When I first started writing this blog, I blithely assumed I’d get many times more female readers than male. I cemented my own prejudice with a pink logo and background, and pictures of young women laden with shopping bags.
So it has been surprising to find that men have been telling me how they enjoy my writing, and that they relate to the subject matter.
I consider myself a feminist (it’s not a dirty word, y’know), so it’s incredibly embarrassing for me that, without thinking about it, I equated a lack of self-restraint, and the inability to manage money, with being a woman. I suppose it has just been ingrained in me that women go out to shop, vainly buying fripperies, while men do not. Ouch.
I’m shocked at my own prejudice. Lloyds TSB issued their ’Family Savings Report’ last month. It showed that when women are in charge of household finances, 91% of families hold savings, whereas the figure goes down to 82% when men take on the role.
The report also showed that it is women, more often than men, who take charge of the household budget. 52% take control of making detailed future plans for savings and 54% pay day-to-day bills and keep track of spending.
So, do I have any excuse at all for my extremely un-feminist view that women shop and spend more than men?
Women certainly do have expenses that men do not. Biology plays its part (I’m thinking of everything from sanitary products to bras), but so do the demands of society. Haircuts, make-up, ever-changing fashions, handbags, nail varnish? Not things that every woman relishes spending her hard-earned cash on, but often bought out of a sense of simply having to do so, to keep up or fit in. Women’s magazines are forever promoting the “payday splurge”, reinforcing the notion that women cannot, or should not, get on top of their personal finance.
Increasingly, though, men are coming under pressure to look good, too. The fashion industry is starting to pay more attention to trends in menswear, and cosmetics advertising is beginning to target men more often.
Debates on the question of whether women’s lives are more expensive often suggest that men have other expenses that women do not, citing technology and cars. Perhaps I’m just being hyper-hypocritical here, but I find this argument extremely patronising. My iPad, smartphone and my gorgeous car, for example, are among my favourite possessions.
So, whose lives are more expensive? Or does it all even out in the wash?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below, or write on the Facebook wall.