All the “ghar ki laxmi” talk and associating women with luck and wealth is confined on paper, mostly. Because when it comes to the real world, the same women are made fun of and considered ‘not very good’ with money. For the longest time (and still), I’ve seen relatives and family members discussing major monetary matters with the other men of the family. Investing somewhere or handling finances are duties that are automatically transferred from one generation of men to the other. In this process, men are asked, whereas women in the same family, are told.
Among the many gender roles that are automatically assigned at birth, taking decisions that affect others’ (read, women) lives is given to men. And practically, realistically, money plays a major role in panning out our lifestyles – we assign a specific budget to each need. So when, say, boys are given tasks like buying things from shops or managing funds, they’re also given a sense of authority. Right from the beginning boys are more involved in the “confidential” matters than girls. And the only argument that most families have is – boys stay in the same family, while girls have to leave, ultimately. A) Women do not grow up loving this idea. B) Not staying in the same house doesn’t lessen the relationship or one’s rights over that relationship, for that matter. It’s like someone decided that out of men and women, women will be sent off to a whole new place, with a whole new family. And like that wasn’t enough, they used this “paraya dhan” logic to support all invalid arguments that exist.
Include girls in family matters – no she’s paraya dhan, let them live life on their own terms – no she’s paraya dhan, let them help you with finances – no we can’t take money from her, (surprise, surprise) she’s paraya dhan. It could totally be a tagline for some matrimonial site.
It’s not even about being included, we are raised without being taught basic things like managing our finances, investing, or something as simple as filing our own taxes. This entire idea of not imparting the required knowledge, is rooted in our upbringing and even parenting. And that, of course, increases our dependency on other people who know this stuff. Sure, we can learn these things later in life, but when we’re used to depending on someone else, we tend to follow the pattern – that’s human nature. And guess what? Most men do not like to give up this control that is passed on, and requires women to ‘listen’ to them. It’s like taking back candy from a kid.
Also, the surprising and silliest point is, that the same women who are distanced from everything related to money, are expected to ‘save’, and be good at it. And well, most of us are. So, the same women who are laughed at, because they do not understand the concept of, say, GST, are expected to run these families and come up with ways, during times when money is tight. Maybe don’t rely on them, if you can’t be honest with them.
Even if women learn themselves, there’s a man who tells them that he’s better at it. Of course, you are. It’s normal to be good at something when you’ve been trained for it since the beginning of time.
It’s sad when some women are even “assigned” pocket money at an age when they literally manage multiple people in a house (thank you, society). They’re told how much should be spent, and on what, with little to no room for ‘choices’. We’ve known, seen, or even been a woman all helpless trying to manage the technicalities of banking, investments, funds, shares, and whatnot – just because some people thought it was best not to tell us how the real world works. And it definitely doesn’t help when the real world is being digitized with every new day (even if it is for good).
Having to take loans, issue a credit card or even saving in your own bank account requires decision making. And this is the basic stuff, let alone bring in the complexity of share market or investments. Everyone should be able to make informed decisions, on their own. But, sadly a lot of this is taken away, right from the moment when a girl is asked to ‘not worry’ about things like money.
This ultimately makes a lot of men the head of the family, because they’ve authority and control. And let’s face it, money can transfer control to anyone, ANYONE.
This is a vicious cycle, like many other vicious cycles that make women appear ‘less intelligent’ ones who do not know stuff. And if this is a competition, it’s unfair to start with – where we just fail on a daily basis as a society.