Friday, May 18, 2012

Our matriarchal inheritance

This post is part of Mindful Money week. Do check out my previous posts.

"It is important for women to get wealth in our hands.
As western women we have the opportunity to claim our birthright, to create wealth, doing something that we love. 
It is our birthrite but not necessarily our destiny." 
Sage Lavine

FACT: The majority of women for the majority of western history have had no money of their own. They have been excluded from the power, status and freedom that money brings.

FACT: Women have been systematically prevented - by laws, morality, religion and social mores, from having the right to earn, be financially independent, inherit or save.

It is little wonder that we women can be scared of money and feel under-confident around it today.  This is our story. Our ancestors' story. This is our collective unconcious.

Our bodies have been bought in marriage with dowries, domestic servitude, prostitution and slavery. The fear of destitution has kept women in unhappy, abusive marriages for centuries.

We have given ourselves to mothering and householding, some of the most demanding work around, for free, for generations uncounted. Our sense of lack of deserving for putting real value to our work is endemic and has been reinforced from every side.

Now you may well be a feisty independent woman, with your own bank account and income and a partner totally committed to your blossoming. Scrub that! If you're reading this blog I know you are!  (Even if your inner confident girl is curled up and having a little sleep right now.)

So what's all this got to do with you? You've never been a slave or disinherited for being female...

But wait - most of us still, to some extent, hold the underlying inheritance, cultural, and epigenetic, of women's financial weakness.

Hell, research consistently shows that women are less likely to go for promotion, ask for a rise or apply for the highest paid jobs. In the wage earning community women. Women still earn 79% of every man's dollar. FOR THE SAME JOB.

This is not about man-bashing. I am a deep lover of men. (Some men especially, Mr DA ;) xxx) Nor is it a whine, blaming everything on history.

But it is part of our cultural and historical conditioning, an innate part of our thought processes. If we don't see this clearly, then we blame ourselves for our weakness, our stupidity.

And does that empower us?

Nope, it puts us back in our box. Like the abused blaming themselves for the abuse perpetrated against them.

Take a few moments to reflect on the women in your family, your grandmothers, mother, aunts... What financial power or independence did they have? Did they know their own worth? Did they value themselves. Could they give and receive, equally, with joy and love? What was the power balance in their relationships? What was their currency: guilt trips, emotional manipulation, love...?

Mine is one of creative rainbow mamas, strong, creative women on both sides devoting themselves totally to motherhood, leaving their soul work and immense creative ability to become hobbies and something which decorated their houses and adorned their loved ones, but went no further. The scope of children narrowed their worlds and something was felt as lost... Their gifts were not shared with the greater world, that would have benefitted hugely from them. And they from it...

For me, my need to contribute financially to my family, even to a small extent has been a vital part of my sanity. The more I am financially dependent, the more I feel lost in myself, in the world. To earn for my work is my creative conversation with the universe and the world beyond me.

And you? What is your matriarchal inheritance?

This is part of the Mindful Money series at Dreaming Aloud. Take some time to check out the other posts on...

Naming Your Price


  1. Crivens! thats a good one! Today I have been cleaning the little girls bedroom, from top to bottom, tidied up, hoovered everything and stopped short of polishing the teddy bears, I felt a wonderful sense of achievement as I looked at the newly made beds and the tidiness of it all, waiting to be played with. But why do I feel this? is it because thats what I am supposed to be doing? as a mother/housewife, my achievements are measured by what I do all day. Not by how much money I bring in, or what I have made today. Id made a bolognese too, and cooked lunch and then cleaned a couple of book shelves in the lounge. This is unusual for me. I hate housework,I loathe clearing up the mess, and I detest cooking. Yet this morning I woke up with the urge to clear up and get things blumin organised. (while those around me kept out of the way for safety) Things need to be in order, for me to let go. that was the message running through my head this morning. I have been trying to do everything at once, and not getting anything done, so this is my slapping my life into order. Then my creative side will run riot, not confined to a hobby, but in an environment that is not a trash hole, my yarns and buttons can come out to play and have wonderful hours spent with them instead of a frantic few moments grasped between school runs and washing up!

    Is this my matriachal inheritance? well if thats it, I'm changing it to one where my needs are met, nay, fulfilled!


  2. My mother moved to this country from Poland whilst heavily pregnant with me. She hasn't been employed since then. That was 36 years ago. She loafs about, and is all emotion and no idea of practicality at all. No clue about finances. It's like she's spent her adult life sticking her hands over her ears and says la -la-la-I'm not listening, when it comes to money. She always bitched about the professional women in the family if they showed any go-getting qualities. She chain-smokes and lives like a student bohemian bum but sadly has sqandered her talents completely. I don't know if this is what drives me so hard to want to make something of my life? Any success I have had as an adult so far is met with mute praise, she glazes over and gives me a really lame well done. My dad has openly been more proud of me, as has my aunt who reads my blog, has always shown an interest in my articles etc. When my folks get old I know they cannot financially support themselves easily so i am angry with her for not working all these years, because I know we will foot the bill.... and I know they will suffer if we don't... Overall my matriarchal inheritence on the theme of money is a big issue for me, and will probably continue to be for some time yet....

  3. goodness yes i empathise motherfunker, my matriarchal inheritance is one of disempowerment. I'm an only child and my mum stopped work 39 years ago at my birth. A very creative woman with no confidence ...who felt a constant sense of lack. 'We can't afford it' was a constant refrain. And still is. If I announce I am pregnant she asks if I can afford it.
    I've never had the example of a free empowered mother in my life and I feel so guilty that I am not contributing financially at the moment. I don't want to end up like her, But that's my stuff and I need to get over it and get on with my life's work and make it pay as well!
    Thanks for a wonderful post Lucy!

  4. We are lucky to live in an age where we can connect, inspire, share, comfort, counsel, and commiserate, and learn from each other in a more global way, from the big collective pool of human sisterhood - from amazing blogs like this - maybe our mamas would have felt more confident and empowered without their parents wartime experiences hanging over them like a shadow perhaps... Whether you earn money or not, shining your light in the world is more important than even that - sharing your gifts is what I think life is all about. Helping each other. Henrietta don't feel guilty - I haven't earnt a single penny for my writing work because I write for people with no money to give, generally! And I absolutely don't mind because I don't need the cash. But if I did, I'd ask for it, without hesitation.

  5. Thank you all for your honesty and deep sharing. I am deeply honoured. I wish that I could dive in in more depth too, but I have lots of family reading....and flu :(

    Know that I understand.



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