I was recently involved in yet another conversation that made me feel certain that there were only two possible explanations for what was unfolding before my eyes:
- No one else was really listening to what was being said, and therefore the appropriate level of disgust wasn’t being expressed OR
- I was the only sane person present at this particular meeting of the minds, and therefore, due to the certifiable level of crazy I was surrounded by and their obvious inability to think rationally, the appropriate level of disgust wasn’t being expressed
Unfortunately, I’m thinking it was probably the latter. Here’s what went down:
I was mindlessly chattering with a few acquaintances and the topic of how much one of
ninny’s girl’s significant other was currently earning. Actual numbers weren’t discussed because that wasn’t the issue at hand; the issue at hand was whether or not this particular gentleman was making “enough” for her taste. I could already sense that this conversation was veering into dangerous territory when she dropped the bomb:
“I mean, I don’t need him to be rich or anything, I just need for him to be making enough to provide for me some day, you know?”
Then the real kicker – all the other girls in the circle nodded in agreement.
I almost choked on my gum.
Provide for you? Really?! In 2013, young, educated women are still expecting to be provided for? And apparently it’s not just one young, educated woman either. Apparently, there is consensus on this issue.
There are lots of depressing examples of reactionary social attitudes about women and money to be seen and heard in our day-to-day lives, but I think that this one is particularly destructive. The idea that women – women who have been to college, gotten jobs, and earn good salaries – still feel that they need to be provided for by a man is incredibly harmful to both their own sense of agency when it comes to their financial futures and women’s overall ability to gain salary parity with men.
Why? Because if women keep saying shit like “I just need him to provide for me some day” it perpetuates the idea that we don’t take ourselves seriously as professionals who expect to be compensated for the work we do. It implies that our male counterparts are the “real” wage-earners in our society, so why shell out extra pay on a woman who’s just expecting to have her husband pay her way? And it undermines the ability of women who don’t share this backward view to be paid commensurately with men for the work they’re doing.
While I really believe that this attitude has big consequences for women on a societal level, I also think it’s incredibly offensive on a personal level, too. Call me crazy, but if I’m dissatisfied with the income coming into my household, I’m going to go out and I’m going to earn more money. I’m smart, resourceful, and very capable. It’s not someone else’s responsibility to “provide” me with the lifestyle I want, but if you think that it’s someone else’s responsibility to provide you with yours, you probably don’t get that and assume that I expect to be “provided for,” too. And that offends me.
There are a lot of qualities I’m looking for in a partner, and yeah, I’m actually sort of picky. But one thing that will never make the list of stuff I’m looking for in a guy is “good provider.” Because I provide for myself, and I always plan to.