If you’re the type of person who sees a wealthy older man with a gorgeous, much younger woman on his arm and immediately assumes that she’s what the kids refer to as a “trophy wife,” you’re about to get schooled with a little something called science. University of Notre Dame Sociologist Elizabeth McClintock’s new report, “Beauty and Status: The Illusion of Exchange in Partner Selection?,” which will be published in the American Sociological Review, will attempt to prove that when we look at couples like Donald and Melania Trump (above), we’re degrading her and being narrow-sighted, because there’s a good chance that she really loves him and thinks he’s attractive.
Done laughing yet? Here’s McClintock’s point.
“I find that handsome men partner with pretty women and successful men partner with successful women,” says McClintock, who specializes in inequality within romantic partnerships. “So, on average, high-status men do have better-looking wives, but this is because they themselves are considered better looking–perhaps because they are less likely to be overweight and more likely to afford braces, nice clothes and trips to the dermatologist, etc. Secondly, the strongest force by far in partner selection is similarity — in education, race, religion and physical attractiveness.”
For example, take a look at Larry King and his eighth wife, Shawn Southwick King:
Larry is obviously very well-dressed and hygienically sound for an 80-year old man, despite the fact that I could’ve sworn that he was 90. Shawn clearly loves him for who he is and not because he’s extremely wealthy, as they’ve been together for 17 years – only six years less than all seven of his other marriages combined – and they’ve even survived one divorce scare four years ago, all because of L-O-V-E.
In fact, McClintock believes that her research will prove that the Judgey McJudgersons out there who think that beautiful young women just willingly sell their bodies, souls and self-respect to wealthy, older men are just sexist, jealous haters. But that doesn’t mean that trophy wives don’t exist. It’s just on a really limited basis, with Trump being the one glaringly obvious example.
“Donald Trump and his third wife Melania Knauss-Trump may very well exemplify the trophy wife stereotype,” McClintock says. “But, there are many examples of rich men who partner with successful women rather than ‘buying’ a supermodel wife. The two men who founded Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) both married highly accomplished women—one has a PhD and the other is a wealthy entrepreneur.”
What do you say, Donald – is Melania a trophy wife?
I’m not sure that something this silly needed scientific research, because you can wheel stacks upon stacks of that old school printer paper with the holes on the sides into my home, and I’d still counter every number and piece of significant information by holding up this photo and shouting, “THIS!” over and over until I suffocated.
(H/T to Newser)