In college it occurred to me that, if I wanted to, I could be rich when I grew up.
No, there wasn't a "Eureka!" moment where I thought I might become an i-banker, a corporate lawyer or an arms dealer. What I mean is I realized I could marry somebody rich.
I grew up pretty class-oblivious, sheltered within an upper-middle class Connecticut bubble. But in college, I looked around my social circle at my law- and med school-bound classmates, as well as old friends from the suburbs who were on similar tracks. Suddenly I realized these kids would have money when they grew up.
True, I may fall in love with a musician or another writer. We'll be broke-ass starving artists, bouncing rent checks and forgoing health insurance together! Or maybe I'll join the Peace Corps, flit about the world seeking adventures and love affairs, and be my niece's "cool aunt" who never marries at all.
But the crystal ball predicts a life far more mundane: I'll be a journalist and I'll marry another journalist, a lawyer, a doctor, a web entrepreneur, or someone else like that. He'll have "stable" job and a high five- or six-figure income; we'll live (and procreate) in the New York City metropolitan area. Sure, we'll struggle a bit as newlyweds. But eventually, like my mother before me, I suspect I'll have health insurance, drive a nice car, take yearly vacations and maybe even stay home with my hypothetical kids. Compared to the rest of the world, I'll be "comfortable." Which is, of course, a polite euphemism for "rich."
I realize it is a privilege to hypothetically even be in this situation; I probably sound like a jerk. But that's because it's hard to touch upon marriage and wealth without sounding like some kind of modern-day Anne Boleyn. (Or, worse a woman on The Real Housewives of Orange County.) That's why it's bold—foolish, even!—of Jennifer Wright to address marrying well-off men in "Are Sugar Daddies Our Modern Day Prince Charmings?" on Sirensmag.com.
"Apparently, you are not allowed to state that you want to marry someone wealthy," Wright writes, using the 'Craigslist gold digger' as an example. And why the hell not?, she wonders. Because society says we're modern women who know better than to be gold diggers!
To me, gold-digging, is a little bit like pornography in that we're not exactly sure of its definition, but we just say we know it when we see it. (More often than not, though, I think it's just a sexist insult flung at women.) In this way, I agree with Wright that wanting to marry within one's social class shouldn't be a source of shame. She says this matter of marrying a wealthy man is not about choosing to depend on a man like some kind of crutch, but aligning with a man who meets your "standards," (to use her words) when it comes to bank balance and lifestyle matters. She writes, "being successful in our own right should buy us the privilege of seeking a man who can equal or top our standard." Call it "marrying sideways," perhaps. But even that seems verboten to discuss. Writes Wright, "...feminism came along and things changed. As women now have the ability to support themselves, they ought to be able to marry based entirely on inner qualities like temperament and compatibility (woe be unto women who fancy themselves more compatible with wealthy mates, it seems)."
Marrying someone within my social class will be more incidental than it will be planned or plotted. That's just who I socialize with. Still, I feel guilty for thinking about my hypothetical future husband this way at all. But Wright doesn't sound especially guilty in her Sirens piece. Maybe because she recently watched the Marilyn Monroe flick, How to Marry a Millionaire and thought, "Six decades ago, no one would have given the wealthy-man-seeking post a second thought."
That observation may or may not be true, but one thing's for certain. Where love and class intertwine—and I quote Facebook here—"it's complicated."
Do you think about social class much when it comes to dating? Tell us in the comments section below!