Previous: 12 Things Every Stressed-Out Person Needs To Start Doing With Their Weekends
Next: How Purging My Instagram Saved Me $1,100



View count:71,943
Last sync:2024-07-01 03:30
In this episode, Chelsea dissects Bridgerton, the Regency romance Netflix show that's been on all our minds. From knowing when to compromise to following the path you want (instead of the one you've been told you're *supposed* to want), these are the lessons any feminist can take from Bridgerton.

Our video on rich people's perception of "normal":

Karolina Zubrowska video:

Why men resist therapy:

Male loneliness epidemic:

Why not to let men handle all finances:

Marital sex statistics:

Marriage, kids, and happiness research:

Jane Austen Marriage Law:

Child support stats:

"Motherhood penalty":

Women's happiness:

Watch more of The Financial Diet hosted by Chelsea Fagan here:

The Financial Diet site:

Hey guys.

It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And you may notice that I am on a slightly different set today, and that is because I am once again in France with my husband, who still for the time being is not able to come back and live with us in the states.

But fingers crossed, we have a new administration, things are changing every day, we've got executive orders being signed constantly. So hopefully very soon that will have implications for my mans. But until then, I am here in France with him pretty often, and that's where I'll be for some of the upcoming videos.

So get used to this very sort of ominous and lugubrious set. And today, I want to take a little departure from our usual topics on this channel, where we obviously often talk about things like personal finance, money management, career tips, et cetera, and talk about something that has been weighing heavily on my mind. And that is the Netflix show Bridgerton.

I personally quite enjoyed the show, as someone who, without any shame or embarrassment, because we're constantly judging women's interests even though men are interested in so many dumb things, I'm a big fan of romance novels in general. I find them very lovely to read, especially poolside in the summer. But I actually hadn't read this one, nor had I even heard of it.

And for the most part, I've never really watched any sort of romance novel to TV or film adaptation. Outlander has been on my list for a long time, haven't gotten to it yet. But I was interested to see just how much they were able to adapt it and make it relevant for the modern era.

Now obviously, Bridgerton is not intending to be a shot for shot representation of what regency era England was like. Even down to the costumes, there were many creative liberties taken. And one of my favorite YouTubers, Karolina Zebrowska, did a fantastic video recently on all of the different costumes and how they do and don't really match up to what people were actually wearing at that time, which I highly recommend.

Link you to that down in the description. But I do think, all historical inaccuracies aside, that there are many lessons that the modern feminist can take from watching Bridgerton. Now I know that just putting the word feminist in the title of a video, let alone saying it repeatedly, is going to cause a fair amount of controversy, and perhaps attract an undesirable element to our comment section.

But if any of those trolls should show up in our comment section, I leave it to our thoughtful and vigilant regular commenters to swiftly downvote them, because we do not have time for that on this channel. And beware, dear viewer, before I jump into these points, that if you have not watched season one of Bridgerton in its entirety, I will be spoiling a lot here. So please turn back now, and then come back when you've watched the show.

But if you continue from this point on and get mad that there are spoilers, you have no one to blame but yourself. And yes, I am victim blaming you. So without further ado and with tongue somewhat firmly in cheek, let's get into the seven lessons that feminists can learn from Bridgerton.

Number one is just marry the damn prince. I might be in the minority here, and yes, I am saying this while taking into account how wonderful the actor who plays Simon is to look at, but I was deeply unmoved by the central story arc in this show. The relationship struck me at best as a regency era fuckboy looking to use his tragic backstory as a reason to treat his otherwise seemingly nice and normal girlfriend like his emotional ragdoll.

And this, a.k.a. Grown men being unable to deal with their own emotions and moving that emotional labor to the woman in their life, is not something that stopped at the regency era. Even to this day, to bastardize the Twitter meme, men would literally rather engage in a sham marriage with a duchess and move to a remote castle that they'd long ago abandoned, instead of going to therapy.

