In our beauty, youth and success obsessed culture women are often still forced to choose between having a career or a family. And many mid-career women have forsaken motherhood to obtain career goals only to see their successful male colleagues choose younger and less career-orientated women as wives over them.
With over 790 billionaires worldwide, the demand for trophy wives is undoubtedly on the rise, so much so that some people say that being a trophy wife has become a category of its own in the job market with its specific identifiable perks and obligations. The more money a man makes, the argument goes, the more entitled he feels and a trophy wife is the perfect companion to showcase his achievements and wealth.
So while self-made career women are slaving away, attempting to claw their way up the corporate ladder, trophy wives are enjoying the benefits and wealth of their hardworking successful husbands. The question that begs to be asked is, as women, should we strive to be business babes and CEOs or women of leisure and trophy wives?
Well like everything else in life, it all depends. Statistics point to the fact that forty-nine percent of mid-career women who make USD $100,000 a year or more are childless as opposed to only ten percent of men. Yet, despite the sacrifices many women make in order to advance their careers, women are still sadly underrepresented in top executive ranks. Eighteen of the CEOs on the Fortune 500 were women a couple of years ago. Now in 2014, we’ve still only got twenty-four. At this rate, according to the author of the controversial book Smart Girls Marry Money, it will take a little over “100 years for women to represent half of the CEOs in the Fortune 500, in the year 2128”.
If this isn’t bad enough, another study points to the unfair fact that in the workplace, some childless women are even vilified and viewed as lacking in “essential humanity”. But one thing is certain, women attaining success in the workplace is akin to winning a competition. If half the players show up thinking it’s anything less than that, then men will always have the home field advantage.
Many of these self-made career women, also called SWANS (Strong Women Achievers, No Spouse) find it difficult to meet an honest partner because high achieving successful men seem to have a preference for young, attractive women who will pamper and support them. These men don’t want to be reminded of work when they finally unwind at the end of a long day. They are not interested in hard core SWANS who in turn find it difficult to marry less successful men and who would rather remain single than marry down themselves. Thus, given the fact that the corporate workplace is still very much a man’s world, even if these self-made women can pride themselves in their career achievements, are they in fact sacrificing too much for too little in return?
Trophy wives on the other hand have a very different set of challenges. These women give as much as they take and what they give happens to be their most valuable asset — themselves. Trophy wives must look good at all times and the more beautiful they look the better it is for their husband’s egos. Trophy wives work out religiously and get cosmetic surgery when necessary. They always dress with the best most fashionable clothes and must have perfect hair and flawless manicured nails.
They must sometimes endure the attentions of their usually older husbands, but most of the time these men are too busy being successful executives anyway. Thus trophy wives have a lot of free time on their hands and can go for vacuous lunches with other trophy wives or go shopping all day, if it takes their fancy. But what trophy wives really excel at, and probably the reason they got the “job” in the first place, is pampering their husbands and making them feel like they are king of the world.
In fact some people say that this type of arrangement, sometimes functions better than marriages that are focused on love and romance. Romance is elusive and unstable, but lust and the need for financial support are consistently enduring.
So while social networking groups and dating sites that cater to career women who secretly wish to be trophy wives are rapidly growing in membership numbers. And considering that in all likelihood we won’t live to see true workplace equality, could there be much wisdom and foresight in the well meaning advice given to me by my father when I set off to university many year ago?
He said to me: “It’s a man’s world out there, so whatever you do in life, remember to always look like a lady, think like a man, and work like a dog.” Or in other words, apply yourself at school, and work hard at your job, but to cover all your bases, it might be a good idea to marry a man who can support you. A bit of the trophy and the businesswoman in all of us might just be the best solution. You be the judge.