Is that your fear, too? You would not be alone.
Schwarzbaum includes these stats:
"...In March, a 2013 survey on women, money and power, issued by the Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, made headlines with its findings that nearly half of all American women fear becoming bag ladies –yes, the survey actually used that phrase–including 27 percent with household earnings of more than $200,000 a year. And the worry is widespread: 56 percent among single women, 54 percent divorced, 47 percent widowed and 43 percent married."
Schwarzbaum discusses Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine", which I saw. I thought the film landed a few good jabs about status and culture, but lacked subtlety. I mean, when Alec Baldwin enters as the swindler/philanderer husband, his trademarked smirky charm reeking like Italian aftershave, what do you think is going to happen?
And you can never quite forget that that's Cate Blanchett guzzling Stoly and Xanax; women who look like her–and are not even close to old age–generally get second acts.
Allen's broadly-drawn Jasmine, unhinged in Hermès, is compelling but uncommon; most days, I pass women picking through discards in the market bins, scavenging recyclables, not a Kelly bag in sight.
Schwarzbaum's article segues into a discussion of who might make the definitive bag-lady film; the film critic in her overcomes the social critic.
In real life, I'm a harpy with young women. I have a bias toward education that yields a way to make a living for yourself. The pursuit of edifying but non-remunerative subjects is, for me, either your minor, an area for self-study or a good way to spend a sizeable inheritance. "Get someting under yourself, girl" is my mantra.
With women in co-habition situations, I entreat them (this usually involves a glass or two of wine) to know the family law for their jurisdiction. Should they end, common-law unions distribute assets differently than marriage, even if my friend in love thinks "it's the same thing".
Single mature women face pointed questions if they float plans for major career change ("Way less money but so fulfilling!"), and I view cashing in registered retirement savings in order to fund a trip to Maui with the same level of horror as I'd accord a child abduction.
Beyond that, she should work on social change projects (not only vote), in areas she cares about, for example, health care, social security and labour law. (The growing precarity of employment, with its "freelance gigs and short-term work" seems automatically accepted by Schwarzbaum as the new normal.)
And despite the issues with charities, let's support the responsible agencies who help the indigent–put our arms around women struggling to survive.
Maybe "Blue Jasmine" will nudge a few complacent persons, but I think most of us know the score: financial security is a much harder game as the years roll by.
What do you think women need to do to bag-proof ourselves?