The trophy wife still exists

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Photo: Getty Images. Posed by model unrelated to this story.

Now that we live in a post feminist, post equality, post post liberation society*, it’s important that we begin to reclaim all of the roles that feminists tried to ruin with their word-forming lizard tongues.

There’s been the rise of the Retro Mummy, resplendent in frilly aprons and awash with the empowerment that comes from ‘homemaking’ and being surrounded by organic cotton. Immaculately made up women in fitted 1950s gear beam out from trend pieces designed to massively over-inflate the impact of a very small group of people. Their perfect homes are supposedly an advertisement for a newer, simpler way of living, away from all the pressures of the career aspirations and financial independence that may or may not have formed part of the feminist conspiracy to ruin the world.

Now, the New York Post is trying to get us to swallow the idea of the ‘Trophy Wife 2.0’. It’s every bit as bad as it sounds, and let’s be honest - it sounds pretty bad. It isn’t enough for your modern day Trophy Wife to be merely beautiful, thin and around 15 - 20 years younger than her financially solvent mate. No, now she has to be all those things and a businesswoman in her right with bonus points for every Masters degree she holds. Feminism! Women doing things while doing other things!

Forgive me for being obtuse (after all, I don’t even have one Masters degree, let alone a swag of them that I can use to buy myself a rich husband) but I thought the term ‘trophy wife’ went out of fashion with scrunchies and Sex and the City’s dreadful movie franchise. The idea that any woman - particularly one who’s gone to the trouble of acquiring multiple university degrees and amassing small fortunes off their own bat - would be content, nay, enthusiastic about adopting a term for themselves that implies subjugation is baffling.

The Post introduces us to women like Stephanie Adams, a former model and current writer of 25 New Age books who boasts her own seven figure investment portfolio; Julie Lin, a former marketer who quit her job after marriage and now writes the blog ‘Life of a Trophy Wife’; and Donna Spangler, author of the guide ‘How To Get A Rich Man: The Princess Formula’. Together, they are supposed to provide evidence of the Trophy Wife’s reinvention and subsequent resurgence in the arsenal of ‘career goals’ available to young, privileged women drifting around New York’s financial district.

Lin (who calls herself a Trophy Wife 2.0) cites other ‘modern trophy wives’ married to rich men as evidence of the trope’s evolution, arguing, “They’ve shattered the myth of the bimbo with the designer handbag, because they are educated, worldly and ambitious.” Like the rest of this article, Lin seems to ignore the fact that the whole point of a ‘trophy’ is that it does nothing but signify someone else’s achievements while being constantly replaceable by something newer and shinier. One might wonder as well why such modern heterosexual men, interested as they seem to be in a woman of independent financial means and ambition, would be content to have her referred to as his prize. As other writers have pointed out, wouldn't a more accurate description of such a pair be 'power couple'?

But such questions are designed to lead readers down the rabbit hole into a realm of nonsense. Because apart from attempting to capitilise on a phenemona that is essentially non-existent, this article is just one long troll (and one that’s been syndicated across at least three continents now). The only real trend showcased here is the one that exploits stereotypes in order to pit women against each other while inviting disdainful commentary from the public in general. Feminists, embroiled as we are in our envy of attractive, ‘feminine’ women, are being prodded to unfurl our scorpion tails to strike out against them.

Meanwhile, armchair cultural professors who congregate in the comments boxes of every outlet ever can delight in offering unsolicited on all manner of important topics, such as whether or not the subjects’ in question are sluts with a lot of ‘mileage’ on them, or how women in general are either all gold-digging bitches at heart who’d rather sponge off a man than put in a hard day’s work, or how those who might question the merits of such an arrangement are obviously just bitter shrews who can’t get laid and may or may not be fat.

