Fact: I want to be a successful businesswoman. I never want to feel like I have to rely on a man to pay for my clothes, travel, entertainment, food, housing ... anything. Which is not say I don't enjoy receiving gifts, but when it comes to my relationships, I've made a conscious decision to strive to be the breadwinner.
I think it's important to preface this whole philosophy with a little background information. I grew up in small-town New York where almost every one of my friends' mothers was a stay-at-home mom. My mother, on the other hand, was a high-powered businesswoman taking over the accounting world one high-wealth client at a time. My dad became the person my younger brother and I turned to for help with our homework, the regular fetcher of forgotten items at home, and our ride to soccer practice on weekends.
All that is not to say that my mom wasn't present or influential in my life. Despite having a stereotypical "man's job," my mother was not an overworked, tired, bitter woman who did not have time to get to know her kids because she was too busy taking care of her tumbler of scotch.
On the contrary, my mom is one of the most wonderful and nurturing people in my life. It's clichéd, but as a young woman I see a lot of my peers looking to textbooks and history books to find inspirational women to admire
. I draw inspiration from all that my mom has accomplished in her career and her personal life. (So, take that all you aloof working dads! You can have a relationship with your kids and be a successful partner at a firm!)
My desire to be the breadwinner in my romantic relationships may very well have started with my mother's influence. Her advice, in a nutshell? "Don't rely on anyone other than yourself." It might also have something to do with my own desire to be successful, but what I really think it's about is ... sex.
The May 2010 issue of Marie Claire featured a cover story in which author (and alpha woman) Judith Newman profiles several women who are frustrated with being the sole breadwinner in their relationships. A recently divorced publicist is quoted as saying, "When my husband stopped having sex with me, he said that my haranguing him about his lack of income killed his desire [to sleep with me]."
Along the same lines, Wharton Professor Betsey Stevenson published a paper titled "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness" (yikes) in the National Economic Bureau of Research, explaining the contradiction of female happiness and success. She begins on a positive note by saying that, in the past 35 years, the lives of women have improved dramatically on many levels. She also calls to light, however, the fact that the "measures of subjective well-being indicate that women's happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men." While quality of life has improved, statistically, female happiness is on a downward trend.
Stevenson's research and Newman's article seem to point to the conclusion that women simply can't be successful in both the boardroom and the bedroom, but I beg to differ. I think we can have it all and be happy about it. The women in Newman's article seem to belittle their lovers rather than encourage and respect them. Women fought for years to enter the workplace when everyone told us we didn't belong there. Why should men be denied respect and understanding if they choose to bow out of a traditional workaholic role? And, if examined with that thought in mind, is it not these women's own fault that they are starved for sexual stimulation? If, on the other hand, they embraced the new "family unit," would their husbands not also aim to please, just as the stay-at-home moms of decades before us have done?
You see, the more I thought about why exactly I had an urge to bring home the bacon, the more I realized that, in addition to wanting a decorated career path, all previous personal field testing has proven that financially challenged men are significantly better in the sack.
The unemployed -- or otherwise fiscally lean men in my life -- have been willing to do whatever it takes to make sure I'm happy in bed. If you can't slap down the plastic to pay for dinner, you better know how to make it work for dessert. Previous encounters with suits and money clips have proven that these gentlemen are more concerned with their own climaxes than mine. How many times have you heard your girlfriends say, "This weekend Wesley took me to Jean Georges and I totally repaid him with a 45-minute blow job." Well ... I want that blowjob!
For so long it's been assumed that a woman needs to acknowledge and reward her male counterpart's hard work. I am more than willing to put in the hard work to be the Mrs. Don Draper to my Mr. Betty in exchange for his love and support.
Now some might worry that this might emasculate a man, and it very well might. But, frankly, I don't want to be with That Guy. The man I want to be with would be totally OK with a successful, powerful woman by his side; the man I want to be with won't have a problem if someone accidentally puts "Mr. and Mrs. G. Cecile Cooper" on a table assignment; the man I want to be with especially won't mind having to ask me for an allowance to buy a new HDTV. I want the man who not only has his own goals and dreams, but wants to wholeheartedly support me in mine. And I don't want to pressure my lover into taking a job he doesn't feel passionately about just because of the inflated salary and dreams of a dual-income home. I have no problem with providing for the both of us. Plus there's a significant added bonus: great bedroom activities.
Marie Claire may say that it's difficult to balance power and femininity, but I say that a strong, intelligent and successful woman is a beautiful woman. I mean come on, it's the 21st century and women have worked hard to succeed in the workplace.
Frankly, we're ready to start reaping the benefits -- including receiving obligatory oral sex.
With all these facts and opinions, the last thing I can say about wanting to be a breadwinner is that I'm currently taking applications for a caring, kind, humorous, good-looking and financially challenged man to spend my nights with. Overachievers -- at least at the office -- need not apply.
G. Cecile Cooper writes for It's Not Okay to Look where she and her co-writer, Virginia Clarkson, dish on dating disasters, male fails and general dating follies told through the eyes of two Brooklynites.
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