake ($20 bet that, in between the lines, the real advice is for women to find a way to not have a job.  It fills a nice niche market, though:  People who realize that after every second date, they have nothing left to offer.  Boring people need tropes to conceal this fact.  Poof!  Marrying for money is the only way to go because marriage is stupid in the first place.). 

Love won't pay the bills, says author, so she plans to marry a man with money (I don't know.  Last time I checked, a jobbie-job paid the bills so unless you dream of wiping your ass with diamond-studded toilet paper, what's the real problem?) .

Forget for a moment that they annoyingly refer to grown women as "girls" in their title (Yes, that's the most annoying thing with this) and check out their thesis: because, for a variety of reasons, men earn more money than women, it's a wise move to marry someone who can provide for you and your family.

I haven't read the book (But let's write about it.  Let's.), so I have no idea if it is filled with sexist swill or not. But just reading Newsweek's article (!) about the book, it sounds like pretty sensible advice to me.

Before you get upset, I will acknowledge a bunch of things that I know to be true: yes, women earn less than men for a lot of sexist reasons and that discrimination must stop (Finally, a clarion call!  Rally around Jessica!).  Yes, mothers get "mommy-tracked" and their careers are stalled (Women have ovaries and men don't.  Read the inside of the boxtop).  And of course there are all kinds of misfires to the "marry rich" idea, such as the rich guy who is an a-hole (Being an asshole is just an example.  Not the overarching theme.  Just one...).  But that doesn't change the fact that marrying a man with money can be a better idea than marrying someone who is broke.

Take me, for instance.  I'm afraid I'm going to get tarred and feathered as a "bad feminist" for admitting this, but yeah, I do want to marry someone who can financially support both me and our kids. 

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 (Yes you do.  That's exactly what you're saying.  You just said it in the previous paragraph!!!!!).

My actual motivations, as I see them, are pure enough (Relativism is important in life.  Everyone must find a way to fit their own bullshit into a cohesive fairy tale that we can believe in).  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 (Or "realistically", they didn't call you back after a slew of first dates).  But, but, but, "Bank accounts shouldn't matter at all!" And while I agree with that in theory, sorry, a man who can provide for me and our children is just much more attractive to me (OMG!!!  YOU JUST SAID IT'S NOT THE MAN'S ROLE TO PROVIDE FOR WOMEN!!!!!).

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 (Keep telling yourself that.  As an aside, if and when some guy approaches the time when he might marry Jessica, do you think he might read some of her work?  Run away, man.  Run.  Away.) .

Right now, I rent an apartment in New York City (not cheap) and pay all my own bills myself (Jessica pays her own bills!  She's the kind of strong, independent woman we should all model ourselves after.). But I'm living at the edge of my own means as it is. I don't make a lot of money as a journalist, I owe lots of money to student loans and unless my future husband or I had a great job prospect someplace else, I don't want to live outside New York City, or very far from NYC, because that's where the media capital of the world is right now (No.  You want to marry and quit your job.  Then do some occasional freelancing like this crap to convince yourself you're still 'in it'). 

Maybe this isn't "feminist," but logically, I need to marry a guy who makes more money than I do -- preferably a lot more money than I do -- for us to be able to afford what I want and I hope he will want, too.  An apartment big enough for kids, prenatal care, doctors appointments, birthday presents, vacations, summer camp, college, their own car (um...what?), all that stuff.

I know parents can raise children well on much less.  But personally, that's not the lifestyle I grew up with.  I want to be able to give my children everything I had -- maybe a little less, maybe a little more -- because I think my parents did a great job (Because they gave you shit.  That's the essence of great parenting in Jessica's eyes.).

