Wersha Bharadwa: If girls get a raw deal, of course they want to be Wags


In a world constantly belittling women for every step they take, we've now got another reason to feel bad about ourselves: for wanting to be Wags. Even government education experts are heralding Wags as role models for young women.

I can almost hear the cries of disgust from those who cannot stomach the idea of women living a fabulously and unashamedly wealthy life on the back of their hard-working partners. Nothing is subtle about the war waged on Wags, with their fake tans, £800 bags and acrylic nails. It's far more sociably acceptable for a woman to not desire things – money in particular – because it automatically points her in the direction of power, which is exactly what the Wags seem to have achieved now that they've reached icon status.

But surely rather than simplifying last week's pronouncement – from the Learning and Skills Council – and dismissing Wags as a sad, disgraceful blip on British culture today, we should be looking at the economic inequities that have made young women aspire to live off another person. If teenage girls want to marry rich men when they should be aiming for high grades and decent qualifications, what kind of messages are they being sent?

That Wags are in every celebrity magazine going doesn't help – these are read by girls as young 10 – but to blame the likes of Heat and OK! would be a cop-out. As Mary Wollstonecraft argued, women are driven to prostitution and marriage through financial motives. Women wanting marriage is old hat. No matter how successful you are, how intelligent or independent, we're still being sold the myth that you're nothing without a man. Most of us know deep down it's a message we want to ignore and one we have being trying to overturn for centuries.

Education tells girls they can be anything they want to be and that they can aspire to high-flying careers, so why aren't they buying the dream of wanting to do it for themselves? Why do young women in the Noughties have such low expectations of themselves doing well financially that they're opting for security via the wife route?

If girls can grow up today and see their mothers being paid 17 per cent less than their fathers for doing a similar job, they are not only going to see the game as unfair, they will ask themselves whether there's any point in playing at all. If more women were being paid £10,000 a week to play football or getting million-pound bonuses in the City, then Generation Wag wouldn't be a problem.

Because how many women in the UK are able to shout about breaking out of the pay-gap trap? How many are able to applaud their employers for rewarding them with top-dog jobs and easing their childcare pressures with flexible hours? What has given rise to Generation Wag is that young women are more scared than ever about making it big in the boardroom. So instead, armed with what they feel are ultimately valueless qualifications, they have come to feel that bagging a man wearing a £100k watch isn't such a bad idea after all.

Wags aren't hypocrites; they're unabashed about their need to live it up. Old-school feminists might see them as selling out, but while carving an identity from being a man's wife or girlfriend is far from progressive, Wags are working with what they've got and having a damn good time while they're about it.

By unwittingly advertising their lack of economic freedom in a system that otherwise allows them to fail, perhaps the Wags and their protégées are simply having an important but oh-so-fun moment. May they stamp on their constraints with Choo-clad heels.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The plan could lead to up to 15,000 people being operated on annually  

The obesity crisis affects the whole of Europe... apart from France

Rosie Millard
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month  

General Election 2015: Politics is the messy art of compromise, unpopular as it may be

David Blunkett
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'