The pair is expensive for women

Journalist Lucile Quillet puts numbers and words on the charges – little or not acknowledged – which are incumbent on women within a couple.

Lucile Quillet, freelance journalist, published The price to pay. What that straight couple costs women (Les Liens qui liberantes udgaver, 2021, 256 sider, 19 €). His book is divided into three main parts: before the couple, as a couple and after the couple.

According to you, women spend a lot for their couples, but it does not give them much?

Lucile Quillet: Yes, women give invisible gifts to their spouse, to their family, and to the state in extension. These donations limit their financial resources, but also take up much of their time.

How is the distribution of expenses today between men and women?

QL: Studies of spending in the couple by Delphine Roy, director of the program for health, well-being and autonomy at the Department of Public Policy, show that women are responsible for taking care of others. What I call “the perishable, the fleeting, the not appreciated”.

The men will take care of the traceable expenses: the taxes, the car, the repayment of the loans. It takes less time and it is more rewarding … The dishes, the cooking, all the repetitive tasks will generally be done by the women.

Are household chores, mostly performed by women, quantifiable?

QL: An activity that creates opportunity and value for another person can be considered work. If they were paid, domestic tasks would amount to 210 billion euros. When I iron, wash, when I pick up the kids from school, I take on some of my spouse’s housework. He will then be able to end his working day later, have a higher salary than me, a little more unemployment rights, and therefore a better retirement. Performed by women, these domestic duties free up time for men. For them, it is long-term capitalization.

You write that the cosmetics sector makes every nook and cranny of women’s body profitable. What do you mean ?

QL: There is always a new part of the body to conquer, a complex you had not thought of. The skin on the arms falling, a new wrinkle appearing … it’s a perfectionist preoccupation that starts early and never stops. The little girls play make-up. In their teens, they embark on an initial journey that begins with hair removal, a time-consuming, painful and expensive activity. In your twenties, take care of the first wrinkles; as a 40-year-old, do not give the impression of getting old; at 50 you have to dye your hair …

Well-being in society depends on these aesthetic standards integrated from an early age. The real price to pay is self-forgetfulness. And it starts with this aesthetic charge, this limitation to tame one’s body, which can not be natural. In my bathroom I have products worth € 1,000, compared to € 5 for my partner.

You have estimated the cost of a “normal” body at € 700 per year. How did you arrive at this calculation?

QL: Shaved armpits, legs and bikini line cost € 720 per year, or a total of € 21,600 for a woman between the ages of 20 and 50 alone. Imagine what we could do with that amount … When a man says he’s only attracted to a shaved, groomed, made-up woman, he’s already demanding things. Because he was brought up in this image of a woman. These aesthetic plans announce everything we need to do in the couple.

You mention additional invisible costs. Which one ?

QL: These are those of contraception, which I estimate between 100 to 140 € per year, to which are added pregnancy tests, condoms, morning-after-pill. It is often the woman who pays … The idea received is that it is free in France. Some pills get supplements, but not all are suitable.

And that’s not all. When a woman goes to the gynecologist, it is her choice, her body, her sexuality, but by extension, the couple’s sexuality is controlled through this. And not just the engaged or exclusive couple. In case of emergency you are forced to go to this specialist who can see you immediately … but will ask you for 90 € while you only get reimbursed up to 23 € … Even if the women obviously have to stay in control their bodies, men could contribute financially, at least 50% of the cost.

Do men have a problem with women’s money?

QL: The myth, as well rooted as it is false, is that women’s money is shopping, leisure, personalization. Culturally, money remains a property of virility.

I’ve seen these sexist clichés: Women are not good at money, they stink at math, they are a little dizzy. Women’s money is in vain. Serious leaders are men, even in couples where the wife earns more than her husband. These stereotypes have created a taboo about money in the couple.

We will measure a woman’s love for her spouse and family based on her lack of interest in money. So when we love, we count. To count is to be foresighted, it is to protect the other in case of a problem.

In the pair, do you really have to share everything 50/50?

QL: I grew up with the idea that in order to be equal, to be a feminist, one had to share everything. But 50/50 is a scam. On average, the income difference reaches 42% in a couple. And there is a 40% difference in the old-age pension. It is a shame to ask those who will suffer from these inequalities to be an example by agreeing to do 50/50.

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