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Rupee sheds its sexist look

Monetary wisdom is today imparted to sons and daughters alike as a life skill. Fund advisers get into our inbox with big smiles. Financial influencers – or finfluencers – have their own fan followings.

July 30, 2022 / 07:09 AM IST
Fiscal feminism took its own sweet time to arrive. (Representational image: Rupixen via Unsplash)

Fiscal feminism took its own sweet time to arrive. (Representational image: Rupixen via Unsplash)

As a nation our financial DNA consists of petty savings, pay slips, chit funds, land holdings, bank loans and… dowry. Cash had very ‘his and her’ beginnings; for the longest time, money was a misogynist. Men dreamt of becoming rich, women dreamt of marrying rich. While women went about flaunting wealth via jewellery given to them by dads, husbands, brothers or sons, men learnt to salt it away in offshore accounts without the little woman knowing. Property and paisa were both male. ‘May you be the mother of a hundred sons’ was less a gynaecological curse than prosperity blessings. Sons were money in the bank.

Fiscal feminism took its own sweet time to arrive. When Vijay of Deewar bought the house his mother helped to build as a labourer, it was still a man taking care of his womenfolk. Poor heroes were marrying rich heroines in film after film. Then one day actor Sushmita Sen bought diamond rings for herself – besides adopting two kids as a single mom. This confused the sex ratio. In terms of salary and spending, slowly it became clear that money itself had no preference; it painted its nursery neither blue nor pink.

Historically speaking, we were divided broadly into landowner and peasants, which pretty much sealed our financial fate. If Bollywood is to be believed, either we spent the whole jaaydaad on nautch girls or we said ‘jee hukum’ and stood among harvests that signalled prosperity for our employers. We could be broke despite obese inheritances because we are debauched baddies who like our whiskey or we could be broke because we have to get eight daughters married and our only son eloped with the zamindar’s daughter so that we are now jobless to boot.

Monetary wisdom is today imparted to sons and daughters alike as a life skill. Fund advisers get into our inbox with big smiles. Financial influencers – or finfluencers – have their own fan followings; cash sense has to be instilled along with other health habits.

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The rustling of bank notes and the clinking of loose change are music to all ears. Financial healing has become a routine part of new-age health systems. When born with a silver spoon in the mouth, cutlery fails to distinguish between baby girls and baby boys.

At last, desi parents are able to slip ‘gap year’ into the conversation while talking about offspring of either sex. The idea of male heirs gallivanting around the world aimlessly is bound to raise the eyebrows of our ancestors in swarg. Then there is the matter of freezing eggs and sidestepping matrimony altogether by girls. When women ask for pay parity and promotions, it is the mothers of yore who manically insisted you marry and have kids that fade away into sepia memories. Higher-earning wives no longer have to fib to husbands about their wages. Everyone goes Dutch on dates.

Money doesn’t know where it came from, as Wendy said in Ozark. And it sure doesn’t know who it’s going to, girl or boy!
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is the co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.
first published: Jul 30, 2022 07:01 am
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