I owe non-working, trophy wives and girlfriends an apology. Though I’ve never been one to label every woman afforded the opportunity not to work for a living because of her involvement with a financially stable man a golddigger, I have typically been one to say, “that could never be me.” But the way my life is set up now — I’m thinking it probably could, at least for a little bit.
Having already been there, done that, and kept the therapy receipts from my quarter-life crisis, six years later I’m having just the darnedest time reconciling the fact that, despite doing exactly what I said I wanted to do, where I wanted to do it, and when I wanted to do it, I. still. don’t. want. to. work. I don’t exactly want to be wholly dependent on a man either — not that one has shown up and offered to take me away from it all or anything (if you know somebody, let me know). But the reality is the fiscal vulnerability that goes along with having a sugar daddy can be quite a hefty price to pay in the long run. And yet I still have moments of shortsightedness when I think, is trying to survive all on my own worth more than that? I have a co-worker who has a friend who came up with a label to describe this conundrum I find myself in from time to time: wanting to be a kept feminist. That’s what ol’ girl says she’s trying to be and, dammit, it sounds pretty good to me too.
A kept feminist, as I understand it — and have worked out in the most idyllic way in my mind — is a woman who works but doesn’t have to work. You know, like a woman who doesn’t work to live but lives to work (for a few hours a day on something she’s really passionate about). As a writer, I feel like this make-believe lifestyle was thought up just for people in my profession, and in my dream scenario it goes a little something like this. Man meets me, man falls in love with me, man sees that “I just wanna write” (like all writers say). Man says “Then babe, you should.” Man sees “What you talkin’ ’bout Willis” look on my face as I proclaim “But I have bills!” Man looks at me and says “I got this,” like Big telling Carrie he’s buying the penthouse apartment with the tiny closet in the Sex & The City movie. Man tells me despite appreciating my offer to keep the house spotless and his stomach full and penis empty every day and night (because that’s the kind of outlandish stuff you say you’ll do in exchange for generosity like this — even if you have no intention of doing it), he just wants me to “be happy” and “do me” because he makes enough money for the both of us. Man wins my still somewhat-independent heart forever and ever.
A girl can dream right? Quitting a job and letting a man take care of me doesn’t have to be a nightmare, right? If I were Carrie Bradshaw, who already defied the odds making enough money to live on the east side of Manhattan writing one relationship column per week, that answer could possibly be yes. But, again, the way my life is set up…probs not gonna shake out like that.
Here’s the thing: When I say I don’t want to work, I don’t mean I just want to frolic on the beach all day — although I have stated on more than one occasion if I was a socialite I would live in the gym and soup kitchens (volunteering not scoring more free meals). But if I became so fortunate as to not have to support myself financially I would still do something to generate income. And then I would keep that income for myself should things ever go left with this non-existent sugar daddy from heaven I’ve concocted in my mind. And as I securely stacked my coins, I would bask in the glow of keptdom and experience that “When you love what you do (and money is no object) you’ll never work a day in your life” phenomenon motivational speakers who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars each year tell people is possible. Of course that also means no turning up to “I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T.” anymore should I find myself on the wrong side of a club’s entry door, and having to actually follow the instruction, “If you ain’t on sit down,” whenever I hear the song. But I imagine that would pale in comparison to not hearing my alarm clock go off every morning at 7 am, signaling the tortuous monotony that is having a typical successful career, no matter how much you (used to/sometimes still do) love what you do.
I’d also have to work on my attitude too, because you can’t exactly throw out sarcastically condescending taunts on a regular basis when the only bacon you’re bringing home is what you bought from the grocery store with bae’s bank card. And since there’s nothing worst than an unappreciative woman than an unappreciative, unemployed woman, there’d be a good chance I’d end up on the street if I didn’t at least try a little tenderness — and maybe let one or two instances of my man using “female” instead of “woman” in casual conversation pass. Oh wait, I’m still a feminist, I just have negligible finances — “females” goes, freeloading stays.
I think I’m beginning to see just how difficult this paradoxical existence might be already.
See even with the best attempts at new-age feminism, the fact still remains that he who holds the purse strings holds the power. And in this case “he” would not be gender-neutral. Of course, being the sole breadwinner isn’t an excuse for mistreatment of any kind — or a justification for eliminating the less financially stable party out of decision-making processes when it comes to issues that affect both of you. But in matters of money, often times if you can’t pay you can’t play, and you find yourself beholden to someone else’s vision for your life, rather than carrying out your own. That can range from simple things like having to move across the country because your partner’s job is relocating — and your argument that you won’t be able to run through Central Park anymore isn’t a match for the promotion he’ll receive — to your livelihood being reduced to an allowance and everything you buy scrutinized because it wasn’t purchased with your own money (remember you’re hoarding yours for a rainy eviction day).
So yeah, while the idea of being “kept” sounds great in theory. I imagine in the back of my mind I’d always wonder how much better it might feel to thrive off the sweat of my own brow rather than a man’s. I mean, if we’re equal and all, I should be able to set my own self financially free as well, right?