In which her husband will be the breadwinner, and she the homemaker, more power to her. I think it’s fabulous that this brings you joy. We all need to figure out what does.
But many women do not want a traditional marriage. They do not want to be in a relationship/marriage in which the balance of power is shifted to that degree. They want an equal partnership. And, when one person in the relationship controls all the money, the person who does not is completely (financially—if not emotionally) dependent on the one who does.
So, yes, there has to be tremendous amount of trust that the ‘provider’ will always, and continue to behave admirably. The problem is, that a significant enough number of men do not (look where we’re having this discussion) that women have learned, by observation of their mothers, their friends, their own experiences, the world at large, that this system can fail miserably; and does so with great frequency. And, when it does, they can be seriously screwed.
And, men around here can keep declaring that men are always the ones who get fucked in a divorce, but it’s simply not true. Take a look at readily available statistics on how many women fall below the poverty line after divorce. And, then compare that to mens overall economic health after divorce. It’s a telling story.
So, while more women gaining advanced degrees, and entering the workforce is an upward trend, it’s by no means a new trend. This has been on the incline for 50+ years.
And for the vast majority of women who do, this is not about “conforming to a contemporary ideal of what a woman should be, outright fear, or a combination of the two”. Being in a traditional one wage earner family is simply not an option for all women. Another economic reality is that, more and more married couples need to have both partners working in order to maintain the same standard of living that their grandparents, or parents did when there was only one wage earner in the family.
My mother did not want to work. She had to work. The only other option would have been to accept a much lower standard of living—which in our case would have been a drop from solidly middle-middle class, to an ongoing daily struggle to maintain necessities. A choice, yes; but, not a good one. And, damned good thing she did have current, marketable job skills because, had she not, she would have been in a terribly compromised position after her divorce.
I don’t work because I’m a feminist. And, there is no militant battle cry. Like my mother, I work because I have bills to pay. And, regardless of my sexual orientation, I would never go into a relationship in which someone else was the only wage earner. Because, I, like so many other women, know all too well how badly that can turn out.