Yes, your marginally larger pay packet DOES emasculate your man!

Last week, Grazia published an article debating the issue of whether men are intimidated by their female partners earning more than they do.

I shudder to think that this is still a genuine issue considered worthy of a “debate”, let alone in a magazine which implies – however falsely – that it’s aimed at strong, modern women.  But apparently it is.  Then again, the headline – “Are Men Really Happy You’re Out-Earning Them?” was phrased in such a loaded way that it presumably encouraged readers to sit up and say “yeah, you’re right, I’m not actively happy about it”.  Never mind the fact that women are not, on the whole, out-earning men; nor that anybody suggested every man on planet Earth would be actively delighted with this situation even if they were.  In fact, the old “husbands should earn more than their wives” is such an ingrained belief that in many cases women are actively quitting their jobs in order to maintain the status quo.  And articles like this one sure as hell aren’t doing much to change it.

But Grazia’s a commercial operation, and they want traffic, and hell if click-bait titles aren’t de rigeur these day, so perhaps that’s not such a surprise.  More so is the disappointing discovery that the editor managed to find a particularly unpleasant specimen who unashamedly would, to all intents and purposes, prefer women doing what they do best: staying at home, remaining financially dependent, and bringing up a litter of kids whilst cooing at the awesome achievements of their big strong husbands.

Here’s the offending article:

Grazia article 1

Grazia article 2

I can’t help thinking all this proves is that Andy Jones has such chronically low self-confidence that this is a genuine issue for him.  I simply refuse to believe that his views are held by a significant portion of the male population, and I would sincerely hope that no intelligent woman would consider a relationship with him or anyone of his ilk.  I would feel sorry for him, except I’m too busy being angry at his misogynistic attitude, and the fact that Grazia considers this an acceptable argument to what should frankly be a non-debate anyway.  Way to empower the women reading their magazine!  “Worried your pay packet is undermining your relationship? According to Andy Jones and possibly 50% of all men, YEAH, IT TOTALLY IS!”

And obviously this is precisely the belief we want to be instilling in the impressionable young women reading Grazia right now.  As if they’re not already concerned enough that they aren’t doing the ten thousand things thrust upon them by the media in order to be as flawlessly alluring to the male gaze as possible, they’re now being told that they shouldn’t really earn too much either, lest it emasculate their poor, delicate boyfriends.

I notice that Andy doesn’t give any helpful suggestions by which to fix his vision of feminist hell.  When a woman finds her entrepreneurial business is on the up, should she sever all contacts and donate her earnings to charity?  Should female employees knowingly reject a proffered payrise?  Or should we revel in our raised salaries and run far, far away from our existing, poorly-paid male companions, into the arms of men who earn yet more than we do?  I seriously don’t understand the point of his argument.  Is he flat-out saying that women shouldn’t be allowed to earn more than – or even as much as – men?  And whose responsibility is it to do the dumping when the unthinkable occurs?

There is an alternative argument which disagrees with Andy’s outpourings, but even that is somewhat damning with faint praise, not to mention his equating “girly” with “inferior” by describing the embarrassment of being bought a G&T to celebrate his girlfriend’s success:Grazia article 3

Dan Jude’s article still feels slightly painful and apologetic – and doesn’t do much to boost the morale of any stay-at-home parents (of either gender) by implying that all they do is sit on their arses watching TV – but hey, it’s there, and thank god for that.  It’s kind of sad that he had to “learn” her higher salary wouldn’t change their relationship, but at least he has, and hopefully his slightly protesting, not quite unencumbered feelings towards the situation will help any woman who finds herself in a relationship with a man who isn’t quite as open-minded as she might have hoped.  And it’s hard to change a societal norm overnight, so full credit to Dan for overcoming this sticky obstacle and emerging (kind of) triumphant on the other side.

But back to Andy’s despicable, depressing “argument” and all the elements which made me want to throw things – ideally Andy himself – against a very spiky wall.

A baby arrives and I’d worry I’d be stuck indoors with Loose Women on – my self-esteem melting into the carpet.

The implication being that if his girlfriend were the lower wage owner, she’d automatically be staying at home instead – but that’s ok.  Andy apparently believes that she is either biologically guaranteed to want to do this, or her self-esteem is irrelevant.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an alpha male or not – to provide is an essential part of being a bloke.