And I was personally quite confused as to why Daphne would not want to marry the prince who, aside from his much bigger and better title, also seemed to be by all accounts a very emotionally healthy, and mature, and stable, and thoughtful, and communicative man. So much so that he actually was like weirdly OK with it when she completely rejected him and insisted on letting her choose her own path, which obviously clearly doesn't really line up with what the likely historical reality would have been. But still nice for the character.

And his ability to emotionally cope, especially for his given level of power, is actually still to this day a pretty impressive quality in men. For many men, admitting to having a personality flaw or two or three can feel like admitting to having leprosy. Such as it was for vice presidential nominee Thomas Eagleton under George McGovern's presidency run in 1972.

Despite attempts to keep it under wraps, when it was revealed that he had bouts of depression throughout his life, Eagleton was forced to quit the race. Throughout history, people in powerful leadership roles have tried to hide or downplay any signs of mental vulnerability. They go to great lengths to mask perceived physical or emotional weakness and to show only strength.

This was the case with John F Kennedy, who had to manage crippling back pain with mega doses of pain medication, and Franklin Roosevelt, who tried to cover up his polio. And when you consider the long term impacts of men who do not deal with their issues and form healthy social relationships, this whole dynamic glamorized in the show of "I can be the one to save him" becomes increasingly unappealing, even today. As we've talked about before on TFD, male loneliness and social isolation is nothing short of an epidemic.

And its effects get worse as we age. A recent UGov study shows that 44% of males 18 and over said that they feel lonely all the time, far higher than the percentage of women who gave the same answer. In the same study, men were 50% more likely than women to say they don't have any close friends, and 33% more likely to say that they don't have a best friend.

In fact, many men feel emotionally closer to their dogs than they do to other humans. In a recent study by psychologist Christopher Blazina and researcher Lori Kogan, 62% of male dog owners said that their relationship with their dog is quote "almost always secure," while only 10% said the same about their relationship with the closest human in their life. You may think that it's some kind of achievement to have a relationship with a guy where you can be the one to finally teach him that he can love and be loved, but if you're the only person with whom he's able to have that relationship, you're setting yourself up for a pretty dismal future.

So long story short, marry the emotionally healthy prince. Number two is never settle for a guy who only hangs out with you at home. So this show did not limit it to one regency era fuckboy.

We actually have a second one in Anthony, Daphne's older brother and quasi father figure who has completely inappropriate relationships with seemingly everyone in his life. And his storyline with the opera singer who is not a member of the landed gentry, Sienna, goes to demonstrate another kind of highly toxic relationship. While she was not the sort of Madonna figure coming in to rescue him from his own emotional breakdowns and teach him that he's worthy, she essentially plays a different role, where she's the woman who can only be loved in certain contexts, because she doesn't fit into the broader portrait of his life.

We've all likely dated the guy or girl who's very happy to hang with us when we're hanging out in our underwear at 2:00 AM smoking weed and watching Adult Swim cartoons, or whatever the equivalent of that was in 1813 England, but who has no interest in bringing us to the company holiday party or to meet his family. And this is probably one of the most important lessons from the show. And if I dare say the biggest yas queen moment of the show when Sienna finally decides, hey no, I'm actually not going to play this game anymore.

I'm going to go upstairs with that guy who seemed great, by all accounts, but he doesn't talk in the show, so who really knows? And turned the handsome viscount away when he had his bouquet of flowers and his carriage at the ready to take her to a ball finally, after years of hiding her in a closet. Also this is a side note, but I did make the comment when watching the show with Mark, that really we should stop the tradition of bringing women giant bouquets of flowers on a date.

I don't want to have to hold a bouquet of flowers throughout a whole ball. Enough with the flowers. And even if she was at her house, she now has to go get a vase and scissors and all of this, and deal with the flowers before she goes out.

