When anthropologist Wednesday Martin moved into the Upper East Side to be closer to her in-laws and good public schools, she didn’t realize she would stumble upon her latest study subject: the incredibly rich housewives of the Upper East Side — or Glam SAHMs (glamorous stay-at-home moms). While their husbands run hedge funds and private equity firms, the Glam Sahms women spend their time on working out and “intensive mothering” — managing their children’s social lives and education to ensure they get into top schools. To study this “elite tribe,” Martin spent time with more than 100 of wives for over six years and found that the women were surprisingly cloistered from their husbands. The most baffling revelation was the existence of “wife bonuses” that they received for good housekeeping, which “might be hammered out in a pre-nup or post-nup, and distributed on the basis of not only how well her husband’s fund had done but her own performance — how well she managed the home budget, whether the kids got into a “good” school — the same way their husbands were rewarded at investment banks.” Viewing this through the lens of anthropology, Martin sees this as evidence of a “sex-segregated society” where women are comparatively disempowered and dependent.
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