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Just How Naughty Are These Ladies?

There’s an article in today’s N.Y. Times about how many women buy luxury items with cash instead of a credit card so their boyfriends or husbands won’t find out and hassle them. “His tastes aren’t as expensive as mine, and he doesn’t understand the need to have so many pricey things,” says one woman who is paying cash for a $2,000 black Chanel tote. “Even though I have my own income, paying for my shopping in cash is so much easier than having a discussion about what I’m buying.”

The woman quoted above is Shalla Azizian, a 50-year-old woman in Manhattan who owns a lingerie boutique. But here’s what I don’t follow:

1. Since Ms. Azizian owns her own business and has her own income, couldn’t she just as easily have her own credit card accounts that her husband doesn’t need to see?

2. If Ms. Azizian’s purchase is meant to stand as a representative anecdote for an article about women who don’t want their men to know they’re buying luxury goods, why is she telling a N.Y. Times reporter about spending $2,000 in cash on a Chanel bag? (And posing for a photograph, too.)

3. Instead of representing a sort of quirky female behavior provoked by the misogynistic behavior of husbands and boyfriends — a story line seemingly embraced by the article’s author, Shivani Vora, when she writes “though this is 2007, not 1957” — what if this article is really about something else entirely? What if it’s really about women who run boutiques or other businesses that take in a lot of cash and simply want to spend the cash without declaring it? Is this misogyny-driven spending article really an article about soft-core money laundering? Am I a misogynist for even suggesting this?

4. If No. 3 were true — which it is probably not, and I do not assume any unlawful behavior on the part of Ms. Azizian or anyone else named in the article — then having your husband find out about your large cash purchases might be the least of your troubles. The people who might be most interested in your secret are the I.R.S.