I usually avoid voicing a strong opinion on controversial issues because I don’t want to offend anyone, but this one just gets under my skin so badly I can’t be quiet about it. I apologize in advance if this rubs anyone the wrong way. I inserted a lot of GIFs to try to make it seem less hostile. For a less abrasive but more detailed breakdown of all I’ve written below from an actual finance professional, please consult “It’s Your Money: Becoming A Woman of Independent Means” by Gail Vaz Oxlade.
One of the attitudes I’ve seen entirely too much of in the PF sphere is upholding traditional gender stereotypes for personal financial gain.
There are two sides to this coin:
Men: “women deserve to earn less because they can be absent from the workforce for extended periods of time in order to devote themselves to child-rearing”
Women: “I earn enough to support myself but I feel like a man should pay for all our dates. I really want someone that can provide for me financially.”
I have only one response to the above:
Now, I won’t go into the first one because it’s been done, but the second sentiment really started to bother me when I read Fabulously Broke’s post and all the comments that followed. There was some mixed responses, but I was surprised by the overwhelming voice of agreement from women.
I think it’s fine to find hard-working, ambitious men attractive (they ARE attractive), but the line is crossed when you want that so you can get away with earning and/or contributing less yourself.
- biology – it just seems “natural” for the man to provide for the woman.
- tradition – it’s the way it’s always been.
- complacency – everyone else is doing it.
Just because we “feel” like it’s ok, regardless of what justification we use, we’re still supporting inequality between the sexes. Maybe it really is biology to want your man to support you, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.
I understand that depending on whatever circumstances, it might just happen that your husband out-earns you and thus can afford to contribute more to the household. I recognize that in a situation where the financial contribution is imbalanced, the spouse earning less might compensate by contributing to the household in other ways.
I want to emphasize that my criticism is directed towards women who are purposely earning less and/or expecting their spouse to provide for them financially when they are wholly capable of doing so themselves.
Specifically this is directed at those that have the audacity to champion the practice under the banner that “because I’m a woman and he’s a man“.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, girls, but so long as we hold on to the idea that we deserve to be provided for financially by our husbands, we will continue to be under-promoted, under-earning, and under-represented in upper management roles in every industry. Gender inequality happens because we let it — and in instances like this, we roll out the red carpet for it.
The idea that men are responsible for the financial support of their wife dates back to the practice of treating women not as people, but as property.
I want to confess that as my income increases, I feel a weird sense of uneasiness in out-earning the men I date. Guiltily, I admit my first reaction to the very pregnant Marissa Mayer’s promotion to CEO of Yahoo! was doubt. These gender roles permeate our cultural psyche so deeply, they’re the default even for those of us that want to break free of them.
Ladies, let’s stop selling ourselves short.
Earn as much money as you possibly can. I feel like women are less motivated by money, or perhaps less willing to show it, but I encourage you: work for money. Let it push you to the very maximum of your potential. If you deserve a raise, ask for it. If you can earn more money at another company, go for it. Push yourself until you’re in the highest possible position you can attain in the most lustrous career possible for yourself. Don’t settle for mediocre with the idea that it doesn’t matter what you earn, you can just marry someone that earns more.
Build financial assets like you’re going to be single forever. I don’t even care if you’re already in an 11 year relationship and own a dog together. Don’t pretend you can spend all your money on shoes and clothes because someday your prince will come and bail you out a la Mr. Big on Sex & The City. You need to set up your own retirement account, your own emergency fund, and save for your own financial goals. If you want to stay at home for child-rearing, make sure you can do it on passive income or by working from home. Don’t ever expect someone else to provide a lifestyle for you that you cannot provide yourself.
Make sure your income is enough to support your spouse & family. You can only expect your partner see you through hard financial times if you can do the same for him. While being a stay-at-home-mom might seem like the ideal, it might not be your reality. You never know when disability or unemployment will strike you or your partner, so you should be in a position to handle the bills in case you become the sole breadwinner. For all you know, your husband might want to be a stay-at-home Dad.
When married, save and invest like you can get divorced at any time — because you can! No one gets into a relationship with the intention of it ending, but the reality is most marriages end in divorce and this more frequently than not results in huge financial upheaval. Make sure you maintain some assets in your name only, particularly retirement accounts and an emergency fund should the worst happen.
But most importantly, find a partner that is your equal. One that pushes you to be self-sufficient, independent, and successful in your own right. One that makes you get the cheque when it’s your turn, because he is not your Sugar Daddy. A spouse is not an alternative income stream. He is your best friend, he is your confidant, and he is your family. Also, it is not the 1950’s anymore.