In both the mainstream media and our little corner of the Internet, there is a meme floating around that “women don’t need a provider anymore.” It seeks to answer the beta’s lament with a confirmation of his worst fears – “in fact, my good sir, women have no use for you. You’re not attractive, and your material offerings have no market either.”
To be short about it, I think this idea is bunk.
There’s really two separate questions to examine:
- Do women benefit in the net from male providers?
- Do women exhibit visceral responses to wealth and to provider behaviors that induce them to mate and/or bond with said men?
Things to consider:
1. Women earn more? Maybe.
Much has been made (by me and others) of a recent study that urban single women under 30 are making more money than men in the same demographic. I think that study is very important, especially when it comes to policy questions about ensuring equal pay for equal work and the balance of genders in college, and I am curious to see if it is reproduced and/or continues to hold true as the white-collar workforce is overwhelmingly populated by women coming out of female-heavy college environments.
But there’s an important caveat to the study result: it’s a statistic. A statistic is an amalgamation of numbers that provides a distilled picture of a distribution. It doesn’t hold true in every case in the pool, and it doesn’t claim to. A classic illustration of the limitations of stats is “men are taller than women;” not every man is taller than every woman, but it is generally true such that it makes sense to make male pants in larger sizes than female slacks.
What the pay-gap statistic means is that the previous presumption that a given man is making more than a given woman is a bad assumption to make. In any event, though, I don’t think women care that the stats say they’re making more. Women have been loath to give up the expectation that men will give them free stuff on dates (it serves as a signaling mechanism that she has higher value than him), and one of the modern rationalizations has been “well women still make less than men.” That rationalization will continue to be marketed until and unless every woman makes more than every man.
2. Most women DO benefit from a second income
When I first entered the workforce for real, I quickly came to regard the “women don’t need providers” thing as a myth. Because I looked around and I didn’t see a lot of women who were living a financially secure life, not necessarily because of poor spending habits and over-use of credit (although that was true in some cases). Being young and on your own, with student loan debt and relocation costs to bear, takes a lot of money. A security deposit, a new car, a business wardrobe, eating out a lot if you work too much to cook for yourself, while on the low-rage rungs of the ladder while you hope to prove you deserve the big bucks on the back half of your twenties, can add up fast.
As they get later in life, the trappings of the middle-upper class lifestyle expand with their costs – better cars, suburban homes, creature comforts. When I look at the educated married women I know, they stand to lose a significant chunk of their standard of living in the event of a divorce.
For women in the lower middle or blue-collar classes, the second-income benefit is self-evident – there’s just not enough money in a single blue-collar income to provide the comfort a typical woman is going to expect given her lifelong exposure to glossy marketing, commercial television and modern fairy tales.
And don’t forget the biggest elephant in the room – children change everything. A woman who wants to slow down her career track after 30 to be more available for kids (slipping out early to go to sporting events, more vacations and fewer working weekends) may find that in a few short years she doesn’t outearn her husband after all, and may not even be bringing positive income to the family when the cost of daycare is factored in.
3. Career is a big DHV for a man
It has been a source of eternal frustration for careerist feminists that their rise in the ranks has not made them more attractive to men the way they find male bigwigs. In some ways I am sympathetic to their frustration; they were told that not only could a dedicated career lifestyle bring them reliable life satisfaction that wasn’t dependent on the cooperation of a man that a relationship depends on, but it could bring them access to enough attractive men that they could live the a la carte romantic lifestyles they saw portrayed in media as the province of corner-office corporate impresarios.
But hypergamy lives, and so a man who commands more power also commands more attractive power. Women will still respond preferentially to a man with preferential access to the social machinery.
4. Money is a proxy for success and status
I’ve long contended that money, per se, is not a trigger of sexual attraction. It will certainly make the girls swoon when you tell them the guy you are dating packs six figures, but every beta knows that flashing cash and buying her things doesn’t get her in the sack any quicker if your game sucks.
What money does provide is a proxy marker for a couple of other things – one is high social status (either coming from a high-status family or acquiring it through career success), and the other is a high-class, stimulating lifestyle. So women will still respond preferentially to a man with access to resources.
Radio man Tom Leykis asserted that “women dig the smell of money – you don’t have to marry them or even give them money, you just have to HAVE money. It’s like getting a blind man to go into a bakery – you don’t have to buy him a loaf, the smell alone will draw him in.” (Quoting from memory, I’ll dig up the show clip if anybody is really interested.)
So to me, this “women don’t need a provider” meme sounds a lot like the old “she doesn’t need a man!” slogan, and I’ve always regarded that slogan as a form of sour-grapes complaint. The complaint being that the price of landing a good catch of a man is too high, requiring too much “sacrifice” from her in terms of toning down her standoffish personality, giving up some of her self-directed free time and yielding at times to another person’s desires.
I find the claim fatuous because it’s so painfully obvious from watching their behavior and reading their magazines and advice columns that women do need men – they desperately crave the comfort and modern social proof of having a man at their side, and benefit from the man’s resources, to say nothing of the deep instinctual needs they are literally built to have satisfied by men.
I sometimes wonder: in the quiet backrooms where feminists are painstakingly honest about things, how many of their hearts break that what’s really holding back true equality at work and in the home is not male bigotry but women’s preference for men of higher status than them.
Men don’t seem to have any problem with female success – plenty of construction workers or cubicle accountants will date a corporate lawyer or a middle manager, as long as she is attractive and pleasant enough in the evening hours. It’s women who consistently moan of their hunger for the “traditional male role” of “protector” and “provider,” in an era where the necessity for violence and physical labor is at an all-time low and society has been rearranged to allow women to go their own way.