Dive into the world of Trophy Wives with us this week. From the iconic Krystal Carrington in Dynasty to TikTok's latest obsession with #TrophyWifeGoals, we're unpacking the concept and asking: Is it ever ok to call someone a Trophy Wife?
We go through lots of reactions to Kevin Costner's divorce drama with his estranged "trophy" second wife, Christine Baumgartner. We'll uncover their intense battles over child support, prenuptial agreements, and jaw-dropping plastic surgery expenses.
Next, we go into Kanye West's recent trip to Italy alongside his rumoured wife, Bianca Censori. Their fashion choices and behaviour have sent shockwaves through the world, sparking speculation about the "Gold Digger" rapper’s history of dressing his partners like "fashion dolls," including Amber Rose, Kim Kardashian, and Julia Fox. We ask, who is using who?
Follow us on Instagram for news and behind-the-scenes @s2tcpodcast
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This series is produced by Emily Crosby Media.
Click here for the full episode transcript
Sarah and Lisa
Today we're going to be exploring the idea of the Trophy Wife. Why do some people see the label as an insult and others aspire to be one.
But to put it into a celebrity context, we're going to be looking at the current Kevin Costner divorce saga with his much younger wife, Christine Baumgartner,
where she has battled for a record breaking amount of monthly child support, over $160,000 per month, so that her children can maintain their lavish lifestyle when she has them.
But as the internet seems to have judged, is she actually just making a desperate money grab for herself because her so-called ‘trophy wife’ days are over.
We're also going to be looking at the latest shenanigans of Kanye West and his rumoured wife, Bianca Censori, with everyone wondering if the ‘Gold Digger singer’ is overdressing or underdressing her deliberately in some very shocking outfits.
So today we're going to be asking, what makes someone a trophy wife? Is it actually ever okay to call someone a trophy wife? And to what extent are all relationships transactional?
Join us as we go straight to the comments. Okay, let's go straight to it. What is a trophy wife? And where did this idea come from?
Well, there are definitely different interpretations of the term so bettertopics.com describes it as “the term trophy wife itself reflects the notion that the wife is akin to a trophy or prize that the husband displays as a symbol of his success, wealth or social status.” But there are other definitions that focus more on an age disparity. So Urban Dictionary, which we love, they said “a young, attractive woman married to an older, more powerful man. His role in the relationship is to be her sugar daddy, and provide her with power and material wealth. Hers beyond providing sex is to remind others that he is powerful or rich enough to be desirable to such a woman despite his age, and thus to serve as a marker of his status, hence, the trophy part.” And they've called it “a specialised type of gold digger.”
Well, I know we're going to talk about the gold digger label later. But you know, all I could think about when I think of a trophy wife is that sort of blonde busty sort of Hugh Hefner style wife. Yes, that cliche. And do you remember when Anna Nicole Smith, that beautiful Guess and Playboy model married 89 year old billionaire J. Howard Marshall? And she was only 26 at the time.
Yeah, yeah, no, I do. I mean, that was that was quite shocking, because it was, I mean, there was such a big difference in their age and their wealth, that I think at the time and probably since pretty much everyone, particularly his family, they were like, this has to be transactional. There's no way that love is actually at play here. But that's the difficulty. You can never really know what people feel or what's going on behind closed doors. I think what's really interesting with the example that you've given there is that it's such a basic stereotype of what a trophy wife is. So on Reddit, someone boiled it down to “your husband is only interested in you because of your looks. He doesn't care about your personality or your skills”.
So your only job really is to be young and hot, and like your original trophy.
But Fortune magazine, who claimed to have invented the terminal in 1989 article, they focused on more than just the looks. And the senior editor, Julie Connelly, she wrote at the time, “enter the second wife, a decade or two younger than her husband, sometimes several inches taller, beautiful and very often accomplished. This trophy does not hang on the wall like a moose head. She works…
hard. For starters, she often has her own business.”
So I'm really thinking of Amal Clooney now. You know, someone who's really accomplished, intelligent and beautiful. Do you remember when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, they made that joke at the Golden Globes, where they listed all of Amal’s sort of achievements.
Like international human rights lawyer who worked for the United Nations and so on and so on, and then Fey joked - tonight her husband is getting the Lifetime Achievement Award.
You know, what's really funny is I actually did see an article not that long ago, where they listed him as a trophy husband.
