I never quite feel validated as a writer by society, especially as a female. I guess it started out about 4 years ago when I wanted to buy a house. My income for ghostwriting had been over $1,000 a month for almost 18 months at that time, and was continuing to rise. But no one would give me a mortgage because I didn’t have a *real* job.
They could only base the mortgage off my husband’s income. It took another 18 months, more than $2000 a month in income, and a brother that was an insider in the real estate community before the reality of homeownership was within our grasp. I even had a degree in the field that I was working in. Great credit. Married to a veteran. (I could go on why I was an ideal candidate.)
Recently, house troubles aside, I had two different instances that made me pretty mad. And then a fellow female writer friend of mine posted something in our writer’s group about also having validation problems, and people assuming that she was a kept woman. And dang, this woman makes enough money to buy a fancy SUV cash after just two months of saving. Currently that would take me about 2 decades…
So, here I am, on the internet, attempting to validate my career.
Here are the two instances that made me mad:
My husband and I are trying to get life insurance. We assumed as real adults now with a kid, we should have some basic term insurance. We are asking for twice as much for me and the company found that suspicious. So they called and asked why I would need more than my husband and I said because I make about 4 times as much as him.
It should have stopped right there. In fact, if she just looked at our incomes, she could have seen that and not need to ask the question in the first place.
But, she pressed further and I said, “Well, he’d have to hire a maid too.” I said that half joking.
But she said “Oh, so you need more because he’ll need more help with the kids and the house.”
No ma’am. He’ll need more if I die because I make more than him. But on the application it still says for hiring extra domestic help. I may be a woman that works from home, but I work.
The second was with someone that I live with and has seen me work for two months. He should have known better. Joop!
Recently I was in a business meeting where Joop was with me and he stopped the meeting and said, “Whoa, you’re really serious about this writing thing.”
I said, “It’s how we pay the bills.”
And he responded by saying, “I just assumed that your husband paid the bills and writing was just your hobby.” And I just wanted to slap him. But, now, some of the things he’s been saying in hindsight make sense. He keeps telling me I do too much. He seemed especially perturbed when I announced that I was hiring a maid.
“Why not just do less?” he asked.
If writing was just my hobby and I was having a hard time keeping up with my domestic duties, then perhaps I should write a little less. Even then, I have known plenty of men who have failed spectacularly at being a small business owners, but no one ever questioned the legitimacy of their jobs and wondered why they needed domestic help. And that also brings up the question of how much money makes you legit. Have you made it as a writer when, like my friend, you can afford an Escalade? Or like me with enough to pay basic lower middle class bills. How about my friend that makes about $100 a month? Is she any less legit than someone working at McDonald’s or a part time babysitter?
Domestic duties are shared with my husband. Folks, my husband basically works for the health insurance and to pay my taxes. After all that, he has a little discretionary spending and we have money for gas.
Am I not allowed to make more than my husband? Is it so unheard of for writers, or those in the publishing industry, to make any money that people automatically assume that I have a hobby and my husband has a job?
Or is it just that people assume woman can’t make money? Or jobs that women hold aren’t as important.
Frankly, I assume that it’s all of it. And it’s time to stop this thinking.
If someone tells you they’re a writer, especially female writers, please assume that it is their *real* job. Because it is their real job.
And, please for the love of women, quit assuming that women need a man to support them.
* I would like to note that my husband’s contributions are quite vital. He works for a university and gets cheap group health insurance, which would cost an arm and a leg otherwise. But all that aside, my husband’s worth is not determined by how much money he makes, his net worth, or even his job. He’s a human being, not a human doing.
I live in Athens, Georgia, with my son, my husband, and an ever-revolving list of exchange students, who are a never-ending source of entertainment and writing material.