Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Depreciating Assets

This odd story about a husband-seeking ad on Craigslist is a teaching moment for feminists:

Last month on, someone who described herself as a "spectacularly beautiful" 25-year-old placed a personal ad seeking a husband who made at least $500,000 a year, because "$250,000 won't get me to Central Park West."

As her post hit the blogs, it received a scathing response from a man who said he fit her description and told her that her proposition was a bad business deal. "In economic terms, you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning asset," he wrote, because "your looks will fade and my money will likely continue into perpetuity."

Last week, this exchange spilled over into the e-mail world, where the it turned into a popular item to send to friends as a joke. The difference between this and other outrageous share-mail messages, however, was that instead of remaining anonymous, its ostensible author signed his name and the company where he worked, which happened to be the investment banking division of JPMorgan Chase.

This detail, which may have provoked nearly as much mirth as the contents of the exchange, made the correspondence either more or less credible. Would someone with a big job at a prestigious company really have linked his name to a message that read in part: "You're 25 now and will likely stay pretty hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!"

Never mind if any of this exchange was meant to be taken seriously. The feminist point is an obvious one:

This is how patriarchy views marriage and the "war of the sexes" (an idiotic label for many reasons worthy a separate post). All women have is their youth and beauty and a smart woman will sell that to the highest bidder. Too bad that the potential bidders find the idea of "buying" her insulting enough to hit back with comments about "depreciating assets."

There will always be gold-diggers of both sexes. But a feminist world which allows women to earn money directly, say, reduces the pressure for these types of commercial transactions. Indeed, a man might actually find a woman who loves him not for his money but for what he is. And a woman might not have to have her breasts redone every five years to keep that well-paying trophy wife job.