Today I want to talk about breaking the silence; Why I felt it was important to start this podcast, why I feel it’s important for women to talk about money and why I want to facilitate the kinds of conversations that I’ve been having with my guests on the interview episodes.
Money is different for women than for men. It has always been!
Why is it Different?
I personally believe that part of the reason for this is that it’s only been in very recent history that women have had any kind of personal control over money at all. It wasn’t until 1975 that a woman could hold a credit card in her own name without a male co-signer or guarantor, and usually that was either her husband or father.
That’s really recent history, that’s going back to our moms. Go back a bit further and women couldn’t inherit property. Anyone who is into Downton Abbey could see that in that show, but it was over here in America as well, and if you go back a bit further in history, women were property. We were traded for cattle and other goods in the form of dowry, and straight up slavery too.
In some parts of the world, women still are property, and in all parts of the world, sex slavery and domestic servitude still exist, so we have a different relationship with money in terms of history than men do. Men have always had more control over it and more control over us.
And We Talk About E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G But
I see nowadays that women talk about all kinds of things, we talk about marriages and boyfriends, we talk about sex lives and gynecology appointments, but money has been a taboo subject for women forever. TWEET THAT!
In thinking about this and talking to some friends about it, we remembered an episode of Sex in the City, the TV show from the early 2000s that explored all kinds of things, especially women talking to each other about their sex lives.
I remember a particular episode where the main character found out her rent controlled apartment building was going co-op, and she either had to buy the apartment or she had to move, and she needed a $40,000 down payment in order to buy it, which she didn’t have.
One of the reasons I found this episode so telling was that they did end up having some conversations about money, and it was really hard. These women who shared so many deep, personal details, intimate details about their lives, struggled to talk about the real financial situations that each of them were in.
When Carrie brought up this problem about not having a down payment, not having any savings to her friends, one of them, the pregnant lawyer who was about to become a single mom and had savings, she had things planned out, she had her rainy day fund and her emergency fund, she offered to help Carrie, which of course she refused because her friend was about to have a baby.
I forget what happened with Samantha, but the one who was really uncomfortable with it was the wealthiest one, Charlotte, the WASP-y character. At first she absolutely refused to have a conversation about money, she got up and left, and she didn’t offer to help her friend, which is what Carrie was upset about.
Eventually by the end of the episode, she gives her friend her super huge diamond engagement ring from her recently ended marriage, which was kind of a weird way to handle it. (I would rather have seen them go to a lawyer and write up a promissory note and figure out interest rates and everything, but that’s okay, this isn’t reality.)
The point of it was, they could share all of these deep things about their friendship, but talking about money was really hard, and I think that’s true for a lot of women, and I think that there are a lot of reasons for that.
So, Why Aren’t We Talking About it?
Some of those reasons are the same reasons that I think we need these forums for women to talk about money.
One of them that I see is that women tend to have a sort of financial shame that I don’t see much evidence of in men in the same way. I’ve seen the same woman feel shame about not being as financially successful as someone she considers a peer or someone she admires in one moment, and then turn around later and feel shame about having more than someone and wanting to hide the fact that they have more.
So it’s like it comes at us from both sides. We struggle with being successful and having a lot of money, feeling good about that without feeling we’re making someone else feel less than because we have more. We then also feel bad about letting other people know when we need help when things aren’t going well, when something’s gone wrong and we don’t know what to do.
It’s hard for women to reach out and get help about financial situations.
This kind of shame that we’re talking about and the silence that it creates is a real problem for women in a way that I think is different than for men.
For one thing, it’s easier for employers to pay women less than men if women don’t find out how much other employees are getting paid for doing the same work, and then they don’t negotiate up to that same rate that men would feel more comfortable doing.
It’s also a problem for us in things like divorce negotiations, not wanting to seem greedy. We seem to have all these hang ups around money;
- We don’t want to seem greedy
- We don’t want to seem snobby
- We don’t want to be poor
- We want to keep up with our peers
- But we also don’t want to make anyone else feel bad about money!
