Monday, February 23, 2015

I agree! .... no wait

Penelope Trunk's newest blog post is a gem.  She leads off with the idea that finding a mate should be approached with a hard headed pragmatism instead of a "I will just wait and see who sweeps me off my feet" luck based strategy.  I actually think that makes a lot of sense.  We do have limited control over who we fall in love with and we certainly can sit down and figure out what sorts of things we need in a partner and then only spend our time and energy on those who fit the criteria.  Often a person who is good to date is not good to marry and being aware of what we need in a domestic partner and being willing to push to find those things avoids that problem to some extent.

It is hard to get away from the feelings rush of new love and see a person's flaws.  Even though it is hard it is an important thing to do.  Setting out ahead of time to find the sort of person that complements yourself in terms of style and goals is a good way to help give yourself the best possible chance to find the right partner.

Then Penelope goes off the rails and talks about how women ought to find a man who makes more money than them because men who make less money tend to cheat.  That's right folks, some study somewhere found a correlation between those things so women should all chase high earning men.  This is disturbing from a feminist point of view but also ignores the fact that we don't understand the nature of the correlation between earnings and cheating.  Just because those two things have a link doesn't mean you can avoid it by only dating men who make more than you, that isn't how it works!  Penelope often says things that are extremely sexist (old-fashioned, if you want to be charitable...) and tries to get away with it by claiming she is just going by the data.  Unfortunately correlation does not equal causation and that excuse holds no water.

She follows it up with advice to not be too feminine (because he will think you are fling material, not wife material) and to deny sex as a bargaining chip.  I can't quite wrap my mind around the sort of relationship Penelope thinks people want, but I am pretty sure that turning doing fun things with your partner into a power struggle *deliberately* isn't a recipe for a happy life.  Romantic relationships are not the same as business contracts and desperately manipulating your partner into doing what you want by refusing intimacy isn't a success strategy, it is an exit strategy.

Thinking about who your domestic partner(s) should be and being careful to select people that will actually improve your life and work with you long term is a great plan.  Doing it by signing on for awful and sexist ways of relating to your partner, not so much.


  1. I particular, her advice about moving in - how it's a way for men to delay marriage - is totally insane. You are deciding whether or not to move in with a person, but you are deciding this based on how you believe people of that sex behave rather than what you know about the actual person you might move in with? Do you know the person you are going to move in with? Have you met them before?

    If I thought that Trunk's advice as good advice, I'd have better advice for women: just give up on men. Holy crap do we not sound worth it.

  2. True, but if you think her advice is good then women don't seem like they are worth it either. Honestly in her world everything sounds like endless suffering no matter who you are.

  3. OMG, the photo essay she refers to is just so massively cringe-worthy and awful. Like, srsly, we take the premise that love is totally random (except that everyone she theoretically falls in love with is a (presumably) cis white man, so I guess only random across social economic status reeeeally somehow - because people from different social economic statuses (totally* just mix randomly and fall in love that way), but then also the suppressed premise that the SES of your partner is the single strongest defining factor of who you are as a person (and that women definitely can't possibly influence their (male; always male) partners), because it's not like women have identities seperate from who they fall in love with amiright?

    I, just , I can't. So much bigotry in the way the photos portray people. So much contradictory feigned class-blindness in the potential love life. So much actual lack of any intersectional awareness I can't even.

    1. OK, the actual photo essay isn't all white people, it turns out. That's just Trunk's shit apparently. The rest of the critique stands.