“Primates of New York”: Horrors, Upper East Side women own $150,000 Birkin bags like me!
My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:
Author Martin: Sanctimonious horror in the East Eighties
But what strikes me as most salient about Primates of New York is the tone of sanctimonious horror with which Martin describes the costly goings-on in Manhattan’s East Eighties.
In a New York Times op-ed about the book titled “Poor Little Rich Women”—in which Martin claims that she herself moved to the UES mainly because there “was a good public school” up there, Martin described the UES stay-at-homes as pitiful creatures completely dependent on their husband’s largesse, terrified that he might cheat on her and thus cut off the gravy train, and corralled into volunteer work and excessive supervision of their children instead of heading to a full-time paying job every morning as feminist wisdom dictates.
“The women I met, mainly at playgrounds, play groups and the nursery schools where I took my sons, were mostly 30-somethings with advanced degrees from prestigious universities and business schools. They were married to rich, powerful men, many of whom ran hedge or private equity funds; they often had three or four children under the age of 10; they lived west of Lexington Avenue, north of 63rd Street and south of 94th Street; and they did not work outside the home.
***“[T]here was the undeniable fact of their cloistering from men. There were alcohol-fueled girls’ nights out, and women-only luncheons and trunk shows and ‘shopping for a cause’ events. There were mommy coffees, and women-only dinners in lavish homes. There were even some girlfriend-only flyaway parties on private planes, where everyone packed and wore outfits the same color.”Hmm, let’s see. Actually those UES wives are living the way nearly all wives did, say, 50 years ago. Surveys overwhelmingly show that few mothers of young children want to work full-time or feel very happy when financial circumstances force them to do so.Well, in 1965, most middle-class and even working-class mothers had husbands, unlike today, where intact marriage is increasingly a luxury for women of the upper middle class and higher. So most of them had big Baby Boom families–like today’s UES-ers–and devoted their days to making attractive homes for their husbands, caring for their children, and volunteer work—like today’s UES-ers. And like today’s UES-ers, they enjoyed something most women secretly crave: plenty of “sex-segregated,” “girlfriend-only” socializing with their friends. In short, their lives were those a strapped single mother struggling to divide her time between job obligations and kids can only dream of.