Money, Our Selves: Luna Jaffe on Wild Money (part three)
"Why can’t we like money?"
Part two of our interview (see it here) included Jaffe saying – with good humor and sympathy -- that long-lived lesbians “suck at money.” Here, she explains.
Jaffe: I certainly have plenty of clients and plenty of readers who are gay and want to get it together [financially] and be more in charge, but I run into a lot of people who have the mindset like, ‘This is the way it’s going to be.’ They think, ‘I’m not going to earn more.’ Their sense of their worth is very low. It’s a sense of working-class mentality rather than a professional mentality.
LLL: There’s always the class difference. We tend not to talk about this difference much in America, but there are still middle-class lesbians and working-class lesbians.
Jaffe: I’ve had lots of conversations with friends about class versus race, and I think class is a much bigger issue. When you meet people who are a similar class, race is pretty irrelevant. If you meet an upper-class black person and an upper-class white person, the distinctions are very small, but if you compare people by class, it can be quite dramatic.
There’s something like that split in the gay community. Gay men still have parts of straight men’s culture. That includes some straight men’s challenges, but there’s also, still, the cultural [imperative] that men make money, they are okay with money, they love things that come with money. They don’t do this shrugging-off thing that other people have. They’ll say they like money, and like to make money. But [for lesbians] saying, I need to make money; I like money is not cool. I think, why can’t we like it? Does it make you spiritually uncool? I don’t know the answer.
LLL: I think some women feel, as I do, unable to manage financial affairs.
Jaffe: Some of the work I do is to counter that belief system, which I had, which was that I didn’t have the money gene. I thought there was one and I didn’t get it.
I’m here to say that that’s bullshit! There will always be people who are more natural at things than other people, but I use the example of playing the piano. There’s the rare person who can sit down and just play the piano, they’re just a natural, but there are lots more who can play the piano because they sit down and practice. Money is like that. Why should we expect to sit down at our piano or our money and play perfectly without learning? That’s sort of crazy!
This interview will conclude in the next column. Meanwhile, please send comments and suggestions for LLL to firstname.lastname@example.org