Prepare to be gobsmacked! I certainly was. Two letters from Dear Prudence have left me feeling like a coked-up Dr. Freud: what the hell do women want, anyways?
Here’s the first one:
I’m recently engaged to the most honest, thoughtful, and loving man I’ve ever met. He has supported me through many hard times, including losing my job and being assaulted. Here’s the but about him: He makes no money. He has ambitions, and he’s smart, but will likely only bring a middle-class income at best. I have an OK job and I’m self-sufficient. Now here’s the but about me: I’m really, really pretty. My whole life people have told me I could get any man I want, meaning a rich man, and are shocked that I’m engaged to my fiancé, nice though he is. I’ve never dated a rich man, but it does make me curious. So part of me thinks I’m squandering my good looks on this poor man, and the other part of me thinks that I’m so shallow that I don’t even deserve him or anyone else. Am I a fool for thinking that a poor man can make me happy, or an idiot for believing a sexist fantasy?
Run, Forest, run! That is seriously the very first thought that popped into my mind.
Let’s see: honest, thoughtful, loving, supportive, kind, intelligent, ambitious and nice. When you have a man like this, and he has expressed the desire to be honest, thoughtful and loving to you for the rest of your life, a girl responds by heaving a giant sigh of relief and thanks the gods for watching out for her, right?
Not this bitch. No way. Honest, thoughtful, loving, supportive, kind, intelligent, ambitious and nice are not nearly enough.
He’s not rich.
And chicky is pretty! She’s pretty, damn it! P-R-E-T-T-Y! Super cute, and HER LOOKS WILL NEVER FADE. Ever. Why she’s squandering them! SQAUNDERING, I tell you. A girl as pretty as she is deserves a rich man. Any man she likes! Everybody says so, so it must be true, right?
Granted, she’s never actually dated a rich man. Hmmm. That’s kind of curious, isn’t it? I mean, everybody knows rich men are the biggest bunch of superficial assholes to ever walk the earth, and they only care about PRETTY and nothing else, and why the hell aren’t rich men lining up for this paragon of beauty?
Because she’s an A-One cunt, maybe?
the other part of me thinks that I’m so shallow that I don’t even deserve him or anyone else.
Ding-ding-ding! We have a winner, folks! Well, sort of. She gets the shallow part right, but fails to understand that it is not HER that is the undeserving one. No man alive deserves to be inflicted with this kind of narcissistic, self-absorbed, totally clueless little bitch.
I am seriously doubting Mr. Fiancée is as intelligent as she claims. Either that, or she is a liar of the most impressive skill. Entirely plausible.
So what does Prudie say to her?
It’s a delicate thing to sing “I Feel Pretty” and keep the audience charmed. Many people will be repelled by your acknowledged superficiality and wish that a string of rich men use you, then dump you when you start to lose your looks. But surely your fiancé delights in the fact—and surely his friends have noted—that he’s nabbed one the prettiest girls in the room. When considering possible life partners, people should bluntly assess each other’s intangible and tangible qualities. Of course character is central, but if the person you’re dating is a wholly admirable person who doesn’t attract you physically, that’s a serious problem. So, too, is being with someone who gives you pleasure in and out of bed, but who’s hiding from creditors. You have asked an unattractive question about monetizing your beauty. But I think there’s a more accurate way to look at what’s troubling you.
You’re really wondering whether you can be happy in the long run with a guy who treats you great, but who’ll never satisfy you financially. “Middle class” is a very elastic term, but I assume you mean that while you and your fiancé will be able to meet your basic needs, you’ll mostly be living paycheck to paycheck. You say he’s smart and ambitious, and I’m assuming you both are young, so you haven’t made it clear why these two qualities can’t propel him further professionally. Maybe he’s prone to pipe dreams the marketplace rewards with minimum wage. It’s fair to want a fully contributing partner in life, but if you think the bulk of a couple’s earning should come from the man, you either need to re-examine your assumptions, or clue in your fiancé. You and he need to discuss what kind of life you’d both like to lead and how each of you can map out career choices that will make this possible. Of course there are no guarantees of financial success, just as there are no guarantees that good looks will lure a guy with a bulging wallet (or that he’ll stick with you into middle-age). But if you’re filled with dread over the certainty that marrying your boyfriend will consign you to forever dreading when the bills come, this will tarnish your perception of his sterling qualities. You’re not a shallow fool for thinking that a life of scraping by won’t be so pretty.
Money, money, money. It’s all about money, as far as Prudie is concerned and she lets MissPrettyBitch know that she is … not a shallow fool for thinking that a life of scraping by won’t be so pretty.
