It’s always been claimed that a woman’s body is perceived to be public property, especially if she is famous. Her body is scrutinised by magazines. I’m not disagreeing with this. In fact, I agree that we have an unhealthy obsession with celebrities. One thing I do disagree with is that this phenomena is peculiar to women. Male celebrities get it too. Male celebrities get stalked and sexually assaulted by fans who think they own them.
Anyway, stalking is not the point of this post. Of all the roles we expect of men, “Provider” is not one that goes away. Even the most hard-nosed feminist can still value a man purely for his wealth or status, even if she will deny it later. Emma Watson is a case in point, just look at the men she dates – tall, muscular and rich, while she preaches at us about harmful gender roles.
In the last few months, I’ve had two instances where people felt my financial situation was their business. This was not the first time either. When dating, I was asked several times what my job was and “how much does that pay?”
I highlighted one of these cases just after I started off as self-employed (HERE). And I know I am not the only man who gets sick of this shit. The Bumble debacle showed just how much men are still valued for their earning potential or how much they actually earn rather than as people. The fact is, men get sized up as a meal ticket all the damned time. We’ve all been there. While dating, I attracted my fair share of women clearly looking for a free meal. The one thing most of them had in common is that we had nothing in common – not aspiration, not education, not interests.
Anyway, my dating history is not up for discussion either. What I want to talk about – and a point I keep getting away from – is how people consider a man’s finances to be public property.
- The first was my girlfriend’s mother. On their first visit to see us in our new home, she made a comment about my partner paying most of the bills. This is not true and nobody has told her that this was the case. She tried to pass it off as a joke, but it was clear that there was a barb attached here. I made my displeasure clear and since then, my partner has reassured her mother that we are not living in poverty
- The second was my girlfriend’s sister. When my partner contacted her sister to excitedly tell her that we (actually, I) had bought a car, instead of being pleased for us, she reacted angrily. She asked in no uncertain terms “Can he (meaning I) afford that?” She eventually apologised, but as far as I am concerned, what was said was said and demonstrates the problem that people think they are entitled to know a man’s finances and have a right to scrutinise how he chooses to spend his own earnings
My partner told them both that I am now earning more than she is – double in fact. This is something that neither of us expected or prepared for, but it is what it is. We have just had our first foreign holiday and I have been able to buy my first car for three years. I am paying the majority of this bill, only asking for my partner to contribute to fuel and repairs. I am the higher earner, perhaps curious for a work from home business, but my work satisfaction is higher than it ever was.
Here we have two women, two of many I hasten to add, who felt that my finances are a matter of public information. You might argue that they are just concerned for the financial well-being of my partner, that they are concerned that we would get ourselves into debt. History tells me otherwise. There has always been a strong focus on the earnings and earning potential of the men around me. I know of one man whose ex-wife got angry when he wanted to give up retail management to do something he loved, even though the retail work was higher paid. I know of another whose partner got angry because he chose to study an MA rather than get a job in his field.
So, this is not a one-off. Men go through this shit all the time. I have lost count of the times I have been asked “how much does that pay?” “How will you support a family on that?” “Why do you want to do that, it doesn’t pay well, or so I’ve heard?” “Why study for that degree, those jobs don’t pay well!”
Have you been in the situation where you feel you have to justify your finances to a woman, either one close to you or a complete stranger? Do you feel others treat you as though your financial situation should be made publicly available?