On money and power

One of the most memorable statements I’ve read was that the cliché, women want men with money and power works just as well if you take out the “men with.”

Women want money and power.

I appreciate this. Most women do want men. And we do want money and power, to use towards something that we care about. But whether we need to seek out a guy with money and power depends on what kind of society we live in.

Women in Pride and Prejudice (2005)

I’d hope for a world where women have enough independent means to power that they can choose a guy based on his own personal qualities, more than on his wealth.

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When I reflect on why we want these things: I appreciate money for how it allows me to travel and save for some future age when I won’t be able to work. And power makes it easier to change situations that aren’t working—like bad workplace policies. It’s much easier to change those from the top than with a campaign from the bottom.

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In Mother Nature, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy talks about how mama primates have plenty of ambition and power hunger. They often channel their social maneuvering not for themselves alone, but to ensure that their children can survive and thrive.

Some human single mamas move into small business ownership. Perhaps that’s because they stop looking to “men with” and start looking at how to build money and power for their families. Owning a successful business would certainly be one way to do so.

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I often want to get in an argument when people start talking about gender. This morning I heard men talking about how women take you to the cleaners in a divorce. I suspect that should be “the partner with fewer assets/lower income who’s raising the children of both people,” not “women.”

If we divorced and Amos were not more generous than state law, I’d lose both pre-marital and marital savings, as well as future retirement. If we had children, I’d be obliged to pay child support for 18 years.

Statistically, we’re an anomaly. Typically, men both come in with and continue to build to higher paying careers and more assets. Even when couples verbally talk up a good “myth of equality,” the reality is they often find pragmatic family reasons–or social pressure/gender norms–to choose a lifetime of small actions that build up his career and lifestyle over hers.

If a relationship dissolves, why is it a surprise that someone asks for their sacrifices back?

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To make things a bit more complex: I suspect that if we stayed in the Bay Area, over time we might revert to the relational mean. A year ago, we delayed my career to better establish his–which means that without further aggressive career moves on my part, his earnings will probably outpace mine over time.

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Yet Amos and I continue to cross gender clichés. I sometimes find myself tossing relationship books across the room.

Men want… and the book describes my drive for success, logic, and respect.

Women just need… and they outline what Amos longs for: cherishing, emotional warmth, and children.

But finally, in a small Christian bookstore in Lawrence, Kansas, I found a devotional guide that starts with: If your wife is a Fortune 500 CEO, this is how you support her ambitions.

Ahh, here we go, I thought, This is the relationship advice I’m looking for.

Slytherin crest

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