Thursday, July 18, 2013

How to Raise a Future Gold Digger

Act #199:  Teach our girls to buy their own drinks.

1 Gold digger  noun
:  Any woman whose primary interest in a relationship is material benefits.  A woman who cares   about a man's bank account than she does about the man.

At least that's how defines it.  This topic has been on my mind since I was a naïve college student over 20 years ago. I remember when I first started going out to local bars on Thursday nights, and being completely shocked as I watched intelligent, 4.0, Dean's List college girls immediately go into hunt mode for that guy willing to supply them with free drinks all night.  In my late 20's when people around me seemed to be marrying off, I knew many a gals who publicly declared that they would only be marrying doctors or lawyers.  Again, these were smart, highly educated, professionally-accomplished women who could definitely stand their own ground.  I remember one time when I went out on a first date with a fairly accomplished man from Los Angeles and when the bill came, I told him I would get it, and that he could pay for drinks later.  He was literally about to die.  He said that in all of his years of dating that has never ever happened to him.

So what gives?  Why do so many women grow up thinking that it is in their best interest to land a future mate who has more wealth and prominence than "marry up"?  Are we doing something as a society to promote this concept that even though we are perfectly capable on our own, we still need a man to hold the upper hand, to bring more to the table?   Now for clarification, I don't think there is anything wrong with considering a potential mate's financial stability. A long-term partnership means supporting each other and being financially reliable does play into this.  Also, I am in no way suggesting that all women operate (either intentionally or unintentionally) in this manner.  I am just flabbergasted every time I come across a smart, capable woman who is on the look-out for men who have the economic upper hand.  I have a few thoughts on why this might be happening.

Daddy's Little Princess, Prince Charming, and Prom
We indulge our 3-year olds and gush about treating them like royalty.  We call them princess - not queen, for that would suggest that she might actually have the power to make the important decisions.  We read fairy tales to them about grown women who always, always, always end up being saved by richer, more powerful men.  We spend hundreds of dollars on one-time formal dresses and proudly take a million pictures of our daughters as black limos pull up to our front doors and tuxedo-clad young men emerge with a corsage to whisk them away.  Why wouldn't they grow up expecting this level of treatment from men once they leave home?

Sense of Entitlement Without Achievement
I worked at a college for almost a decade and I watched the next generation expecting the newest gadget, the newest cellphone, the latest spring fashion collection.  Many planned to graduate and land a $60,000 management job immediately.  There was little expectation to work one's way up, or to consider starting at the bottom in order to gain maturity and experience that can only be achieved with time.  Many already claimed to know more than their professors, than CEO's.  They were out to rule the world, and they were going to do it now. While a small percentage of graduates may actually be able to accomplish this, most have to learn the ways of the world the hard way - and many might seek easier short-cuts to keep feeding that sense of entitlement.....sometimes, I dare say, in the form of free drinks.

Don't Men Also Dig for Gold?
Perhaps what doesn't settle with me the most is the fact that in all the music videos, in all the celebrity news, and in all of the real-life scenarios that I've encountered, it always seems to be the woman who is seeking someone with more wealth and power.  It's rare to see men setting out to do the same.  How ridiculous does it sound for a group of guys to gather in front of a bar and discuss how many free drinks they are going to persuade oblivious rich women into buying for them that night?  How many times have you teased your single adult son about your pretty doctor - the one who doesn't have a wedding band?  What better way to perpetuate a culture of patriarchy and gender inequity than to intentionally set up only women to pursue a lifetime of economic inferiority?  Can we please start teaching our daughters that they are capable of finding their own gold, and our sons to respect them when they do?

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