It's a well-worn stereotype: Women love to shop. We find ourselves rolling our eyes at the woman carrying multiple bags of clothing purchased from the nearby Macy's or Nordstrom. It's easy to assume that the woman is wasteful, selfish, or even money-hungry. And yet we don't often stop to ask ourselves why we judge women for their purchases.
Why Do We Shame Women for Their Spending?
Women are supposed to behave responsibly. Overspending is not a responsible way to act. If men overspend, it's acceptable since it's supposedly in their nature to act spontaneously. Yet if women spend too much — on themselves, especially — they have stepped out of line. They have broken the unspoken agreement that women are the savers, and men are the spenders.
Not to mention, the assumption that women are not the breadwinners is rampant. When a man buys a nice suit, people think he worked hard to earn that money (even if he didn't). However, if a woman does the same thing, people assume her money comes from one of the men in her life.
The Shaming is Worse During the Holidays
During the holidays, the time when everyone is expected to hand over gifts to everyone from their grandmother to their mailman, the shame put on women can ramp up. Everyone wants to know what a husband buys his wife and ogles if it's an expensive pair of earrings. However, if a woman buys her husband the same-priced watch, people might raise an eyebrow. "Why is she spending that much money?" they might ask. "How did she afford that?"
Women Either Buy Too Much or Not Enough
Women can't win. They either buy too much or too little. If women don't buy others thoughtful enough presents, they are made to feel guilty, especially when it comes to children. Women are supposed to make the holidays special for their families, and this typically comes in the form of keeping tabs of what everyone in the family wants for the holidays and spending their time and money to buy those items.
And don't get me started if women buy something nice for themselves for the holidays. That's not pretty.
We Compare Ourselves Too Much
Where does this shame derive from? Comparison.
Women often compare themselves to other women. We feel like we have to keep up or behave better somehow than other women. It's our job as women to remain frugal, so when your neighbor buys herself a fancy car, you think ill of her. These feelings often manifest as judgment placed upon other women for their choices. Even though we may secretly feel envious of our neighbor's fancy car, our response comes out as criticism.
It's time to allow other women to make financial decisions for themselves. We know that we have the wherewithal to manage our budget and be responsible with our spending. Isn't it time we gave all women the same freedom of choice?
Tiffany Verbeck is a personal finance and travel freelance writer. She uses her master's degree in writing to help businesses and entrepreneurs tell their stories better. Her work has appeared in The Financial Diet, Fast Capital 360, Matador Network, The Write Life, and more.
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