Women and Money: A Narrative

Christine Merser blogs at FreesiaLane.com
We Can Do It

Do I really need to have this conversation with all women?

I left for LA and a female co-worker offered to watch my fabulous dog Luke.

“Oh, no need to pay me," my co-worker said. "I am happy to move out of my house, move into your house and take care of your dog for three weeks until you get back–for no money. By the way, I could wash your windows while you’re gone if you want? Or perhaps pack up everything you need to take with you on the move? No worries, happy to do it.”

Ok, it wasn’t quite that bad, but almost.

So, I yelled at her, of course, and gave her a check for what I would have paid a professional dog sitter, and shook my head at the absurdity of it all.

Then I negotiated my new apartment here in LA.

“What’s the price?”

“It’s X.”

“Ok, I’ll take it.”

»Then there was the fabulous negotiation for my car.

“I’m told I should negotiate. Is this the best you can do? … Oh, it is the best you can do? No problem, thanks so much, I’ll take it, but could you give me a full tank of gas?”

I’m pathetic, and while I have a few girlfriends (rich ones) who are amazing at negotiating, I can tell you that most women are not.

I rented a house in the Hamptons for the last three years. When I saw the house, it belonged to a young woman whose father was a business friend of mine. She was asking way less than market value, so I said,

“This isn’t enough. I’ll pay you $500 more per month than you are asking because that’s what’s fair.”

“No, that’s ok,” she said. “Your fee will cover the mortgage.”

“No, no, really,” I countered.

We settled on $250 more. Who says I can’t negotiate?

Even in business, I am terrible. The president of a company I work with actually said, “Never negotiate on behalf of my company again.” He was not joking.

“Alrighty then,” I replied. “But I have other qualities, right?”

God forbid I just let it go without looking for some validation of something.

Look at Annie Leibowitz, the most renowned photographer of my generation; She's bankrupt and needing to sell her work to pay bills because she just didn’t get the money thing. She’s not alone, and I hate that it appears to me to be a gender thing. Ok, you can add Michael Jackson in, but let’s face it, he was more girl than boy anyway.

They should teach a class in it. Teaching Women to Value Their Time and Talent with Compensation. It could be taught by Anna Wintour. I bet she’s a good negotiator.

Here is the course description:

Find out why women suck at negotiating. Look into the deeper meaning of demanding financial compensation commensurate with work expertise and why women tend to reject validation through the almighty dollar. Help yourself find your way.

I would take the class in a heartbeat. And, I would pay full price for it, or better yet, I’ll pay extra.