Last month the article "Poor Little Rich Women" by Wednesday Martin kept popping up over and over in my newsfeed on Facebook.
The author wrote an Op-Ed and talked about how she moved to the Upper East Side in 2004, and "Then I met the women I came to call the Glam SAHMs, for glamorous stay-at-home-moms, of my new habitat. My culture shock was immediate and comprehensive. In a country where women now outpace men in college completion, continue to increase their participation in the labor force and make gains toward equal pay, it was a shock to discover that the most elite stratum of all is a glittering, moneyed backwater."
I thought the piece read like non-fiction and was too broad. I commented on the article, underneath a group of people who are intellectuals and were tearing into these women, especially for their "wife bonuses."
In the Op-Ed, Martin wrote, "A wife bonus, I was told, might be hammered out in a pre-nup or post-nup, and distributed on the basis of not only how well her husband's fund had done but her own performance—how well she managed the home budget, whether the kids got into a "good" school—the same way their husbands were rewarded at investment banks. In turn these bonuses were a ticket to a modicum of financial independence and participation in a social sphere where you don't just go to lunch, you buy a $10,000 table at the benefit luncheon a friend is hosting."
Well, shoot. I am here to tell you, as mom in Los Angeles my friends and I joke about giving blow jobs in trade for other things. I'm also here to tell you I have heard the same joke from my friends in Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts and, oh yeah, everywhere.
Martin hung out with these women, they confided in her. Martin also wrote, "It was easy for me to fall into the belief, as I lived and lunched and mothered with more than 100 of them for the better part of six years, that all these wealthy, competent and beautiful women, many with irony, intelligence and a sense of humor about their tribalism ('We are freaks for Flywheel,' one told me, referring to the indoor cycling gym), were powerful as well. But as my inner anthropologist quickly realized, there was the undeniable fact of their cloistering from men. There were alcohol-fueled girls' nights out, and women-only luncheons and trunk shows and "shopping for a cause" events. There were mommy coffees, and women-only dinners in lavish homes."
It also looked down upon getting help.
OK, news flash. I went to many women-only parties as a child when my mom would get together with her girlfriends to knit, eat, play cards or drink. Big deal. I myself go to many women-only parties.
I see them as empowering. And, by the way, I like that the woman made fun of herself and said, "We are Flywheel freaks." She' telling you right there we are freaks.
I'm into freaks and find city women to be incredibly candid. Perhaps something was taken out of context.
I had to read the piece three times because my comment on Facebook defending the women was being defeated by people I deem smarter then myself.
Bottom line: I thought the article was mean and also seemed to look down upon being a SAHM even if you had a fabulous degree. It also looked down upon getting help.
Well, turns out, Martin has some holes in her story and she has a book coming out that has some holes in it, too.
According to the New York Post, Martin "claims in the memoir to have spent six years 'doing field work' with her two kids on the Upper East Side, conducting an armchair anthropological study."
But Martin only lived there for three years, with one kid, and mentions stores and services that didn't exist, calling into question the scenes and behaviors she describes."
And about those wife bonuses?
"After readers expressed doubt, Martin backpedaled, telling New York magazine: 'I don't necessarily think it's a trend or widespread. It was just one of the many strange-seeming cultural practices that some women told me about.'" The New York Post reported.
I was disappointed that so many people were quick to jump on board and verbalize their disgust with these Upper East Side moms.
Still, she think she's telling the truth. "She says she attended grueling exercise classes at Physique 57 to lose her baby weight after her second son's birth. But the upscale gym did not exist when she claims to have exercised there."
She also describes a posh party where the guests bring the hostess gifts from an upscale macaroon shop. But Ladurée didn't open in New York until 2011, four years after she had moved, the post further reported.
She talks about being shamed by "mean girls."
I think Martin is deeply insecure and looking to write a No. 1 bestseller, even if it meant stretching the truth about an entire section of New York City. I was disappointed that so many people were quick to jump on board and verbalize their disgust with these Upper East Side moms.
I live in Los Angeles and am around some people who have lots of money, some celebrities. I've seen them politely ask no presents to be brought to birthday parties, I've watched them hold lemonade stands and, yes, we all know private schools are hard to get into and a lot of us are addicted to SoulCycle. There's a lot of self-mocking that goes on in any community, no one is more aware of one's defaults than themselves. For another mom to move in and then write about these women seems to have broken the unwritten rule of girl power.
I, for one, will not being buying Martin's book when it comes out. They say no publicity is bad publicity, but I'm not so sure about this with her book.
I also walked away with another revelation: Reading Facebook too much gets me grumpy. I have deleted it from my iPhone. The constant bombardment click bait headlines and judgment from people gets under my skin and has become unnecessary noise.