Of many patriarchal slurs that women put up with, Trophy Wife is another. It’s not only shameful to the woman who is branded with it but it’s also derogatory to all the women who are associated with that woman.
I would be remiss if I didn’t curse at the patriarchy for how it shortchanges the best of us. It reserves names for all of us. There is the virgin, the slut, the whore. There’s the woman with the wanton desire and the woman with the chastity belt. There’s the widow and the divorced woman. Almost everything that patriarchy can label about a woman, it labels.
But trophy wife is another level of cringe-worthy labels. It also grates more on the sensibilities of women because it resembles its close relative, the gold digger, closely.
While we have become sophisticated enough to move away from using the term “gold digger”, we have continued to call women trophy wives as a disparaging expression to indicate their non-contribution or non-merit.
Women don’t start out in life to be a man’s trophy. We don’t bargain to be the one with no chance at being the financial provider of a family. We hardly ever have the autonomy to choose a career. The few of us who practice agency over careers and paths in life could also, ironically, actually fit the description of a “trophy wife” just by the mere perception that we “married above us”.
Before women use this slur to bring other women down, let’s acknowledge that we could all be trophy wives. We could all be gold diggers. In a patriarchal world, every man is above us. Every man is a mine of gold.
While the patriarchy uses these slurs against us, women themselves shouldn’t use them. The crassness of these words is biting and jarring. Many of us have men who earn for us as part of the capitalist model that our lives are. It’s not a choice. It’s just how the status quo is. Just because our contributions aren’t immediately visible to the naked eye doesn’t mean that we don’t contribute. The capitalist world actually entices women into a marriage as a successful model for survival and then creates an insult of an expression for us. So basically, at the intersection of capitalism and feminism, capitalism wins again.
Also, this expression is derogatory to men also. The implication is that they “bought” a wife that they couldn’t have afforded with their own attributes if they had to. Nothing to love about that either.
So basically, this is to prove that patriarchy screws everyone. While it’s calling us “trophy wives” it’s also calling our husbands “losers”.