Why can't women be submissive like I need them to be
To Have and to Hold, for Richer for Poorer
By DAVID BROOKS
Tolstoy's novella came back to me while I was reading, of all things, The Wall Street Journal. The paper's Work and Family columnist, Sue Shellenbarger, had a piece last week reporting that the number of couples who now have separate checking accounts is rising rapidly. Roughly half of all married couples now keep multiple accounts, according to a Raddon Financial Group survey.
Some of the reasons for separate accounts are entirely reasonable. People who marry at older ages or who are forming second families may already have complicated financial arrangements that would be hard to pool. Some couples have found after long and bitter experience that they have different spending philosophies; instead of fighting, it's easier to give each spouse a little personal space.
But some of the people quoted in Shellenbarger's article seem unaware that there may be a distinction between the individualistic ethos of the market and the communal ethos of the home. A Texas woman celebrated her family's separate accounts, remarking, "It's so freeing to be your own person, and not feel like someone is looking over your shoulder." It's not clear whether she's talking about a marriage or a real estate partnership.
I went to the local bookstore and was startled to see how many personal finance gurus insist on separate accounts. "If you're part of a couple, maintain separate accounts - yours, mine and ours," writes Glinda Bridgforth in "Girl, Get Your Money Straight."
"Each partner needs his or her own money," writes the best-selling guru David Bach. "Regardless of whether or not you both work, each of you should maintain your own checking and credit card accounts." Bach says he doesn't need or want to know every detail of how his wife spends her money: "It's none of my business."
I'm not saying that people with separate accounts have marriages that are less healthy than anybody else's. I'm saying we should pause before this becomes the social norm. Private property is the basis for our market democracy. But private property in the home is an altogether trickier proposition.
For one thing, separate accounts can easily turn into secret accounts. A person's status and resources inside the home shouldn't be based on how much he or she is making outside it. A union based on love can easily turn into a merger based on self-interest, where the main criterion for continuing becomes: Am I getting a good return on my investment, psychic or otherwise?
Atrios pointed this out.
Normally, I don't talk much about David Brooks, after Paul Krugman bitchslapped him in print last year. That was the final word as far as I'm concerned. The Times should be embarassed by Brooks halfwit commentary. Hiring Andy Sullivan would have been a better bet, because at least he keeps his marital troubles and opinions out of the paper.
Now, I know I beat up on MoDo, but she has shown she can do much better than her trolling for dick columns. I'm embarassed for her. But Brooks? He's a nostalgic simpelton who is only worthy of derision.
Now, Dave's "why do them women need their own money" column is rank idiocy. Why? Because women need their independence. Some men have fucked their families over with spendtrift habit.
Second, given the way that marriages fall apart, some independence is neccessary. You bet they can turn into secret accounts. Which can save lives in abusive homes.
It seem that Dave hates the idea of independent women. Given his demeanor, my bet is that Mrs. Brooks has him completely pussywhipped and he takes it out in print. First, they should get married early, then they shouldn't have their own money. Is he trying to get a job as an aide to Ayatollah Sistani? What's next, the benefits of wife beating? Corporal Punishment for kids? What other repressive idea will he endorse next?
If the Times isn't careful, they'll lose him to Najaf, where men are men and women wear hijabs and get beaten.
posted by Steve @ 9:23:00 AM