By Monika Halan
Mint, New Delhi.
I’m not a celebrate-the-day kind of person.
The Valentine’s Day circus irritates me, as do the other commercially driven days to celebrate a relationship.
You need a “day” to remember your mum? But I’ll make an exception and mark 8 March as Women’s Day and turn all the attention generated into having this conversation.
I want to talk about the difficult relationship that women have with money.
It begins with a stereotypical classification of genders according to the ease with which they handle numbers.
Girls are not good at math and boys are. If you hear this often enough as you grow up, is it any surprise that you begin to believe that it is true? And that is the first brick in the wall between women and their ability to deal with money.
As children we’ve all listened to the adult chatter around us. If we knew how much that is going to condition us later, we’d have shut our ears and not let the stereotypes get perpetuated in our sub-conscious.
Some of the wisecracks we can all remember are about women spending the money that men earn, about women having no control over spending.
In real life, splurge spending is not gender-specific. Only the kind of stuff men and women buy differs. Men go in for gadgets, cars and other gizmos that usually make up for big, one-time spending. Women may spend the same amount, but it gets spread out over accessories — shoes, jewellery, handbags.
Growing up in a patriarchal society, in which mostly men go to work and women are homemakers, boys and girls get conditioned to seeing the men earning and taking all the money decisions.
The women manage budgets and manage to save pin money. But the big financial decisions like buying a house, or planning for future goals are left to the men.