Note from the blog editor: The notes from the editor had not appeared for a while. Thank you for visiting the blog as always. I had the thought of putting some Dan Savage's writings on this blog for a very long time. It had not been a good fit due to the style of his column writing. He usually does Q&A style on most of his syndicated columns. This article came from a series organized by Forbes magazine regarding the meaning of money. P.S.: For those who know me in person, I started a new job this week. E-mail me or leave a note on the blog to say hi! Enjoy reading!
Note to the image: the book cover of Skipping Towards Gomorrah (Paperback)by Dan Savage
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02.14.06, 12:00 PM ET
Why do beautiful women keep marrying Donald Trump?
Most people--at least most people who aren't billionaires or supermodels--will answer that question with an insult directed at the latest Mrs. Trump. It's an insult that probably can't be printed on this Web site, but it rhymes with "Because she's a bore."
We know why rich men marry beautiful women: for the sex, naturally enough, maybe even the love, as well as the companionship and perhaps the social status that marriage confers on a companion. (Grown men, particularly wealthy ones, can have mistresses, but there's something childish about a billionaire with a girlfriend.)
No one cuts women who marry rich men the same slack. We refuse to believe they honestly find these men attractive--after all, the men they're marrying are usually decades older and long past their looks-good-in-the-light-naked expiration date. Models and actresses who marry obscenely wealthy men, everyone agrees, must be interested in the money alone, and the power and the status it brings. They get through the sex by gritting their teeth or thinking of other, more pleasant things. (Like, say, their new credit limits.)
Maybe I'm filled with the milk of human kindness, or perhaps I have a soft spot for supermodels--I'm a gay man, so I have at least one soft spot for supermodels--but I actually believe that it's possible for a beautiful, young woman to fall in love with an obscenely wealthy older man.
Women are sex objects, the old saying goes, and men are success objects. Women, fairly or unfairly, are judged on their looks, and men, fairly or unfairly, are judged on their money, their power and their status. If Mr. Donald Trump were a dishwasher, it's a safe bet that supermodels would not clamor for the opportunity to be the next Mrs. Trump. But The Donald is rich (although how rich is in dispute), and he's famous and he's powerful. That makes him much more appealing than a dishwasher of similar age, build and comb-over.
Is this latest Mrs. Trump in it for the money? Will the next Mrs. Trump be in it for the money? Yes and yes--and you know what? That's OK. And you know what else? That fact doesn't preclude the possibility that Mrs. Trump is also in love with Mr. Trump.
But can a woman fall in love--really, truly, deeply in love--if she was initially attracted to a man for his money? To show how ridiculous that question is, let me alter it just a bit: Can someone fall in love--really, truly, deeply in love--if he was initially attracted to a woman for her legs? No one doubts the answer to the second question is "yes." Physical attraction can bring two people together and, if the pair is emotionally compatible, that initial attraction can lead to a lasting love.
Well, the same goes for money. Like nice legs, a fat portfolio can bring two people together, and then, if they're lucky, that initial attraction can lead to a lasting love.
Insisting that it's simply not possible for a woman to really love a man whose wealth caught her eye is very deeply sexist. Our culture celebrates romantic love and equates physical desirability with sexual prowess and romantic self-worth. This is a male-centric view, an elevation of surface beauty over other qualities. But it's male-ish to say that only the size of a man's pecs or the shape of woman's rear end can inspire a genuine attraction, whereas obscene wealth always and everywhere inspires only money-grubbing gold-digging.
Yes, yes: Wealth can attract money-grubbing gold diggers, but that's not always the case. Determining whether someone who was initially attracted to you for whatever reason--because you've spent the last three years in the gym doing crunches, or because you're Ronald Perelman--is sincerely in love with you for who you are requires emotional insight, the advice of trusted friends and a good pre-nup lawyer.
So let's say a beautiful young woman of modest means falls in love with a rich and powerful older man. Will the love last? Maybe, maybe not. There have been many Mrs. Trumps, and Ronald Perelman is soon to be single again. People fall out of love for all sorts of reasons; whether it was wealth or looks that brought two people together, there's no guarantee that it will last. Wealth, however, does have one thing over looks: beauty fades, interest accrues. This works in billionaires' favor, but not, alas, in the supermodels.
Still, it is possible that this Mrs. Trump is no bore. It's possible that she may very sincerely love Mr. Trump--for richer, if not for poorer. And heck, it's also entirely possible that she will be the last Mrs. Trump.
Dan Savage is the author of "Savage Love," an internationally syndicated sex-advice column. Savage is also the editor of The Stranger, Seattle's weekly newspaper, and his writings have appeared on the op-ed pages of The New York Times, in Travel & Leisure, Salon.com and other publications. He is the author of The Kid, Skipping Toward Gomorrah and The Commitment, which was published in October 2005.
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