This letter is written in response to the web phenom "JP Morgan CEO reply to a gold digger." While it is possible that the JP Morgan letter is a hoax, the issues it raises are definitely worthy of discussion.
This is an open letter in response to your retort to a personal ad from the young lady looking for advice on how to marry a rich man, where "Ms. Pretty" is trying to exchange beauty for (a wealthy) marriage.
While I agree with your advice that the young woman should spend more time focusing on how to make her own wealth rather than how to marry into it, your argument presents a flaw.
You begin by replying that, like a business deal, Ms. Pretty provides beauty and expects a man to pay for it. You see beauty as a commodity that women can trade for cash at the poker table, except women aren't even players; they are the chips men use to play their own game.
And even when men buy a women's beauty, women still pay for it.
They pay for it with sexism, with stereotyping, with heartache and sometimes even with their lives. Not a very equal transaction.
All around the world the female body is exploited for men's pleasure. Even in the developed world, the most beautiful women -- especially the most beautiful -- suffer under the pressure and oppression of beauty.
Stunning and articulate model Cameron Russell, for example, admits to having extremely low self-esteem in her TED Talk, "Looks Aren't Everything." Girls and women strive to be seen as beautiful, she says, because society tells us that's what matters. Men tell us that's what matters. But to take it further, Sir, what you're saying is that beauty isn't truth; beauty is youth.
"Your beauty will fade," you opine, "but my money will not be gone without any good reason. The fact is, my income might increase from year to year, but you can't be prettier year after year."
I ask you to define beauty.
Is beauty skin deep? Or does beauty come with the confidence built over years of experience, with the strength that surfaces in times of hardship, with the self-awareness found through exploration and life lessons? I believe that women grow more beautiful year after year, not less.
Unfortunately, society teaches young women a different story, and you must know this. Yet, in reading your letter, one would surmise that wealthy men seek only strong, solid investments in their romantic partnerships -- not the beauty and youth that Ms. Pretty is offering. It's almost as if you've spent so much time in the bank, Sir, that you missed the "trophy wife" trend that's been happening around us for years.
Case in point: Canadian politician Rod Zimmer, 69, is married to Maygan Sensenberger, 23; in 2008, Hugh Hefner, now 87, had a live-in relationship with 19-year-old twin models before marrying Crystal Harris, 26, last year. Recently divorced Johnny Depp, 50, is dating 27-year-old actress and model Amber Heard. And it's not a recent phenomenon; even Pablo Picasso started dating his second wife, Jacqueline Roque, when she was 27 and he was 72! The list goes on.
Very wealthy men marry much younger women, this article in Psychology Today confirms. While in Canada the average age for first marriages is 31 for men and 29 for women (28 and 26, respectively, in USA), men on the Forbes list "married women who were on average younger than the average difference for similar weddings across the US population." And what's more, when "analyzing remarriages of the very wealthy men," they wed women who were on average 22 years younger than them.
This article in The Atlantic titled "What If Men Stopped Chasing Much Younger Women?" mentions that ours "is a culture which represents men's sexual desirability as being as enduring as women's is fleeting." Like many men, you seem to believe that beauty (women's commodity) fades while money (men's commodity) shines. "From the viewpoint of economics," you tell Ms. Pretty, "I am an appreciation asset, and you are a depreciation asset." You presume that wealth is more valuable than beauty, when frankly both can be just as fleeting.
Yes, I agree with your advice to Ms. Pretty on building her own net worth, but you seem to have forgotten that she's merely playing a game men created for her, with the tools she needs to compete: beauty and youth. When I was in my 20s, I wasn't wise enough to know that age was my commodity. Now that I'm in my 40s, wisdom is my commodity.
Nonetheless, I'd like to leave you with this thought by the great Andy Rooney: "For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 40, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress."
I'm glad you're not one of those rich fools, Sir, because their value is rapidly depreciating.
President & CEO