The Great Recession of the early 21st century will be remembered for bank bailouts, evaporating investments and credit crunches, but these downsized times could also mark a definitive turning point in gender relations, particularly when it comes to money issues. The recession’s negative effect on jobs from construction to finance means that men are more likely to lean on women—more of whom are still employed—than ever before.

Rather than allowing this trend to dent the collective male ego—as it often did amid the confrontations of the ’60s feminist movement—this time around men are increasingly embracing women who have more to offer than sex appeal, like a savings account and good credit. In fact, a growing number of men find no problem with chasing women who have more money than they do. Maybe they want someone who can supplement their own incomes. Maybe they’re looking for an all-out sugar momma. Whatever the case, don’t call it being a gigolo or a male gold digger. Call it the Ne-Yo Effect.

It’s somethin’ about kinda woman that want you but don’t need you, Ne-Yo sings on the hit single “Miss Independent,” adding, ’Cause she work like a boss, play like a boss. Car and a crib, she ’bout to pay ’em both off…. She got her own thing, that’s why I love her.

A recent Pew Research Center study revealed the scope of the rise of these Miss Independents. According to their findings, 22 percent of married women are now earning more than their husbands, up from four percent in 1970. And with the cementing of women in the workplace on all levels, this rate will only rise as the years go by. We’re beyond the tipping point. Women with money of their own are here to stay. Couple that fact with a new generation of men who were raised post-Ms. magazine, and it’s easy to see why these days a woman with more money than her man is not only acceptable, but preferred by the men themselves.

Aspiring television producer Luis Ceda, who admittedly has little saved and a career that is unpredictable at best, has no shame about his top priority when it comes to women— money. Ceda, who works between Miami and Los Angeles, has been involved with a successful media executive for a couple of years.

“If you’re not a rich guy—or even if you are—the relationship works better if the woman has money. It makes things simpler,” he explains. “And it’s not just because of the added security or the fact that I don’t have to pay for everything. Truth is, I find rich and powerful women much sexier than those girls you find at the clubs who only have one thing to offer. And a lot of guys feel that way.”

Ceda’s significant other, who prefers to keep her name off the record (a sign that maybe this new social attitude is still a work in progress), adds, “Having your own money as a woman keeps the guy from being too controlling. You’re in it for the love, because he knows you can do what you want. He doesn’t feel the need to be in control all the time. It’s good for the relationship. And I have no problem taking care of my man.” Last year, when Ceda lost a production job, she covered him. But when asked if he feels like he’s taking advantage of her, Ceda insists he sees their relationship as teamwork.

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