I tend to think in extremes. It’s either black or white.
There’s little gray area for things to get anymore complicated than choosing between black or white. My approach to earning money follows a similar thought process. That is, exploiter or exploited. But a variety of recent related experiences coalesced in a sudden change o’ heart. Here’s how it happened: my interest in, and subsequent informal research project on, women-run start ups has connected a few of the dots for me when it comes to women and money.
I think for some women and many artists, earning money is rife with confronting psychological issues about our own self worth and value, never mind the worth and value of our work. When it comes to work, too often we believe we don’t deserve be paid for it because, well, we haven’t been for like,…centuries. We stay tucked away in low-paying but do-gooder non-profit jobs. We avoid asking for money because we feel bad, we don’t understand our work’s worth or trust that eventually, if someone happens to deem our work more valuable, we will be offered more money. And yes, I’m totally projecting here.
For women, it’s clear to see where this starts: our own care as a youngling went uncompromisingly uncompensated, instilling a nice tradition of unacknowledged labor. Later on down the road, despite being the majority in college and graduate schools, we still earn 30% less than men and retire with about 1/3 less in our bank accounts. Yet women make up 40% of all household breadwinners, earning most or all of the family’s income.
For artists, it’s a similar story. We’re constantly encouraged to get a ‘real job’ despite the fact that we’re currently in demand, producing something of tangible worth in an economy based on service. But we’ve been so beat down by either being exploited or exploiting ourselves that we’ve forgotten how to develop our own sense of value and, thus, leave it up to others take advantage of our labor.
So, after much careful deliberation and gum chewing, I’ve decided to contradict the cycle. I hate admitting this shit but after writing all that stuff above, I feel in someway it’s ‘important’. So here goes…
Unfortunately, no one is going to fix financially inequity for us women and/or artists. As a result, I’m working on recognizing my own self-worth by putting a donate button on the sidebar of this blog. By doing so, I’m attempting to own the fact that I’m creating value both through my remix work and writings, providing content that enables us to see what more meaningful stories looks like when we decide to make them ourselves. It’s taken a lot of internal dialogue to come to the conclusion that, should people actually donate, I wouldn’t be stealing money from them but rather, acknowledging my own work as valuable.
Lesson learned from women-run start-ups: apparently, one doesn’t have to be a capitalist to make money and one can be entrepreneurial without being an actual entrepreneur. This information has been mind blowing.
NOTE: Lots of women-run start-ups face this issue head on. One site I find particularly helpful is both a women run start-up and a financial site for women called DailyWorth. They suggest women demand higher salaries, invest more aggressively, and build our own wealth but this assumes that you a have a ‘real’ job/money/income, so if this applies to you, great! I’m starting small. Other resources on this topic include I’m a Thriving Artist, L(earning What I’m Worth, A Women’s Tool Kit For a Raise, Making Money From Existing Work, and a rare list on Women-Run Start-ups (a Google search yields WHY women don’t start-up so this is a gem). I also have a Delicious bookmark section dedicated to the topic, which I update frequently.
NOTE NOTE: My issue with these resources, however, is that they don’t offer a systematic perspective. Above is an excerpt from the book Life, Inc. which puts this topic into a wider, more systematic problem.