Hide your wallets, lest you never date again

moneywoman.gif
Put it away or no man will want you!
It seems that there is no worse (hetero) dating gaffe than having the nerve to make more money than your significant other. If you’re a woman, that is.
An article in The New York Times styles section looks at successful women and the difficulty they have dating men who make less money. It even comes with a lovely cartoon rendering of a poor, emasculated man. Sigh.
Apparently, women in their 20s in several U.S. cities are (for the first time) out-earning their male peers.

The shift is playing out in new, unanticipated ways on the dating front. Women are encountering forms of hostility they weren’t prepared to meet, and are trying to figure out how to balance pride in their accomplishments against their perceived need to bolster the egos of the men they date.
…Young affluent women say they are learning to advertise their good fortune in a manner very different from their male counterparts. For men, it is accepted, even desirable, to flaunt their high status. Not so for many women.

This just makes me sad. Is masculinity so damn fragile that it can’t handle being treated to dinner? Have women really bought in to the antiquated idea that we need to be taken care of? (Or at least, pretend to be.) I think what depresses me most, actually, is the idea that money is so tied up with our notions of romance.
Take this charming segment from CBS, for example: Reviving Dating Rules. Along the same don’t-emasculate-through-success-and-confidence lines, dating “expert” April Beyer says that women should never pay for dates while in the courting process and never ask men out. Cause it would interfere with their hunter instincts or some such shit.
My boyfriend is five years my junior and an idealistic journalist type. So clearly, not so much with the income-generating. And while it’s made for uncomfortable moments (I really like going out to eat A LOT), he’s cool with the idea of me paying more often than not. I mean, I can afford it. He can’t right now. That’s not gender relations, that’s fucking math.
And frankly, anyone who isn’t comfortable with women being upfront about their financial success probably won’t be comfortable with other successes as well. And therefore un-datable. Thoughts?

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126 Comments

  1. SarahMC
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    MsPitt, are you being deliberately obtuse?
    Sexists often trot out the “men and women are different!” line to excuse sexist behavior, as though it’s actually an explanation. You and I are different too. All people are different from one another. It’s what sexists say when they don’t want to use their brains to THINK about anything. When they don’t want to evaluate their own behavior and prejudices.

  2. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    “Because men and women are different, men have a biological need to “pay for dinner and subjugate women!”? Wow! I think you need to take a walk around the block and get some fresh air.”
    I dunno, I could see an interesting study there.
    Are men who are higher in testosterone (and therefore more likely to respond aggressively/assertively to threats to their social status) more likely to refuse when a woman offers to pay for dinner and insist on paying (which would be perceived a threat to his status).
    You might expect that the effects of testosterone would be strongest among conservatives who would be more likely to believe that a woman paying would be a threat to his status (a nice hormone X culture interaction).
    And, if the reverse pattern is also true: do women high in testosterone offer to pay more.
    Could be an interesting study.
    [I realize that the original poster wasn't thinking along those lines, but it made me think of this possible study :-) .].

  3. kmg
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Um, obviously these writers haven’t talked to any real men, in like 20 years. Every man I know would be happy to date a woman who could support them.
    Not to single you out here, since this sentiment has been expressed by several people in this thread. But this is just not the case–I have dated both: men who were threatened or insecure that I made more than they did (and because we met while both of us were in school and very low-wage, it took a couple years for that dynamic to emerge, and when it did it was very surprising to both of us), and men who weren’t threatened at all and who were proud of my successes. Both types are out there, and as much as we would all love it if the first type were an aberration, I just don’t believe it is. I think that speaks to the fact that gender roles are still very ingrained, not to the fact that these men are necessarily louts or that these women are necessarily hypocrites.
    I see a lot of bagging on this article, and I, too, have done my fair share of bagging on the NYT for their “cultural paradigm” articles written by one privileged person and his or her circle of five or so privileged friends, but come on now. I see something really interesting in this article (though maybe it is interesting to me because it has been echoed in my own life). You’ve got these women who are defying gender roles in their professions by entering highly paid, high-status professions or starting their own successful businesses (in the case of one woman who could an NYC apartment when she was freaking 18!!!) who still feel constrained by gender roles in their personal lives. And on the flip side, you’ve got these guys who, let’s assume, are by and large not assholes, who think women just as inherently qualified as men to hold these jobs, but who are stunted in their own personal lives because they’ve absorbed this cultural pressure that they must be breadwinners or be utter failures. I really wish the article had highlighted this a little more, because at its heart, I think the story here is not about a bunch of whiny rich kids and their dramatic romantic lives, but about how hard it has been and continues to be to fight these gender-dependent cultural expectations about how to measure a person’s worth, and how not successfully dispelling these internalized, sexist ideas harms everyone, men and women alike.
    For whoever it was who posted about this article being heteronormative, it certainly is. There is an interesting series called Sleeping with Money over at http://www.queercents.org (a queer-focused personal finance blog) examining similar issues in same-sex relationships, though, if you’re interested.

