“Every woman should have a ‘Fuck off’ fund!” the article says. Save a sum of money that you can live on for a few months, in case you’re ever in financial hardship, and your lack of funds means you end up stuck in a shit situation.
I’m sure many of us have been there – you accept things you’d otherwise reject because you don’t have the cash to tell people to fuck off. A job with a skeezy boss. A partner who hurts you. Things which, by all rights, you should never have to put up with. But you look at your bank balance and go ‘huh, I do not have the resources to get by if I leave my job right now.’ Or you want to leave your partner because they’ve done something unforgivable, but you know you can’t make the rent on your own.
Sometimes you put up with staying because you don’t have the money to leave.
Financial independence is an incredibly valuable thing. I learned this lesson fairly early in life. Financial independence, as well as being a ticket into somewhere good, is also a handy ticket out of a bad situation.
Financial independence is not possible for everyone. Whether through illness, job prospects, sheer bad fucking luck, not everyone can be financially independent. I’ll go further and say that given things like the wage gap, expectations on women when they have children, and a whole bunch of other things – financial independence is harder for most women to attain than most men. Men are rarely told that they should strive to stand on their own two feet financially: it’s something we just assume for them. They are not told to have a ‘Fuck off’ fund, because we assume that in most situations they’ll be the ones with more money. And that’s still not true for all of them: whether through illness, job prospects, sheer bad fucking luck, etc.
So when I see lots of people sharing an article and saying ‘women! You MUST have this! You MUST have adequate savings so that at any point you can drop it all and leave!’ I am torn between wanting to punch the air and wanting to weep. Because as a goal this is surely a good thing – to be independent. To never get stuck in a position where you’re dealing with abusive bosses or abusive partners because they can’t afford to escape.
But we know this already. Even without a powerful and emotive article urging us to the practicalities, we know this.
So take out the things that we already know: money is helpful. Money is important. Money can signify not just material things to buy but escape, freedom, salvation – however you want to put it. Money is often a significant factor in things like relationship abuse, or putting up with bosses who break the law by sexually harassing or bullying their staff.
If you take out the things that we already know, what are you left with? What’s the message of this article?
The message is: it’s your responsibility.
If you’re trapped in a shit job, or a horrible relationship, and you cannot possibly leave… it’s your fault.
So then the people who couldn’t save… or the ones who saved and their shitty partner took all the money away from them… or the ones who saved and then got sick and had to pay out thousands on medical bills… or the ones who saved and then got pregnant in a country which gave them no access to abortion… or the ones who saved and still didn’t save enough… they still cannot fuck off.
And in the meantime support services are getting cut, politicians are arguing about giving you ‘incentives’ to work, or discussing whether it’s right that you should be given free healthcare or access to abortion, and you think – ‘hmm. Somewhere in here I have to do all this, and also save for a fund in case their threats to remove access come true.’
It’s a short step from the fist-pumping, emotive, motivational speech that urges you to “Have a ‘Fuck off fund’!” to the tutting when you fail: “Why didn’t you have a ‘Fuck off fund’?”
And you’ll try to explain that it’s not that easy, but by that point it’s too late. Because you didn’t have a fund, and you couldn’t escape. And you’re callous and lazy and you lack foresight.
Save for a ‘Fuck off fund’ by all means: I do. But let’s not forget that it’s not possible for everyone.
That the people who need a ‘Fuck off fund’ the most are the ones who will never, ever have one.