Why money is political
Updated: Mar 17
Where we spent our money can make a huge difference in the world, so every time we buy something we make a (sub)conscious decision about what and who we want to support.
The Beauty Industry
Take Estée Lauder for example, which owns brands like Aveda, Clinique, Darphin, Dr. Jart+, La Mer, M.A.C, Tom Ford, Too Faced and many more. Ronald Lauder, heir to the company and on the board of directors, is a long time friend of Donald Trump and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Trump campaigns. He even stayed in his position on the board after Estée Lauder employees started a petition to have him removed.
Obviously that doesn't mean that every time we bought a product from any of these companies since 2017 that money went straight towards Donald Trump's campaigns but we still need to consider whether our money wouldn't be better placed supporting a small business, shopping at a black-owned or female-founded (or both) company that actually aligns with our values.
Let's not forget, how L'Oreal Paris threw Munroe Bergdorf under the bus and dropped her from a campaign in 2017 for speaking out against racism and white supremacy only to then jump on the #blacklivesmatter bandwagon in June 2020 after the killing of George Floyd. When she called them out on it, L'Oreal Paris apologised to Munroe and she even joined their newly formed UK diversity and inclusion board as she stays true to her values as an activist who wants to create progress not cancel culture.
This incident is not an isolated one and we should always research and question whether a company really shares our values or are just making political statements for financial gain.
We can't talk about the politics of where we spend our money without talking about fast fashion. No other sector has such a direct link to human rights violations (disproportionately of women of colour) and environmental catastrophes.
Fast fashion means that clothes are produced quickly and with poor quality, so that consumers can keep up with the latest trends, wear their items a couple of times and then throw them out once they start falling apart. The majority of these clothes end up in landfills and polluting our planet.
The detrimental impact of fast fashion came to light in 2013, when Rana Plaza factory, where clothes for brands including Primark, Benetton, Mango and C&A were produced, collapsed and 1136 people died. Since then Fashion Revolution started a global movement with the hashtag #Whomademyclothes to raise awareness for the garment workers, who produce our clothes.
Luckily, sustainable and ethical fashion brands are on the rise. Female-founded brands like Tala and AYM Studio make clothes that are not only ethically produced but also look amazing and are so, so comfy. I've literally been living in my Tala leggings during this lockdown.
Money & Feminism
Money is also linked to gender equality in so many ways. We all know about the gender pay gap and women's limited access to financial resources due to their underrepresentation in the highest-paying jobs. Women are also less likely to invest than men, which means we're not only leaving money on the table but with interest rates of saving accounts lower than the inflation rate, we are actually losing money over time.
Luckily there's money experts like Ellevest or Tori Dunlap, know as @herfirst100k, who teach women about money in an accessible way through online courses and social media. Both are American but some of the teaching can be applied across the world. Tori also puts out a weekly newsletter called "The Financial Feminist", which has lots of useful money tips.
Another reason money and feminism is interlinked is that women's financial independence can be an important factor for someone, who experiences domestic abuse, because perpetrators often use financial abuse as an additional form of control. Read up more on the "Economics of Abuse" in this report from the brilliant research team at Women's Aid England: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Economics-of-Abuse-Report-2019.pdf
All in all there is to say, that where and how we spent our money is never not political, so we should make sure it goes to the right places.