Yes. So I was actually quite surprised to see a lot of comments about her appearance recently at the Venice Film Festival, where she is with George Clooney. And there's lots of comments like this, “it seems ages since she was headlined first and foremost as a premier human rights barrister rather than a trophy wife”. And then another comment referred to her as “an elegant clotheshorse”. And in fact, when I just, you know when you do Google Image Search for trophy wife? Do you know what comes up is a lot of Playboy models, sort of as wives are models, and Amal Clooney, right at the top. I was really surprised about that
Wow. So she's the ultimate one.
Well, it is funny because I do think that the original idea of a trophy wife was really more of a, either a former beauty queen or even a society wife like Jackie Kennedy who came from, you know, a good family and connections. But now it definitely seems like the definition has expanded to include even more attributes. So these days a trophy wife is expected, she is expected to be stunningly beautiful and young. But also, just in case that's not enough, connected, successful and rich in her own right. So the problem with that, even though obviously, that's an amazing thing to be, is that the term trophy wife, the focus is so on the wife as an object, something that's meant to be flaunted. And instead of focusing on - Well, this man loves a woman because she's got all these attributes, she's really accomplished. But in this way, it's only important if these attributes are visible to other men, sort of as a signal of his success and power. But you know, this idea of the second wife as a trophy does persist and Connelly states, “they attract husbands who generally see second wives to be a kind of reward, but who want more than a pretty face.”
And this makes me think of Dynasty which I've recently started rewatching. Going right back to 1981. Have you watched Dynasty?
No, I've obviously, it was so famous that I'd heard of like the classic watercooler scenes, but I never watched it myself.
Well, I love watching it just really for the glamour and glitz. Now that I’m doing a rewatch as an adult, which is always a bit strange when you go back to something you loved as a child, I probably watched it when I was about 7 or 8. And I was a bit too young to remember the scenes with Krystle Carrington, who’s the main sort of female lead in the show. And she's married to the oil tycoon, Blake Carrington. So Krystle is his second wife who he gets married to and you know, I didn't realise that she was actually his former secretary. And no, they make it very clear that Krystle is a good hearted person who actually genuinely loves Blake. But as soon as she's whisked into his sort of crazy millionaire lifestyle, she's given this extravagant clothing budget, and she has to be this beautiful society wife. And what's interesting is all her sort of former Secretary friends really envy her and sort of talk about like, why did you get him? Why did you win the lottery? While the family she's sort of marrying into are always judging her and disapproving of her. What is clear is that Krystle , she can't win with anyone. And I think that's the dilemma of a trophy wife, you know, she's sort of judged and envied. And she also has to play second fiddle to her husband. I mean, how would you feel being called a reward or a prize for someone?
Yeah, I mean, I wouldn't like it. It's because you're essentially an object then. I do think if I'm going to be 100% honest, there are parts of myself that would like that, that would feel flattered. Probably some more insecure parts of me. And also, you know, there is something quite appealing about not, you can just give up all your responsibilities and be taken care of, that Princess fantasy. But overall, it's really not something that, for me, is worth that trade. But there are actually quite a lot of women who aspire to this and even happily refer to themselves as this.
Yeah. And I found that really surprising, because when I started looking on TikTok, when I looked at Trophy Wife, I mean, it was really like millions of searches for trophy wife goals. So I was thinking, well, why is this trophy wife trend happening? And I think that part of it is like, it's a bit of an extension of the Only Fans joke, which I know we've mentioned before in previous episodes, which is like, is it too late to set up an only fans account? Or do I have to actually work? You know, and I think that behind the humour, there is a lot to do with how can I achieve the best lifestyle with the least amount of effort which the trophy wife, I think is now seen as like, Ah, maybe that is an escape route.
Totally, I think and also when you're going through a tough time, tough times, it's nice to fantasise about a much easier version of life. What we're going to do now is go straight to the story that has been all over the news, which is the breakup of Kevin Costner and his second wife, and some people have actually referred to her as a trophy wife.
So everyone knows who Kevin Costner is.
That would be Whitney, Houston's bodyguard,
and Robin Hood, and a lot more.
And of course, like, you know, I've been boring you because I love Yellowstone, which has been a huge comeback. But recently, the 69 year old actor has been in the news since his second wife, Christine Baumgartner filed for divorce in May, after 18 years of marriage and three kids.
Yeah, I mean, the headlines have really been everywhere. And what has been coming up a lot is that it's really becoming contentious now in terms of arguing about prenups and child support. Yeah, I mean, they were just in court the other day and she was detailing the, what could be described as outrageous spending that she got used to. Like they were shipping in snow for Christmas.
