Most women will be well aware of the criticism that often follows when we divulge money-related matters. Much like periods, sex and body hair, openly discussing finances is often considered off-limits. We should instead, as the argument often goes, touch lightly (and uncritically) on matters that we have been taught are the only socially acceptable subjects for women – beauty, marriage, babies.
Which is why it’s so refreshing when, in spite of the backlash that usually ensues, women in the public eye choose to do the exact opposite. In a segment on Ellen DeGeneres' Show Me More YouTube series , television network giant Oprah Winfrey joined the host for a quick-fire buzzer game, during which Degeneres asked if she knew what her ATM pin number was.
With a knowing smile, Winfrey turned to Degeneres and said: “when was the last time you went to the bank, Ellen?” Unsurprisingly, for both of these hugely successful women, trips to the bank are a rarity, and for Winfrey, a kind of sport. Winfrey, who admitted she hadn’t been to the bank since 1988 before her last trip, said that that she deposited $2m because she “just wanted to go there, just to do it”. When asked how she felt afterwards, she said: “it felt fantastic”, before the two broke into hearty laughter.
Winfrey’s openness about how much she earns is all the more powerful when you consider how race and income levels often intersect the discussions we have about money
It’s a delightful moment, even if most of us won’t ever know what it feels like to deposit millions just for the fun of it. And as depressing as it is to think of women talking about money as a brave act, the fact remains that less than half of women “say they would be confident discussing money and investing with a financial professional on their own”.
Of over 1,500 women surveyed, as many as 80 per cent said they had “refrained from talking about their finances to those they are close with”. Hardly surprising when you consider that until independent taxation was legislated for in 1990, the notion of married women handling their own income didn’t exist.
Winfrey’s openness about how much she earns is all the more powerful when you consider how race and income levels often intersect the discussions we have about money. You only have to look at the reporting around the spending habits of black footballers like Raheem Sterling or the outrage that displays of lavishness among celebrities like Beyonce inspire within people to understand how often these groups have their financial decisions scrutinised.
So here’s to more of women chortling unashamedly about their money, whether or not, like Oprah and Ellen, they’re rolling it.