The Sharp-Clawed World Of The Davos Mistress

The World Economic Forum may seem like an exercise in gravitas and glam but, says one attendant's wife, in fact it's "largely based on mass humiliation and paranoia." And who has it worst? The Davos mistresses.

While, writes Anya Schiffrin, it's bad enough to be a "wife" — marginalized, snubbed, reduced to wearing the low-tier white name tag — it's even worse for the mistresses with whom, to believe this, Davos is thronged. Writes she,

Typically their men are swallowed up by a tsunami of meetings and interviews and don't have the time or inclination to take their mistresses around with them. Often these men go to high-level dinners to which wives and mistresses are not invited. The skinny and beautifully dressed Davos Mistress typically hangs around the auditoriums waiting for a couple of minutes with her man. While waiting, she keeps her eyes peeled looking to search and destroy the competition.

The only thing worse than a white pass, is no pass. Rumor has it (heard first-hand from more than one jealous Davos Mistress) that there are legions of women - let's call them the aspiring mistresses - who do not get a coveted Davos invitation and badge and so can not enter the Congress Centre but who come anyway. They book a hotel room and prowl the streets hoping to snare their prey. They are the worst enemies of the Davos Mistress.

It's unclear if "mistress," in this case, refers as well to "girlfriends" — or whether it's some kind of predatory underclass with which all titans of industry travel as a matter of course. One is left wondering why any woman would subject herself to such humiliation — more than once, anyway — although the author has her theories.

Big dinners and the Saturday night soiree present another ugly dilemma for the Davos Mistress. If her man does not want to take her or has to go to a small working dinner, she faces a quandary. Does she go to the gala and hope to find another man, one who could perhaps become a boyfriend who will eventually marry her? Unseemly as it is to trawl for new prospects while officially at Davos as a companion to her man, it makes sense to use the World Economic Forum as a place to find a better boyfriend. Does she go back to the hotel room and simply wait for her man to return? Or does she find a gay friend and get him to take her out in the evenings? Many a Davos mistress has suffered greatly from her ambiguous position.

Despite the sweeping generalizations about this population, one thing is interesting about this piece (besides, that is, the look at the inner-workings of an event I now hope to never attend.) Although she's snide, there's not much of the classic "wife versus mistress" rivalry at play, despite her drawing a picture of what's essentially a classic gold-digger. Rather, there's a certain solidarity. As she writes, "Wives, mistresses, girlfriends. We are the hangers-on, the bottom feeders of the great circus that is the World Economic Forum." Women, generally, are the underclass — here, marital status doesn't matter. In this sense, the WEF would seem to be something of an equalizer, whatever else its achievements.

Jealous Davos Mistresses
[Reuters]

[Image via Shutterstock]