It's A Rich Man's World
Money is usually equated with security and the ability to have a comfortable life. Yet girls are still persistently raised to believe that they may not have control over this reality. We're often told that we should “marry rich” or at least make sure our husbands (always husbands) can “provide” or “take care of” us. This socialization perpetuates countless gender stereotypes: it relies on notorious stereotypes that frame women as bad at math and therefore incapable of managing their own money and perpetuates the idea that women should marry men who will make enough money to take care of them (ignoring women who would like to marry women or not marry at all).
When I talk to my friends about the "perfect" partner, we still love to paint the picture of a fairy tale romance that culminates in the perfect weddings, homes and families of our own. Yet, we neglect to consider this fairy tale from an economic perspective. We assume that our "perfect" partners will also earn perfect paychecks to cover all these expenses. My friends and I may have ambitious professional goals, but we tend to evade the difficult questions of how we will manage our careers when we choose to pursue these personal dream -- both economically and socially.
My mother as well as most of my friends' mothers stay at home. They certainly work very hard to make sure that everything runs smoothly for their children, and their job is a challenging one for which I have a lot of respect. There's nothing inherently wrong with their decisions to marry the partners of their dreams and choose to focus on their children rather than their careers. But what if their daughters -- my friends and I -- should follow their lead only to find that our "perfect" partner isn’t so perfect at all?
The reality is that the American divorce rate is substantial and working single mothers are disproportionately likely to be poor. What if you get divorced and you are forced to rely on child support from your former spouse that runs out when your child turns 18? What if your partner passes away and you are forced to live off of your remaining money or are left scrambling to find a source of income late in life? The professional world is hardly welcoming to women, who make only 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. Furthermore, men are four times more likely to ask for a raise than are women and therefore tend to get the promotions and financial security that women miss out on.
This is just one reason why the Paycheck Fairness Act is so important. This act would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by requiring employers to demonstrate that wage differentials are due to factors other than gender. It would also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who exchange salary information. Unfortunately, the bill failed to pass in the Senate. This is a quintessential example of modern day sexism. It's ridiculous that 51 years after the Equal Pay Act was introduced, and the gender wage gap was officially identified as an issue, the gap persists.
Of course, money isn’t everything. But the reality is that it still profoundly affects our lives. Money determines where you can live, what you can eat, if you can pay your medical bills, if you can afford to send your children to college, if you can afford to retire and beyond. How is it acceptable that women disproportionately face financial hardships due to a variety of factors, not least of all a smaller paycheck for equal work? Individuals should have an equal opportunity to support themselves financially no matter who they are.
More articles by Category: Economy, Feminism, Politics
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