Financial security is nice. It allows you to buy more things. It allows you to have more freedom, more security, more independence; less stress and fear. But it’s also so much more than that – especially when you’re a woman. Indirectly, pursuing and achieving financial security is a deeply feminist act. Let me tell you why:
The Ability to Leave
Maybe the biggest reason that financial security and feminism are so entangled is because it gives you the freedom to leave. Money is a huge factor in abusive relationships; ninety-eight percent of abusive relationships involve financial abuse, where the abuser uses money as a weapon against the victim. This can take the form of a restrictive allowance, career prevention or sabotage, or monitoring accounts. For many women, the hurdle to leaving an abusive relationship is because they don’t have money of their own to put a roof over their head or food in their mouths – an issue that is only exacerbated when there are children involved. Staying with an abuser often seems like the preferable choice when the alternative is risking homelessness.
This freedom also applies professionally. Having a “fuck-off fund” allows you to walk away from a job in which you feel uncomfortable, unhappy or simply unfulfilled. A fuck-off fund allows you to tell anyone to fuck off if a fuck off is deserved.
This one’s more for my American sisters out there. Although abortion and birth control are still legal in the U.S. (for now), legality doesn’t equal accessibility. If a woman is uninsured and/or low-income, odds are that she can’t afford her own birth control. Which increases the likelihood that she will have an unintended pregnancy. If she doesn’t want to keep the pregnancy, she has to go through all the hoops – many of which are financial in nature.
Having access to money in this kind of scenario leads to much different outcomes. Even when abortion was illegal in the United States, women of means were able to access safe abortion. Which means that money is the ultimate barrier to reproductive freedom.
The Power to Speak Up
If the #MeToo movement taught me anything, it’s that money and success are so often used as a weapon against women. Many women who were harassed or assaulted by Harvey Weinstein (and so many others) felt unable to speak up because he held their career in his hands. Even women who were fairly successful and well-known felt paralysed in the face of abuse.
This is more striking when you think about lower-income women who are harassed and abused. They often can’t speak up because they and their families need the income from their jobs. Abusers know this and target people accordingly.
The Means to Donate to a Cause
Giving money is a great way to support the things you care about most. It’s a real, tangible way to make an impact. Having extra money to build philanthropy into your budget allows you to speak up in ways you might not otherwise be able to.