In a lot of ways, women as a group, we’re still learning how to think about, talk about and wield the power that money gives us, to accomplish the things that we want to do in life.
And we also struggle with not falling prey to the super unequal pressure that’s placed on women by the marketing world, by the media, by advertising as a whole, to get us to spend and consume and go into debt. Women are marketed to in a very different way than men are.
So all of those things combine to make money different for us!
Let’s Not Forget that Gap, too
On top of that, we also have things like the pay gap, the fact that we get paid less.
Nowadays women more and more are completing college and getting tons of student loan debt, but then when we go into our careers, we’re the ones taking time out of our careers to have children.
We not only forego salary during that time:
- We also miss opportunities for advancement
- We miss cost of living increases
- We miss promotions and pay rises
- We miss contributions to our 401ks – if we even have the kind of job that has a 401k –
and missing that early on in our career can make a huge difference towards retirement savings.
If you look at a man’s career trajectory during those exact same years when women are taking time off to have kids, they don’t have any of those things going on. Even if women decide not to have children during that time, the idea that they may take time off to do those things could mean that they get passed over for positions in projects or for promotions, just because they’re that age and they “might” want to.
So there are a lot of reasons that earning is different for us, spending is different for us and saving is different for us, so that’s why I wanted to start this podcast, to focus specifically on the issues that women have with money.
It’s Happening, We’re Making History
Right now we’re at a unique time in history. Right now women have control over a larger portion of the world’s wealth than we ever have at any other time in history, and women in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, we’re the ones who have the most opportunities to take advantage of this.
But what we do with our money, how we handle it, how we teach our daughters about money, that affects women worldwide.
What we are doing now, it’s a sea change. There is so much going on and I’m so excited about it. I feel like all of us should be excited to be a part of this, because while we are tackling our own personal finances on one hand, we’re also figuring out ways to make the working world a better place for women, to try to even up the pay gap and figure out how not to have the mommy penalty where all of us suffer, because some of us have to take time off for kids.
Let’s be honest, does the world want children in it? Children are important, children contribute and children are what keeps our species going. Should we really be punishing women for having children and taking time to take care of them? TWEET THAT!
Now is the Time
I feel like this generation right now, we’re figuring this out. More and more women are becoming self-employed, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and finding ways to really balance out their care giving role with their bread winning role, without either one completely falling down.
I feel like working for ourselves, although we miss out on a lot of the safety nets of benefits and job security that used to be associated with traditional employment, now we’re figuring out some of those things for ourselves, and I think our generation and the next couple after us are really going to make huge strides in that.
So that’s another part of the conversation that I want to bring into this is that, while, yes, we’re focusing on our own personal finances and our own businesses, but there’s also something much bigger going on that I want us all to be aware of and feel like we’re a part of because it’s really exciting and it’s going to be great.
And That is My Why
So that’s why I started this podcast, I wanted to share that with you. I think it’s time for us to break the silence of women not feeling like they can talk about money. It’s time to stop harboring the shame, because let’s be honest, when you’re ashamed of something, you hide it, you’re quiet about it. TWEET THAT!
When you actually bring it into the sunlight and talk about it, usually the shame evaporates. That’s true for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, all kinds of things, so women who get into debt and don’t know what to do about it and have crazy amounts of student loans, don’t want to share it because they’re ashamed.
This is what we should be talking about, we should be talking about how we get into this, how the world is kind of slanted a bit unfairly towards making us consume and spend and feeling like that’s what we’re supposed to do, and the more we talk about it, the more we can help each other, and find new ways to go about things.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode, I really appreciate you being here. If you like it, please subscribe and join me every week. Thank you.
If anyone wants to write me, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I read all my emails personally, I would love to hear what you would like to have addressed in this podcast, and any feedback that you have. Thanks so much.