Oh my goodness. She could just come to Norway. There's so much snow. Take it with you
Yeah, it’s free. And I know we're gonna get to some really good comments about this stuff, because, yeah, people are hilarious. But does that make her a trophy wife? I mean, let's start. Is there an age gap?
There's a 19 year age gap. And actually, in one of her court filings, Christine shared that she met Kevin on a golf course, when she was only 18. And it's been rewarded that the actor who at the time was married to his first wife, Cindy Silva, was on the golf course rehearsing for his sports comedy Tin Cup in the early 1990s. Although they didn't start dating till some six years later.
What, you know, there's…
I'm not, I'm not calling bullshit on this. But, exactly, but, I mean, there was a bit where I'm like, Who stays in touch with an 18 year old for six years platonically while married to another woman, before you get together. I suppose, you could do the thing where you met someone, and then you lost touch and then you bumped in again. But it does raise some sort of interesting questions for me is all I'm gonna say.
Exactly Sarah. I mean, they supposedly bumped into each other in a restaurant, and reconnected six years later, which was very convenient. So they then signed a prenup when they were married. But after the breakup, she refused to leave the compound, which I love that word compound by the way. I always think of a military compound.
It's actually a beach compound with multiple properties and houses and all sorts but this compound keeps coming up that Kevin Costner owns and she initially asked for, wait for it $248,000 a month to keep the kids, which just to say they get they're having 50/50 custody, living at the lifestyle which they've grown accustomed, claiming the actor makes $19 million a year and has an estimated worth of $400 million.
Ooh I mean, that's a lot of money. I'm
I actually don't know how I would spend that much money in a month. I'm sure I would give it a good go though if I was given the opportunity.
Someone else also tweeted. “I was wondering if it was the total for a year and if it was a typo or something”. Yeah, no, I get what you're saying.
Yeah, I mean, but attorneys for Kevin Costner, we're not having it, and they ordered her out of this beachfront compound as her prenup said that she had 30 days to kind of get out of her house. They also accused the handbag designer, which is what the man on line always loved to put the job title sceptically in front, of trying to squeeze Kevin for an astronomical amount of child support to cover her own expenses not those of her kids. Including, wait for it, plastic surgery expenses of, this can't be right, I almost feel like we've written this wrong - $188,500 per month.
I mean, I'm very rarely speechless, but this is as close as it gets. I mean, is she having a facelift every month? I don't. How? I mean, I literally don't know how. Like you said, they've called her a handbag designer. So So does she have her own business? Is that what what we're saying?
Yeah, that's the thing though, people keep making a joke about her career. And apparently, Costner says that he funded Christine's two failed businesses both before and during the marriage. She previously told the Denver Post, “When I came up with some samples, I showed them to Kevin and he said they were beautiful and amazing. He told me that I should take it to the next step and he'd help me.”
Well, I definitely think that's where the trophy label comes in. So in response to this story, someone tweeted “child support aside, when old guy Kevin Costner started dating a 24 year old trophy in 1998. Did he think she wouldn't get massive plastic surgery to remain young looking given that her youth and beauty were probably why he married her in the first place.”
But other people have called her out as greedy, you know, on the Mail Online, “honey, if he wanted to keep the lifestyle for your kids, and selfishly for yourself should have just stayed married. She wants everything the same, but not to be with him”. Another “greed in its purest form”.
Yeah, so a lot of people are calling her out. And I think that that has only intensified since some very specific details about their opulent married lifestyle has been revealed because of the court case. So for example, they outlined that they had Christmas parties that saw them truck in 40 tonnes of snow to an entirely separate 10 acre plot that they also own close to their main California home. And that's just for the event. So they, I think they have this separate plot that's just for parties. They would also hire all the animals that appear in the stable in Bethlehem so the children could ride them, as well as the forest of fir trees, and they would actually build toboggan runs. And mostly what's been picked up a lot is that she's been complaining that her new $40,000 a month rental property in Montecito doesn't even begin to compare with the one that she left behind. And one of the main things was because it doesn't have beachfront access or she says “50 steps from toes in the water” and it doesn't have enough of a scenic view.
I mean, that's absolutely jaw dropping, isn't it really and to think that Montecito isn't that where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle live?
