Women who are "independent".

(31 Posts)
takingfive Tue 27-Aug-13 08:51:56

I've been mulling over the idea that most of my friends (age 30s-40s) see themselves as independent.

Am I wrong to think that this is an unreasonable description if they are clearly financially dependent on a man or, in some cases, have become financially independent through divorce because of the settlement they won? I suspect they use the term "independent" to mean they have separate social lives, make their own choices and don't feel obliged to be at their partners beck and call.

But to me, the term "independent" means being a woman of means rather than it being a social status. And I see financial independence as essential for living life as a feminist. So if you are reliant on a man or have been provided for as a result of a past relationship with a man, then surely you cannot call yourself a feminist

Some women cannot do paid work because they have physical/mental health problems which prevent them from holding down a job. That doesn't stop them being feminists even though they have to depend on family/the state/friends/a partner.

BitBewildered Wed 28-Aug-13 20:30:54

Yes Doctrine, that's exactly what I meant.

tribpot Wed 28-Aug-13 20:11:30

My DH is a SAHD, thus being a trailblazer for the brand of feminism I subscribe to, which looks to give men the same 'choices' as women, as well as vice versa. So I would argue he is living a feminist lifestyle whilst being financially dependent on another person.

On the other hand, from a personal perspective I would not want to be financially dependent on anyone - even on him. It would make me feel very uncomfortable. My mum is a staunch feminist and has always been a SAHM so this isn't particularly learnt behaviour - my step-dad is also a feminist and there has never been any question of equality in their marriage.

TheDoctrineOfPositivityYes Wed 28-Aug-13 20:00:05

Hello again, Ongle.

I read BitB's post as saying that a woman who is financially supported by a man (father, DH, brother, whatever) could be a feminist just as one financially supported by the state could be.

OP, I can vote however I like whoever "pays my bills", support or not support environmental causes, campaign on health issues or whatever, and feminism is a social and political movement like these.

BitBewildered Wed 28-Aug-13 19:29:31

So if the welfare state is a wholly patriarchal construct (Bitbewildered, 19:29), why isn't it discriminatory?

Just so we're clear, Ongle, I said the state is a patriarchical construct.

They are discriminatory. I'll assume you're talking about discriminating against women, so let's look at women in the civil service. Women held 53% of posts overall in 2011 according to the ONS. However only 37.1% of senior roles were filled by women in April 2012. That's not very equal, is it?

takingfive Wed 28-Aug-13 15:08:05

I really appreciate these comments as I have genuinely got the notion stuck in my head that being true to yourself as a feminist means that you have to be financially independent.

WafflyVersatile Wed 28-Aug-13 14:46:16

you seem to only see money as being support. people support each other in many ways.

she was supporting him by looking after his children, for instance.

WilsonFrickett Wed 28-Aug-13 14:42:35

Your mother could easily be. Many people are feminists by inclination but unable to make choices based on feminism. Usually because something - societal expectation, their relationships, they way they've been brought up, abuse whether domestic or financial - is stopping them from doing so.

If a bird is trapped in a cage, it's still a bird.

wem Wed 28-Aug-13 12:51:08

I am a SAHM and a feminist. I am dependent on DH but DH also depends on me a whole lot. His life would be very much harder if I wasn't around, financially as well as practically.

With the cost of living as it is today I know very few people of any gender who are truly financially independent. That has bugger all to do with whether they're feminists or not.

FreyaSnow Wed 28-Aug-13 12:39:47

I think the whole concept this thread is based on is odd. You could have a life with no freedom and be in a very abusive situation but still be a feminist. Feminism is a movement for supporting the collective equality of all men and all women. If you spend a lot of time trying to support other women's well being and a reduction in poverty (for example), then you are carrying out feminist actions, regardless of any issues in the outcomes in your own personal life. Engaging in feminist activity may well result in some women having a reduced earning capacity.

justwondering72 Wed 28-Aug-13 10:46:49

Sorry for silly typos, on phone.

justwondering72 Wed 28-Aug-13 10:45:47

I think you've touched on out in yore last post op. It'd not about earning or money or wages , it's about power. And power balances between couples are very variable. On paper I am on your mothers situation but I would never tolerate my husband having any kind of final say over financial issues simply because he happened to be the wage earner.I just wouldn't. And dh wouldn't expect it. If he has the last say, it's usually because he had done the research etc but it I'd just as likely to be me. So in those terms I feel betty independent - while at the same time aware that dh and I are working together and neither one of us is 'in charge'.

