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When Husbands Fly First Class While Wives Stay in Coach

Photograph by Getty Images

The day I married my husband, I vowed to stick with him in sickness and in health, for better or for worse. We didn’t cover the details of first class versus economy travel in those wedding vows, but hell to the no am I taking a seat in the back with the kiddos while Dad luxuriates in posh quarters up front.

A recent article in the Daily Mail explores a growing trend of “economy-class wives”—women who are able or required to justify sitting in the cheap seats on airplanes, some even managing the kids, while the father is safely tucked away in first class, under the guise of needing to work or rest. Three couples who live with this arrangement/resentment talk about their choices in candid interviews.

It reads like "Real Housewives of the Skies."

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Royalty-Free Stock Photography by Rubberball
Photograph by Getty Images/Rubberball

I am a live-and-let-live kind of gal, and whatever arrangement these women have made with their husbands that allow them to justify flying in a different class has absolutely, positively no bearing on me. That being said, my thought is still: nope. Here’s why:

It is 2016, for starters. I am raising two young sons. How my sons see me being treated will contribute in large part to how they learn to treat women as they grow into men themselves.

It will be a cold day in hell before I ever allow my boys to see me rationalize or justify or agree to being treated differently because I happen to have a vagina rather than a penis.

It will be a cold day in hell before I ever allow my boys to see me rationalize or justify or agree to being treated differently because I happen to have a vagina rather than a penis. When a mother chooses to indulge the toddler-like, tantrum-like behavior of her male husband or partner, as is described in the article—one that results in such a visceral disparity of privilege as flying in coach as opposed to first class—she is sending a message to her children that is loud and clear: Women are to be valued less than men.

If your husband makes more money than you, it does not mean you are less-than.

Two of the women interviewed, 49 and 51, are old enough to remember a world where women and mothers did take a back seat in the family paradigm, literally and figuratively. Not that many years ago, it was not uncommon for Mom to cede her “shotgun” front seat in the family car to the oldest son, leaving the “men” of the family up front. Again, the symbolism is visceral. Mom as a woman sacrifices her position as the growing man of the family assumes his rightful place.

I hope to raise sons who feel proud of their mother, not ashamed or superior. I hope that, should they grow into relationships with women, they take cues from their father to practice kindness, supportiveness, equity and parity. I hope to instill in them a sense of basic human decency, empathy and awareness that families are a unit and operate as such, meaning the needs of the individual are folded into the needs of the larger family.

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And if I could have a few minutes of straight talk with the women interviewed in the article, it would comprise of a rallying cry along the lines of I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR—a proud feminist pep talk for the ages. If your husband makes more money than you, it does not mean you are less-than. Your physical comfort and needs are no less important than the man you married, even if he stands a full foot taller than you. And, for the love of all that is good and holy in this world, never, ever let your children see you accept less than simply because you pee sitting down.

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