Thursday, August 21, 2008

Friday Feel Good: Women Owning Property!

Today's post is dedicated to my bestest friend, Jackie, who at 24 years of age purchased a condo in DC!!! She did so independently, with her own hard earned money! This is a huge step for anyone, and, in my opinion, an especially important and momentous one for a single woman. The financial autonomy, ambition, initiative, go-gettertude, and independence oozing out of this makes me go YIPPEE!!!!!!!

The topic of women and property has a long and painful history. In the US and internationally women have been viewed as property in one way or another. An extreme example is that of India where "more than 5,000 brides die annually because their dowries are considered insufficient." Less drastically, hetero women in the US take their husband's name after having their father's name for their unmarried life. Some see this as benign, other see it as first the women are property of their fathers, then their husbands...

Wait, Friday posts are supposed to be "feel good..." Sorry, i get distracted sometimes... Anyway let me quickly talk not about women as property but the history of women owning property. In the early history of the US, women's property was governed by their husbands, following that of British law. Gradually, states began giving married women limited property rights. By the early 1900s most states gave married women control over their property. However, if the marriage ended for whatever reason (though not as common back then as it is now...) the law offered women no rights to the property. Once married, the only way a woman could own property again as a single women was widowhood. Single women during that time had a bit more financial freedom, they had rights to their father's inheritance for example. But while their fathers were alive, their property rights were limited as well. Things have come a LONG way since all this...

I can't help but think of two independent women when i write about this:

1. Virginia Woolf. In her famous novel, A Room of One's Own, the progressive feminist wrote about the essentialness of a safe, private, space for women to do their own work. A space where they are not threatened, bothered, disturbed, objectified or sexualized so they could be capable of producing work comparable to Shakespeare. Woolf eloquently described how women (esp authors) were denied the opportunities available to her male counterparts. Her famous quote states, "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." Woolf discussed that without money, women were completely dependent on men and without privacy, they were constantly interrupted.

Jacks, i realize you don't write fiction but i hope the new "room of your own" provides you a space for creativity, expression, and lots of bright colors.

2. Miranda Hobbes. A more contemporary, (arguably) feminist symbol of an independent woman unwilling to compromise her values for societal standards. I can't help but think of the episode where Miranda goes to buy her very own apartment. Miranda was the first of the four women to purchase property and is taken aback at all the interegation she goes through trying to purchase it without a man by her side. Her real estate agent asks why she needs this big ol' place if it's just little ol' her. Then the mortgage lender asks if her dad will be helping her with the downpayment... Um no, Miranda made parter at a prestigious law firm and has the money for it all by herself, thank you very much! GASP! haha

Anyway, here's to women owning property! Single or in a committed relationship! Young or old! Good for you and congrats on your independence and freedom! :)


Ebony Intuition said...

Great post, Im from Toronto amd I bought a condo 2 years ago and I love it. Im on vacation in Barbados visiting family and I plan on buying land down here also so that I can have for a vacation home and to pass on to my children in the future.

phd in yogurtry said...

Buying a house or condo at 24 is fabulous - but in DC ? That's an amazing accomplishment! Congrats to your friend!

Renee said...

I personally believe that property is one of the best investments a woman can make to forestall poverty. In worse case scenarios a house can always be leveraged to ease the pressure of debt or unexpected financial emergencies.

Shaina said...

I remember that episode where Miranda buys her own condo - it was one of SATC's finest feminist moments. Huzzah for women owning property!

Habladora said...

This is a good one. Were you not feeling good this Friday, though? We [strike]demand[/strike] respectfully request more Friday Feminist Feel Good!

ThingsOFARandomCollegeTeen said...

What!? How do you all do it???
I'm waiting to buy a few rental properties, I don't know where the economy is turning so I feel better waiting.
Buying land in a foreign country sounds great, but for the advance financial planner, I'm a beginner.

As for the marriage thing,
I'm thinking I would just have a ceremony , not legalization. Its too much BS to have it legalized and THEN have the separation legalized (if anything happens) when marriage is mostly symbolic. It's the way I plan on keeping my name too.

All this, and I don't even know if I want to be married.