  4. kmg
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    ack, sorry, the correct address http://www.queercents.com

  5. kissmypineapple
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I understand that testosterone can account for some of the aggressiveness and competitiveness in men and women, but to blame these types of behavior on hormones isn’t right. We, as human beings, have rational thought processes that allow us to overcome our hormones. I’m female and have more estrogen than my male counterparts, but that makes me no less driven, competitive, or aggressive than most of the men I know. Social conditioning accounts for a lot of this.
    My brother isn’t particularly competitive, and is less likely to become aggressive than either my sister or me. In fact, she engages in far more risk taking behavior than my brother ever would. And, I know it’s just a personal anecdote, but I observe these differences in all of the people I know.
    Yes, hormones and physiological facets of people play a role, but give me a break. Testosterone is not to blame for some men’s vehement reluctance to let a woman pay his way or to date women who are more “successful” than they are. We teach men that their value is tied up in money, and so when a woman can pay, it makes him nervous. There are plenty of men who have evolved past social norms and are accepting of women’s power and success, without feeling that it affects their identity as men.
    Also, constantly insisting that it is the women who have to change!!! is missing the point. Yes, there are women who were raised to believe that men must be their providers, and so even if those women make a million dollars, they feel that their partner has to make a million and one. That means women and men have to change their ideas. It’s a slow process, but it’s happening. Just because some women are “gold-diggers” doesn’t mean that they bear the blame for men’s feelings of inadequacy when confronted with financially independent women.

  6. MsPitt
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Yes, SaraMC, I am being “deliberately obtuse” because I agree that men and women are different! Or perhaps I am being sexist because I acknowlege it?
    Please! Spare me the personal attacks! The fact that I acknowledge that there are differences doesn’t mean I approve of men’s behavior when it holds women back, or that men (and women) shouldn’t change how they think to keep women from being held back. It’s deeply ingrained thinking, by culture AND biology, and it’s going to take time to change. But the mere fact that some man wants to pay for dinner doesn’t “subjugate” me — if I don’t want him to do it, I say “no,” and if this characteristic is a dealbreaker to the relationship, I move on. The alternative is we can all say “to hell with” almost half the population of the world, which I am not willing to do.

  7. TimM
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    This is an eye opening discussion. The most important point, for me, is something Saramc said early on: “Aren’t men offended by this? How could a man read this and think, ‘Yeah! Treat my fragile ego with care! ‘Cause I’m a strong, virile man!’?”
    Right on! And, yes, I am offended by this attitude — I’m sorry to say there are still guys out there like this. (I make fun of guys I know who treat their significant others like children.)
    Frankly, I’d have a problem if my significant-other automatically expected me to hop to the traditional “male party line” and always be the breadwinner. I’ve gone through times working for myself when my wife has supported both of us. It more than evens out when my business is humming along. She’s fine with it, and I’m fine with it as long as she is.

  8. TimM
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    This is an eye opening discussion. The most important point, for me, is something Saramc said early on: “Aren’t men offended by this? How could a man read this and think, ‘Yeah! Treat my fragile ego with care! ‘Cause I’m a strong, virile man!’?”
    Right on! And, yes, I am offended by this attitude — I’m sorry to say there are still guys out there like this. (I make fun of guys I know who treat their significant others like children.)
    Frankly, I’d have a problem if my significant-other automatically expected me to hop to the traditional “male party line” and always be the breadwinner. I’ve gone through times working for myself when my wife has supported both of us. It more than evens out when my business is humming along. She’s fine with it, and I’m fine with it as long as she is.

  9. SarahMC
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    And what does “men and women are different” have to do with anything, MsPitt?
    Black people and white people are different, too; they have different colored skin and are of different ethnicities. And? What’s your point?

  10. Posted September 25, 2007 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Ever seen a Scotsman pick up a check?

  11. Posted September 25, 2007 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    “This place is emptier than a Scottish pay toilet!”

  12. MsPitt
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Go for a walk, SaraMC.

  13. SarahMC
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    There’s an “h” in my name.
    Is that all ya got?

  14. MsPitt
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    That’s all I got. I can’t stand to watch a woman throw a hissy fit.