Flowers are cumbersome. Give them a candle, if anything. Long story short, when it comes to the man or woman in your life who refuses to treat you with all of the glory you deserve at all times of day, just say no.

Number three is never rely on a man to handle your finances. Perhaps the most TFD relevant storyline on all of Bridgerton was the ongoing saga of the Featherington family, who is constantly on the verge of financial and social collapse because of the untreated gambling addiction and ensuing financial problems caused by their patriarch. Essentially, the head of the Featherington household had accrued all kinds of debts all over the city, and as a result was forced to take on the responsibility of the young adult daughter of one of the men to whom he owed money, which in and of itself caused many problems we'll touch on later.

Bu also his unpaid debts around the city essentially wiped out the family's savings, the dowries of all of his daughters, and their good standing with essentially everyone in the town. Now aside from the fact that having someone with what is essentially an untreated addiction causes all kinds of emotional and mental problems on the entire household, having a head of household who is entirely in charge of the finances, to the complete lack of visibility of even his own spouse, is a recipe for disaster. And although things have clearly improved in terms of gender parity when it comes to household finances between men and women since regency era England, things are still much more old school and patriarchal than you might imagine.

According to a recent UBS report, while women often handle day to day finances, 56% of women leave investment and financial planning decisions to their husbands. Among women who leave long term financial decisions to their husbands, 85% believe their husbands know more about those decisions. Among women who leave long term financial decisions to their husbands, 85% prefer that their husbands make those decisions.

And when you consider both the divorce rate, which is over 50% in many metropolitan areas of the country, and the fact that women statistically outlive men, you quickly realize that having women who are in the dark about their finances long term and assuming that the man is just naturally more able to handle it, is a pretty precarious position to put yourself in. Obviously in Bridgerton, the case of the Featheringtons was a pretty extreme example of what happens when you're totally blind and without control to your own family's money. But in our modern era where women are increasingly outearning their spouses as well as being more highly educated, we still see a majority of women assuming that men are just better equipped to handle these decisions, and feeling liberated to turn off their brains when it comes to the long term financial planning, even when they're making the day to day financial decisions.

If nothing else, those two things should be intensely intertwined, because you can't do long term financial planning without good day to day financial management. But also the idea of in 2021 having such things be gendered along those lines is, to say the least, quite outdated. Number four is that open communication about sex and childbearing is a non-negotiable.

So while the central storyline of Daphne and Simon's marriage and all of the lack of communication around intimacy, which led to extreme conflict around the concept of children, but also many opportunities to see Rege-Jean Page's butt, so it kind of works out. Obviously, that storyline is so littered with red flags that it becomes essentially comical towards the end. But the idea of couples not being open about both intimacy and the idea of having children and what implications that has for their future relationship is not something that we left behind in regency England.

In fact, it's estimated that currently about 15% of all marriages are totally sexless. And one study published in 2019 tied better sexual communication with greater satisfaction, and even fewer faked orgasms. Women who continued to fake orgasms were more likely to indicate embarrassment talking about sex with their partner in explicit ways.

More than half of the women reported that they had wanted to communicate with a partner regarding sex, but decided not to. The most common reasons were not wanting to hurt a partner's feelings, not feeling comfortable going into detail, and embarrassment, the study continued. Basically, it is quite common in relationships to not feel comfortable discussing intimate matters the way you might want to, leading to a lifetime of dissatisfaction or lower than possible satisfaction, as well as potentially a total absence of sex.

And perhaps more problematically in the Bridgerton storyline, on top of their utter lack of communication about sexual health, they also are constantly at conflict around the concept of having a child, basically immediately into their marriage. Now obviously at the time, these norms of you get married, you have a kid essentially the next day, were so ingrained in society that it is understandable that Daphne would want to go down that route. But especially extrapolated on today's world, the idea that you should move immediately from intensely problematic relationship to having a kid in order to make everything complete is not only a huge mistake, it's also something more common than a lot of us would want to think.

