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[Opinion] Trophy Wife

Posted April. 19, 2008 05:47,   


“Thirty minutes of more study can get you a better husband.” “Ten minutes of more study will bring you a better wife.” “College romance, or factory labor?” These are some of the extraordinary class mottos of high school classes introduced on the Internet under the title of “Forty Selected Class Mottos.” For people of the generation who had class mottos like “Diligence, faithfulness, honesty,” these phrases sound foreign. These class mottos, telling students that good grades are necessary to marry successful husbands or preferable wives, seem to reflect the social conditions of today.

Trophy used to refer to booty or a souvenir granted to warriors who defeated the enemy in wars. It was the cover story of U.S. business magazine Fortune, published on Aug. 28, 1989, which first compared a beauty to a trophy. Many mid-aged millionaires divorced their loyal wives and newly married young and beautiful wives, whom the magazine named Trophy Wives. In 1994, 89-year-old billionaire Howard Marshall married a beauty who could be his grand daughter. Playboy model Anna Nichol Smith was 26 years old, 63 years younger than Marshall.

As women’s social participation expanded, Trophy Husband became a newly-coined word. It refers to “a rich and powerful husband” selected by a successful woman. Ted Turner, the founder of CNN and husband of actress Jane Fonda, and Cindy Crawford’s former husband Richard Gere are some examples. Sometimes even Jacqueline Kennedy’s husband and former U.S. President John F. Kennedy is mentioned as one. When it is hard to tell which one of the pair is the trophy, they are called a trophy couple. The most exemplary case is the former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton.

Britain’s Telegraph quoted a Russian newspaper to report that President Vladimir Putin, 56, who retires in May, is about to marry a trophy wife 32 years under his age. Her name is Alina Kabaeva, the gold-medalist of the 2004 Athens Olympics, and she is 24 years old. The beautiful gymnast is also an incumbent member of the Russian parliament. Recently some newspapers reported that Putin separated with his wife Ludmilla. Is this the Russian version of the social condition, where a successful man changes his house and a very successful man changes his wife, abandoning all the “weal and woe” promises?

Editorial Writer Gwon Sun-taek (maypole@donga.com)