If you are a lady, then you have undoubtedly been referred to, in some way shape or form, as a nag. I believe this is related to the fact that, as mentioned by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, every language has a word to call a little girl bossy. Yet, the same behavior traits demonstrated by a little boy are referred to in positive “take charge” type terms. Similarly, a man can easily demonstrate concern or provide direction without ever being referred to as a nag. Yet, women are often robbed of the power of their words by this one simple statement:
“Stop nagging me.”
Facing the Shame
My body, my mind really, is home to an alter ego. I call her Naggy McNaggerton. I used to have a hate-hate relationship with her. She was that under appreciated part of myself that I hated because everyone around me would kick her down when she showed up for the party. I used to think that she was, at least in part, what was wrong about me. I’d try to quiet her down when she started, well, nagging. That was not an easy thing to do since we ladies can be called a nag when we:
- Drop subtle, and not so subtle, hints about staying in shape and eating right instead of letting our families reside permanently in front of the television
- Make requests of those around us to value the things we have by cleaning up our messes
- Recommend classes and shows and other academic meanderings to further our family’s education and promise
- Shepard our family through buying decisions like say, “Do you really need a BIGGER television?” and “…put the candy down.”
- Guide our family to save for the future since we, as ladies, have a natural gift for understanding and protecting a life beyond our current state.
Then I realized something. One day I was quipping along in #personalfinance social media, and I made mention of my alter ego. I actually made the joke in a self-degregading tone, but then I realized that, you know what, this Naggy McNaggerton actually gives really good advice that has guided my family into the awesome life we live today. Once upon a time we were a family with credit card debt and a dual income that was just barely covering our needs. We were always just a couple of paychecks away from losing everything because we didn’t have a safety net on hand. Our dietary choices and activity levels were highly questionably. Today, in this very moment, no one in my family has ever been as healthy as they are today. We are healthy financially. We are healthy physically. Much of this change was brought about by a little bit (okay, a lot bit) of nagging.
Naggy McNaggerton Drives the Economy
Our impact is not just felt at home. Collectively, all of our “nagging” is a powerful force for good. Historically, women in the United States have been dependent on men for financial security since large gender differences in economic wellbeing persist and impact women of all ages. However, the tides of today’s economy are turning, and the balance of power in familial finance is shifting as a result. In the wake of the financial crisis, 57% of all women say they have more earning power than ever before, and almost two-thirds of women report being the primary breadwinner. More than half of women see themselves as the chief financial officer of their households, and two-thirds of women agree that women should not rely on a spouse or partner to handle the investing. Almost as many women say they have not learned a lot about financial matters from their husband or partner. We are largely the drivers of our own financial education and wellbeing. 90% of female decision makers say increased financial involvement has improved their quality of life. Women feel more responsible for financial decisions than ever before, and our lives are becoming even more awesome because of it.
Strong, powerful, female decision makers drive the economy. Controlling 80% of U.S. spending, and 65% of global spending, women represent the largest market opportunity in the world. In both emerging markets and developed nations, women’s power of influence extends well beyond the traditional roles of family and education to government, business, and the environment. A financially literate female population plays a major role in boosting the current economy, as well as the economy heralded by the generations that follow. As a result, industries such as retail, consumer goods, financial services, education, and healthcare create mighty marketing budgets with the aim of engaging women.
This is all very clear evidence that we really are, in short, a bunch of badasses.
An Ode to Naggy McNaggerton
Just as Sheryl Sandberg guides us to stop calling little girls bossy and instead state their obvious executive potential, I similarly would like for us to take the negative energy out of the word nag by making it a source of pride. We have intelligence, and we have concerns that are relevant and should be addressed with more than a simple “stop nagging” brush off.
In fact, the next time I am called a nag I have every intention of wearing the word like a badge of honor while remembering all of the value it has created around me. I hope you’ll join me because we really need to remind the world just how much our collective “nagging” is holding up both our families and our economy.