In an oped for the New York Post, entitled “Jay Z a poor excuse for a husband,” Naomi Schaeffer Riley asks, “What do you call a man who stands there smiling and singing as his scantily clad wife straddles a chair and shakes her rear end for other men’s titillation?”
Answer: I don’t know—a loser? What do you call a scantily clad wife who straddles a chair and shakes her rear end? Or should this question not be asked since it paints a woman in a negative light?
The closest Ms. Riley came to holding Beyonce responsible was this comment: “It is a little bit surprising, though, coming so soon after Beyoncé contributed to the recent feminist manifesto, the Shriver Report. When she complains that “gender equality is a myth,” one wonders to what extent her consent to sell sexuality has contributed to the problem.”
There’s no wondering, Ms. Riley. Women like Beyonce aren’t just contributing to the problem—they are the problem. This isn’t a chicken or egg scenario. If women didn’t do what they do in the first place, men like Jay Z would have no opportunity to respond—poorly or otherwise. Classy behavior begets classy behavior. Slutty behavior begets a smut reaction.
You were on to something, though, when you noted this behavior “may simply be the state of relations between the sexes.” The dance between women and men has a specific choreography. In the past, the dance was both smart and dignified. It required a certain kind of behavior on women’s part, which in turn elicited a certain kind of behavior on men’s part.
That dynamic still exists, but the dance steps have changed. You wisely noted a comment by Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin who says women have struck a kind of “grand bargain.”
“Women get contraception and the ability to limit and space their children, and the chance to fashion careers — things that sound good and are often experienced as such — and in return men get to decide just how invested in a relationship they actually have to be.” The problem is that “men prefer cheaper sex” — that is, they prefer not to be more invested than they have to be.
Indeed, which means women haven’t really progressed at all—at least not when it comes to their personal lives. On the contrary, they’ve simply traded one kind of power for another. They may know what it takes to be successful in the marketplace, but they are clueless about the power women wield in love. Behaving as Beyonce does, or anything close to it, will not produce men who are invested in women. It will merely produce more Jay Zs, or “poor excuses for a husband.”
If women want a quality husband, they might begin by being quality material themselves.