The idea of having children as a logical unexamined next step, or as a way to help an ailing marriage, or just done by one partner because the other partner was interested, is an incredibly common default response for married couples. But this perception that having a child together is going to make you a more happy couple isn't just misguided. In many cases, it's often the opposite.

For around 30 years, researchers have studied how having children affects a marriage, and the results are conclusive. The relationship between spouses suffers once kids come along. Comparing couples with and without children, researchers found that the rate of the decline in relationship satisfaction is nearly twice as steep for couples who have children than for childless couples.

In the event that a pregnancy is unplanned, the parents experience even greater negative impacts on their relationship. The irony is that even as the marital satisfaction of new parents declines, the likelihood of them divorcing also declines. So having children may make you miserable, but you'll be miserable together.

Worse still, this decrease in marital satisfaction likely leads to a change in general happiness, because the biggest predictor of overall life satisfaction is one satisfaction with one's spouse. Now obviously, if we're going to have a functional society and not a Children of Men type scenario, we need to keep having children at some kind of a sustainable pace. However, the assumption that having children is just the natural next step in a marriage or that you can get away without talking about these things in a healthy, open manner, is definitely something we need to leave back in the regency era.

Number five, putting principles above security is a rich person's privilege. So there are two storylines in Bridgerton which follow a very similar arc, in which two people are presented with a situation where, because of their current circumstances, they either have to make what they perceive to be the principled, correct decision and ensure their security and the security of their family, or they have to make what they believe to be a morally compromised decision and face potentially dire consequences as a result. We have Will Mondrich, the Duke's boxer friend who is currently living match to match in a small apartment with his growing family, and struggling to get by financially.

You also have Marina Thompson, who is pregnant with the child of her lover who has since passed away, but has been offered a proposal of marriage by his brother who wishes to maintain both her and his deceased brother's honor. Will doesn't want to take a dive in an upcoming fight in order to secure his family's financial security, because that would undermine his valor as a sportsman. Marina doesn't want to marry her deceased lover's brother, because she's not in love with him and still aspires to marry for love.

Both of course, in the end, end up making those quote unquote "compromised" decisions because if not, the fates that they face are pretty bleak. In the case of Marina, even if she weren't pregnant with what at the time would have been considered a bastard child, as a young single woman, her options were extremely limited. Educational and employment opportunities for women were extremely limited in this time.

Marriage was almost a necessity. In one letter to Fanny Knight, regency author Jane Austen commented that quote "Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor," which is one very strong argument in favor of matrimony. And for the boxer, the idea of moving into a much more stable social class was extremely unlikely, given that he was living match to match.

And to become a part of the landed Gentry like his friend the Duke, he would have had to own literally hundreds of acres of property. I don't know how many boxing matches that would probably take, but I'm assuming he would have been dead of head injuries long before he ever would have accumulated that much property. And so in both cases, we see people ostensibly compromising their principles in order to ensure security.

But when you consider the context in which they lived, it's no surprise that they made the choice that would sustain their families. And we see that this exact same dynamic plays out today. We recently did a video on the way rich people perceive the world around them.

And one of the most stark contrasts between the rich and the poor, when it comes to perception and decision making, is the ability of those with financial means to make mistakes, to start over, to change paths, or to stand on principle. Most Americans could not afford an unexpected $500 emergency, which makes it pretty clear why, for many people, the idea of holding strong to their principles if it cost them dearly is simply not an option they have to play with. At the end of the day, being able to be principled comes down to financial security.

When we even look at Sienna's plotline with Anthony, the fact that she was able to reject his potential financial caring for her largely in part stemmed likely from the fact that she already had another guy waiting in the wings who could help to support her, as well as a job that at least earned her enough money to survive. Similarly, Daphne was able to marry for love rather than securing her financial future with the prince, because no matter what she did, she was going to have enough money behind her. Whether in regency England or 2021 America, standing on principle is often just a question of having the money to do so.

