Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Millionaire Matchmaker Meets Her Match?

Emily Gould interviews Patti Stanger, AKA the "Millionaire Matchmaker." I saw several outraged tweets about this:
"I think men have lost their balls," [Stanger] says to [Gould], when I ask whether there's a "crisis of masculinity" in America. "I think they're hiding them somewhere and they haven't taken them out of the closet and dusted them off."
And this:
"But if you think of that $200 every six weeks as, like, an investment in your man future… you should always have a little fund that you play with, on the side, and you say, I am not going to spend this weekend buying five drinks at the bar this weekend at $15 a pop. You can always get men to buy you drinks. Maybe you buy the first one, but not the second one. There's tricks to the trade. Maybe you're not gonna spend $500 on a dress that you wear twice. Maybe you go to Loehmann's instead."
And, especially, this:
"If a woman makes more money than a man, the minute she pays for everything, she becomes the man. If she chooses to be the man, if she enjoys being the man, if she doesn't want to be a female, it's OK. It works if the guy is OK with being the female."
Oh man, it's hard to imagine that a woman who auditions women to come to mixers with millionaires (until recently, Stanger refused to work with millionairesses) holds some kind of regressive stereotypes. Imagine! If you thought a woman who essentially marketed models and actresses to selfish, immature pricks for a hefty fee was some kind of feminist, boy would you be wrong.

Sorry to give this whole thing the sarcasm treatment, but Stanger is successful precisely because she holds these regressive stereotypes about men and women. Of course Stanger wants men who don't make lots of money to feel emasculated. In her mind, the more millionaires, the better to line her pockets with. And, as Yglesias points out, there's some social science to suggest that that wages do (unfortunately) play a factor in choosing marriage partners.

Now this isn't to suggest that Stanger's attitudes are some kind of act. I've seen the show. She makes no secret of her old-fashioned attitudes. In fact, her number one rule is that the people she sets up are not allowed to have sex on the first date (actually, I assume this is so that Patti won't get into trouble for running some kind of high-class escort service) because she's all about getting her clients to find love and marriage. She also constantly tells women they have to professionally blow out their hair to attend her mixers. Stanger buys into very old stereotypes about the roles of men and women. (The article says she went to a "soulmate psychic" for cripes sake. She's not exactly unwilling to buy into bullshit.)

But I'm finding it hard to muster the same amount of outrage I saw some of my friends exhibit. Stanger exists for people that want to buy into those stereotypes (and the people who want to "ironically" enjoy her rants). But if we're going to start policing the airwaves with feminist rage, I can think of about a dozen shows I would rather direct my energy at than Stanger's. I think the appropriate response here is to laugh. Then move on with your life.

Excuse me, I have to go invest in my man future now.

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