This is perhaps the most ridiculous, yet fascinating, thing we’ve seen in a long time.
Anthropologist and social researcher Wednesday Martin has a piece in the New York Times SundayReview section about how some of Manhattan’s Upper East Side stay-at-home mums get a year-end bonus that’s determined by their investment banker/hedge fund manager husbands.
And it’s performance-based.
Here’s an excerpt from the NYT:
And then there were the wife bonuses.
I was thunderstruck when I heard mention of a “bonus” over coffee. Later I overheard someone who didn’t work say she would buy a table at an event once her bonus was set. A woman with a business degree but no job mentioned waiting for her “year-end” to shop for clothing. Further probing revealed that the annual wife bonus was not an uncommon practice in this tribe.
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 $US10,000 table at the benefit luncheon a friend is hosting.
Women who didn’t get them joked about possible sexual performance metrics. Women who received them usually retreated, demurring when pressed to discuss it further, proof to an anthropologist that a topic is taboo, culturally loaded and dense with meaning.
For nearly six years, Martin observed and studied around 100 Upper East Side mothers and will be sharing her findings in an upcoming book called “Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir.”
Two years ago, she found that some of the mums allegedly hired handicap people to pose as family members so that they could cut the lines for the rides at Disney World.
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