Twitter user Kimber Dowsett was bored and waiting to catch a flight when she caught wind of a couple arguing.
Like most of us would (though we might not admit it), she quickly found herself listening in on the juicy drama.
When she realized what the argument was about, she pulled out her phone and began documenting the scene on Twitter for the benefit of her 24,000 followers.
The couple was arguing about money, but not in a “What do you mean you forgot to pay the gas bill?!” kind of way. It was bigger than that.
The woman had been offered a promotion at work, and Dowsett couldn’t believe she was listening to the woman’s partner — a man — telling her to turn it down.
He’d be “humiliated,” he told her, if she made more money than him, explaining that if she really loved him, she’d turn the promotion down.
Couple beside me at the airport is arguing over money. He just told her if she loved him she’d turn down the promotion bc everyone would know she’d be making more money than him and he’d be humiliated. Holy shit is that really still a thing? wtf
— b̈́͐̐̊́͠͝͝ȁ̈́̓̅̂̓̏̄t͒ (@mzbat) December 19, 2017
As Dowsett continued listening in, the man twisted the knife, so to speak, insisting his partner put his feelings above her career.
Shocked and enraged, Dowsett sat at her airport gate, listening as the woman began crying, promising her partner she’d never jeopardize the relationship. When the man continued to insist she turn down the job, Dowsett couldn’t help it. “I just want to punch him,” she tweeted.
It only went downhill from there.
According to Dowsett, the man had simply assumed that his partner would eventually leave her job altogether to take care of the kids. There’s no point focusing on her career anyway, he told her.
“I can’t believe this is 2017,” Dowsett tweeted.
The dramatic fight ended, Dowsett wrote, when the woman stormed off, leaving her now-ex to go on vacation with his own damn self.
Apparently Dowsett wasn’t the only person who overheard the fight, as the people waiting at the gate burst into applause for the woman when she threw her boarding pass at her ex and told him to have fun in Cancun.
The Tweet thread went viral, with people applauding the woman or just enjoying the absurdity of it all.
For all the conversation’s viral hilarity, there’s more than a kernel of uncomfortable truth in this story.
The wage gap still exists, but women are becoming more and more likely to be the breadwinners in their households and relationships. And that’s not just single mothers. Some estimates say about a quarter of all marriages include a woman who earns more than her partner — a number that has quadrupled since the ’60s.
This is a good thing — obviously! It’s a sign that women are kicking ass in the workplace and finally getting more opportunities to advance, despite the wage gap and sexual harassment and other barriers women face in the workplace.
As the argument above shows, however, it’s not a comfortable transition for every couple. After all, there is immense societal pressure on men to “provide for the family” and on women to slide into motherly, caretaker roles.
For the love of equality, dudes, don’t be like Airport Guy. Be proud of your wives and girlfriends and partners for their accomplishments.
“Equal pay” is only going to get more equal, and the number of women in heterosexual relationships who out-earn or match what their male partners make is going to march closer and closer to half.
Being a man does not entitle you to a higher salary. Not anymore. Being secure in your masculinity and being a supportive partner means celebrating your significant other’s successes. It means encouraging them to be their best and being proud of them when they succeed, even if it means they might be doing “better” than you.
Yes, some people might think it’s “weird” if a wife or girlfriend makes more money, but things are changing and it’s time we all get with the program.
Don’t get swept away with this outdated idea of how things “should be” — or risk being immortalized by a viral Tweet thread in which you come off looking like a total jackass. It’s much better to just enjoy having a relationship with a talented, intelligent, and ambitious woman, if you’re lucky enough to have one.