WOMEN AND MONEY - Why are INDIAN WOMEN SO UNCOMFORTABLE talking about MONEY?
That women and Money together make for a tough topic of conversation is no hidden truth. It is probably because of our deeply seeped patriarchal conditioning, but generally in drawing room discussions over dinner, a woman’s life and her financial independence are not subjects that are given much air to. Women, themselves feel immense awkwardness doing so. Priyanka works with a law firm earning a handsome salary. Though never too ambitious, she just continued with her job as it helped her make good money to indulge in luxuries and afford her expenses. Post her marriage, she just handed over her bank papers and cheque books to her husband as money was never something she needed to be bothered of. Taking care of her relationship and marital home was more of her onus than anything else. Just the way before her marriage her father would handle her investments and fixed deposits, her partner Amit was supposed to take over the responsibility post her marriage to him. She was just entrusted with a Debit Card which she would use to withdraw money and pay for her shopping bills.
Her husband’s name was added to her account as a beneficiary. She trusted Amit blindly and was taught since forever that money matters were the prerogative of the male of the family. It wasn’t really much of an issue of consequence for the female of the family to be bothered about. One fine day, Priyanka realised that Amit had intermittently been withdrawing money from her account. Even though she was living under the impression of having accumulated quite some currency with years of hard work, her band details reflected otherwise.
It is strange that we women are never taught to strategically plan about our financial independence and take ownership of our finances. My father never took me to the bank and taught me all about financial transactions. Even more worrisome is that he never instilled in me the self-belief and esteem to have the confidence to speak in money matters. He would mostly sit down and discuss our family expenses and savings with my younger brother over me. Families do not encourage their daughters to have an unbarred cversation with their prospective partner and talk about the handling of finances post marriage. Neither do daughters talk to their parents about their financial rights and inheritance ownership nor to their husbands about her equal part and consensus in the family’s financial decisions.
Rather even when we women are fully capable of making money and handling our expenses , we are subjugated into believing that we are not superior enough to speak in money matters or dictate any terms. Not just at home, even in our office premises, working women are extremely uncomfortable talking about money issues. Even negotiating their salary and asking for being paid what they are worth is looked down upon. A woman is labelled too money-minded and ambitious if she openly talks about earning more or demanding what she aspires to.
Women are so uneasy talking about money even if it is their own; Women and money do not go hand-in-hand
Maybe this low self-esteem while talking about money is an outcome of years of social conditioning that dawns upon us women to be acquiescent and subservient to men in all respects. Openly discussing and talking about money is being frowned upon and termed audacious by the same moral police that refrains women from indulging in any conversations related to sex. Indian parents need to break the shackles and have open conversations with their daughters about the so deemed taboo subjects like sex and money making. A woman should be aware of her self-worth and have the confidence to hone and ask for what she deserves.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being ambitious and non-accommodating about what you want, just the way there is nothing objectionable about being the driving force of your life and taking decisions independently. Most women only after they are married, or in their thirties, or after having suffered some major setback in life, realize the importance of being financially independent and unapologetically asking for what they deserve. Whether it is about having an equal say at home in money matters or asking for that hike or being equally paid as their male counterpart, money is an important aspect of life and women should have all the right to ask for it unabashedly.