I will not talk about COVID or a pandemic this time.
Posted at 11:00 a.m.
Like many, I feel fed up, I’m on the verge of breaking my membership, me, the good girl who is united and triple vaccinated. It has become that in the morning, since the beginning of January, I skip the COVID-19 news in the newspapers and go directly to culture or business. More capable of the essential national subject for two years. Tired. Tanned. Because things continue to happen despite the pandemic, and life sometimes slips into the economy section of daily newspapers.
On Sunday, January 16, in the Your finances pages of The Press+1, Martine Letarte exposed the case of a young woman in her sixties who delayed her retirement, her budget being smashed by… the expenses of her couple, financially unfair. She paid for a house she didn’t own, a car when she didn’t drive, shared everything 50% despite a modest income and the significant assets of her spouse. After decades of feminism and mountains of financial chronicles over the years, the situation described was staggering.
The still thorny and trapped question of women’s relationship to money is one of those topics that has disappeared from conversation for two years, swallowed up by the monomaniacal black hole of COVID-19.
This is a complex subject, still problematic, which we thought was settled. A question little addressed by current feminism, more interested in gender issues than in social classes. However, the median salary of women today is still equivalent to 70% of that of Quebec men. So let’s talk about women and money…
The question raised by the text of The Press+ is that, never settled, of intimacy. The feminists of the 1970s made women take giant leaps in terms of their social and political place in society. But their blind spot has always been the question of intimacy, of the couple, of the family. How do we live there, who does what, who pays? Amorous shipwrecks leading to the impoverishment of women are unfortunately still legion.
This question concerns me because with Marie Grégoire (before she was appointed head of the BanQ), we created a podcast in five episodes for the Conseil du statut de la femme2. Under the title women and money, we approach, through interviews, data and reflections, the question of money in the intimacy of the couple, but also the themes of ambition, power, ages of life and generations.
What troubled me the most, over the episodes, is the fact that despite undeniable progress, the appearance of female role models, the cracking of glass ceilings, new generations more uninhibited in the face of success, women continue to have a troubled relationship with money.
The situation affects us all, privileged or precarious women, immigrants, unemployed women, heads of SMEs. Ambition, success, negotiation, the feeling of having value are still problematic. I would go so far as to say that in Quebec, in general, for both men and women, the relationship to money is still taboo, or at least a troubled area.
We are poorly educated on these issues. We talk about the economy, but little about our salary. A dream retirement at 55, but not the anxiety caused by financial inequality in many couples. Women’s money is not a fashionable topic, to say the least. Yet we manage budgets, family or business. We need it. We spend it. We miss it. We give. And the current pandemic will have hit women head-on, many in heavily impacted sectors: culture, events, catering, hotels. She will have questioned many health and education workers about their future. There will still be economic food for thought for women when the situation is “normalized”, because there will be setbacks.
Women (and men too) could be better trained financially, should be more interested in their income, in money. TALK ABOUT. Better negotiate individually, plan, advocate for collective programs and actions. Women are traditionally associated with altruism, generosity, self-sacrifice. When it comes to money, these fine qualities can be a double-edged sword. Let’s quickly learn to see money for what it is: a tool of autonomy, an instrument of freedom, of choice. A way to say NO, a power to say YES. ‘Cause it’s good half the cash what it is here.