Back in the day, whatever day that was, when women and girls were systematically set up to fail in school and the workplace, men made money and women did not. That is to say, in America, prior to and up to the 1960's, it was seen as important for women and girls to be a small if non-existent part of the workforce and to instead stay home and care for their children while their husbands went out every day and hunted game--I mean, made the money for the family to survive upon.
Now fast forward 50 years and things have changed (though not completely). Women and girls are not set up to fail at school and at careers in quite the same way we once were and in fact, due to ground breaking, glass ceiling-breaking individuals who helped lead and shape the civil rights movement and the feminist revolution, individuals such as Gloria Steinem, Simone de Beauvoir, books like "The Women's Room" and "The Second Sex," "Ms. Magazine," Oprah Winfrey, Emma Goldman, Hillary Clinton and Christiane Amanpour-- just to name a few heroes in the billion-woman march against female oppression--women now top men in graduating from college in this country and often go on to juggle and try to balance high powered careers, family and finances.
For many women, this is not so. For women in third world and fundamentalist countries, this is far from even a remote possibility. In certain countries a woman of today still can be arrested for driving a car.
Yet with more and more women earning the equal amount, if not more than the man she may be involved in if she is heterosexual, how does this affect gender stereotyping and how does it impact, if it all, a relationship?
For many people, there is no effect other than that of earning a living. Money is necessary and whomever brings in the money shall enjoy a certain quality of life-- no more no less. For other couples, men may feel ashamed or even somewhat emasculated by not being the breadwinner or the one who makes the most money.
Ongoing conversations about money are vital to any healthy relationship, whether you're in a straight relationship or not. If you find yourselves arguing or shutting down continually around the conversation of money, it's time to either get counseling or talk about why you can't talk about it. Living with someone or sharing a life, even if you maintain separate bank accounts and living spaces, means dealing with paying for things on a regular basis and open transparent discussions about this are healthy and important. Your man may feel he's letting you down as much as he enjoys the pressure being lifted from his shoulders. Similarly, you may feel overwhelmed as the daily bills and bigger financial burdens fall to you. A realization that you are not a meek little damsel in distress but sometimes you like to be held, while he is not a knight in shining armor though he may occasionally want to rescue and seduce you may be the lesson here. In any case, thinking about money and power and gender stereotypes, the ways in which these affect your life and relationship, may give you compassion not only for yourself no matter what you earn, but for your partner as well.
Edited by Alison Stanton
Aimee Boyle lives and writes on the gorgeous shoreline of CT. She is a mother and teacher and contributes regularly to EmpowHER.