Why?  According to whom?  Am I to understand that lesbian relationships are doomed to financial failure because there’s no male figure to do to the providing?

There’s very little in modern life – apart from manners and behaviour – that marks you out as a man.

I’m pretty sure there’s a more basic biological definition than that, actually.  And, er, does this mean that men and women subscribe to different sets of manners?  I’M NEVER SAYING PLEASE OR THANK YOU AGAIN, BITCHES.  Of course, if he’s talking about the societal understanding of what it is to be a man, then that’s purely subjective. I’ve met plenty of men over the years who have appalling manners and behaviour and yet – yup – they’re still men.

Women might say they are happy living with a man who earns less, but after a few months of constantly picking up the tab, they lose respect and are soon running for the door.

And yet despite the fluctuations in Andy’s pay packet, his girlfriend is still (inexplicably) with him after five years.  So I guess either – as per Andy’s own admission – she has no respect for him; or the argument itself is inherently flawed.  Then again, if such behaviour was actually meted out to him in real life, I’d venture to guess that the sprinting women probably had an issue with a far more unpleasant character flaw than his disappointing wages.

However far equality has pushed on, I don’t think any man can be truly happy playing second fiddle.

But . . . it’s ok for women to play second fiddle?  Because their happiness doesn’t come into it?  Does he understand the meaning of “equality”?  And who gave him the right to unequivocally speak for 3.5 billion men?

If you earn less than your partner, it’s as if – though it’s never said – you somehow have less say.

So, if Andy’s in a relationship with a woman who earns less than him, would he consider her to have less say?  If the answer’s no, then I can’t imagine why he thinks it would be the case the other way around.  But if the answer’s yes – then I think we’ve found the source of the problem.

And if you lose your voice, then surely you’re no man at all…

Nope, you’re just in a very unhealthy relationship.

Look: it is possible to be less than delighted that your partner is earning more than you.  If you’re a competitive person then frankly it’s only natural; not because you think that their gender entitles them to less moolah, but because you’ve been brought up in an environment where success involved measuring yourself against others.  People, I get it: so was I.  I don’t like being beaten either.  But gender is irrelevant.  And ultimately, after that first twinge of jealousy that you’re not being financially rewarded for your own hard work to the same extent as your partner, one would hope that the subsequent – stronger, more residual – emotions are pride, happiness, and contentment that you’re in a relationship with such a successful, well-regarded individual.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the man or the woman and your partner is a man or a woman, or neither of you identifies with any gender labels.  So when they get that promotion, go ahead, have a self-pitying moment of glumness that you’re under-appreciated by your boss.   Then, feel gratified that your partner isn’t, and bask in the pride of his or her achievements.  Then go out to dinner, and when he/she offers to pay, feel perfectly entitled to say yes (just this once. And get the expensive wine).  And tomorrow morning it’s back to normal, you’re both on equal footing, the universe doesn’t explode, neither does your relationship, and you both do the same amounts of washing up and occasionally bring the other person breakfast in bed.

Isn’t that just how relationships should be?

Advertisements

9 Comments

·

Leave a Reply

  1. Sheesh. I’ve had this conversation in my current relationship and we both agree that neither one of us cares who earns more. Honestly though, even if we decreased the wage gap I feel like it still would’t matter too much because a lot of people tend to date within their own economic bracket anyway.

    • I was discussing this with my boyfriend too and we were saying how surely all that matters, when it comes down to it, is that you’re both financially independent.

      It’s an interesting point about the economic bracket. If one person wants to buy/do incredibly expensive things that the other can’t afford, that would obviously be an issue. But there are plenty of people out there who earn vast sums and choose to invest/save it all . . . and people who earn modest amounts but blow it all on designer handbags and international travel. So surely the real question is not what you earn, but how you choose to spend it? That’s what could legitimately undermine a relationship.

      • I would say that it’s not even about financial independence, it’s about finding an arrangement which both partners are happy with and which works for them. If one partner (of any gender) is in a position to support the other financially, and both are happy with that arrangement, then that should be all that matters. Clearly there’s not going to be one arrangement which works for every couple, so I find it odd that this article seems to approach the subject as if there is.

