Updated: Jun 7, 2021
My initial budgeting posts were just my takes on managing our finances, and I wasn't really sure they would lead anywhere - but here we go, on another blog...
So let's get into my most recent pet peeve - the masculinisation of money!
As a young Pacific woman, already dealing with cultural overwhelm, the added layer of masculinising money adds insult to injury - I think its time to call it out for what it is. INEQUALITY. SEXISM. DISCRIMINATION.
Let me start with the beginnings to realizing this.
My daily dose of caffeine
I LOVE my coffee (and my gangster rap - don't come for me - but Baby Shark is almost always mixed up with 'Drop It Like It's Hot') - but have you heard the opinion that 'saving your money on your coffees mean investment in savings and becoming rich'?
There is a book called The Latte Factor which is as patronizing as it is condescending and biased - yes, I said it; and I'm also saying Don't buy into it.
What the Latte Factor preaches is that not buying your daily coffee will earn you $1 million over 40 years. The numbers are idiotic, if matrixed realistically in Solomon Islands (How many coffees do we drink a day?) and put into context (Would the average Solomon woman be spending her money on takeaway coffee? Probably not).
Now I personally DON'T buy coffee everyday, and make mine at home - that said though - let's make coffee-bar hopping the subject of a separate blog series for the coffee enthusiasts, shall we? Because, no man will tell me whether or not I am entitled to spend my own money on something that makes me smile.
So is this blog about coffee or money, you ask. Bear with me, please!
Does my husband get judged for buying a coffee some mornings? Absolutely not. People would most likely say "Hem waka man ya... hem sa affordim" (He's a working man - he can afford it).
Me, doing the same though? Super judged. "Lukim go, spendim selen lo hem seleva... But garem pikinin lo house, etc etc etc...". If you're young, well dressed, maybe a bit confident? Gossiped to a crisp. "Must garem anyone lo logging camp naya". ('Must have someone supporting her lifestyle from a logging camp' - basically insinuating you are a prostitute and a logger funds your lifestyle).
I really cannot make this stuff up.
I have literally walked past men on the street who have made these comments under their breaths and it takes all my self-control to not turn back and lash out at them.
"Why don't you?", you might ask.
I don't because I know this is the halo effect - that they are simply repeating what they have seen or heard and what our society has taught them to perceive. I consciously choose to place my energies elsewhere - like here... Calling out cultural stereotypes and teaching you why it is not only wrong, but why it is JUST. NOT. ON.
We are women. Aside from being taught to look, act and be respectable and polite, we are also taught to be careful with money, to save it - like we are some frivolous little airhead that would fritter our savings away. Maybe - in some circumstances - but I am absolutely certain the same holds true for men.
But what have our men been taught since boyhood? Pursue money, invest it in business opportunities, grow it.
Please break these kinds of stereotypes into the tiniest atoms in this universe!
A lot of financial guidance out there seems targeted at women, providing (sometimes, extremely condescending) advice to the very portion of our society that is statistically proven and known to save more. That is my peeve - the fact the general consensus seems to be women need it more than men. Let's break that down a bit, shall we?
Women make up half the global population. According to an ancient Chinese proverb (and explained best in my favorite book. Please buy this one! If anything, it will open up your eyes to the state of women in less fortunate parts of society, around the world) we also hold up half the sky.
"Strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business", Queen B said...
We are not Only half:
We are the half that has, statistically speaking, better savers.
We are the half that are better investors.
We are the half that are better financial managers of the household income, because we hold the interests of our family and their well-being at the very center of our hearts.
Need factual evidence-based reading to back that up? Keep reading...
According to the UN Secretary General's High Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment Leave No One Behind: A Call to Action for Gender Equality and Women's Economic Empowerment, 'empowering women in the economy and closing gender gaps in the world of work are key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
I have worked with fellow Solomon Island women in the private and informal sectors. Want to know two of the biggest overlaps I've seen between both vastly different groups of women? They are hungry to learn and they are financially savvy. Once given opportunities they become empowered to give back to their communities in more positive ways than you can imagine. See here and here.
I have come to realize however, that money has been masculinised in our Pacific societies. In our patriarchal society, it isn't unheard of to have men drink and gamble away their money. It isn't unheard of, to have a husband take his wife's money from her market sales and spend it on alcohol or betel nut.
The underlying traits here, apart from the detrimental ones, are that men are more confident in spending money, whilst women are more attuned to saving it.
There's a global plot twist to this Pacific-centric scenario though...
Who bears the brunt of most (if not every) social, economic or humanitarian disaster - becoming targets of violence and most high risk within communities? Women. See here and here and here.
Where are policies and development budgets first cut when there are shortages or economic declines? In the areas affecting women the most - childcare, etc. See here.
And yet who repays most of the debt of society? Perplexingly - women. Cue, the debt gap. However debt servicing, as opposed to alleviating this crisis, seems to further compound the situation, given the 'funds borrowed are rarely spent in ways that prioritize women's rights'.
What about jobs?
It's been said that men will pursue a job if they fulfill 60% of the vacancy criteria. We women however, wait until we fulfill 100% of that same criteria before we would even pursue it - and even then we have misgivings about our suitability as a potential and worthy candidate. There is evidence here and here however, that shows that it is more than a lack of confidence on the woman's part though.
In 2012, Solomon Islands pledged with Pacific Leaders during the Pacific Islands Forum, to accelerate efforts towards closing the region’s gender gap. Seven years on, progress still lags. Statistically, nearly two in three SI women (15-49 years), experience violence. Women are also chronically under-represented at decision-making levels (5% in senior public servant positions, 22% at mid-level positions).
I can't tell you the number of interview panels I've sat on, that have only one women (or none - the horror!) that applied for the job. Girl, you were already ahead of the game when you applied! You just need more information about how the recruitment process work. Please also read up on Imposter Syndrome - because that is still alive and well, I'll tell you that much.
Everyone needs a financial education. Everyone needs to have confidence in themselves. But women, seem to affected disproportionately by all this.
At no point throughout this blog will I EVER tell you that because you are a woman, you should save while a man should invest - because either gender can do both.
This is the age of calling out inequalities and rightfully understanding that an equal playing field makes for a more prosperous society.
Tell me I'm wrong, after reading these articles:
See Cuberes, D., & Teignier, M. (2016). Aggregate Effects of Gender Gaps in the Labor Market: A Quantitative Estimate. Journal of Human Capital, 10(1), 1–32. and Ferrant, G. and A. Kolev (2016), Does gender discrimination in social institutions matter for long-term growth?: Cross-country evidence. OECD Development Centre Working Papers, No. 330, OECD Publishing, Paris
UN Women, Progress of the World’s Women 2015-2016. Chapter 2, p. 69.
If we, as a Pacific society have masculinised money, what other parts of our lives have we unintentionally masculinised? Have you thought about that?
Isn't it time we started challenging these stereotypes? You tell me.
Oh and p.s. BUY THAT COFFEE!