An Emotional Savings Account

An Emotional Savings Account October 10, 2016

I offer notice but no apologies for the language quoted and linked herein. What’s shocking is what abusive men are allowed to get away with, not what language women use to articulate their rage at what men are allowed to get away with.

Several months ago, a lovely piece made the rounds, advocating a decidedly conventional position for a surprisingly progressive reason:
You Need a Fuck-Off Fund

Yes, friends, a woman needs to protect herself from men in any number of ways, including financial ones. She should maintain some sort of professional skill, even if she stays at home with her and her husband’s kids, because husbands die, get sick, are struck with disabilities, and unexpectedly turn into raging lunatics sometimes. She should know about and have access to all marital assets, accounts, policies, and debt instruments. She should be prepared at all times to take care of herself and her children, because it is shocking just how often women have to.

And she should have a savings account with her name on it.

A basic savings account can be the difference-maker in a woman’s life.

Image via PIxabay. Public Domain.
Image via PIxabay. Public Domain.

What this article calls a Fuck-off Fund, what John Goodman’s character in The Gambler called The Position of Fuck You, is the security that allows one to resist injustice with confidence and power rather than out of desperation.

Yes, desperate and powerless folk have resisted injustice, but there is no denying the difference basic financial stability makes. That’s what makes it possible for women to leave jobs when they need to–not to run away, but positively to refuse to work with and for men who treat them badly.

There is another kind of “savings account,” though, that empowers women to resist the injustice of sexual harassment, discrimination, and violence. It is a sort of emotional savings account–the internal reserves from which to draw when one needs to do a difficult thing.

We could call it an Emotional F***-Off Fund.

When you’re in a job where your physical safety is threatened or your competence and qualifications are constantly challenged, a financial savings account will help you say, “I can find another job,” but an emotional savings account will help you say, “I will not take this from you.”

My husband makes regular deposits in that account. In word and deed, he makes it clear that he will never, ever ask me to sacrifice my personal safety or my human dignity for anything–not my career (certainly not his career), not our financial stability, not our social status, not anything. He makes it clear that my career is not a hobby he is indulgently allowing me to dabble in. He makes it clear that I am his wife, and that I am a human being who deserves to be treated like human beings ought to be treated.

It’s not that he’ll rush in to rescue me if you try to hurt me. I can rescue myself just fine, thanks, but I know I can primarily because I know he’ll be right there with me.

Other men in my life also make deposits: my male colleagues and supervisors who make it clear that they have little truck with men who speak and act like our current Republican candidate for president.

Every single one of them who says, “Not me, not ever,” makes it possible for me to go to work and do my job without fear. Every single one of them who objects, out loud and in public, to vile and violent speech and behavior toward women tells me that if I ever need to say no to a man’s misbehavior, they are cheering me on.

But I came into my marriage and my job with an enormous emotional savings account already. By having parents who loved and supported me and treated me the way human beings ought to be treated, I started my adult life in the black. And I’ll be uncomfortably regressive here: this is an account into which a father’s deposits pay the biggest returns.

The first man in my life treated me the way human beings ought to be treated. The first man in my life told me, in word and deed, that I was his daughter, and never once told me, in word or deed, that I was “just” a girl or that I was any less his child, any less a human being, than his son.

After the plain, everyday, average fathering I grew up with (which turns out not to be so everyday after all), there is nothing in the world that can make me think I deserve to be called or treated like a girl, or a piece of ass, or b—-, or a p—-, or a c—.

My emotional f***-off account was funded in full the day of my birth, when I was lucky enough to be born to my parents. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

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