It’s tempting to get caught up in outrage when demonstrably stupid things are published on the internet. But Trophy Wives As Feminist Statement is not a thing that is happening. While the New York Post may have been able to assemble roughly four or five names (including the ones who didn’t consent to be interviewed and so potentially don’t even self identify as trophy wives) to wedge into their poorly constructed attempts to capitalise on the debut of a new TV show, a handful of self motivated publicity seekers doth not a trend make. As everyone's favourite self motivated Machiavellian schemestress Regina George might have it, stop trying to make fetch happen NYP.

* Warning: May contain traces of sarcasm

 

39 comments

  • Trophy wives exist, of course - just look at the endless parade of arm-candy that sports heroes and rock stars marry and then discard - but anyone who self-identifies as a Trophy Wife either doesn't have any self-respect (since they have just identified themselves as objects whose only duty is to be decorative and agreeable until replaced) or they don't understand the term.

    The entire paradigm is depressing.

    Commenter
    TK
    Date and time
    September 27, 2013, 7:02AM
    • Really?

      I would live the jet setting life and be agreeable.... and as my duty have sex with a female sports person.

      Where do i sign up?

      It's just a choice. Who are you to judge?

      Commenter
      Cranky
      Location
      Pants
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 9:42AM
    • Ah, cranky, you say that you'd be agreeable but anyone who's read your comments knows you couldn't. You username gives you away. Nice try, though.

      Commenter
      TK
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 9:58AM
  • I think you'll find its less meriocratic than the US publication would have you believe. Empirically a successful business woman will have attended the finest educational institutions ($$$) for which they needed to attend the finest schools ($$$). The link to master’s degrees only dangles a small carrot in front of the punters. Let’s be clear: this is about money marrying money. Very close to the concept that the 'trickle down effect' will even the looming class war despite the obvious data showing the poor are getting poorer, and the rich getting richer. Not sure where feminism fits into this - more a media studies piece

    Commenter
    1
    Location
    Mosman
    Date and time
    September 27, 2013, 7:49AM
    • Can't help but think the boutique sales assistance was angry as said trophy wife spent more in 5 minutes than assistant earned in a year.

      Commenter
      Bumblebee
      Date and time
      September 27, 2013, 8:15AM
      • And there it is again... women telling other women how to live. Why not just respect peoples choices? Whether it's getting degrees and investments or living in a submissive gimp suit.

        Commenter
        cranky
        Location
        pants
        Date and time
        September 27, 2013, 8:28AM
        • It's an identity thing. When you get seriously into gender politics you view all actions through that lens. Women who're into this view themselves and by extension all women, as representatives first and individuals second.
          It's the gender version of 'You're either with us or against us'. There's not a lot of room for nuance in that mindset.

          Commenter
          Nicho
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          September 27, 2013, 12:07PM
      • I don’t think its necessarily subjugation. I think its reverse inequality.
        Once upon a time, the only hope for a woman was to marry a rich husband. They would ‘keep’ the home and men were expected to provide financially. This isn’t the case anymore. Women can support themselves. Arguably then, some women are even capable of supporting husbands/partners – financially. Like men did, in the oppressive-to-women olden days. But, most women don’t want to. They don’t want these men, they still want to ‘marry up.’ Until women are happy to accept partners with significantly less income (status etc) than themselves, there will never be equality. (obviously I’m generalising her and there are exceptions)
        Either way, why you would want to refer to yourself as a trophy is beyond me. I threw out all my old tennis ones in the last spring clean.

        Commenter
        Zahra
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        September 27, 2013, 9:09AM
        • Agree with most of what you said, Zahra.

          Not much point getting into the semantics of "Trophy Wife 2.0". They're just phrases coined by women with limited imagination trying to gain attention for their book/blog.

          Commenter
          Bender
          Date and time
          September 27, 2013, 10:12AM
        • Good points, but being a trophy wife is easier than doing it yourself and when he gets that insider trading conviction or is exposed as a racketeer she keeps her half and move on while he goes to gaol.

          Commenter
          JohnA
          Date and time
          September 27, 2013, 12:01PM

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