Way to miss the boat, Prudie. This isn’t about money, except as a corollary. It’s about power. PrettyBitch wants to have power, absolute power, especially over her man. Let’s flip the story around. Here is a man who appears to have little intention of wasting his life scrabbling for nothing but cash, only to see it waltz out the door with his shallow little wife when she grows tired of pretending to love him.
You’ll note that PrettyBitch never once says she loves him.
He gets all the benefits of a hot wife without having to pay the usual fee of a bulging wallet. Who has the power here, again?
Could it be that PrettyBitch is nervous about her man’s unwillingness to dedicate himself to paying for her beauty? He refuses to acknowledge the fact that her beauty entitles her to all the fruits of his labor. A middle class salary at best. Average, in other words. In which case, doesn’t he deserve an average wife?
I’m thinking Mr. Fiancée is actually a very smart guy. He’s on the verge of landing a woman he can enjoy fucking, all the while getting her to foot her own bills. The power of beauty has no power over him.
There’s a bit of equality I’ll bet a lot of women won’t be all that happy about.
Let’s move on the second letter.
At our upcoming wedding, my fiancé and I would like to have a display with wedding pictures of our parents, grandparents, and others who are dearest to us. The snag is that my parents divorced when I was 5 years old, and my father has been with his current wife for over 20 years and they have two preteens. (All parties are on amicable terms.) I adore my mom and dad’s wedding picture, but displaying it might be strange, given that they haven’t been together since 1985. I also don’t want to include a picture of my father with his current wife, because A) it’s awkward to have a picture of the same man marrying two different women, and B) while we get along, I’m not terribly fond of his wife. I’m not intending this as a snub—she’s just not in that circle of intimates for my fiancé and me. Should we give up on the display and eliminate the awkwardness? It would be a shame not to admire photographs of the beautiful marriages that have lasted.
First of all, I think this woman is incredibly lucky to be surrounded by people who are in lasting marriages. That in itself is unusual, and absolutely worth celebrating. It’s a shame her own family was broken by divorce, but the fact that she has enduring marriages to turn to for inspiration and confirmation bodes very well for her own future. On the day she unites herself in matrimony to her husband, she would like to be surrounded by images of couples who have honored their vows and created long-lasting happiness for themselves and their families.
A beautiful sentiment.
One that her own parents will be left out of, by their own choice. Too bad, so sad.
But, oh no! That might be bizarre and awkward. Here is Prudie’s response.
I’ve never seen this done before, but what a wonderful tradition it could be as long as the photos get an exegesis with sticky notes. On your parents’ you could post, “Came asunder in 1985.” On others you could write, “Still crazy about each other despite the bickering you’ll hear when Harry has a couple of drinks.” Or you could forget this whole idea since the point of it seems to be to rewrite history and pretend your parents are still together when in fact they’ve been divorced forever and you have two half siblings (who you’d apparently like to write out of existence). No one is stopping you from admiring beautiful marriages that have lasted, just do so without making a bizarre and awkward display.
Again, way to get the whole thing wrong, wrong, wrong. The bride to be does not want to pretend that her parents are still together. I think she understands perfectly well that they tried, and failed, and that’s life.
What she wants to do is begin her own journey by celebrating those who have succeeded. She isn’t spending her wedding day thinking about divorce. Not her divorce, and not her parent’s. That is exactly the right mindset, too. Celebrating the long-term success of other couples is a pretty strong indicator that she sees her own marriage as long-term, and I think that’s a beautiful sentiment.
Put the two letters together and Prudie’s view of marriage becomes pretty clear. It’s a set-up, whereby men are responsible for earning all the money (especially if the bride brings beauty), and it’s a scenario designed for upgrading. Couples who have celebrated their 60th anniversaries are bizarre and awkward.
Oh, but aren’t they just. Why it almost seems like they took the words they spoke seriously!
…to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
Women have long used marriage to create their own financial security. Indeed, it’s the BEST way for women to be financially secure.
Divorce culture allows women to break their marriage vows and still walk away with their husband’s wealth and usually his children, too.
Women’s entitlement to men’s labor is the foundation of our civil society, and when it came with an set of obligations for women (fidelity, commitment, kindness, gratitude), it worked brilliantly. For those who understand that men’s work to support their families comes with duties and responsibilities, it still works brilliantly.
But for women like PrettyBitch, who can’t quite grasp that they aren’t OWED a man’s money, a nervous tic is entering the cultural dialogue.
Men are catching on, ladies. They aren’t going to foot the bills all by themselves anymore, only to have their lives ripped out from under them. The lads are sick of this shit. You wanted equality? Looks like you got it. Men are not willing to be women’s ATM cash dispensers any more.
No matter how pretty you are.
Lots of love,