        On an entirely different note, the other thing that bothers me about this whole argument is that it’s so bloody privileged. There’s something rather gross about people going ‘Poor me, my partner brought in so much money this month that I now feel inadequate! or ‘My partner earns 15,000 more than me a year, how embarrassing!’ when there are so many families that would be grateful for any kind of income, regardless of who’s earning it.

      • Alex I don’t seem to be able to reply to your comment, but yes, I agree. I actually wrote something about that in my previous comment and then deleted it for some reason (along the lines of “if one half of the couple is able to support the other and both are happy with the arrangement, fantastic – it’s entirely up to the individual couple”). That’s why this type of journalism is both shoddy and dangerous, by suggesting that his opinions are universal.

  2. Your description of how relationships “should” work would be a great way for relationships to work. They are don’t actually work like that and they are not perceived to work like that. We still have a great deal of sexist double standards and out dated gender roles that affect both men and women.

    If we are to actually change these standards, much more is needed than just bashing men that identify the existence of the double standards and gender roles. We need Men’s Advocacy teaching men that homemaking and child care are valuable and important jobs for men to do. We need Women’s Advocacy teaching women that the value of a man is not in his wallet, but what he can do to better the family unit.

    • You’re absolutely right, we do still have a huge number of sexist double-standards, but I believe that Grazia’s article perpetuates rather than helps to eradicate them, and that’s what I was attempting to call out.

      I was perhaps overly harsh on Dan Jude, who obviously has the right idea (and as I say, managed to overcome a societal expectation, so good on him). To be honest the anger isn’t so much from the fact that Andy Jones has these feelings (although I am disappointed that he does), but more horrified that Grazia chose to present it as a reasonable attitude. They have a responsibility towards their readers. This shouldn’t have been a “debate”: it should have been article considering the history and society behind the situation, looking at the practical difficulties of earning vastly different amounts, deconstructing gender stereotypes, and concluding that if a man is genuinely emasculated by his female partner earning more then he’s the one with the problem, and she should NEVER feel ashamed of her success. (And it works both ways too! If a woman feels her male partner is a failure because he doesn’t earn huge sums then that’s her issue, not his).

      I completely agree that what’s required is education on both sides. And your comment that “the value of a man is not in his wallet” is spot-on, and not something I referenced but perhaps should have done (although it was already a very long post!). Women are just as bad at stereotyping men in terms of pay packets and we can all do our bit to rectify it.

      I think we fundamentally agree on the premise of this issue though 🙂

  3. I read the article when your comment popped up on my Facebook news feed, and it just reminded me why I never, ever read so-called ‘women’s’ magazines nowadays.

    I think you’ve pointed out everything that made me so angry when I read it, including the fact that Dan’s counter to Andy’s article isn’t especially encouraging either. His story is basically ‘I was really embarrassed at first, but actually it’s not so bad’ which doesn’t exactly go against this whole idea of men being ’emasculated’ by their high-earning partners, just suggests that they can get used to it if they have to. And, by the way, what the hell is ‘there was no expectation of diamond necklaces’ supposed to mean? Women, amiright? Demanding diamond necklaces at every turn! But good news: he found a bird who’s ‘content’ with a romantic home-cooked dinner instead! Phew. I can also only hope that Dan is no longer friends with the assholes who bought him a ‘girly’ G&T to tease him about his girlfriend’s success, because seriously, what shitty friends they must be. (Although I have to wonder why he’d be discussing his girlfriend’s salary with his friends in the first place).

    But what bothers me the most, as you’ve pointed out, is that gender is irrelevant here. If Andy doesn’t want to date a woman who earns more than him, then I don’t think anyone’s going to insist that he should. That’s entirely up to him. But trying to suggest that his personal viewpoints are also held by his entire gender is wrong on so many levels, and insulting to just about everyone. What gives him the right to speak for all men?

    Lastly, I don’t have children, but I suspect that if Andy thinks that looking after a child amounts to sitting indoors watching Loose Women all day, then he may be in for a nasty surprise if and when that baby comes along.

  4. It’s just not an issue, is it? You like each other and, between the two of you, you get by, financially. And that’s all there is to it. It doesn’t matter where the money comes from. You agree to go in together when you make commitments like living together.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s