Posted in Gender

Why Is a Man’s Finances Considered Public Property?

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?

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Author:

I go by the name of Frank Speaking. My blog "In the Mind of Men" (former name Chin Up, Chest High) started out as a chronicle of my mental health recovery. Now it is a forum where I discuss issues related to male mental health.

6 thoughts on “Why Is a Man’s Finances Considered Public Property?

    1. Last summer, I wasn’t doing so well, but this was a whole six months before we moved in together. My partner expressed her concerns that we might struggle if things get quiet again. However, it can’t be that as her mother kn0ws that things picked up since last October and have been stable ever since. There was no reason for her to say what she did.

      I have no explanation for why her sister challenged her like that though. She has never been privy to my financial situation as far as I am aware.

      My annoyance is that they are far more concerned with my financial wealth or otherwise, as though that is a mark of my suitability, than they are with my partner’s or my happiness.

  1. I agree. We’ve all been there. I’ve never been asked directly on a date how much I make. But more than once I’ve heard, “That’s so nice that you’re a social worker. But I’ve heard it doesn’t pay well.” Luckily my girlfriend isn’t like that.

    1. Same here. When I met my girlfriend, I’d been self-employed for something like four months and was not making anywhere near enough to live on. I appreciate that she gave me a chance when at least one woman did not, and was quite happy to say it was because I was not earning enough.

  2. That was definitely a barb. Don’t doubt what your gut is telling you. And good for you for calling out shitty behavior. Why does her family feel they are entitled to your financial position? It’s none of their business how much you earn, she earns, and how you cover your household expenses.

    What the hell is wrong with people?

    Let me tell you something. As a secretary, I have worked for executives who earn 7+ figures a year and yet live like they are in poverty. Why? Because they don’t like to spend their money. I once worked for an equity trader who made 6-figures a year and yet his house and car reflected that of a man who maybe didn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. One time he gave me a ride home and I asked him about his broken down old car. I said, “With all of your money, how come you don’t drive a nice new car?” and he said, “Susan, better to be a quiet millionaire, than a loud billionaire.”

    That never left me. We all know there are people out there living flashy lifestyles all the while living on margin. We all know there are people out there who have the means and yet live very very cheaply. Which teaches us to never judge a book by it’s cover. Just because you work from home, are self-employed does not a loser make. Would they prefer it if you were some high powered executive, giving the illusion of having money and yet in debt up to your eyeballs?

    Buying a new car, whether or not you can afford it, sharing finances, working from home. WHATEVER is none of their damn business.

    That would infuriate me too. You handled it much better than I would have.

    1. Thanks Susan 🙂 I think in my line of work there is the perception that it’s not very profitable too. Perhaps it isn’t, but I am making a comfortable living. I won’t ever be rich by any stretch of the imagination, but if my current situation keeps up then I/we will never have to worry about money.

      Besides which, I gave up a regular job out of exasperation for corporate culture and because I persistently, over the course of two years or more, could not get jobs for which I was qualified. Even if my self-employment does not work out, I still have an advanced degree that means I will not struggle.

      All of this is by the by. My gf is not a kept woman and doesn’t want to be.

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