I just interviewed Suzanne Guillette about her new book, Much to Your Chagrin: A Memoir of Embarrassment. It’s about a young woman who desperately wants to publish a book to establish herself as a writer and justify her expensive MFA.
I submitted to Suzanne the book is really about a young woman who is too embarrassed to articulate what she most wants — a man to take care of her.
I think this is what most women most want yet it is not cool these days to admit such longings in educated secular circles.
Hilary Black, the editor of an anthology called The Secret Currency of Love: The Unabashed Truth About Women, Money, and Relationships, was on the Today show this morning, gabbing with Ann Curry about—what else?—love and money. I read a good chunk of the anthology earlier this week and was struck by a thread running through several of the essays, most of which were written by women who supported themselves as freelance writers. Many of these women came from upper-middle-class backgrounds, and while it took them a while to admit to themselves, they all secretly expected that some wealthyish dude would ultimately rescue them from their quasi-bohemian, small trust-funded existences. Abby Ellin described it best in her essay, "Tool Belts, Not Tuxes":
And okay, there’s this: I’ve always been taken care of. My family never had great wealth, but my parents managed to send me to camp and college and graduate school—an extraordinary gift for which I’m eternally grateful. And they even bought me an apartment. … And so this leads to a mortifying admission—especially for a feminist who was taught that every woman should possess both her own bank account and the ability to be self-sufficient. On some level, I always believed that eventually someone else would take care of the big stuff. That someone, of course, would be my husband.
Another contributor to the anthology, Karen Karbo, expressed similar sentiments in her essay "The Secret Economy of Women" (which appeared in a truncated form in the Times Modern Love column as "Accidental Breadwinner"). All of which leads me to the larger question: Do loads of smart, educated, feminist women avoid less flexible, more time-consuming career tracks not because they’re fulfilling their inner artist or because they want to have time for kids but because deep down they still expect that some man will take care of them? Or, as Ann Curry put it this morning—does every freelance writer secretly want to be a princess?
Bob emails: "NJG is spot on. You do have Asperger’s. The first time we met, you asked me if I had ever had a venereal disease."
Chaim Amalek emails:
7th Day Adventism didn’t work out. Vegetarianism did not lead you to good health. Prager and his Republicans didn’t lead to employment during the years when their kind ran things. The Jews didn’t want to have anything to do with you. And now yoga. Same result. What you need to focus on is making money, real money. That’s my free life advice to you.