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[Op-Ed] Trophy Husband

Posted May. 23, 2009 09:46,   


Why do men like young and pretty women? This is easily explained from the evolutionary point of view. Men seek to propagate offspring with fine genes. Though women do not explicitly express their preferences as men do, they also favor rich, handsome and smart men. This is because wealth and power are considered the best shield to protect children. From the perspective of evolution, the best might be a union between an old man with power and wealth and a young and pretty woman. A woman who marries such a man is often called a trophy wife.

That sort of union can be deemed blasphemy against marriage. The concept of marriage, a union of individuals who love each other, however, dates back only 300 years. Historically, marriage was a political, social and economic alliance between communities and families. In addition, love is said to last for a short period. The shortest period is said to be 100 days and the longest four years. A study found that only 10 percent of couples who have been married 20 years have the same feelings toward each other as 20 years ago.

A totally different story unfolds when it comes to men who have neither money nor power and women who lack beauty or youth. An old man can win a younger woman`s heart if he has money and power. The reverse is not true, however. Author Tim Harford said in his book “The Undercover Economist” that women came to cities to look for men with wealth and power, so women outnumbered men in cities. Unfortunately, a woman’s negotiating power is said to drastically weaken when women outnumber men. This means women should lower their sights.

In Korea, a rich businesswoman has made headlines for an unusual quest. The 49-year-old single woman, who is worth an estimated 20 billion won (16 million U.S. dollars), has put a personal advertisement for a spouse. She is said to look for a professional man with a college degree or higher between the ages of 39 and 49. The matchmaking company Sunwoo said, “Old women find it difficult to find spouses though they are wealthy because men invariably prefer young and pretty women.” More than 200 men reportedly applied the day after she posted the ad. Few can criticize an older woman with wealth for seeking a trophy husband.

Editorial Writer Kim Sun-deok (yuri@donga.com)