Goodbye gold digger: Modern women seek equals

by Sharan Saikumar

A moment of silence please for the demise of a cringe-worthy evolutionary principle. For the death of the 'gold digger'. For the late, but immensely laudable, arrival of feminism in its true form.

We've always known the unpalatable fact that women marry for money and men marry for looks; if we didn't, then research in psychology and economics has helpfully thrown up the uncontested truth. Studies and white papers across the world, including the path-breaking work in mating preferences done by the University of Chicago, have proved that women 'marry-up' as an extension of a biological imperative to provide security and stability for their offspring. In fact in 2007, the Telegraph conclusively reported that when it comes to dating and marriage, we're still Neanderthals. Women don't choose 'like minded' people as they claim; they simply gun for the rich guys. The conclusion stemmed from a nationwide speed dating study to track 'claimed' and 'actual' behaviours in the mating ritual.

There are no available statistics for India but where arranged marriage and parental approval still reigns, prospective grooms will continue to be weighed on a scale heavily configured towards income for some time to come. Reuters

Last year, Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics lent further support to this when she released a 52-page report for the Center of Policy Studies that claimed that after decades of fighting for equality, women might find it hard to admit that they want a man to take care of them, but that's exactly what they want. And finally, when humiliating books like How to Snare A Millionaire, How to Marry Rich and Sugar Daddy 101 came along, they almost had us thinking that feminism was the biggest globally orchestrated hoax of our times.

But thankfully, after a long wait, the Mad Men stereotype of the busty secretary who makes it her life's mission to snare the powerful boss, is vanishing. Analysing patterns among women born in 1958, 1970 and between 1976 and 1981, a study by the Institute of Public Policy Research found a decline in the proportion of women marrying men from a wealthier background. According to the report, while there was only a small rise in the proportion of women "marrying down" – wedding men from a lower social class — the biggest rise has been in those choosing men of a similar social status. Love, that magic dust that movie moguls have been blowing into our eyes for decades, seems to have finally taken precedence over money as an imperative in finding our soul mate.

In our parts of the world, the story is slightly more transactional. There has always been a greater tendency in Asians to marry up given their more traditional cultures. In China, nearly 80 percent of female respondents told a survey that men earning less than 4,000 yuan ($635) a month should not start a relationship. More than a quarter of women polled expected to date men with a monthly income of 10,000 yuan or more.

There are no available statistics for India but where arranged marriage and parental approval still reigns, prospective grooms will continue to be weighed on a scale heavily configured towards income for some time to come. But hope still floats. More women are going to work, earn money, fall in love with the geek in the next booth and worry more about his bad taste in music instead of his weak balance sheet.

It's been over 50 years since the first bra was burned and its only now that women seem to have outgrown the evolutionary psychology of their sex. Or then, they've simply realised what fools they've been to marry for money when in today's market they can borrow it much cheaper and without any laundry as part of the bargain!

As a blogger, ex-marketer, evangelist of socialfootprint.in and would-be novelist, Sharan Saikumar wears many hats, none of which really fit.


Published Date: Apr 12, 2012 03:40 pm | Updated Date: Jun 22, 2013 02:19 pm



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