So I mean, it's good enough a royalty but not quite apparently,
Yeah. I've actually been a bit addicted to reading the reactions to all these sorts of revelations. I really do feel like Christine has sort of triggered the whole internet. Some of them are, I mean, brilliant. I mean, on Twitter. “Wow, it sounds like that they’re over the top in spoiling those children. Yes, he has a lot of money. But you can't roast marshmallows at your own home? You need music piped through a lit up ski trail? Get a grip”. Then on the Mail Online, “how they live in a fantasy world of excessive consumption, their energy use must rival a village or a small town”. But on the Mail Online, “yet another decent man being taken to the cleaners by devious and deceitful women. No wonder more and more men are no longer prepared to commit.”
You know what, I see that a lot in the comments where people take a specific story or a specific situation. And then they tie in these biases that they already have about, you know, an entire group of people. So like, all women are greedy, all men are cheaters. And whenever I see them, the first thing I think is okay, so you've you've had a really bad breakup an you're still, you're still projecting that on. But would you say all the comments are against her?
No, not at all. Actually. I mean, there is I mean, it's a much smaller proportion, I would say 10% of the comments are actually disagreeing with what other people are saying. Particularly to do with the relative wealth between the two of them. And some of that on the Mail Online, “small change for him pay up.” On Twitter, “the prenup she signed up 24. So she gets 1 million on divorce, and 30 days notice to vacate their home. Now after three kids and a long marriage and him earning $19 million in 2022. This seems pretty unreasonable”. And interestingly, I found this comment, “I wonder about that prenup. You know, he's been shaming her publicly about how much money she spent on plastic surgery. I mean, how much of that surgery was mandated in the prenup? And were there weight goals she had to meet after each baby? He seems such an asshole”.
Yeah, I mean, I mean, we really don't know. And that's that's a massive assumption. But I think the really important point is the relative amounts. I mean, it seems like a lot of money she's asking for but then I suppose if you put it in the context of the amount of money he's making, and you know, the length of time of the relationship, it's not like she's just tried to divorce him after a year. And also just inflation, because what what a million was worth in 1998 and what a million’s worth now has changed a lot. But I think it brings up this idea of, you know, how much unpaid work do partners do that then contributes to the success and the happiness of the other person. So he was already successful. But there's a classic thing of not valuing the contribution of the stay at home partner, and Costner himself even said to people in 2022, “my wife does things that just completely, it just helps. The house is prettier because of her, everything is warmer because of her. There's these little things that she does, I think it's the power of love, but that she makes her home that way.”
I think that's a really important point to make. However, we just learned yesterday that the judge, he actually slashed her child support down to $63,000 a month, less than half of the $129,000 she's getting, and over a third of what she actually wanted.
Yeah, I mean, it's still it's still a lot of money. And that's what people have commented on a lot. So someone said “63k a month, most people don't even earn that in a year”. And what people seem to be highlighting in their comments is just how out of touch they seem to be compared to the realities of most people's lives. And that's definitely I think, upsetting a lot of people.
Yeah, I think that is where people are quite fixated, is on the conspicuous consumption. But another aspect of this is it really does feel like there's some definite hurt feelings going on. And there's been rumours that she has cheated on him.
Yeah, I saw that. So the Sun reported that Daniel Starr, who's a real estate developer and Christine had developed a very close relationship, quotation marks, when he was a tenant actually at one of customers guest houses nearby to the Santa Barbara California compound. Although Daniel has vehemently denied these accusations to TMZ.
I mean, is that his real name Daniel Starr, and he works in Los Angeles?
So convenient. This guy, this guy, but I mean, people have been pointing out there does seem to be maybe potentially some hypocrisy going on here because I remember even growing up when he was in his heyday Kevin Costner there was a lot of rumours that he was a bit of a womaniser, and I found these quotes on the Mail Online. “While he was never home, he was probably not alone either, was that in the prenuptial? He's known as a womaniser”. So yeah, this is something I think that's really been persistent about him is that he's known for being a serial cheater, and of course, he's been married I think once or twice before.
Yeah once before. Yeah, who he was still married to when he met this wife, although didn't start dating. We can never know for sure. Rumours are rumours. But I just think if you take it on the general stereotype of these kind of powerful man, trophy wife relationships, there is always an inherent double standard. So it essentially comes down to the power dynamics, right? So, in the traditional trophy wife situation, the man has the age, the experience, the money, the power and the connections. And what the woman is stereotypically supposed to bring is the youth, the beauty, but the source of her money and success is him. So even if she ends up with a successful business, it's usually because he's provided seed money or connections. So, for example, there were rumours that Harvey Weinstein had set up his ex wife, Georgina Chapman, as the designer in Marchesa and then pressured the female stars into wearing her gowns.
