Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past 13 years has heard the wildly popular song “Gold Digger” by Kanye West. We joke and speculate quite often about the motives of one party or the other in a relationship where there is a considerable difference in socioeconomic standard. More often than not, it is the woman who is earning considerably less and is assigned the title of “gold digger”. But why is this?
I have never really been comfortable with throwing the term “gold digger” around, because to me, it has always indicated that people should essentially “stay in their place” and not dare aspire to engage with anyone who is not their “equal”. Considering that we are capitalist society and are not supposed to have caste systems, the belief has always held that you use whatever “assets” you have at your disposal to improve your situation in life. We may not agree with the means by which a person achieves this, especially when it comes to utilizing physical assets, but unless it is blatantly illegal, that’s really not our call. Sure, we may have some moral objections to it, but even that varies depending on how staunch and restrictive your morals are.
Another thing that peeves me about the whole issue of labeling someone a gold digger, is the compulsion by some to “save” the other person from being snookered somehow. We saw this very much when it came to Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall, and even Hugh Hefner and his “girlfriends”. Everyone felt compelled to shout from the rooftops that these men were being somehow taken for a ride and swindled, to which I would reply, why do you think these men don’t know what they’re doing? These are smart men who have made millions, and in Marshall’s case, billions, and they did it by being shrewd and astute businessmen. They liked beautiful women, and that’s exactly what they got. You would have to be insane, or dishonest, to think that any woman in their right mind would go, “Oh no, you make too much money. I would feel like I’m taking advantage of you, so I’m going to go back to my five-figure salary and my life of uncertainty and drudgery and leave you alone!”
Now, conversely, you do hear about men being gold diggers, but not very much. Men are most likely to be met with a high-five for scoring big, like a scene from a Judd Apatow film. Perhaps it’s not spoken of as much because of our modern feminist movement wherein it shows the mark of a confident, high-earning woman who knows what she wants, and goes and gets herself a young, virile little plaything whom she can discard whenever she likes? Or perhaps we have the mindset which Beyonce set forth in her song, “Upgrade U“? Does it just seem more like a palpable notion that a man is being built up from nothing and refined?
There was a time when we felt such unions were charming, such as when they happened in a Jane Austen novel, or in the movie “Pretty Woman”. Now it seems that many of the attacks are rooted in envy and malice. Perhaps we believe in class systems more than we care to let on. Either way, I think this is something that perhaps we need to reconsider before we decide to give someone this label.