“I believe it’s a slippery slope into dangerous territory because it has the potential to derail the importance of financial independence for women.”
Haven’t heard of it? SAHGs are women with no children who keep house and let their boyfriends support them instead of focusing on their careers.
But Henshaw’s warnings, along with jeers from many other women, have done little to stem the popularity of these SAHGs on social media.
In many ways the idea is not new, but its popularity provides some important lessons about the state of modern coupling and why the choices women make in this era of feminist enlightenment are often worse than ever before.
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal explains that being a “SAHG” is all about supporting your boyfriend with tasks like cooking and housework, plus a rigorous self-care regimen to keep up appearances.”
The article notes that this reflects “a Gen Z move away from mid-2000s ‘girlboss’ hustle culture and toward aspirations of a softer life.”
This life includes baking cookies and going to Pilates classes.
“We used to have several not-nice names for girls like these,” jokes Kay Hymowitz, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “But that was way before Onlyfans and Tik Tok.”
Seriously, she notes, “there have always been beautiful women ‘kept’ by rich men.”
These ladies also did light housework and engaged in shopping and beauty routines.
But the expectation was that they would be married to these men and eventually produce children.
All of which meant that they had a claim on the man’s resources — alimony, child support, etc. — even if the cad decided to leave her for a newer model.
While the arrangement of the Stay at Home Girlfriend has yet to become the norm, the impulse of women wanting a breadwinner is not, explains Brad Wilcox.
“Women are happier when their husbands are employed full time,” says Wilcox, author of the forthcoming book, “Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization.”
Women are also more satisfied with their marriages when “they give their husband high ratings for being a good provider,” he adds.
It’s not that other things don’t matter, too — being emotionally engaged is also important according to Wilcox’s research.
Interestingly, it is women in the upper classes who like to talk about splitting everything down the middle — all the housework and the money earning—but who are most likely to benefit from being coupled with a big breadwinner.
The problem, of course, is that these Stay at Home Girlfriends are “looking for a simulacra of the 1950s model of partnership minus the marriage,” observes Wilcox.
In other words, they’re giving away the milk without making the men buy the cow.
It’s not just that men are getting sex without commitment, which is pretty common these days.
They’re getting all the benefits of regular companionship and homemaking without having to put a ring on it.
This will leave women not only single (when they are older and it’s harder to find a mate) as well as childless, but also drained.
Increased premarital sex and co-habitation also makes marriage less satisfying once it does happen, according to the Institute for Family Studies.
The reaction from women like Henshaw to SAHGs has been to decry their lack of career development and financial independence more than their focus on aesthetics and appearances.
But marriages that prioritize mutual sacrifice — and a view that the partners are no longer just looking out for themselves — can provide women with the kind of security (financial and emotional) that they are seeking, even if they are not pursuing financial independence.
Wilcox, points to the “we before me” marriage as the kind that is most likely to result in long term happiness and stability.
“The sense that you are on the same team generates positive outcomes,” he says.
There has never been a wider variety of arrangements for partnership and sex and romance available to young people.
But of all the ways that women can build a future for themselves, the SAHG model seems like the one that will result in the least life satisfaction.
Skin care routine aside, of course.