Are the “1% Wives” Enabling the War on Women?

Posted on June 19, 2012


Elizabeth Wurtzel, writing in the Atlantic Monthly, argues that “real feminists don’t depend on men.  Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own.”  That “…there is really only one kind of equality… and it’s economic.”  Her article is subtitled “Being a mother isn’t a real job – and the men who run the world know it.”  Wurtzel writes that these days, being a stay-at-home mom is a privilege few can afford, and the husbands of these “1%” families are generally in those lofty positions where few women, other than administrative assistants or custodial crews, are seen.  Their wives, on the other hand, are spending their husbands’ money, and living a life of relative leisure.

I see her point, I just don’t entirely buy it;  it’s a bit too simple to think that ladies who are married to wealthy men, stay home, benefit from household servants, and spend a lot of time and money on leisure for themselves, are the example that such heavy-hitting men (who of course must be Republicans) have to look at as their models of what women are:  dependent, practically parasitic, to read Wurtzel’s article. So naturally, they will assume that all women are this way and legislate accordingly.  Thus, these women are a threat to all of us.

Sorry, that’s a bit of a leap.  If the 1% husbands believe women are inferior, it’s not because they have airheaded, high-maintenance trophy wives; it’s because they were already chauvinists.  And clearly, not all of them are.

Wurtzel also ignores certain facts of life: it’s not just the wealthy who are stay-at-home moms because they can afford it; there are also quite a few middle-class mothers (and some dads) who are stay-at-home parents because they can’t afford to work.  A female friend, mother to five children, was the breadwinner while her husband was a stay-at-home dad.  Another couple I knew well had seven children, and although both parents had master’s degrees and high earning potential, childcare costs would have eaten their budget alive.  It was a financial decision in both of these cases for one parent to stay home and provide first-hand what they would never be able to afford to pay for.  It was also a quality-of-life decision favoring home-cooked meals and more individual attention for their preschoolers, rather than hurriedly snatching a few minutes sharing take-out meals somewhere between work, commuting, and bedtime.

Check out the article.  What do you think?