I remember that
So it's that kind of situation that that people are, people are sort of like using. But her job, her ultimate job as a trophy wife supposedly, is to reflect well on him, to potentially provide children and a comfortable home life. And part of that stereotype is that the husband is you know, he's allowed to travel a lot, be away, emotionally neglect her and have extramarital affairs. But in her role, she's not allowed to transgress at all, and she's not really supposed to get old either.
Oh, gosh. And, you know, I was thinking about this case is that I wonder if the embarrassment is higher for a man if he's cheated on than the woman. Like there's an expectation that men are prone to cheating, especially if they're seen as alpha men like Kevin Costner.
Yeah, and you just sweep it under the rug and ignore it as long as you're the wife. But I mean, so the term cuckold is gender specific. It's often considered the greatest insult that can be thrown at a man. So on Quora, someone asked “if cheating isn't a man's nature, should a woman let him cheat?” And, you know, among other responses was this one, “Cheating is not in a man's nature, it's his choice. And traditionally, cheating is more frequently overlooked and more easily forgiven when a man does it because we treat it like it's normal when it's not”. But I also found this comment on YouTube, which I think is really interesting, which is,” I've always felt this kind of animosity in this divorce did not come out of nowhere.” And I think that's so true, because so often people use money and other things and kids as just, it's just an expression of their own hurt and their own anger.
Yeah. Like a real weaponization going on?
So I mean, we try our best Sarah to find out everything but we don't know really what has happened behind those beach compound doors. But in all seriousness, I do think there's part of me that thinks, you know, this prenup of a million dollars in settlement is not much compared to his enormous wealth. And those children are pretty old already. I mean, as in they’re in their teenage years. And there's part of me that thinks we know how people like to demonise women who are considered demanding and assertive and demanding their value. And a lot of the comments, the majority of the comments, like I said, are focused on calling her a gold digger. And I actually don't think she'll be set up for life, especially if they stick to the terms of this prenup.
No. Considering her lifestyle and inflation, a million, you can go through that quite quickly.
So talking about gold digger, I often get the term trophy wife and gold digger mixed up. And I know we're going to talk about Kanye West in a minute, but he has really lodged the concept in my head with his song Gold Digger, do remember the lyrics? It said “ "We want prenup!", yeah
It's something that you need to have. 'Cause when she leave yo' ass she gone leave with half”. Which is my really bad… I don't know if that's wrong to like, use his style of rapping
MC Lisa in the house. And, you know, they reference a prenup and that's been a big bone of contention in the Costner divorce.
But what is the difference between, I generally don't really get the difference between a trophy wife and a gold digger, or maybe a little bit.
Okay, so like, here's where I get to do my best Susie Dent impression, which I'm very happy about. Reddit forum actually has asked this exact question. And one of the answers, they focused on the transactional element and whether it was open or not. “So I think with a trophy wife, everyone hopefully understands what the game is. With a gold digger she tries to make you think she's in it for something other than the money”. Another answer, though, focused on looking at the perspective or the motivation, so “a gold digger is describing the motivation of the woman. She's in it for the money. A trophy wife is describing the motivation of the man, he wants someone who can show off to the rest of the world.” So it can be both and finally, “the trophy wife is the one that gets used. Gold diggers use others”. But as you can see, with these definitions, there can definitely be a crossover between the terms.
Yeah, that's a really good description. And it really makes me think that with this time, it's like the idea of who's using who. And this is something we've seen coming up a lot in the comments debated about sort of Kanye West and his new wife, Bianca Censori. But this idea of like, who's using who, it suggests that people like are after a specific thing, you know, for example, money, lifestyle, power, sex, arm candy, or on the other hand, there is love, but that both can't exist at the same time.
