Sex and the stock market crash

Dating a Banker Anonymous offers support to wives and girlfriends of Wall Street's elite, "free from the scrutiny of feminists."

Published January 28, 2009 5:51PM (EST)

A few days ago, Katie Rolnick regaled Broadsheet readers with the cringeworthy news of a women-led, Bible-based "patriarchy movement." While the "True Woman" manifesto was enough to make my skin crawl, I might be even more disgusted by a different, decidedly secular, group of women bent on setting gender politics back 50 years.

Formed in the wake of last year's stock market massacre, New York's Dating a Banker Anonymous (DABA) "is a safe place where women can come together -- free from the scrutiny of feminists -- and share their tearful tales of how the mortgage meltdown has affected their relationship." In addition to running a blog that actually includes sentences like, "This whole messy ordeal has advanced my Botox start date by at least two years," DABA convenes weekly to vent, over brunch or cocktails, about the trials and tribulations of recession-era life with a Financial-Guy Boyfriend (FBF).

The New York Times profiles DABA, in installment #8937 of its ongoing series, "It's Tough Being Less Rich Than We Used to Be." And, as you might imagine, the resulting article is pretty depressing. In it, perfectly capable, professional women --  including a lawyer, a beauty writer and a woman who works for a fashion Web site -- accustomed to the perks of their FBFs' astronomical incomes tearfully bid bon voyage to Bergdorf's and bottle service, lament canceled credit cards and bemoan "cutbacks in nanny hours and reservations at Masa." As one DABA bloger writes, in a stock market-like dating world that's all about the size of a man's bank account, "This recession just bought everyone an extra two years of the single life."

There are serious, emotional undercurrents to many of the women's tales, but they only highlight what's wrong with relationships based solely on money and power. One woman -- the lawyer! -- recounts that her boyfriend was too preoccupied with the plight of a laid-off friend to comfort her after her father's heart attack. For another, "the recession became real when the financial analyst she had been dating for about a year would get drunk and disappear when they were out together, then accuse her the next day of being the one who absconded." Though the women blame the stock market for their troubles, it seems clear that guys who act this way, for whatever reason, just don't value their relationships.

And the women aren't much better. Beyond their retail woes, these ladies harbor some downright antiquated expectations about the men in their lives. "It's not even about a $200 dinner," says the lawyer. "It's that he's an alpha male, he's aggressive, he's a go-getter, he doesn't take no for an answer, he's confident, people respect him and that creates this whole mystique of who he is." A number of DABA women complained that, instead of "being aloof and uttainable," their boyfriends had become "unattractively needy and clingy." You know, because everyone knows that men -- especially men who may be on the brink of losing their jobs -- should never betray the slightest emotion.  

Now, I may be a judgmental feminist, but I am not heartless. I realize that couples who are used to a certain lifestyle will inevitably encounter relationship problems when the money train gets derailed, and that even wildly overprivileged people are entitled to vent about their relatively insignificant hardships. But what is really sad to me about the Times piece -- and DABA in general -- is that concepts like love, trust and intimacy don't even enter into the conversation. If there's a 12-step program out there for recovering romantics, sign me up.

By Judy Berman

Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet.

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