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Trophy Wives and Vapid Husbands

By: Stefanie Guarino - Oct 22, 2013, 1:59 pm

In most patriarchal societies, women have been subjected to being valued based on three things: whom they marry, what they inherit, and what status of social life they obtain. Multiple ancient cultures trained their young females to be educated, entertaining, and visually appealing in order to be considered a companion for wealthy men. Due to dowry traditions — when a woman compensates her husband’s family with money and/or land as a promise against mistreatment — arranged marriages, and submissive stereotypes and expectations — such as Asian women as geishas, china dolls, or servants to their partner — demeaning gender roles continued to create housewives instead of career women.

Flash forward to 2013: six seasons of Real Housewives have followed the extravagant, competitive, envious, and over-dramatic demeanor of kept housewives; five seasons of Basketball Wives have glorified women who have either married, dated, or become impregnated by professional athletes; and with Millionaire Matchmaker, host and business hustler, Patti Stanger, has capitalized off recruiting good-looking women and pairing them with doctors, lawyers, and CEO’s to broadcast their awkward first dates. Telemundo also deserves an honorable mention for airing a reality dating show called 12 Corazones, featuring female contestants always wearing bikinis, partnered up with men based on zodiac signs.

housewives
A demure Geisha contrasts with Teresa Giudice of Real Housewives of New Jersey, a modern trophy wife.

Without sounding too primitive, nature has taught society that men are the providers while women are the nurturers. Media has taught society that women should be valued for their image and that men should be valued for their income. We live in a world in which ancient customs and media influence have come together to brainwash civilization with confused principles. The importance of getting married is the same, but women and men are now doing as little as possible, while expecting the same result.

I believe it is the wish of every parent to find his or her daughter a charming and chivalrous partner who lives comfortably and can afford to provide for his bride’s needs. It’s a simple wish, really, and at the end of the day, doesn’t everyone want to attain an increased socioeconomic status? Ideally, yes.

If the underlying importance of marriage in society, with all its challenges, has stayed the same, what exactly has changed? Customs have gone out the window — at least in Los Angeles and in less-religious families — with less clothing, less personality, and more focus on the physical.

I know firsthand after being recruited to participate in Millionaire Matchmaker. I got the call but had to decline. First, the idea of seeing my own face on reality television is sickening, and second, because the submission advertisement looked like this:

casting

This begs the question: do appearances really triumph over intelligence, individuality, humor, and emotional and mental wellness in the quest to find true love? Most levelheaded men would reply no. Yet the example above shows that wealthy CEO’s, athletes, and public figures have resorted to outsourcing their love life to a third party company to arrange a woman based on a character description.

Despite the traditional and cultural shifts, the idea of becoming a prosperous housewife has been solidified throughout history — even if the particular purpose has changed. In the old days, young women were the saving grace of their entire family, because marrying wealthy meant upgrading the family nobility. Many women didn’t marry for love because their family was their first priority.

If Los Angeles has taught us anything, it’s that the reasons for marriage are self-inflicted and no longer in the name of family.

Beauty and sex appeal constitute the entertainment industry’s number one value or currency — and this superficial message disseminates across men’s and women’s television, internet, and cell phone screens. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful women take the shortcut to living the high life by marrying wealthy, instead of making their own money. I’ve also observed a culture of wealthy men becoming so accustomed to purchasing everything they want, they believe they can purchase love as well.

Does this sound like respect for oneself and the mark for true happiness? Would you be happy seeing your wife get into catfights on television and exposing your dirty laundry? Would you enlist a reality television matchmaker and allow her to nationally broadcast your dating life? Where does true love and commitment to a relationship exist?

Of course there are always exceptions to this rule, so I must address the distinction between the women who want marriage and the women who need marriage; it’s a quality called desperation. There is nothing wrong with fulfilling committed and maternal instincts, but there is something wrong when your biological clock is working off a material timeline.

While they say nothing in life is black and white, the dichotomy defining marriage today is just that. If traditions and family pressure created forced relationships for unselfish reasons, modern values and societal influence have created artificial relationships for selfish reasons with passive effort.

Stefanie Guarino Stefanie Guarino

Stefanie Guarino is a freelance writer, actress, and Broadcast Journalism graduate from Emerson College. Born in Italy and raised in Chicago, she currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Follow her @thestefg and on ghetto-ovaries.tumblr.com for gender-inspired delight.