There is a saying I have heard from people in high-end fashion: it is Armani for the wife, but Versace for the mistress.
There is an actual reason for the expression.
Listening to Middle Class America talk about Donald Trump’s Stormy Daniels problem is comical to me. It is not as if middle class middle managers don’t fool around, but they don’t do it right. It is crude and they hide it from their spouses.
They are doing it all wrong.
When I worked as a journalist, I would strike up conversations with the power players’ support staff: nannies, maids, janitors, hairdressers, and anyone who had to clean up messes and groom those fabulously wealthy tycoons, their wives, and their various mistresses.
Mistresses were the cost of doing business. The more mistresses a power player had, the higher up the pecking order he was.
And there were strict protocols. Each mistress had a shopping allowance for clothes, for instance. Bottom-rung mistresses might get a measly $10,000 a season for grooming, and one higher up could get $100,000 a season.
There were certain boutiques one would go to — and you had pricey shops where customers had to make appointments to shop.
So that wives or mistresses did not run into each other at the store and have a catfight.
It was literally Armani for the wife, and Versace for the mistress. Each had a role to play, and they had to dress the part.
Mind you, I have had people ask me rather pointedly if I wore Armani or Versace, to which I truthfully replied, Moschino.
I had friends who were support staff to wealthy, and in our outings were always a hoot — we’d drive by certain buildings and businesses, and I would get the low-down on the tycoon who owned it, and his various mistresses. It always would give me a better idea of a power player’s fortunes than what was going around at the office.
Middle managers also have affairs, but there is none of the strategy with it. It was just to stick it to the wife or reclaim feelings of a swaggering youth or relieve urges or feel affection.
That was misapplying the odious concept. It was a way to show prowess and power just as it showed the other tycoons that the man could create a structure or deals where he got the best deal.
Hey, what’s love got to do with it?
It was a business transaction.
So men like Trump or Bill Clinton have their share of mistresses, and it isn’t about love or vows.
It is the art of the deal. It is not a Trump problem or a Clinton problem.
It’s a problem with the structure of power that has never been addressed for what it truly is.
I deal with that kind of sexist caste system in my fiction works, particularly The World’s Most Dangerous Woman, where knowledge of those games can give the heroine a roadmap to other secrets those robber barons keep hidden, and reveal the way the power player thinks and strategizes.
That ugly truth about power is the roadblock facing #MeToo. Having mistresses was always a form of currency. Kings had their mistresses, and the point of having paramours is to show strength, potency, and even shrewdness.
Women are still seen as props, trophies, and possessions. It is not enough to combat sexual harassment, but to take on an entire structure of power.
Especially one where women are objects not desired for their intelligence, expertise, or even their beauty.
But because they are willing to sell out for a clothing allowance and have dirt thrown in their faces.
It is a rig in the system that has to be confronted, and it isn’t pretty…