scallopsrgreat Wed 28-Aug-13 09:58:16

Your mother was enabling your father to go out to work takingfive. If she wasn't looking after the children then he would have to or get someone else to do it (and pay them). Sounds like your father was financially abusing your mother. Feminists can be in abusive relationships. I am not sure why you think they are immune from that or from the pressures society puts on us to conform to gender stereotypes etc.

takingfive Wed 28-Aug-13 09:48:12

So one person is at home bringing up children and the other is earning. That was how it was in my parents day. However, my mother was not allowing my father to go to work. She needed him to provide for her. She is a strong independent woman but she has never had to work.

But they did not share his money. She got given housekeeping along with any money she did earn from part time work. But he absolutely had the final say when it came to spending.

Given my original argument, I don't think my mother could be a feminist because she was living in a relationship where the balance of financial power was very much in my fathers hands.

flatmum Wed 28-Aug-13 09:42:12

I should qualify that by saying not have to work very much once the children are older / at school onviously as we all know looking after small children IS hard work

flatmum Wed 28-Aug-13 09:39:21

I don't think you can't be a feminist of you are financially dependent on a man, or anyone. but I do think this prevents you from being independent. I too know a lot of women who pride themeselves on their wealth and lifestyle when it is all due to the efforts of their male partners or ex-partners. ok they save them some money on childcare over the years but most still have cleaners etc. I do find it slightly surprising when they say oh yes we run such and such business or we got this bonus this year when in fact the man has done it all. and don't get me started on the women who think they run a business because they have been shoved on their husbands so his business pays less tax but actually contribute nothing (as my accountant says, if he is paying her 7K a year to be te company secretary, do the books etc why does he still need an accountant)

not for me but I suppose in some way they are having the last laugh - nice lifestyle without having to work very much.

I think it is probably changing as well as more women have to / chooses to / can work.

Fairylea Wed 28-Aug-13 09:26:45

So essentially, making a choice to be a stay at home parent, and sharing a wage means you are not financially independent? Even though you are essentially allowing the other parent to earn that wage by providing childcare? Even if you have equal spending money that you spend on whatever and whenever you like? Even if you are both on the mortgage to your house etc etc?

Right.......

Ongle Wed 28-Aug-13 09:19:47

So if the welfare state is a wholly patriarchal construct (Bitbewildered, 19:29), why isn't it discriminatory?

justwondering72 Wed 28-Aug-13 08:02:35

I have been out of paid work for over five years now, raising children, doing voluntary work and 99% of the domestic, house hold running type stuff. Dh is the only one earning atm. Nonetheless we have a completely equal say in all and any decisions that are made that affect us and our family. Dh would never expect to be the boss just because he is in paid work - and I would never kowtow to him either. We respect what each other does and how hard we both work in our respective jobs.

So for me financial independence, at any cost, is s big red herring. It probably helps that both our respective sets of parents have very equal relationships, and financial status has never been an issue as far as I know.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 28-Aug-13 07:51:18

I think if one partner (could be a male partner) relies on the other to support them and has not made any attempt to ever be in a position to support themselves then they are not living out the principle of being independent. Nothing to do with feminism. No?

takingfive Tue 27-Aug-13 22:41:45

Certainly not just for wealthy people. I get the point that it may be a choice to be dependent because it works better for the family. But what if one partner relies on the other to support them and has not made any attempt to ever be in a position to support themselves? Then they are dependent and are not living out the values/beliefs of feminism, are they?

BitBewildered Tue 27-Aug-13 19:29:56

Yes, what StickEmUp said.

Surely you are saying that feminism is only for wealthy people, how can that be fair or right? Is a person who is wholly supported by the state (patriarchical construct) allowed to be a feminist?

StickEmUp Tue 27-Aug-13 19:10:50

My DH and I are financially dependant on EACH OTHER.
He can't pay the mortgage without me! And me him!

for EG.

NiceTabard Tue 27-Aug-13 18:47:25

There are many applications of the word "independent".

Financial independence has the "financial" bit at the front to show it is that which is under consideration.

Loads of people are described as independent when they are financially dependent on others - especially young people.

For that matter, everyone is dependent on someone else for money - their employer / customers / the state / an inheritance whatever.

I also think that implying that everyone who takes time out from paid employment to raise children is giving away their independence and therefore cannot be a feminist is nonsensical.

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