A poem to the woman who left me because of the size of my wallet.
“American women as a whole have never been confronted with such a radically shrinking pool of what are traditionally considered to be ‘marriageable’ men — those who are better educated and earn more than they do. So women are now contending with what we might call the new scarcity.”
Kate Bolick, US Magazine, November 2011
At the age of 37, I surrendered to despair;
I was short on hope and confidence, and shorter still on hair.
I’d given up on capturing a Mrs, Ms, or Miss;
Five years I’d been without a shag, and two without a kiss.
From time to time my couple friends would have me as their guest,
But a steady flow of babies kept them under house arrest.
Just one recurring fixture made me stir from my abode:
The monthly beer and curry with the boys off Euston Road.
Most of them were married too, but since the wives were banned,
I didn’t feel so isolated in no-woman’s-land.
Then one September Friday, an honorary non-male
Was given leave to join us for a vindaloo and ale.
Name: Ellen. Age: mid-30s. Brief description: bright and kind,
Nice-looking from the front, and even nicer from behind.
We’d met before, and got on well, yet never felt that buzz;
Back then she’d been a Mrs — but now she was a Ms.
The next day she was jetting off to Egypt for a cruise.
She’d realised that day she had no sleeping bag to use;
And autumn nights upon the Nile, she’d heard, were not benign.
“I live near here,” I volunteered. “Why don’t you borrow mine?”
So she walked with me to my flat and took my bedroll with her,
And came back to return it after two weeks on the river.
As she vanished through the door, she mentioned, casually,
A friend had planned a party for the weekend. Was I free?
That Saturday, we weren’t the most gregarious of guests;
We spoke only to each other (the hosts were not impressed).
But we got on like a tree and an environmentalist,
And when we said goodnight that night, we kissed.
Later, as I fell asleep, I felt like Ayrton Senna,
Or a National Lottery winner. Well, at least I’d won a tenner.
From that day on, we barely spent a single day apart;
Her carefree air (and derriere) directly won my heart.
She liked my friends, I liked hers. Some even liked me back;
Had an exit opened up from my romantic-cul-de-sac?
The next two months were ecstasy: we both said “I love you”;
We kissed, we hugged, we shared a bed; she let me touch her breasts;
But we never got ecstatic (she was “waiting for some tests”).
Then, just as I was thinking that I’d found my heart’s desire,
Fate ripped my heart out of my chest and chucked it on the fire.
Sunday: went out for a meal. They brought me the wrong main
But as the substitute was fine, I chose not to complain.
Monday: she popped in unannounced — her dance class was nearby.
Tuesday: she called and asked me round to kiss her inner thigh.
Wednesday: she made another call, less tender than the last:
“We really need to talk,” she said. “I think we’re going too fast.”
We picked a venue (near her place) for me to state my case
Where I gently pointed out that it was she who’d set the pace.
And anyway, what matters speed when two hearts intertwine?
Thursday: she called again to tell me everything was fine.
I set off two weeks later for a friend’s housewarming bash
Not knowing it would be the night my dreams all turned to ash.
We drank, we ate, we shot the breeze, we boogied all night long
I never had the slightest inkling anything was wrong.
But in the cab home afterwards, my other half turned red.
I asked her what the trouble was, and this is what she said:
“Although I am a feminist, although I’m a progressive,
Although I think the patriarchal system is oppressive,
Although I breathed my first the year Ms magazine was born,
Though I rail at the glass ceiling and I disapprove of porn,
While I’ll not suffer to be called a damsel in distress,
I simply cannot countenance a boyfriend who earns less.
“You have no car, you have no yacht, you have no title deeds;
You don’t possess the wherewithal to meet a woman’s needs.”
(One point I wish I’d interjected, now that I look back:
The fact that I was over £60,000 in the black.)
“The myth of male supremacy at work has been exploded;
The notion that a woman is worth less is so outmoded;
There can be no social justice till the pay gap is eroded;
With one exception — me — cos I want my guy to be loaded.
(And lest you would accuse me of withholding vital data,
You really weren’t sufficiently assertive with that waiter.)”
And so my one remaining hope was dashed upon the floor
Cos she was earning 46K to my 44.
The gender pay gap in the UK (as measured by the median hourly pay, excluding overtime, of full-time employees) shrank in 2012 to its lowest value since records began. The gap between women’s pay and men’s was 9.6%, compared with 16% in 2000.
A study at the University of Florida in 2007 found that sexist men made an average of $8,500 (£4,600) a year more than men who viewed women as workplace equals. Feminists, meanwhile, earned around £800 a year more than their more traditionally minded female colleagues. There was only a small difference between the pay packets of “egalitarian” men and women.
If every woman succeeded in finding a partner who earned more than she did, it is an inescapable mathematical necessity that men would earn more, on average, than women.
Studies have repeatedly found that men do not regard wealth as a significant factor in their choice of partner. Since women, as we have seen, attach considerable importance to wealth, and since access to a larger pool of higher-quality mates is a powerful driver of male behaviour, men have an extra motivation to apply for better jobs, to try for more promotions, and generally to pursue their careers more aggressively than women.
For more on this topic, read Andy Bodle’s “Show Me the Money”: Andy Bodle believes he’s uncovered the real cause of the gender pay gap.
Read more of Andy’s findings at www.womanology.co.uk.
Photo credit: Flickr/Philip Taylor PT