Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Debt is a Feminist Issue

When I was in college, fat became a feminist issue.  Women were targeted, judged and stigmatized in all areas of life based on size.

Debt is a feminist issue, too.

When I tell people that I am a feminist, some want to know more.  Simply put, I believe we have the right to make choices in our lives and deal with the consequences.  I have the right to be single or married.  I have the right to loooove hot pink and be a bada$$.  I have the right to be as smart as I can be and being smart is sexy.  I have the right to go back to work after having my baby, stay home or work part-time.  I can choose to work while my husband stays home to care for our baby.  I chose to try all of the above.  I was able to choose because of my economic independence.

It used to be that women's primary vocational options were marriage or nunnery.  I would have chosen the latter, probably.  When I teach a Women's Issues in Social Work course, I often talk about the importance of educational attainment for women.  We can no longer (if we ever really could) depend on a significant other to care for us financially.  Our partner may lose their job, leave us or die.  Then what will we do? 

Women no longer need to marry for financial security.  That is not to say that you cannot or should not choose to do so.  No judgments.  Just make sure you have a Plan B (marketable skills, hefty life insurance, etc.)

That is not to say that women shouldn't marry.  Women can do whatever they please and deal with the consequences of their choices.

Debt locks us in like indentured servitude - and limits our ability to make choicesI can't leave because I have no where to go.  I can't leave because I can't pay the rent/mortgage on my own.  I can't leave because I can't afford the car payment. 

Sticking to jobs or partners that make us profoundly unhappy (despite our best efforts to work it out)because we can't afford to leave means that somewhere along the way we bought something that we could not afford and now we are paying for it with our lives.

Marketing in our capitalist society is ruthless and sophisticated.  The priority is the bottom line, not your life.  Buy the designer X, Y, Z, go on the X, Y, Z vacation, buy the most expensive house or car you can afford if you choose, but ask yourself - why am I choosing to do this?

What do you value more dearly - stuff or your life?

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