Yeah, I've noticed that a lot. I think, you know, it's so complicated, because a lot of people will have attributes in their mind of what they want in a partner. So you know, reliability or similar interests. But that doesn't mean the relationship is purely transactional. And you can definitely be attracted to certain attributes. You know, the first time you meet someone, you might notice their appearance, but hopefully, you're not just staying in the relationship because of that. There's also an allowance for change, no one stays the same forever. So everyone gets older, even if you do have a nearly $200,000 budget for plastic surgery. You know, women, if you gonna have a family together, women have babies, their bodies are going to change. On the other hand, you could marry someone who has a really successful business and then go through tough times economically. So how people respond to change in the initial attributes that they find attractive. I think that tells you a lot about how much a bond has been built, and whether it's purely transactional. So how could we not see or unsee Kanye West lately, especially since he and his wife, which they always put in quotation marks
Bianca Censori, they have been visiting Italy, and she's been seen in a range of very skimpy, form-fitting and often quite sheer, nude coloured outfits.
I mean, these outfits have been absolutely shocking. I mean, I've even read that there's been calls for them to be fined for indecency because of her outfits. I mean, they're just literally like she's walking around naked.
Yeah or just in stockings.
So we don't need to introduce Kanye West. I think everyone knows who he is. He was previously married to one of the most famous women in the world, which is Kim Kardashian. And in 2014, he even referred to her as a trophy wife in a song that he did with Future called “I won”. So in the lyrics, he said, “you the number one trophy wife, so it's only right to live the trophy life”. And he also referenced her sisters in the song. Ao I'm just gonna read this. “You could look at Kylie, Kendall, Kourtney and Khloe. All your mama ever made was trophies, right?”
I mean, that's super creepy. Like they're just like decorations.
And as we've seen, Kanye has openly described him as a trophy. But since they split in 2021, it feels like he's paraded quite a few women publicly on his arm in very revealing outfits. So one of the first was Julia Fox, they were seen together from December 2021 to Feb 2022. And on their second date, she has said that she had discovered that the rapper had filled their entire hotel suite with clothes for her. So he redressed her. And she described this as “it was every girl's dream come true. It felt like a real Cinderella moment.”
Yeah, I think there's a fine line. You know, feeling like you're sort of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman having that makeover montage. And then someone saying, Look, you're going to be wearing this. It feels very well, knowing his history, it feels very controlling.
Yeah, I completely agree. My, one of the main things that my mum used to say to me growing up was if a man tries to tell you what to wear, run. Yeah. And it definitely feels like another Julia Roberts film, which is Sleeping with the Enemy, that that's what it makes me think of.
Yeah, that film still gives me a chill up my spine. It was so good. But I remember that scene, you know, where she was wearing this tiny backless dress even though she was saying to her husband, who was abusing her that it was super cold. But I really did find that film, like I said, scary because it was really about coercive control.
Yeah, exactly. You know, and we're not necessarily saying that this is exactly what's going on with Kanye, but there does seem to be a pattern of Kanye West, dressing his partners. So there was a tweet that says “Kanye isn't doing anything we haven't seen before. He dressed Amber Rose and took her to fashion week. He filled Kim's closet with designer clothes and now he's dressing the woman he's spending time with.” But some of the reactions, you know, so there was another tweet that said “he treats women like inanimate dolls he can dress and modify to elevate his image but they think it's romantic.”
Exactly. I do think that we're seeing a pattern here and this is playing out again with his newest partner, and they supposedly married in a ceremony in January, two months after finalising his divorce from Kim. But TMZ reported that they haven't actually filed a marriage certificate to make it legal,
Which I suppose makes sense as to why people are always putting the quotation marks around the term wife.
But you know, I mean, this relationship, it seemed to come out of nowhere. People aren't entirely sure who she is. They don't know when they got together or if they're actually married. But some of the reports are that she worked for Kanye's company and was listed as head of Architecture at Yeezy from 2022, which is according to her LinkedIn. And a lot of people have speculated that Kanye has taken control of her clothes and image too. So during this Italian getaway, she's been seen, as we said, in some really revealing outfits, what would you call them?
I know, they just remind me of like, when I was younger, I used to get my mum's tights and put them all over my body up to my breasts for a top and make an outfit. That is literally what she's walking around in Italy, with high heels on . And it does really remind me of his Yeezy fashion line. And also like Kim's body line Skims, you know, that really kind of minimalist, nude colour…
Control Wear. And, you know, a lot of people have have opinions on this relationship and on their recent behaviour. So there was a Mail Online comment that said, “I don't know, but she looks to me like a trophy wife just to make someone jealous.” But it's it's actually escalated quite a lot recently, they were seen on a boat ride amongst tourists. They were huddled in a corner of the boat, and he was sitting. But from behind, you could see that he was wearing a jacket, but you could see his naked butt under the jacket. And then she was hidden from view with her kneeling down in front of him with her head in his lap.
