Barry Schwartz wrote a book called “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less”, in which he theorizes that having too many choices causes most people undue anxiety, because they end up always second guessing their choices, wondering if they made the right one. I really enjoyed the book and even though I don’t feel particularly anxious when confronted with a lot of choices, I do find too much choice to be annoying. I don’t want to be confronted with 47 different types of strawberry jam in the grocery store. I want low sugar content for a good price. I don’t engage in any careful calculus of which jam offers me the best price down to the penny because I have better things to do with my time. I will pay slightly more to a local producer, and since strawberries are one thing we grow locally, my choice is generally pretty easy.
I take the same approach when it comes to clothing and footwear. Less is more. I have a very small wardrobe that consists of things I actually wear, and I tend to wear my clothing until it falls apart. Comfort and durability are key for me. And I do not want to spend more than 30 seconds deciding what to wear. Clothing is not something I spend a lot of money on, which is important. One expensive thing I do buy is footwear. I refuse to wear shoes or boots that are uncomfortable. I have a pair of New Balance running shoes that I will wear until my shin splints get so bad I can’t run anymore. That generally takes about two years. I have a pair of Keen hiking sandals that I wear for everyday and my last pair lasted four years. I have a pair of Birkenstocks I wear for puttering around in the garden and I have had the same pair for 16 years and counting.
And I have a pair of black leather UGG boots that I love. I wear them with yoga pants, with jeans, with skirts and leggings. I adore these boots and they were expensive. My husband didn’t flinch buying them for me because I do not spend a lot of money on clothing in general and he appreciates the practical sensibility that causes me to eschew high heels and fashion-forward anything.
Two weeks ago, I decided to do a little spring cleaning. When you have three children, incredibly generous friends who drop off hand-me-downs on a regular basis and grandparents who love shopping, the toy and clothing situation can get a little out of hand. I sold a whole bunch of stuff at a mother’s sale but was still left with a lot of toys and clothing to deal with. So I sorted out about a dozen bags for the Salvation Army, which I combined with a thorough cleaning of my laundry room, which doubles as my closet and extra storage for out of season clothing that I will want come winter.
I accidentally donated one of my UGG boots to the Salvation Army.
Yes, really. I have no idea how it happened. Our friend Rob came by to pick up the bags and take them to the Sally Ann and by the time I noticed I only had one boot, the bags were delivered. I went the next day to explain what had happened, and the workers were completely understanding and promised to keep an eye out for my one boot. The trouble is there are many, many volunteers who help sort the donations and it was impossible to make every single one of them aware that I was looking for just one boot.
They may find it yet! In which case, my daughter will have a pair of very cool UGG boots. I don’t need them anymore, because to celebrate a recent promotion at work, and just a good year in general, my husband went down to the local Harley Davidson store and ordered me a pair of Grace boots to replace the UGGs I (have likely) lost due to my own stupidity.
My husband’s kindness and generosity surprised me, to be honest, and not because he is not a kind and generous person, but because I just happen to be writing this on the brand new 17.5’ laptop he bought me yesterday! I know very little about our family finances, because I choose not to. With an MBA, I am certainly capable of understanding our investments and liabilities, but I prefer to trust my husband 100%. Once a year we sit down so I know how to access our accounts and how to function in a worst case scenario, but other than taking those emergency measures, I pay no attention to our family’s financial well-being, because I know it is in good hands. I stick to our budget, and in doing so, I have clearly contributed to our family’s security. My husband would never have made two relatively large purchases if it were not completely safe to do so.
I earned a “wife bonus”.
The term has been in the news recently, and is earning an extraordinary amount of sneering contempt from feminist media. Jezebel proclaims good wives and mothers to be the new demographic for feminists to hate.
Amanda Marcotte sniffs that wives are really just employees, grovelling at their boss’s feet for a slice of the family pie. What feminists get wrong about the “wife bonus” is everything they get wrong about life, happiness and a society that works.
In theory, then, wife bonuses should fit right into this narrative. If it’s a job, then it should be treated like one, with bonuses and promotions based on performance reviews. But of course, the whole “stay-at-home motherhood is a real job” meme was never really about the actual work of housewifery. It’s a defensive maneuver, a way to argue that just because a woman is economically dependent on her husband doesn’t mean her marriage is sexist or any less equal than a marriage in which both spouses work. Wife bonuses, however, remind us that if stay-at-home motherhood is a job, then that means your husband is your employer. Not very egalitarian at all.
Marcotte’s argument is predicated on the assumption that a person’s value can only be measured by labor market participation and that defining your worth based on interdependent relationships with other people is limiting rather than expansive. The only relationship any person can have that has the ability to define who that person is and what they are worth is the relationship that person has with the reflection in the mirror.
See, here’s the thing. I don’t want to be defined as a wholly independent person. I am a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a niece, a neighbor, a writer, a blogger, a citizen. The very fabric of my life, the weight of my being, the purpose of my existence is intertwined with my existence in relation to other people. Remove those other people, and I am nothing. The secret is that without those relationships to define them, everyone is nothing. Only feminists are foolish enough to believe that being free from all obligations and responsibilities towards others constitutes “freedom”. It constitutes annihilation.
Yes, I got a “Wife Bonus”. And it’s not because I am an employee, trading my skills in an informal but nevertheless financially compensated labor market. It’s because I’m part of team. Part of a family. Part of a neighborhood, a town, a province, a country, a society. Like it or not, our fortunes and our futures are always, to a degree, shared.
That shared future is what makes our whole world work.
Feminists will never get an anything bonus, because the only thing they share is hatred, bigotry and an abiding love for the person in the mirror, no matter how selfish and bitter she is.
Jealous much, feminists?
You should be.
Lots of love,