Sunday, March 06, 2011

to not buy love

I keep coming back to how unfair it is that women's appearance has such impact on their social status. The* counterpart to this is wealth, on which men are unduly judged in all kinds of circumstances.

Being feminist, dating gives me a lot to chew on. By conservative estimates, being male is still worth five percent of your paycheck. For many women dating is an interview process for motherhood, a position of serious economic vulnerability. On some level, generosity and wealth are reasonable, non-discriminatory things to be attracted to.

However, after a certain number of dates with thirty-something geek businessmen who were "proud of their ability as a provider"--and who seemed both delighted by and impervious to my passion for social(ist) analysis--it became clear that accepting the existing system** wouldn't do.

Eventually I arrived at a sort of formula for handling this in my own life. I don't care how much money they don't have, as long as they are good at:

1) Meeting their own needs
2) Making me feel loved, cared for, and appreciated, and
3) Carrying their half of responsibility for a family, should that ever become relevant.

I would date someone who doesn't have these things covered, as long as fixing that was a serious priority in their life. It goes without saying that in the eventuality that finances are combined, communication is prioritized and agreements kept.

I also developed a romantic-gift rule. I'll guiltlessly accept gifts that are just to make me happy, but not gifts of things I need when I'm unable to comfortably take care of those basic needs myself. In a very serious relationship, I would also, carefully, accept gifts related to unmet basic needs, as long as they were targeted towards making me better able to independently meet those needs in the long run.

I like these rules. Clearly they aren't perfect for all situations; in the event of zombie apocalypse, the gift rule would get unwieldy fast. And my understanding of "half the responsibility for a family" is necessarily flexible and feminist, so in practice it would take a lot of discussion. Still, I love having clear boundaries that protect independence.

*the other counterpart is hight, which is interesting because the discrimination is severe, consistent, and not just in romance--despite the fact that being short is not something people have any control over.

**For me, a (theoretically happy?) relationship wherein I would eventually come live with him and have all my financial needs covered, and he would get this niftykeen quirky wife who was all special and smart, and handy for amusing conversation in the evenings and showing off to his friends. Yeech.


___________________________ said...

I find interacting with this post on some level to be weird. There are a number of parts:

1) In the past I did actually see making money as a means of asserting that I had real value as a human being and thus was a serious mating partner. I still do to some extent. This isn't to say that I just wanted a trophy, but it is hard to deny that successfully finding a mate is a very strong sign that one is a success. It's one of the markers of being a functioning human being.

2) On some level, I still think that money is relevant. I mean, personally, I would ideally want a woman who could be "proud of her ability as a provider", because money makes things easier.

3) I like the idea of a person concerned with money because one of my more defining characteristics is my own concern with money. I mean, not only do I think that earnings are good, I also like economics.

That being said:
1-3 is important. I think that dating a person who didn't have 1 down is more reasonable than dating a person who doesn't have 2 and 3 down. A person can fail to meet their own needs due to temporary unemployment, during which time, they are no longer good at it.

I completely agree with your romantic gift rule.

The "half responsibility" is a more difficult issue. My mother has always said that some notion of this is good, but that in practice, it will not tend to hold. One proposed idea is different standards, but I don't know enough about marriages to know if this holds. I find this interesting and relevant though:

___________________________ said...

Btw, some relationship advice:

Day said...

Hah. . . I know what you mean. One of the things that makes this tricky is that competence is sexy as hell, and making money strongly shows certain kinds of competence.

But if you're a woman dating men, it's such a goddamn cliche. It's as if men expect me to be all happy about their wealth, and they think it's so supercool! that I critique capitalism. . . but see NO CONNECTION AT ALL between the two. Plus, it's incredibly frustrating when they assume that because they're wealthy, I wouldn't be looking for other types of competence in them 'cause they got it covered.

Also: I didn't say they have to be perfect at 1-3 all the time; I said they should be good at them.

___________________________ said...

You mean that money isn't everything? I am shocked and scandalized!!

Day said...

Well, you know. . . scandalizing people is what I'm here for. :)

___________________________ said...

I thought you were for amusing conversation in the evenings and to show off to all my friends? (I don't know if this will come off as amusing or stupid)