So a lot of people kind of assumed that maybe she was performing a sex act on him in public. And, you know, there was one commenter that said, “how are these two not arrested for lewd behaviour?”
I mean, I was thinking the same thing. Like I said that, you know, often when she's got photos taken of her, she's you can see that she's a clear shot of children. She's practically nude. In Italy, any acts that are contrary to public decency, including indecent dress, can carry a fine of up to $10,000. And there was this comment. “It's completely disrespectful to a conservative Catholic culture. The Italians should have kicked them out.”
Yeah. And that that was echoed a lot. But there were actually some people who were defending her revealing outfits. So there was one comment that said, “Oh, please, I've seen women sunbathing topless and wearing string bikinis leaving nothing to the imagination. Where's the outrage then?” And another comment that said, “it's all for PR, shock tactics equal attention economy, you can see them smiling when they think the camera is off them. She's in on it too. But they've gone a bit too far.” But there were also some people who were expressing concern. So a Mail Online comment said, “either this woman is being held against her will, or she has near zero respect for herself, possibly both”. And what's interesting is it does bring up this debate of who's using who, and who's in control, who has the power. So he's obviously in a very privileged position. But there have also been reports that she's got a partial Power of Attorney over some of his finances and business. Other reports have said that, you know, she's using him to raise her profile. And even more, some people are saying that she's actively managing his musical comeback, because he's supposed to drop a new album soon. So it's very hard to know in this situation how much she's fully involved in it, how much she's encouraging it, or whether she's actually just being pushed into it.
Yeah, she's definitely got a very confusing role, especially if she's like, saying, she's the head of Yeezy architecture. And then I've even heard rumours that she's like his, you know, paid handler, which is, you know, I don't know.
Yeah, it's so hard to know, in this case. I mean, so we've been talking about the idea of trophy wives in this episode. But is it actually okay to call someone a trophy wife? I mean, is it an insult? What do you think, Lisa, would you ever call someone a trophy wife?
I thought you were my trophy wife?
Of course. I mean, you are so lucky.
Yeah. No, I mean, I don't know, like, it's weird, isn't it? Because I actually think it's an insult because I think in a way, it's like sort of saying that you're a possession to sort of show off as a status symbol. What, I mean, what do you think?
Yeah, I agree. I think it's actually meant to be an insult. Or at least it's used in that way these days. So on Reddit, someone asked the question, “is the term trophy wife an insult? If so, is it a serious insult? And is it an insult to both the man and the woman or just the woman?” And there were a range of answers. One was “yes-ish. It's insulting if that wife has no desire to be a trophy wife, but some women that was their plan from the start, which is fine, two consenting adults can do as they please”. Another “when I think of trophies, I think of the little shiny awards you leave on your shelf, occasionally glance over at as a reminder of your achievement, and maybe dust every once in a while to keep clean. None of which I would consider complimentary for a human being”. And finally, “I mean, kind of both because it implies that their relationship is kind of shallow and transactional.”
But that kind of makes me think, I mean, in some respects, are there any relationships that aren't transactional to some extent? And, you know, if not, what makes a relationship transactional?
Well, a transactional relationship is essentially based on reciprocity and needs in a transactional relationship, both parties expect to receive something in return for their, you know, their investment. And these relationships are not at all based on the idea that you should give without expecting something in return. But I don't actually think it's possible to have no expectations at all, in any relationship. It's just whether the things that you're expecting are reasonable or quantifiable, are you just talking about money or just sex? So on Medium, someone said, you know, “all relationships are transactional, and the primary commodity is value”, which is, you know, valuing the other person. And that's, that's a completely different way of looking at it. So on Quora, someone replied, “of course, it may not be spoken, but it's always a trade. Even if you say you only want to love someone, you want that someone to love you, too”. So I think it really depends on what the transaction is involved, what the value is that you are, that you are expecting in return.
Yeah, I suppose like if you're in a relationship, and you give sort of love, affection, attention, time, you invest all these things, and you're not getting those things back. It's really not healthy. And sometimes I do think there is a division of labour in the home, you know, it just, whether it's gendered or not, you know, someone might do some more housework. Someone might do more of the house admin, but people talk about having different love languages as well.