  15. Kimmy
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Actually, SarahMC’s been quite calm and you have yet to have explained your stance in the slightest. So people are different (men/women, young/old, rich/poor, short/tall, smart/dumb). What’s that got to do with the current discussion?
    No difference which is inherent to men excuses or explains a refusal to treat women as equal partners. Therefore those differences are, for the sake of this discussion, meaningless.
    If you have an argument in oppotition to this, please present it. Simply repeatedly telling SarahMC that she needs to talk a walk or is throwing a hissy fit (which she patently isn’t), makes you look both condescending and overmatched.
    In other words, you’re stalling.

  16. SarahMC
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Damn straight. :)
    You’d swear I was typing in all caps or with excessive exclamation points, the way MsPitt tried to distract everyone by accussing me of having a hissy fit. Haha!

  17. terra
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I am being transfered to Europe for my Job as a producer and my husband quit his job to move with me. He’s cool with it, Excited to go and knows it’s a great opportunity for me. But since he quit, the other guys at his work have been going on and on calling him a pussy. So lame. I told him they are just jealous because we get to go to Europe and travel and go out all the time while the guys he works with bitch about going home to their wives cause they will have to do chores. They say a man should be the head of the family and then they go to strippers after work and dread going home. Maybe if they treated their wives as equal partners, life would look up for them./

  18. terra
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I am being transfered to Europe for my Job as a producer and my husband quit his job to move with me. He’s cool with it, Excited to go and knows it’s a great opportunity for me. But since he quit, the other guys at his work have been going on and on calling him a pussy. So lame. I told him they are just jealous because we get to go to Europe and travel and go out all the time while the guys he works with bitch about going home to their wives cause they will have to do chores. They say a man should be the head of the family and then they go to strippers after work and dread going home. Maybe if they treated their wives as equal partners, life would look up for them./

  19. MsPitt
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I apologize to SarahMC for overreacting to the “deliberately obtuse” remark. My comment to you was flippant and counter-productive — I was out of line. I do not disagree with either you or Kimmy. You both seem to have taken my comments as excusing or making light of conduct that hurts women. If so, it is because I did not express myself properly. I do not condone or excuse any such conduct, pure and simple. Men and women are different because of biology and culture (our patriarchal system); it is ingrained in lots and lots of men and many women — some more, some less — that men are supposed to be the breadwinners. It will take time to disabuse our society of this notion which is unhealthy not only for women but also men. We all need to work at it. This Web site helps. My apologies for not expressing this better, and for overreacting.

  20. SarahMC
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    Thanks MsPitt. I also apologize for calling you obtuse, but it really seemed like you were defending injustice “because men and women are different.”
    I stand by my position, but there’s no hard feelings or anything.

  21. Rock Star
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    “Sexists often trot out the “men and women are different!” line to excuse sexist behavior, as though it’s actually an explanation. You and I are different too. All people are different from one another. It’s what sexists say when they don’t want to use their brains to THINK about anything. When they don’t want to evaluate their own behavior and prejudices.”
    Thank you, Sarah, for saying what I was struggling to come up with. I recently had an argument with someone who had that for the entire basis of why It’s The Woman’s Job to Stay At Home and Other Sexist Ideas.

  22. oenophile
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Not to sound like that part in “A Wrinkle in Time” where Meg resists the brain, but people can be equal without being the same.
    There is obviously a huge spectrum of family wealth, earning power, inhereted wealth, potential wealth, intellect, ambition, and drive among both men and women. The appropriate question is how we deal with such disparities – and pretending that they don’t exist on account of “equality” doesn’t cut it.
    Men and women are physically different – that’s sexual dimorphism. I would rather frame feminist philosophy as a “who cares whether or not we are the same, we are EQUAL” theory, rather than a “We are the same; ergo, treat us equally” theory. The latter is subject to “scientific” (i.e. social science, oxymoron that it is) attack. We don’t want every single brain scan of men and women to undermine equality. We are far better off pointing out that the overlap in the bimodal distribution is far more significant than any disparities at the ends; that the presence of such a distribution cannot and never should be the grounds for differing treatment.
    So men have more testosterone. As feminists, there should be one response: BFD. We aren’t going to treat people unequally on that account. The next generation of women could be three-foot-tall midgits who uniformly love to cuddle and make babies, or they could be six-foot-tall, testosterone-driven, Mia-Hamm meets Marie Curie – women. Either way, they should be treated equally.
    Rant over.

