Updated: Mar 19, 2019
One of the hottest topics around this discussion is the financial field. Discussing and dealing with money when the traditional gender roles aren't there anymore raises an array of new uncertainties and anxieties. Here are the main topics around money:
(I won't go too deep into all of them but I will leave you links to great articles and videos that do)
Appropriating each other's money
We can say that for the longest time wives have been living with husbands as sole earners and they were just fine appropriating their spouses money... But i have to say that things were never as simplistic as that and when we invert the breadwinner but keep the traditional gender constructions of masculine and feminine all sorts of other issues come up.
The internal struggle with the ingrained idea of the men as the provider is the most obvious one. 71% of Americans say it is very important for a man to be able to support a family financially to be a good husband or partner. By comparison, 32% say it’s very important for a woman to do the same to be a good wife or partner, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey.
So what's men's place in a marriage if he isn't providing for his wife? Lisa Mundy in her book The Richer Sex poses a very interesting question at the center of her discussion: "In what way, if at all, do the sexes need each other now that the old economic bonds have been broken?" (pg 75.) Although the book may not reach an answer it's still a quite good one. If men are not there to provide anymore, what are they there for? In my research and personal experience I believe that question is at the heart of achieving balance in a couple where gender doesn't even matter anymore. I would rephrase the questions as "Why am I valuable to my partner?" But we'll get more into that at some other post. Let's get back to money.
The Richer Sex
The book by Liza Mundy was the first to point out the trend of female breadwinners. She gave a great presentation that sums it up very well:
The secret feelings of proprietary rights to their earnings: One interesting thing happen when women become the breadwinners, research shows that women have a harder time sharing their earnings then male breadwinners. It's not hard to accept that if we think that women to have gotten to a point where they make a reasonable or good amount of money they already had to overcome so many disadvantages that is only fair that they are more attached to their money as a token of their success in a man's world. It has to be hard to hand that money to their husband and say 'spend as you want'.
When she makes more, practical advices
Is the title of a book by Farnoosh Torabi, a financial advisor that writes specifically about this scenario. In the book she gives "10 rules for breadwinning women" and one, if not a few of them have direct relation to how to approach the financial field when she makes more. I won't go in too much detail here but Farnoosh had some very practical and actionable advices that can often wield good results. So check it out! ( a good review of it is here, and the official website here).
The Independence Effect
Psychologists point out that it's simply easier to divorce these days if you don't depend on your husband to survive. So how are the divorce rates reflecting the trend that women are now in control of their relationships and if they want to leave they can? Well, studying divorce rates and statistics is actually a very complicated field. It often has misconceptions and reflects many variables such as regions, religion, generational concepts, people getting married later, other forms of unions and etc... In a study done by Marianne Bertrand, Emir Kamenica and Jessica Pan, three economists at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business "They found that traditional views of gender identity, particularly the view that the right and proper role of the husband is to make more money than the wife, are affecting choices of whom to marry, how much to work, and even whether to stay married." (check the article here) and the research paper here)
I want to point to the psychological effect of this "independence effect". What does it mean for the women? how does she feels about it? The opposite also becomes true: men will start to stick around because leaving is too damaging, they will think twice before separating if their wife helps significantly with their financial comfort. This effect hasn't been studied or discussed much so I won't venture into its complexity just yet...
These are some of the topics we will be analyzing and discussing in our project and hopefully as we develop the film we'll be able to give you more details and examples about each one.
I hope it helped at least broaden your view...
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Good moment to make quick distinction between Sex and Gender. These terms sometimes are used as synonym but they are actually quite different. Sex is a reference to a biological reproductive function that distinguishes animals in two categories, males or females. Gender is a social constructed idea. To be a man is much more complicated than having and X and Y chromosoom. That only makes you a male. To be a man one have to fit a certain society constructed idea of a group that sometimes have little to no basis on their biological characteristics. * Same goes for being a woman.