08 November 2007

Lifestyles of the Rich and Pathetic

Via Jessica, this New York Times story was not fit to read over lunch, but I did anyway. Big mistake. *burp*

Summary: Really wealthy people with powerful careers hire a woman to plan their lifestyles. Clothes, social activities, living quarters, even friends. All of her clients are men, she's had only one female client, and it sounds like she only got help finding a place to live. Quite honestly, getting help finding a place to live is not such a bad idea, especially if you're new in town. And double especially if it's New York City, but I digress.
Most of Ms. Storr’s clients are single and too preoccupied with work to organize their personal lives, she says.
Isn't your personal life a pretty important part of the rest of your life? Aren't you missing out on a lot when you have someone else plan it for you? Are these people just so socially inept that they can't deal with social stuff and have to hire someone to make it a little easier?

Not really. Money quote:
He calls her an outsourced wife. “The nice thing is that when I ask her to do something, she gets it done and there’s no negative feelings."

In other words, he'd love to be able to boss around his wife, but that uppity bitch gets in his face, so now he pays someone to let him boss her around. Got it. I once dated a guy who used to bitch about all the things he had to do for himself (pick up drycleaning, grocery shopping, post office, regular daily stuff) and say that he needed a wife. When I corrected him and told him that what he really wanted was a personal assistant, he came right back and said he'd rather have a wife. Because they're basically free, and you can fuck them after a long day of bossing them around. I dumped him a few days later. I can't believe it took me so long.

At the end of the piece, we see that one of her clients is still lost:
Mr. Peik looked pleased but slightly out of his element, as if observing a diorama of his New York life and trying to figure out where he fit in. “It’s been a really fun night,” he said. “It didn’t feel forced and didn’t seem like we were the reason for Allison having a party.”
Really? Did he say that with a straight face? Here comes my chicken salad on rye . . .


Jim Day said...

While I can see that the comment about "she doesn't complain when I ask for something" could be interpreted as sexist, would you have the same reaction if Ms. Storr were Mr. Storr? It isn't like she is dating her clients or anything...she isn't prostituting herself. There are a group of men / women (over 10% of the clientele are female, according to the article) in big cities who need someone to show them the ropes of living well there, and she is willing to provide that service. Find a need and fill it. Isn't that what entrepreneurship is all about?

QuiteContrary said...

I don't know how that comment could be interpreted as anything but sexist. Clearly, he wants somebody to do something for him that carries the possibility of that person complaining about it. The fact that he used the term "wife" means that he's assigning the female gender to this person, and is reinforcing that the wife is the one who does the dirty work. The fact that he's paying this person is why she's not complaining, as well as the fact that she probably enjoys this sort of thing, considering she's made a career out of it. Prostitution doesn't even come into the picture. Having said that, asking what I would think if it were Mr. Storr is irrelevant, because he specifically used the term "wife" which is what I think you're forgetting. Remember, the role of the wife has very strong connotations in our culture still. If we were talking about Mr. Storr, he would not have used the term "wife" but probably assistant.

As for Ms. Storr, I actually have no problem with her. I was really disgusted at her clients, who are overwhelmingly male. (When we look at this as part of our patriarchal culture, this makes a lot of sense.) She's certainly creative, in that she saw a way to make money in a way that nobody has ever before. I think she's probably a very caring person, and I'd hate to see her get taken advantage of one day. Yes, big cities are hard to navigate and get used to, especially NYC, but I'm automatically suspicious of people who use this woman as a social connection. I just seems pathetic to me.