TALKING POINT: Does Marrying Rich Kill Ambition?

21 June 2012 by

Does marrying rich kill ambition

Cherie Blair caused controversy this week after criticising women who choose to stay at home rather than work. She said it was ‘dangerous’ for them to rely on rich husbands… in case their partner leaves them or dies. Here, writer Kathryn Knight asks, has she got a point?

When I was growing up my dear old neighbour had a favourite piece of advice she liked to share. ‘You can learn to love,’ she would say - the point being that I shouldn’t reject a rich suitor if his countenance didn’t please me. She was all for my education, but hell, if the opportunity to marry money was there she believed I should grab it with both hands, whatever the feminists said.

At my posh girls’ school, meanwhile, the message was different: we girls could have it all - and, moreover, we owed it to feminism to take on the boys in their big clever jobs and make our own way.

That message of course, has latterly become increasingly unfashionable. Feminism, we are told, is about choice - and if that choice is taking spending your days doing Ashtanga yoga and making your own guacamole because you’ve married someone who earns so much there’s no pressure on you to do anything else, then so be it.

And on a very basic level I suppose that’s true. Yet it genuinely amazes me how many women - clever, interesting women with university educations - want to do that should the opportunity arise.

Cherie Blair

Of course, no-one wants to be a wage slave. I’m currently the breadwinner in my relationship, which I like to moan about from time to time. But the reality is, like Cherie Blair, that not being able to earn my own money genuinely horrifies me:  I honestly like to think that even if I’d married a multi-millionaire I’d still keep my own bank account and earn what went into it.

In fact, I rather think it’s my duty to do so, given that so many women fought a heroic and at times bloody battle for the right to be able to do precisely that.  

Yet time and time again I’m confronted with evidence that that’s not what happens: countless clever women marry money, jack in their previously glittering careers to raise their kids - and then…well that’s it.  To them I say: just because you can stay at home doesn’t mean you should.

Do you agree with Katie? Tell us your thoughts below…






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Dawn Watkinson (Thu Jun 21 15:58:01 BST 2012): I have been a full time stay at home mum to my two boys for almost four years now. I am not married to a super rich man, my husband earns a modest salary and we work damn hard to ensure we can manage on one wage. Prior to becoming a parent I had a great job that I loved, but we jointly made the decision that I would stay at home until our children reached school age, as we both felt it important that our children had a full time parent on hand. My life is not an endless parade of glamorous coffee mornings sharing homemade oat muffins with other shiny haired mums, or spending two hours a day in the gym. It's a bloody hard slog at times, especially on the inevitable days without adult conversation, entertaining an energetic 2 and 3 year old when it's tipping down outside. Yes, at times I hanker for the days of old, getting dressed up for the office and having some head space that's all mine, but I know I've made the right choice. I especially resent the allegation that by making this choice I am somehow being anti-feminist and doing my predecessors a disservice by being happy to not earn my own money. Surely feminism is about the freedom to make your own choices, not make the choice that society sees is the right one for you. I am planning to return to the workforce when I can, but don't want to spend the formative years of my sons lives letting someone else raise them for me, and struggle to understand how this can be seen as a waste of my talent and education.