Money is supposed to be kind of a neutral thing, right? At its essence it is just a means of exchange, according to zillions of Economics 101 textbooks. Instead of trading sausages for sandals, we use money to make it easier.
But the language we use around money is far from neutral, especially when it comes to gender. Two-thirds of money-related articles in women’s magazines talk about women as wanton over-spenders, according to a linguistic analysis of 300 articles.
There is so much wrong with this.
For starters, it’s just wrong. Studies have found that women don’t splurge more than men; they just splurge on different things. Women spend more on personal care and fashion, but men spend more on cars and electronics. One isn’t better or worse than the other.
For another thing, this language is demeaning. It suggests that all women are foolish and impulsive. The same articles exhort women to become thrifty savers and find better deals when they do spend – all well and good, but they leave out the idea that women could also be successful investors or highly paid executives.
Then there is the concurrent stereotyping of men. In articles targeted at male readers, more than two-thirds describe financial success and acumen are masculine ideals – so if, say, you are an artist or academic, or just a cautious investor, you are kind of a loser.
It’s past time to start using more neutral language around money. It IS just a means of exchange. As such, it is just a tool for helping you live life the way you want. Anyone using said tool, male or female, benefits from understanding how it works. Anyone, male or female, can benefit from keeping this tool in good working order – organized, invested, arranged to protect them against emergencies. There is nothing gendered about any of this.
If you are a woman interested in learning about managing your money, beware the gender tropes in a lot of popular writing about financial matters. You don’t deserve to feel ashamed or guilty after reading something you hoped would be enlightening. There are better sources of information available to you. My free e-book is one example, and there are others. You deserve nothing less.