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

Share

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

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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Iraqi soldiers trained by the US were routed by IS’s smaller force  

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

Patrick Cockburn
Christmas Day cinema-goers seem to have mistaken the complexities of the right to free speech  

There's a time to speak and a time to keep quiet

Paul Vallely
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015