Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tough Times for Mistresses

A mistress in better times: Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour (1721-1764), mistress of King Louis XV of France

Last week the New York Times ran an article titled It’s the Economy, Girlfriend. It centered on a social group in NYC of mainly young women in their mid-to-late twenties who have formed a support group they call Dating a Banker Anonymous. They meet once or twice a week to commiserate over the Wall Street banking fallout and how it affects their relationships with their hard-charging, alpha-male boyfriends. Or ex-boyfriends, or married boyfriends. In addition, they’ve started a blog they bill as “free from the scrutiny of feminists.”

As the article states, they invite like-minded gals to join “if your monthly Bergdorf’s allowance has been halved and bottle service has all but disappeared from your life.” I have no idea what “bottle service” is, and the owners of this blog claim that much of it is tongue-in-cheek (though it doesn't come off that way). Bottom line: said alpha males are losing great chunks of their income, if not their jobs altogether, and thus, apparently lose their appeal.

The girlfriends, as they bill themselves, are clearly disappointed over what they are no longer getting, from vacations, to gifts, to regular sex and/or attention. Are these girls, in the traditional sense of the word, mistresses? Dictionary.com defines “mistress” as a woman “who has a continuing, extramarital sexual relationship with one man, esp. a man who, in return for an exclusive and continuing liaison, provides her with financial support.” Taking out the word “extramarital” these Dating a Banker girls seem to fit the definition. I suppose many of them hope that the banker boyfriends will eventually become husbands (that is, if they can keep their jobs and bonuses), but these gals are clearly in it for richer, not for richer or poorer.

Perhaps investment banking (at least as we once knew it; good riddance!) and high-stakes trading are still male bastions, but if these smart, educated like money so much, WTF don’t they at least try to make more of it themselves? Most of them hold “glamour” jobs, something to do until a ring is slipped on their fingers. Most of the girls in this group are dating (or have broken up with) single guys; a few are seeing or are on the outs with married men. Apparently some wealthy men are finding that it’s too costly to maintain a wife and a mistress in these trying financial times (violins, please).

Mistress: Such an old-fashioned word, such a dated concept. Why do these young women want to perpetuate it?


Anonymous said...

I have noticed that during periods of time where women or minorities make great strides in society, a small sect seem to go the complete opposite way. It seems to be a reaction to some people who cannot handle change. There was an article I read a while ago - I'll see if I can find it for you - about a woman who rejected all the ideas of feminism and firmly believed that the woman's place was "at her home." She felt she had the "perfect life." Nice kids she was able to raise, a husband who made enough to support them all, etc., etc. After 25 years of marriage, he ended up leaving her for a younger woman. So, basically, you had a 50-60 year old woman with no job skills and no life experience outside of the "home". These girls - they seem to only see the first part of the story.

Also, to say that their website is free from the "scrutiny of feminists" is basically a slap in the face to all the women who struggled and fought for their right to ... well ... do what they are doing.

This was a long comment - I apologize for it. :P

Anonymous said...

Never apologize for long comments! I love them. the story you mention rings a bell, though I'm sure that it's very common; the one I'm thinking about was a Modern Love column in the NY Times a few years ago (I clipped it for my files). This woman was kind of the public face of the post-feminist "back to the home" notion, she went on TV shows and lectured, etc. Then her husband left her, she was humiliated, and wrote that she was thinking of writing a book called "Never Mind"!

Anonymous said...

Your post provides a lot of food for thought--apropos for a cookbook writer!
I think each generation takes the previous one's struggles for granted. I know that I never wanted for nylons or sugar growing up and my daughter has no idea what it was like butting up against the idea of a "woman's place."
I guess to each her own. However, these young women will most likely find out one day that they've relied solely upon youth and beauty to get what they want and sacrificed developing themselves in ways that will far outlast both of these attributes. Boy, will they be in for a shock!

Anonymous said...

Call me paranoid, but could this be a planted article? It just doesn't sound real to me. Planted by paternalistic (as if there is any other kind!) neocon capitalists perpetualting their shallow, sexest, whorish views of woman. If this group of women does exist, I can bet you money they suffer from relationship problems of all sorts not just with the opposite sex. They are women exhibiting distorted male tendancies that say material acquisition is the way to achieve happiness rather than female tendancies that say happiness is intrinsic rather than acquired from outside one's self. The trick is the balance. Reading this makes me think of Suze Orman's saying "People first, money second, things last".

Fluffy Bunny Slippers said...

Actually, I would say that women like that exist in any culture, no matter how advanced women may get. There are some who truly enjoy the position of "mistress."

Many others hit the nail on the head, however, when they mention that these girls have no idea what they will do when they get too old to be the mistress and are discarded.

Here's hoping they put some of that money now into investments for the future!

Pat said...

BTW, Jeanette Rankin also served a term in Congress at the beginning of WWII. She has the distinction of being the only Representative to have oted against US entry into both world wars.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this article as well! I couldn't help but chuckle at the delightful way that you express yourself. As for the women, who are hanging all their hopes on landing a rich man instead of figuring out how to provide the same kind of lifestyle without their help, I offer them the same advice that I gave my daughters:

"Learn to be self sufficient. Do not lean anyone. A man is going to do one of three things: 1) Leave you. 2)Get sick and be unable to take care of you. 3) He will die.

One of those three things will be experienced by every woman. Learn to stand on your own legs!"