Stay at Home Mums Paid ‘Performance’ Bonuses For… Staying at Home

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”

So wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald 90 years ago in his short story ‘The Rich Boy’, and by all accounts his words still hold true to this day.

Since 2004, writer and social researcher Wednesday Martin has mingled in the topsy turvy world of Manhattan’s ultra-rich socialite stay at home mums, or Glam SAHMs as she refers to them.

These women are married to New York’s movers and shakers, rich and powerful men, often financial types, with very traditional expectations of their wives.

Despite the fact that many of the women Martin associated with were highly educated and intelligent, none of them worked outside of the home (although that’s not to say that housework was on the agenda, there are cleaners for that of course).

Instead, these women busied themselves maintaining their family’s status in their exclusive world of power and privilege, enrolling their kids in the best possible schools, keeping themselves and their home in peak condition and managing the household budget.

And in return for successfully managing the household, many of these Glam SAHMs would receive a year-end financial bonus from the hubby for a job well done.

If that sounds disturbingly like your last performance review at work, well, it kind of is, and the transactional nature of these relationships doesn’t stop there.

Martin describes a world where men and women don’t mingle; where ladies were expected to entertain themselves together while the fellas go off and do their own thing (you’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street, so no prizes for guessing what that means).

And, once a year, the men, who all look a little bit like Don Draper, if we had to guess, come home from wherever they’ve been and have an open and honest conversation about their wife’s performance, at the end of which they cut her a cheque.

Martin writes; “… these bonuses were a ticket to a modicum of financial independence and participation in a social sphere where you don’t just go to lunch, you buy a $US10,000 table at the benefit luncheon a friend is hosting.”

While all this sounds archaically old-fashioned, it’s something actually happening, right now, in New York and no doubt many other parts of America and the Western world.

But given the strict entry criteria to join this club (have heaps of cash), chances are you won’t become a member any time soon. We’d suggest you binge watch Gossip Girl instead.

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