Is Amy Schumer’s ‘Hot’ New Boyfriend a ‘Marriageable Man’?

Amy Schumer has a boyfriend, and evidently the world is ecstatic that the 34-year-old comedian finally has love!!!

Not just a man, but a hot man, not only because the furniture designer, Ben Hanisch, 29, of Chicago, is cute, but, according to The Cut, he’s desirable because of his profession. Carpenters are hot: “If we really break it down, I think the appreciation all boils down to this: The Carpenter/Furniture-Maker probably built the bed he’s about to do you on. Good work, Amy.”

Before we get all crazy on that, a carpenter, for the record, is not quite the same as the owner of a high-end furniture design company.

Regardless, calling Hanisch a carpenter and celebrating his ability to make things and use his, ahem, hands is, well, sexy. Many women are drawn to a man:

who operates a little bit outside of the status quo, because he’s chosen to make money in an unconventional, self-employed way, which, again, very hot, as is the fact that he is ostensibly making a steady income by making things. And even if nobody is buying that beautiful $12,000 raw-edged walnut dining-room table yet, we’ve evolved past the point where we need the alpha male to provide financially, hence, the rise of the trophy hipster boyfriend. This boyfriend can provide in other, more primitive ways, like providing shelter, because all furniture-makers can also build houses, right? This is a definite shift from previous Ideal Boyfriends, which pretty much consisted of Architects, as Mindy Kaling noted in a New Yorker essay. Now we’ve come to accept that a creative who only makes money sometimes more attractive than a suit who always makes money.

OK, so some women like men who go against the status quo. I sure do. But what does that mean?

We like looking at him? Yes.

We want to sleep with him? Probably.

We’d love to call him boyfriend? Maybe.

We’d marry him? Well …

And that’s where the fun stops.

Can a woman make more?

Maybe a woman like Schumer, who is worth at least $1 million and on her way to earn much more, would find a man who makes things other than money a marriageable man. After all, there are many high-earning women who have married men who don’t make as much as they do, such as Bethenny Frankel, worth $22 million at the time she divorced former hubby Jason Hoppy, worth $475,000. (But just look at what happened when they split; she was not too willing to share the wealth or their child). Wealthy women tend to be a bit more cautious when it comes to marrying than wealthy men are; more insist on prenups (or learn the hard way, like Jessica Simpson and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini).

But would other women, successful but worth a lot less than $1 million, be willing to be with a man who “only makes money sometimes” versus someone who “always makes money”?

Based on the men I know who who are not high earners, despite having steady jobs and supporting themselves quite nicely (like teachers and musicians), and based on the responses to my previous post on dating broke men, I would say probably not. Some women would prefer to work part time, especially when kids come along, which means someone would have to be working full time, or be independently wealthy, or be doing something other than just “providing shelter,” to support that lifestyle unless they were a couple who lived small, and there are some who can and do live that way.

What does marriageability mean?

So what, exactly, makes a man marriageable — a topic addressed by sociologist Tristan Bridges in a new study that I found illuminating. We often talk about “marriageable man” as a man’s ability to have a steady job and a decent income. Indeed, women overwhelmingly (78 percent, according to the Pew Research Center) want a future partner to have a study job. But as his study notes, “women under different types of socioeconomic constraints are assessing marriageability in class-specific ways.” For lower socioeconomic women and often black women, yes, a marriageable man is one who has a job, but drug use and trafficking, under- or unemployment, the high rates of men in jail and the higher mortality rates for black men in their community put them at marital disadvantage — there are fewer men in their dating pool (And as I addressed previously, strong black women are often seen as being a detriment to black men’s masculinity.)

So low-income men are “redefining fatherhood to de-emphasize the breadwinner model and augment what they do bring to the table — ‘relational fathering.’”

Which sounds a lot like what middle- and upper-class hetero women who want kids say they want — a hands-on dad. Their expectations in a husband involve much more than just an income — they want an equal partner who brings more to the table than just money, like sharing childcare and chores. But, as he notes,

educated women’s egalitarian ideals confront institutionalized gendered courtship scripts that often reproduce the very gender relations they desire to avoid. … Increasingly, women want men who prefer egalitarian marriages, who will prioritize family and share the workload of household responsibilities, and who will be present and available for romantic and family life. Yet, the workforce encourages and rewards the opposite of these qualities and facilitates placing work before all else. If men want to be successful in the workplace (achieving the “gainfully employed” criterion of the traditional definition of marriageability), they are working themselves out of being considered marriageable by the women in their lives.”

Having an egalitarian marriage isn’t easy, despite our best intentions, and “whether men will be able and willing to adapt to these changes is an unanswered question.”

And all of this, of course, assumes a woman actually wants children. What determines a “marriageable man” is probably very different if she doesn’t; as I’ve written before, no one really worries about child-free couples.

What’s a marriageable woman?

Whenever I hear the term “marriageable man” I shudder a bit because there really isn’t a similar discussion for women. What makes a woman marriageable? It still speaks to a gendered reality — a man’s ability to provide economically and a woman’s ability to provide … what? Sex? Caretaking? Housekeeping? A nice personality? No drama? Some income? Beauty? Being a “cool” girl? All of the above? It seems to come down to a few desirable traits — warmth, affection, thoughtfulness, being nurturing — and, as the Pew notes, similar child-rearing views versus being a woman who has a steady job and/or a high income.

Since four out of 10 newlyweds in 2013 were married at least once before, I have to ask what’s a “marriageable man” when women already have teens or are empty-nesters or childfree? The gray divorce rate is almost 50 percent — there are more single people 50 and older than ever before, and they’re dating. For older people, a “marriageable” partner is often something much different than what we wanted when we were younger. Women often want a companion and a sexual partner, while older men often want a younger wife to start new families with while others want a caretaker — aka a nurse with a purse.

But what his study addresses for the first time is that we shouldn’t view all “never married” people as the same; some unmarried men and women are unable to find a partner and some are actually choosing to be “marriage-free,” as single mom Shonda Rhimes and Oprah have.

So defining a marriageable man, he says, is more of “a moving target.”

For Schumer, her ideal man “has to be funny, he has to be nice, and he has to have a normal relationship with his mother.” The comedian has said she wants to have kids, but doubts babies and marriage are in her future. But that may have been her thinking before she got serious with Hanisch.

Is Hanisch a marriageable man for every woman, or is he doomed to remain a “trophy hipster boyfriend”? After all, hot only goes so far …

Want to define what will make your marriage a success? Learn how by ordering The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels on Amazon, and, while you’re at it, follow TNID on Twitter and Facebook.

Originally published at

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

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