Independent Women

I recently started blogging over at Hubpages, and as I explored the site, one of the first things I ran across was a poll entitled “Would you rather be a ‘sugar baby’ or an independent woman and why?”. Naturally I was slightly upset that this question even existed, much less that the poll numbers were skewed the way they were, and so I blogged about it! But I thought that you, dear skepchick readers, would appreciate some thoughts on the importance of being an independent woman from a more philosophical and sociological perspective. I think it’s important to think about our actions not simply from the perspective of what good it does for ourselves, but also what it does for others.

One of the most important reasons I feel that it’s important to not rely on another person for one’s well-being and finances is because it keeps one in a perpetual state of childhood. When someone else is the one giving you money, they automatically have something they can hold over your head if you do something they don’t approve of. You hand over a great deal of power when you give someone else the power to take away your livelihood. On some level this is true about getting a job as well, but that’s why we have measures in place that keep us from being entirely reliant on the whims of an employer.

But beyond the very literal way that handing over the purse strings hands over the power to another person, there is another, more emotional and philosophical way in which being dependent damages a person. All of us as human beings have a drive to do something that is our own, to earn things for ourselves, and to assert ourselves in the world. For many of us that involves creating things that are our own, changing our environment in some way, or doing something with your own hands that earns you something that is all your own. Having these experiences helps you create a personal identity. It makes whatever you have worked on partly your own, and means that you have in some way asserted yourself into the world because you have made something that belongs to you or changed the world around you. These are important experiences for everyone to have because they help us see who we are and help us have a sense of self. We as humans often have a drive for dominance over our environments, or at the very least a drive to explore and actively be a part of our environments. Having a job or a way to earn for yourself does this for an individual. Without it, we remain in a state of childhood.

In addition, I feel that as women, it is important for us to express our independence, and our activity in the world, instead of remaining passive. For most of history, feminine has been associated with passive, submissive, natural, the body, or other things that man and the masculine has to colonize, control, or dominate. I believe that it’s important for women to step out of this role, both for themselves and the personal reasons I explored above, but also for the sake of the gender as a whole, by making strong role models for other women, and by challenging the gender roles that are so common. That is not to say that it is not good or ok for any woman to stay at home, or be supported. It’s certainly a personal choice. However, I would guess that not every woman who is taking this role in life is actually fulfilled by it. I would guess that many of them want or have different paths that would make them happy. And I believe that in the name of creating a world where the terms female and dependent are not synonymous, it’s important for every woman to have some independence, and to know what it’s like to be independent at some point in her life.

I believe that we all need to act with an eye to what will fulfill us and what will model good behavior for others. When there has been a systematic power imbalance, challenging that power imbalance is actually an ethical responsibility. It may be difficult, and it may look different for different people, but we should always keep that in mind. For some, the most they can do to challenge those imbalances is to keep themselves happy. For others, they may spend their lives fighting against sexism. But anyone who considers putting themselves in a position of dependence that is similar to the historical dependence that woman were forced into should consider how hard many women have fought to escape that position, and the message they send about their self-worth and the worth of other women when they make that choice and act as if it does not impact anyone but themselves. In addition, within a relationship it seems unethical to have one partner provide completely for the other, who simply looks pretty and contributes nothing. That’s exploitative. Overall, the practice of being a sugar baby is damaging to oneself, to the women and girls around you, and even to the man who is your “sugar daddy”. The only way it benefits you is by bringing in some extra money and safety. For some, that may be important enough. I can’t ever see it being so.

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Olivia is a giant pile of nerd who tends to freak out about linguistic prescriptivism, gender roles, and discrimination against the mentally ill. By day she writes things for the Autism Society of Minnesota, and by night she writes things everywhere else. Check out her ongoing screeds against jerkbrains at www.taikonenfea.wordpress.com

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