Number six is remember that consequences are not the same for men and women. So as I mentioned before, one of the primary characters in Bridgerton is Marina Thompson, who is unexpectedly pregnant with the child of her lover who ends up sadly dying away at war in Spain. Now clearly, everyone makes mistakes.

And she and her lover at the time conceiving a child was likely something neither of them had planned. But her storyline, how limited her choices are, how much scorn she faces from the community around her, how much she's forced into decisions she doesn't want to make, go to show that the consequences for these types of decisions that both people entered into often don't fall the same along gender lines. That was true then and it's sadly true now.

If we use the example of a heteronormative couple having children, in cases where the man and woman are no longer together, that full support is often hard to come by. In one recent Census Bureau study, approximately 2/3 or 69.3 of custodial parents, most of whom are women, who were due child support received some form of payment from non-custodial parents, while only 43.5% reported receiving the full amount of child support due. Many people who have divorced will tell you that a big part of the process for the custodial parent is seeking out that full child support from the non-custodial parent, which can drag you out in court for literal years, and never fully ensure that you get that support.

And even for happy couples, the mutual decision to have a child and the consequences people face in the workplace as a result of that decision fall very differently depending on which gender you happen to be. In a 2013 study, Marianne Mason, professor and co-director of the Center for Economics and Family Security at the University of California Berkeley School of Law revealed some alarming outcomes for women in academia. Women graduate students who are pregnant or mothers with young children are 132% more likely to be working in a contingent position, while men with a young child are 36% less likely to be in a contingent position.

Contingent positions are non tenured adjunct or temporary jobs which are not secure and several studies have shown how women can lose out after a child is born, as well as how the hit to their careers can multiply as they have more kids. One such study conducted by the University of Massachusetts sociologist Michelle Budig found that women lose about 4% of lifetime earnings per child they have. Now this is not to say that you shouldn't engage in decision making such as having a child with the person you want to, but it is important to be lucid about the fact that we still very much live in a society where the way women and men are treated for the same decisions are not the same.

Lastly, number seven is, especially as a woman, never assume that the path that was set out for you is the right one. Some of the most compelling story lines in Bridgerton come from the women who do not want to follow in the mold that has already been drafted for them, i.e. debuting in society, marrying the richest man who will have them, and promptly having many children of her own. We have Penelope, who oh my god ends up being Lady Whistledown.

We have Eloise, who wants to spend more time on her detective work and I assume self bang cutting than doing any sort of society mingling. We have Madame Dellacqua, with her quite frankly nails on a chalkboard fake French accent, doing what she needs to do to get by. We even have Sienna, who takes the time to say thank you, next to a literal viscount.

And in many ways, these women's storylines are the most compelling on the show, because they essentially allow us to envision a world through their eyes where even in an extremely constrained society, women are able to imagine a future for themselves different from the ones that were expected for them. And this has many lessons that reverberate in our modern era. Because surprisingly, despite the default path that is set out for most women, i.e. get married and have children, women actually seem to report higher levels of satisfaction when they don't follow this path.

Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics, said that the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness, particularly marriage and raising children. As he put it, "We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I'm going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say, if you're a man, you should probably get married. But if you're a woman, don't bother." Now of course, this doesn't mean that you can't opt into those things and still have a happy life.

But it does go to show that the paths that were traced out before us were probably not made because they are most likely to ensure our personal satisfaction, fulfillment, or development. In fact, they were probably not made with us as individuals in mind whatsoever. So it's good to at least take time to second guess these various next steps that are spoon fed to us, and really decide whether or not they're worth it.

And of course, as we learn from Lady Featherington's tragic story, these things are much easier to do when you have a handle over your own money. At the end of the day, no matter what era you're living in, it's important to hear these echoes through history as women have continued to navigate a world that wasn't always necessarily made with them in mind. And as always, guys, thank you for joining.

And don't forget to subscribe and join buttons, and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Goodbye.