Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Identifying Your Financial Frenemies

Feministing has a great post on Financial Frenemies, which identifies Suze Orman, and others, as pushing a guilt-based financial planning system that identifies women's emotions and relationships with money as the big problem. That's why we're broke. It's those darn feelings!

I've read quite a few of these books.* And, for the first time, Feministing and Lay Off, Suze Orman! seem to identify the actual problem. The problem isn't me. It's not that I spend too much on skin creams, mascara, and massages. The problem isn't that I drive a new car, or god forbid, a leased one. The problem isn't that I eat out all the time.** The problem is that for a long time, I didn't earn very much.***

All these books claim to help empower women, but they wind up doing exactly the opposite. Most egregiously, they exaggerate women's financial foibles at a time when we are making more money than ever before. While still not on a par with men's, women's salaries were 77% of men's in 2005, compared with 65% in 1985. These financial frenemies go on to suggest that our misguided habits are the root of this overblown "problem," discounting the economic forces that deflate women's earnings in the first place--things like unpaid family leave and wage stagnation for women-dominated occupations like home health aides and teachers.

Thank you Suze Orman for perpetuating a stereotype that women spend more (they don't), are entirely guided by emotions (they aren't), and that any financial problems are entirely of their own doing (and not societal) rather than identifying the larger issues of sexism in society and in the workplace.

Via Feministing

*People gave these books to me. Thank you?
**Note that I do none of these things
***I'm not broke now.