December 8, 2003

Successful Single Seeks Same
Women who finally break through the glass ceiling only to find themselves married to parasites or freeloaders are not feminists; they are hypocrites [“Alpha Women, Beta Men,” by Ralph Gardner Jr., November 17]. As a single physician with a six-figure income and seven-figure net worth, I would gladly support a spouse who was a true life partner—without losing respect or resenting her. Equality between the sexes will be achieved only when double standards are eradicated—by men and women alike.
—Emil W. Chynn, Manhattan

What’s All The Brouhaha?
What witches you chose to interview as “power wives”—they seem to want husbands only for their job status and money. I started making more money than my husband about ten years ago, and his reaction was, “You go, girl!” Two years ago, when his company was acquired, he decided to take a package and retire. At the same time, I took a new job in Manhattan with a long commute and big demands. He now cheerfully shops, has dinner ready when I come home, and generally takes care of the house. The only thing close to resentment for me is my slight envy that he gets more sleep and exercise. But I wouldn’t trade that for the enjoyment I get from my work. True partnerships aren’t based on who brings home the bacon.
—Hope Greenfield, Califon, N.J.

Venus Envy
I’m tired of reading about how wonderful it is when couples assume opposite roles. I’ve been a househusband for seven years, and it’s been tough on both of us. It’s taken us quite a while to reach the point where we’re both comfortable with what we’re doing and are finally enjoying ourselves. Many couples are ill-equipped for the arrangement. The men tend to feel powerless and isolated, and the women have contempt for them. Indeed, it shows how economic power can really be at the root of marital power. As a man, I struggled so much after quitting my job to raise our kids, in large part because it meant surrendering so much power to my wife—power that, rightly or wrongly, most people still associate with maleness. It’s not just my financial future that I’ve placed in my wife’s hands but something much nearer and dearer. I’ve done it and continue to do it because I trust her and she trusts me.
—Chris Gannon, Phoenix, Ariz.

A Win-Win Situation
Whatever happened to just being a responsible and decent human being? No matter who stays at home, the husband or wife should be fulfilling his or her duties of taking care of the house and the children while the spouse is working. Men shouldn’t feel bad about being househusbands, and women shouldn’t feel guilty about being breadwinners, especially in this economy where so many people are out of work. It’s about helping each other out and taking care of each other.
—Annette Rose-Shapiro, Brooklyn

The Man Show
It took only 30 years for the women’s movement to fully emasculate men and snatch away our jobs. How does the adult male successfully compete for employment with women whose aggressive, gender-confused behavior attempts to rival our own? The new and appalling breed of Über-bitches—who are obsessed with money, power, and pampering lifestyles—expect their husbands to barter for their keep by playing the unnatural part of wife and nurturing mother. These are all innate characteristics of genuine, child-bearing women for whom workaholics like Betsy, Anna, and Emily seem hell-bent and determined to escape. As for Emily, the vulgar, uncouth senior sales executive, go suck your own dick. I’m positive you have one.
—Richard Iritano, Ozone Park

Power Brokers
In a patriarchal culture in which men are supposed to be older, taller, richer, and more successful than women, it comes as no surprise that men who do not meet these criteria often feel ashamed, and women who have nontraditional roles as head of the household feel similarly shamed. When Betsy wonders how being the child of a marriage where the mother is all-powerful will affect her college-age son, I, in turn, wonder how being the child of any marriage where one parent is all-powerful will affect that child, regardless of the child’s gender. No adult feels good about being dependent. The concern over whether mothers or fathers should be the more dependent parent obscures the real social issues, such as better child care and flexible job schedules that would enable both parents to enjoy their families and their work.
—Barbara Schlachet, Manhattan

Wolff in the Fold
Michael Wolff’s article about the book party that Steven Rattner and Maureen White gave for me last year [“The Clark Kent Timesman,” November 10] was a gross and repugnant distortion. That Mr. Wolff could confuse an act of friendship and generosity with self-aggrandizement revealed more about him than the hosts and guests at the party he insulted. The invitation list, which included Mr. Wolff, was mine and not theirs. I was not embarrassed but honored to be there. The only embarrassment I feel is over his abuse of their hospitality with a pointless, self-indulgent, and petty tirade.
—Steven R. Weisman, Bethesda, Md.

Michael Wolff responds: This is a pretty serious overreaction. The worst that I accuse Steve and Maureen of is social climbing—a characterization that can’t come as a surprise to them. Otherwise, I pretty much say that Steve and Maureen have achieved everything they set out to achieve, and that it was a very successful party.

Company Manners
Michael Wolff writes of Steven Rattner: “His coolness, or preciseness, or remoteness, was palpable. You wanted to grab and hold him. But he was such a smooth surface.” I have known Steven all his life. He behaves in this manner only around those he dislikes.
—George Rattner, Great Neck, N.Y.

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December 8, 2003