I also would immediately disqualify entering into a sharing-bank-accounts relationship with a man who proved to be irresponsible with his cash (At night, Jessica dreams of playing with someone else's money). College loan debt is fine (I've got it) and a reasonable balance on the credit card debt is understandable (I've got that, too) (If she's done it, it's fine.). But I couldn't wrap up my life or my children's lives around someone who spent or managed money irresponsibly.  I don't want to deal with that drama 'cause I know we'd just argue about it all the time (Take note.  The larger point is in a discussion about marriage, Jessica has yet to mention anything relating to marriage that doesn't revolve around money.  Where does the line form to marry Jessica?). 

True story: I used to babysit for a family where the mom was Latina and the dad was white; she was able to receive funding from the government to start her own business as part of some kind of "minority small business ownership program." (I seriously question the insertion of race here.  I offers no context to the story except to ickily mollify stupid people who can be swayed by white male bashing.)  

But really, her husband, who had been laid off after 9/11, ran the business and he hired my older brother to work for him.  Over the course of several months, my brother told me all about how this guy I babysat for spent money willy-nilly and eventually ran his business into the ground.  Not surprisingly, this couple separated and I think eventually divorced.  The last time I saw the mother, there was a moving truck in front of their house. 

I realize that's just one anecdotal story, but I'm sharing it to demonstrate a larger point: there is nothing feminist about assuming your partner's debt (But that's not a case for marrying money and finding a man that can provide for women.  It's a case for not marrying a fucking loser.  There's a difference).  And it goes both ways -- I wouldn't blame a man for not wanting to marry a woman who spent money irresponsibly.

Couples' finances are intertwined with one another and if he screws you up, or you screw up him, bad stuff is gonna happen to both of you.  That's why a man who makes a decent amount of money and is responsible with it will always, always be more attractive to most women (But that is not what Jessica said at least three times.  She said she is looking for a guy to "provide for her and her family" while simultaneously saying it's "not fundamentally a man's role to provide for" her and her family.  I can already see the personal ad in a few years:  SWF seeking someone else's bank account.  Love not necessary because I have little to offer as a human being.  Money fills the void quite nicely.)

16 comments:

Mate Famber said...

Wow.

rebar said...

What publication PAYS this woman to be a "journalist?"

Even if she called herself and "opinion writer", whoever greenlighted this piece for publication and/or paid her one red dime should be flogged.

Anonymous said...

My favorite is the Bart Simpson-like review of a book she didn't even read. Instead she referenced an article ABOUT the book.

Un-fucking-real. That's high school shit.

Snrub

Anonymous said...

Check out the post CNN.com is running today. "Pretty women can be hard to be friends with," wherein our dear friend Jessica Wakeman decides all pretty women are shallow, self-centered, demanding, and hard to be friends with.

Kameron D Kiggins said...

Holy crap!

This morning I read the charming Ms. Wakeman's essay on pretty women. Her prose was so incoherent uh bewitching that I was compelled to seek out other ramblings.

No wonder feminists are losing any credibility they might've once held. Kudos for your excellent rebuttal of her incoherency.

Christo P. Ney said...

Oh, Moses smell the roses!

I just read it.

It might be worse than the last one. Wait...yep. It is.

Anonymous said...

I found this page by googling "Jessica Wakeman is stupid" after reading another winning article by her on CNN.com. I think that says enough.

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Molly C said...

So, there's something really funny about reading this old ass post in the present after Jessica married someone who was unemployed that she fell in love with. While I agree that there are some discrepancies in her declaration, you lost a lot of credibility pointing them out when you started reaching. One of the main things I'd like to say is that this piece was not "overall about marriage" - it was about the role one's income plays in one's attractiveness- and Jessica was unflinchingly honest in admitting (whether it was "good feminist" or not) that one's financial responsibility IS a factor, and that if she could have her pick between great guys, she'd favor the one who could provide her children with the luxuries she had (education, et al). That seems pretty freaking straightforward to me. She never said she'd turn away a perfect match because of it. She said it was kind of obvious that someone would see that as a plus. You'll probably never see this comment as this blog clearly wasn't much of a success, but I had just had to laugh at the over-reaching irony.