The stereotypical ‘trophy wife’ marriage is largely a stereotype, a sociologist has claimed.
Sociologist Elizabeth McClintock of Notre Dame University in Indiana claims that instead of attractive women marrying wealthy men, couples are typically well-matched.
In her study, entitled Beauty and Status: The Illusion of Exchange in Partner Selection?, McClintock interviewed a nationally representative sample of couples in which each party had also been rated for attractiveness, identifying those couples thought to be equally attractive.
She concluded that ‘trophy wife’ situations, in which the female partner’s only assets were her looks, are relatively rare, and that couples in fact tend to choose partners of equal status.
“I find that handsome men partner with pretty women and successful men partner with successful women,’ she declared. “…. the strongest force by far in partner selection is similarity – in education, race, religion and physical attractiveness.”
“Donald Trump and his third wife Melania Knauss-Trump may very well exemplify the trophy wife stereotype. But, there are many examples of rich men who partner with successful women rather than ‘buying’ a supermodel wife.
McClintock cited Sergey Brin and Larry Page, co-founders of search engine and internet services firm Google, as examples of successful men who had married equally accomplished wives. One of their wives has a PHD and the other is a successful entrepreneur.
The perception that certain marriages are based on a ‘trophy wife’ exchange is often based on selective perception, one that minuses the genuine achievements of the women concerned, the sociologist claimed.
“I’ve heard doctors’ wives referred to as trophy wives by observers who only notice her looks and his status and fail to realise that he is good-looking too and that she is also a successful professional – or was before she had kids and left her job”.
McClintock’s study is due to be published in a US academic journal American Sociological Review.
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