Yeah, when that was brought up, I think it has changed how people view things. You know, one person might show their love through service or gifts another one through words or physical affection, and they can be equally as valuable. So for example, my dad, he was born in 1925, he would never overtly say I love you. If you asked him, Do you love me? He'd be like “of course”. But he wouldn't say the words. But every time we came home, as we got older, he’d have got a new tool that he gifted to us. And he'd he'd insist on checking our car tyres to make sure we were safe every time even though it would irritate my sister, because she was like, I've literally just had this checked, we don't need to do it again. But you know, when we were kids, he'd always polish all of our school shoes to make sure they were nice. That was his way of showing love. My mum was much more like overly affectionate physically and saying she loved us all the time. And I think they're equally valid ways of showing love if they come from really authentic places.
I completely agree. You know, my grandma's quite a stoic Yorkshire woman, and she would cook roast dinner every Sunday, and she would give me my favourite food, which is probably where it comes from my love of other food, not blaming Gran.
Like, I know, someone said, showing love through cooking meals, or like you said, checking your tyres or, you know, just making sure that you're safe, you know?
Exactly, exactly. But I think where the problem comes in, in these kind of, in this idea of transactional relationships is when there's a really obvious power disparity. So for example, if someone has all the money and the power, and the other one, they're only supposed to look pretty, and that's the only thing that they have, you know, if you get to a point in a relationship where you're not happy anymore, or you don't like how you're being treated, it's really hard to negotiate, renegotiate boundaries, or even leave, especially if you've got kids and you haven't worked for decades, if the other person sort of holds all the cards, you know, it's not impossible, but it's, it makes it much harder Then conversely, because it's not always in that direction. You know, if one person is using sex to control and the other is really enthralled by that, and you know, overly besotted, and they're really afraid of losing that then they're also the disenfranchised one in that dynamic. So I think it really depends on the situation and the power dynamics.
And I always think that if you're going into the trophy wife life with your eyes open, you really are making a bit of a deal with the devil. And you got to be prepared for the consequences. You always had that threat of being traded up, right? So Sarah, what are your final thoughts?
Well, I just think people love having terms that they can throw around like trophy wife. And the idea of a trophy wife, it's not a new thing. I even read an article in the Times where they said Helen of Troy was the original trophy wife, so we're going back quite far away there.
If you really go back to the original concept of marriage, historically, I mean, it's always been transactional, it's always been about ownership. The idea of actually marrying for love, it's a really new one in the scheme of things. Previously, women had been defined legally even as actual property or chattels. And even as recently as the 70s in some places, I don't know if you know about this, but there was this thing called the marriage bar where women were barred from working and earning their own money once they got married.
Yeah, they were entirely dependent then on their husband. But just relationships are complicated. You can be attracted to someone's success or their appearance or their lifestyle, and also be attracted to them as a person and love them. It doesn't have to be either or. Each person has to decide in their relationships, what they're willing to do with or without what are their deal breakers. But I do think, you know, these terms, trophy wife, gold digger, they're really reductionist, and they don't describe the complexities of relationships. You know, that said, there are relationships that do appear to be almost entirely transactional. And, you know, for me, there's something quite sad about that. And something quite dehumanising. I absolutely do not judge other people's choices, but it's not something that I would choose personally. I don't think I could be happy in that dynamic, to be made into an object. And it would just feel like you said, too dangerous, too unsafe. But everyone needs to work out what's right for them. And hopefully, they're doing that from a place of choice where everyone involved knows what they're getting into and what the deal is.
Yeah, exactly. Wow, we actually covered a lot today, there was a lot of people we were gonna talk about Rupert Murdoch, Salma Hayek,
A whole list. But we thought this topic could just go on and on. Thank you for joining us today, but we've got some exciting news. We are going to be trying out and experimenting, aren't we Sarah?
With our new alternate week episodes called mini episodes, or as we're gonna be calling them our minis. And the idea is that they're kind of more of an informal review of some comments not so heavily researched, more chit chatty, and yeah, we're gonna be dropping our first mini next Thursday, well after this episode goes out and seeing how you like it. So let us know. And we will be asking questions. We want this to be interactive. So please send us questions or comments that you find interesting. And we'll be putting that all over on our Instagram, which is at straight to the comments podcast or @s2tcpodcast. It's in the show notes. Sarah there anything you'd like to add?
Just we hope you enjoy them and it's just a little bite sized piece to keep you going in between our main classic episodes. So stay tuned for more info.
Yeah, we will see you next time.
See you soon.
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This podcast has been produced by Emily Crosby media