Virginia Woolf's 'A Room of One's Own' actually says that 'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction' (chapter 1). Most of the discussion I have read around that focuses on the personal freedom needed to create art. The phrase 'a room of one's own' has become a touchstone for that freedom. It's a pity that the quote often leaves out the 'must have money' because I think the money piece is more important. Especially for a woman with a husband or partner.
In the 1960's, when I was first married, my otherwise conventional father gave me far from conventional advice. He believed and preached that a married woman should have her own money -- her own bank account and her own credit rating. As a lawyer he had seen too many messy divorces, he said, and this was the wisdom he had carried away from that experience.
From what I have experienced and what I have read, I draw the conclusion that managing money is one of the more contentious issues inside many marriages and partnerships. If both partners are earning, the issues would include who pays for what, what amount should be put aside and how 'discretionary' income should be spent. If one partner (usually the woman) is not earning (staying home to raise the kids), the earning partner's ideas of where the money should go will often dominate. And the SAHM may find herself without much financial power. This was very often the case in my generation, but I don't think things have changed radically. As late as last week I read an article about the financial management of divorce that stated that a woman in a 'traditional' marriage might not have a credit rating of her own.
I'm not into the 'stay home' versus 'working mommy' debate here. I'm on a different topic. Both paths have merit. I've done both. But when I was a SAHM, I usually did some kind of work out of the home, just so that I could have a bit of discretionary income, some money of my own, if only to buy my bread earning husband a birthday gift or pay for some activity for the daughters that he did not think was important. And I always had a bank account; when credit cards came on the scene, I had one in my own name. And when I went to work full time, we had household money, his money and her money. This arrangement did not prevent all conflicts over spending, but it did make them less than deadly.
Lately I have watched the traditional marriage of a good friend crash and burn on the stony flatlands of financial incompatibility. Money is power, and the power struggle here was based on entitlement. I'm reading a book about the British aristocracy in which the point is made that a misplaced sense of entitlement has been the bane of more than one landed family. I've been watching a power struggle in my own family around the issue of a child's access to the household funds. I recall telling my daughters, when they were in their teens, that the ability to earn money enough to make them independent was of paramount importance. That without that power they would be handicapped all their lives.
If you have the money of your own, you can go out and rent the room. No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus, no sugar daddy, no real way out of the trap of being paid for, rather than being paid. For some of us, I think, a paycheque is a validation. A recognition of identity and worth. For many of us, of course, it is a sheer necessity, putting food in little mouths and shoes on little feet, paying for a roof over the cradle. Money is power. Without it, a woman can become a kind of perpetual child, unable to set her own priorities or enforce her wishes. If there's no 'mad money', you can't leave the party and take a taxi home. It's no wonder that some of the Islamic cultures don't want women in the working world.
Why am I going on about this? Well, because of the possibility of earning money through blogging, whether this involves putting advertisements on your blog page, writing on set themes for payment or getting franchised. I'm all for it. It's validation in the one case and freedom in the other. No one kvetches about the fact that Dickens wrote his novels in installments for payment or that Rockwell did magazine illustrations. 'Commercial art' is art!
From the haven of a pensioned retirement, I can afford to do this for pleasure and, besides, I'm html challenged. You won't see ads on my site. But I'm happy to read them. Or reviews of products. Or contest entries. I'll go and vote if you need a vote. Payment power. It's real.