Money and Women
By Erica and Karen
We learned relatively young that it was important, as we both ended up having to be self-sufficient pretty early--at least for middle class white women. We learned you needed money to live, to eat, to support others, and of course for clothes.
So we valued having money--our own. Money made us responsible citizens and parents. Money gave us options, and independence. Money allowed us to call our own shots.
We didn't talk about it much, though. When people asked what we liked about our jobs, we usually said nothing about money. We knew women were viewed as soulless and unfeminine when they talked about money. So we didn't. We didn't talk about how much we made, we didn't talk about how much we spent, and if we splurged on something we downplayed it.
But after we worked for a while we realized that it was awfully convenient for those who had the money, and the power, for us to be so reticent. And we began to notice that in some ways it was assumed as a structural matter that we would never be equal earners. Like the marriage penalty in the US tax code. (Yes, today is Tax Day.) That was convenient too. So we began to question our shy approach to talking about money.
The New York Times recently criticized this strange reticence, highlighting the obvious link between money and political power. Men understand well how political power can help them. Men also know well that politics runs on money. To be a player you have to invest. If you invest a lot, you have a lot of power. Look at Rebekah Mercer. She definitely figured that out. We need a bunch of Rebekah Mercers on our side, so we need to find and fund them. We can't do that if we depend on someone else to define what we want or to fund what we need.
So we advocate that women be clear that one of the things they want out of life is money. And another is power. They are more likely to get more of both if they are more comfortable asking for more of both. Men do it. We don't, and if we don't change that we might not have either.