I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

broken-wedding-ring.jpg

…but reading this makes me glad I’m not married:

Study author Christin Munsch, a sociology PhD candidate at Cornell University, wrote the paper to explore the factors related to infidelity for both sexes. In the paper’s abstract, she argues that for men, making less money than their female partner may be a threat to their gender identity “by calling into question the traditional notion of men as breadwinners.”

The study relied on the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth which includes questions about work status and experience, income, dating and marital history and sexual behaviour.

The research drew on data from 2002 to 2007 and examines respondents aged 18 to 28 who were married, cohabitating and in the same relationship for more than a year.

There were a total of 1,098 men in the sample, of which 6.73 per cent reported cheating at least once during the six-year period. Of the 1,559 women in the sample, 3.33 per cent reported being unfaithful at least once during the same period.

The study found men who completely relied on their female partner’s income were five times more likely to cheat than those who contributed an equal amount of money in the relationship. Men were also more likely to cheat if they made significantly more than their female partners.

Men were least likely to engage in infidelity when their partners made about 75 per cent of their incomes.

As for women, those who were economically dependent on men were less likely to cheat than those who made the same or more than their partners.

“The data seems to show there is a relationship between economic dependency and infidelity for both men and women,” said Munsch in an interview from Skaneateles, N.Y.

“For men, it appears like the relationship is prevalent or U-shaped, meaning at one end of the spectrum if you’re extremely dependent on your partner, you’re more likely to engage in infidelity. At the other end of the spectrum, if your partner is extremely dependent on you, you’re also more likely to engage in infidelity.”

So, ladies, it seems we’re damned if we do make more money than our men, and damned if we don’t. The odds seem best if you make a measly 75 cents to his dollar. Either way, it seems to give them the power to cheat on us, AND to trap us in a relationship where we’re forced to accept his shenanigans because we can’t afford to strike out on our own.

Sadly, this research was done by a woman. But at least she gives us a caveat:

Munsch cautions that this is what the relationship dynamic is like without controlling for things like highest grade completed, age, income and relationship satisfaction.

“You put some of these other controls in the model, the economic dependency — particularly on the side where men are dependent on their spouses — that relationship is no longer significant.”

It would be interesting to see this study repeated, this time with controls for the factors mentioned. I have a sneaking suspicion that younger couples, those with more education, and whose relationships have more give-and-take, will probably fare better than older, less educated and more traditional ones as far as relationship satisfaction and fidelity go.

But what really saddens me most is this part:

But why is there a gender divide when it comes to female and male breadwinners and their fidelity?

“I think one of the things is it’s not threatening for women to make less than her partner. That’s the status quo,” Munsch said.

Even if it was threatening to a woman, it’s very unlikely that she would compensate by engaging in sex with other people, she noted.

“I think gender identity operates in both sexes, but the way that gender is threatened is different for each, and the way that men and women compensate is different,” Munsch said. “It’s based on our sort of cultural idea of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.”

Registered marriage and family therapist Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem said for men, a lot of their sense of personal power comes from their sexual prowess.

Belleghem said she’s had many clients where the woman either earns more money than the man in the relationship or inherits it. Since money is power, a woman having it can give the man a sense of powerlessness, she noted.

“She can buy things, she can make decisions about what happens, and for him, how does he get power and feel potent and manly but by doing something that’s manly,” Belleghem said from Burlington, Ont. “And what’s more manly than seducing a woman?”

Well, I can think of a thing or two, but those things aren’t built into our collective culture, and therein lies the rub. Our culture shames unfaithful women (even when they have every good reason to be) as sluts, and glorifies men who do the exact same things (and worse, and more) as studs. There is no sense bending over backwards, forwards or sideways to accommodate this, because women will lose out no matter what psychological contortions are currently trendy. Until our culture changes, women are going to be stuck not only earning less for equal (or greater) amounts of work, we’re also going to be stuck married to ungrateful wankers. Guys who don’t know how good they have it…until we work up the collective backbone to walk out and never look back.

Just leaving one individual man is hard enough, but how about an entire culture?

It’s not enough to not marry a wanker; women have got to band together and change our culture, instead of clawing each other’s eyes out over a conceited-but-worthless man.

In other words: Feminism isn’t dead yet, because the need for it most certainly is not. And at the rate things are going, who knows when it ever will be?

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3 Responses to I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

  1. Jim Hadstate says:

    Face it, ‘Bina. Most men are Dogs. That’s the itchy feeling you get when wake up the next morning. Far too many women think it’s love. Beware ladies. Before you get too emotionally tangled up with him, watch him. How does he treat other women. How does he treat his mother?
    That last one is crucial. If he is a mama’s boy, full speed reverse. If he ignores his mother, full speed reverse. Remember, this is the one woman who he as had a long-term relationship with, although not exactly the same as the one with you. But if he treats her badly, you don’t need to be a seer to know how he is going to treat you. If he is overly dependent, you will be second class until she dies and then he will be VERY clingy and smothering. If you jump at the first thing that comes along, don’t be surprised if the Grand Canyon appears under you.

  2. Well, Jim, at the risk of making a terrible confession, I used to own one of those “Cathy” coffee mugs. Bought it in the tuck shop at Queen’s University, never mind how long ago. The caption read: “There are only three words to describe a woman of your beauty and talent who is still single…Picky, picky, picky.” It sums me up rather nicely. I wish I knew where it went…

  3. Chris says:

    I’m glad you’re not married too.

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