Women can’t be well-off without a man ‘in possession of a good fortune’?

James Taranto, the right-wing newspaper columnist and author of the daily “Best of the Web,” always struck me as a bit sexist, what with his constant references (borrowed from Limbaugh) to, for instance, a “blogress” when discussing a female blogger or “reporter-ette”. But the last item in today’s Best of the Web takes the cake. Discussing research that found an inverse correlation between obesity rates and the value of one’s home among women, but not men, Taranto concludes that researchers missed the obvious: Rich men apparently like hot (presumably thin) wives.

For each $238,000 drop in property value, the report found, obesity rates went up 80 percent among women. Taranto quotes various theories about why the effect would be more pronounced among women: Women are more influenced by the home environment; higher-priced homes tend to be in more walkable neighborhoods or closer to grocery stores; obesity in women is more related to financial insecurity.

All that overlooks what to Taranto seems obvious:

No one seems to have thought of the most obvious explanation. As Jane Austenobserved: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Imagine a man in possession of a good enough fortune to buy a snazzy house in Seattle. Now think about what his wife would look like.

I guess in Taranto’s world, the only women who live in nice houses are those married to men who were already “in possession of a good fortune.” Perhaps Taranto has already forgotten Cindy McCain who certainly did not need John McCain to afford too many snazzy houses to count. I guess the thought of a woman earning her own good fortune is just beyond Taranto’s ken.

One Response to Women can’t be well-off without a man ‘in possession of a good fortune’?

  1. Kristen says:

    I suppose Taranto also missed out on Jane Austen’s sarcasm. If he took that statement seriously I’d automatically plop him in the same bucket with the ridiculous Mrs. Bennet.

    I think it’s pretty clear how income and obesity are more directly linked in women than in men. First, studies have shown that healthy food not only costs more than junk food, but is also more likely to rise with inflation. Even if prices were equal, both a basic education in nutrition (calories, fat, protein, etc.) and time to shop, prepare and cook a meal are required, which are often lacking in lower-income families. Second, it also takes time to maintain a schedule of exercise, Since it is a well-known fact that women generally earn less than men, women have to work more in order to bring home the same amount as a man in the same position, women have less time to work out (and prepare healthy meals). Third, I don’t have statistics, but I believe that when it comes to low-income jobs, men are generally more likely to take physical jobs such as construction and women are more likely to take sedentary jobs such as clerical work, which, when combined with the lower metabolic rate in women than men would result in eventual obesity in women before that in men. Finally, when women go through childbirth it often involves a weight gain which is difficult to lose after birth (especially with the increased demands on her time that a baby brings), so I think that these four things combine to increase obesity in lower income women much more quickly than any other demographic.

    But hey, I guess like Cinderella, a rich man could just marry a woman to rescue her from that fate – and if putting the ring on her finger didn’t instantly shed the pounds, he could ship her off to the Biggest Loser ranch or lap band surgery, because enough money can mold any woman into a trophy wife. After all, trophy wives are ALWAYS slim and beautiful because men are too shallow to fall in love with anything else. (Sarcasm intended.)

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