Note to Trophy Wives: This Feminist Has Your Back
The Times ran an article about support groups for the wives/girlfriends of newly dispossessed Wall Street Banker types that bears feminist perusal:
The economic crisis came home to 27-year-old Megan Petrus early last year when her boyfriend of eight months, a derivatives trader for a major bank, proved to be more concerned about helping a laid-off colleague than comforting Ms. Petrus after her father had a heart attack.
For Christine Cameron, the recession became real when the financial analyst she had been dating for about a year would get drunk and disappear while they were out together, then accuse her the next day of being the one who had absconded.
Dawn Spinner Davis, 26, a beauty writer, said the downward-trending graphs began to make sense when the man she married on Nov. 1, a 28-year-old private wealth manager, stopped playing golf, once his passion. "One of his best friends told me that my job is now to keep him calm and keep him from dying at the age of 35," Ms. Davis said. "It's not what I signed up for."
So they get together, have (still) expensive cocktails and bemoan the halving of their monthly Bergdorf allowances while their men fall apart. Bien sur, they have a website defensively described as "free from feminist scrutiny." Well, this feminist feels you.
It would be inhuman not to expect someone whose living standard was suddenly pulled out from under them to bemoan its loss. If I can feel the pain of a recently laid-off Michigan autoworker's wife, why not that of a Bear Stearns' wife? Or the ex, with kids, who'd been living on alimony and child support from one of those Wall Street 'wunder kinds'?
Obviously, they should have saved, given that they had so much. But these women bemoan the loss of formally vital, go-getting men as much (ok, maybe as much?) as the lost ducats:
"It's a big blow to their egos and to their self-esteem," [one scholar] said of the endless stream of economic bad news, "and they may take it out on their partners and children."
Ms. Petrus, a lawyer, and Ms. Crowell, who works for a fashion Web site, started the support group when they realized that they were facing similar problems in their relationships with bankers last fall.
"We put two and two together and figured out that it was the economy, not us," Ms. Petrus recalled at a recent meeting in the lobby bar of the Bowery Hotel. "When guys in banking are going through this, they can't handle a relationship."(She and her boyfriend split up last year; he declined to discuss it.)
Many of the women said that as the economic crisis struck last fall, they began tracking the markets during the day to predict the moods that the men they loved might be in later. On big news days, like when the first proposed government bailout failed in Congress, or when Lehman went belly-up, they knew that plans to see their partners would be put off.
"I was like, 'O.K. I signed up for that, it's fine,' " said Ms. Cameron. "But all of a sudden," she said, her boyfriend "couldn't focus. If he stayed over he'd be up at some random hour checking his BlackBerry, Bloomberg, and CNBC."
One frequent topic among the group is the link between the boardroom and the bedroom. "There's actually the type of person who has a bad day on the trading floor and they want to have sex more," Ms. Spinner Davis offered as she sipped a vodka gimlet, declining to say how she knew.
Ms. Petrus chimed in.
"If you're lucky you'll get that guy," she said, not revealing whether she considered herself lucky. "Middle-case scenario: It gets relegated to the weekends.
"Worst-case scenario," she began, and then took another sip of her drink.
Is a fired steel worker, or Dollar Store worker, much different?
Granted, their men put us in the situation we're in. But we're all in free fall now. Resuming my humorless feminist persona, I'll just say that maybe now more women will make sure they have a financial fall back plan. All our hearts,of course, remain on their own.