  23. kissmypineapple
    Posted September 26, 2007 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Oenophile, I thought that’s what most people were saying. And, yeah, men and women have different sexual organs and hormone balances, blah, blah, blah. Like you said, BFD.
    The thing is, of course men and women are different. Women are also different from other women, and men are different than other men. I don’t see why it’s such a problem to point out that, really, we all are the same…in that we are all people. I get sick of talking about how men and women are different from each other, because, like you said, it’s a moot point, and also because so many people act like there are only those two categories. Men are different from women, but within each category, they’re all the same.
    I especially bristle when people argue that men and women’s behavior is dictated soley by their hormones. It treats the human condition as though it is static. Like, women can’t help desperately wanting to be pregnant and bake and clean and coo over men in the same way they do their precious, precious babies. You know, b/c they’re poisoned by estrogen. And men can’t help that they’re so violent and agressive and powerful and ambitious and have no control over where they put their penises. You know, b/c they’re poisoned by testosterone.
    It’s a stupid argument. People are people, and there are physical differences between everyone. No one’s pretending they don’t exist, but since they don’t matter, why do we have to point it out every time a topic like this comes up?
    The differences don’t matter, so, why don’t we stop emphasizing them, and let’s concentrate on how we are the same. We are people, and people all deserve the same level of respect and dignity, and we can all work to effect that change in the world.

  24. oenophile
    Posted September 26, 2007 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    KissMyPineapple,
    I think you missed some of my point. I do think there are some differences, on the average, between men and women. We should be advanced enough to recognise those differences but not let them affect how we treat people in the social and legal sphere. I notice that I’m one of the few (read: only) women who volunteers in law school on non-sociological issues. Perhaps some of it is social; perhaps some of it is physiological.
    It is REALLY simplistic thinking to see MsPitt’s argument and trash it in the “We are not ruled by our hormones” manner. Hormones are a factor in how people behave. Ask anyone with a hormone imbalance. How do you think some psychotropic drugs work? Testosterone is related to sex drive, aggression, and competitive behaviour. Trial attorneys have higher levels of testosterone than the general population. Now, other law schools may be different, but no one asked us to pee into a jar while we were waiting in Career Services.
    Yeah, hormones matter in how people behave. They are not the only factor. Point is, they shouldn’t matter with how people are TREATED.
    Oh, yeah, and you can whine all you want about how “most people are saying that.” I apologise deeply for missing the memo where I’m not allowed to join in with “most people.” /sarcasm

  25. kissmypineapple
    Posted September 26, 2007 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    Oenophile,
    I didn’t think I was whining, but that’s neither here nor there.
    I was trying, apparently poorly, to point out that we seem to essentially agree, but have different reasons for that.
    I am fully aware of how psychotropic drugs work. What I was saying is that, yes we have different amounts of different hormones that work in different ways, but people who don’t have an imbalance can’t pass off their attitudes about women or men on their physiological make-up.
    Just as you said that those differences should have no bearing on how people are treated, I believe they should not dictate how a people treat others. I can’t say, well, I’m female, and so that makes me expect men to provide for me. That’s not true. That’s not an intrinsically or exclusively female attitude. And competitiveness, sex drive, etc., are related to testosterone levels, but these are also related to social norms. Women are just as capable of being extremely competitive as me, and they are capable of having a sex drive that surpasses that of a man’s.
    I thought Ms. Pitt and SarahMC came to an understanding of each other. We can disagree on some points, and agree on others without you characterizing my posts as whiny. I only said that I thought most people were in agreeance with you, b/c your post read to me like it was trying to bring to light a contrasting point.

  26. shadowfax07
    Posted September 28, 2007 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    I so fed up with the slew of advice aimed at women saying that we must be less successful than men (or appear to be) in order to catch a man. What the fuck?! Like so many of you have pointed out, if a guy’s masculinity is that easily intimidated, than something is wrong with his masculinity, not the women he dates.
    Secondly, it’s another tricky attempt to discourage women from pursuing the careers that conservative factions would consider “a man’s job”.
    Third, it’s an attempt to reenforce the idea that men are “supposed to be” superior to women, and therefore, should have “dominion” over them. Religious conservatives say it all the time. It’s the patriarchical powers-that-be trying to reassert the old hierarchy again.
    This isn’t to say that all men are guilty of this. Far from it! There are a lot of women guilty of this sort of thinking, and would prefer to be conform to oppressive norms. They would sell out other women for a little bit of male approval. This author is one!
    Conversely, there are a lot of men who would like to see the end of these stupid norms so that the women in their lives can lead better lives. My dad is one. My boyfriend is another. He loves a fearless, competent woman!
    These sorts of advice given out by our facist media play on women’s worst fears of rejection. It’s completely despicable! We as a society must see through this manipulation, or we slide down together, towards the stinking mud hole of the dark ages, where the Muslim societies are.

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