Laura Dern: ‘There’s more shame talking about money than there is about sex’

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Laura Dern was a guest on Vanity Fair’s Cocktail Hour interview special, which is available on demand. It’s $50 to watch all the interviews, or $20 per section. I’m sorry but I’m too cheap/practical for that. I’m going by People Magazine’s writeup on it, which focuses on Laura’s comments on women talking about money. She said that it’s more shameful for women to talk about money than it is for us to talk about sex, which is true. She brought it up in relation to her Big Little Lies’ character, Renata’s tagline, “I will not not be rich.” Here’s part of what she said.

[Laura Dern] connected for a virtual chat with Vanity Fair’s editor-in-chief Radhika Jones as part the magazine’s Cocktail Hour, Live! on Wednesday, during which they discussed the impact of one of Renata’s most iconic lines from the show: “I will not not be rich.”

“I hope every woman claims that,” Dern said of the quote, according to Page Six, adding that she “had no idea that it would resonate in the way it does.”

“If it was any line that I’ve ever said that could resonate, I’m thrilled that it’s that, because it’s obviously multi-layered and it’s not only about finance,” she added. “But how wonderful that women are talking about money.”

“There’s more shame talking about money than there is about sex,” Dern said.

“I can’t believe nobody ever mentioned money to me, ever. Nobody talked about it. Should you get a checking account? How do you save? Who do you talk to about it?”

[From People]

It’s true that no one really taught me about managing finances and that I had to seek it out. I also learned from watching my parents, but it’s typically not something they teach in school. You get more sex education in high school than financial education! Suze Ormon taught me about living debt free and beneath my means. I still don’t feel like I have a grasp on it, I just try to save more than I spend.

There are layers to this conversation though. There’s the issue of women getting paid less than men for the same job, in which case we should definitely compare notes. There’s also the thorny issue of telling friends and family what we make and what we have. With sex and with money, I think it’s healthy to keep some details to yourself. People can usually tell if you’re getting laid/paid and it’s good to have a sense of mystery around it.

We’re supposed to hide our ambition to make money like we’re supposed to hide our sexual desire. In some ways it’s more acceptable to be open about wanting sex than it is about wanting to be wealthy.




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14 Responses to “Laura Dern: ‘There’s more shame talking about money than there is about sex’”

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  1. nicegirl says:

    Kaiser’s bestie is right about women and money and the lack and need for more conversation.

  2. Diana says:

    Hell, yeah! So agree about money being more difficult to discuss than sex.

    As a working woman, I am always interested in how much my male counterparts earn. This topic at work needs to be transparent – why shouldn’t we know how much we make? Transparency will help to even the playing field for women.

    • Anna says:

      It’s hidden intentionally under layers of HR b.s. because it’s unequal. Transparency leads to equity. I sometimes drive myself nuts thinking about this.

  3. Brittany says:

    I get what she’s saying but … spoken like a straight woman. I was raised in a deeply homophobic family and it’s damaging to this day despite all the work I have done to accept myself.

  4. Trillion says:

    I get so stressed when topics around finances come up. I suddenly feel stupid and have a hard time maintaining focus. My father was a lawyer and financial advisor, and he never taught me jack shit about $. So I’m glad this is being brought out into the light. Living for that jumpsuit!

  5. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Money and sex. These are very nuanced topics and certainly not one size fits all. And it’s shocking to me, still, how many families still dismiss financial communication with daughters. Why on earth would anyone not want to teach girls, teen girls, young women, professional women, wives and mothers about money? After a certain age does it infringe upon insecurities?

    Granted my children are all boys, but we started talking about money and the costs of things when we situated their infant carrier in the shopping cart lol. Presently, I don’t talk about it because it gives me a headache lol, but we generally shoot to live frugally. Kinda like dieting. Eat less, move more. We don’t spend more than we have, and before we actually ‘have’ anything, savings and bills and have-to’s are paid first. My husband is the line item detail dude, and I’m a bottom line person. So we figured out what works.

  6. BlueNailsBetty says:

    Same to all of the above! I’m clawing my way out of financial ruin and here are three ladies’ instagrams who have helped me. Bonus: they are BIPOC.




    CGF has a boatload of free printables and courses.

  7. Commonwealthy sounded witty at first says:

    Laura Dern is so great. I love everything I’ve seen her in. Or I love her in everything I’ve seen her in.

    I shared my salary from my main job with my siblings this week, to help one of them understand some career advice I was giving, and I felt so awkward! Even though it’s a good salary, and I shared with two of the people I trust most in the world, to help one of them reach their full potential. So much déprogramming to do from HR making it verboten to discus salary, and employers making you share salary history before they make an offer.

  8. Bean says:

    OMG – when I was working the men ALL knew what each other made but not one single woman would talk about their salaries.

    I was sent off to college with very little financial education and promptly got into credit card trouble because nothing about credit cards had ever been explained to me. My parents still refuse to discuss finances with me. My husband had a completely different upbringing and was started on a financial education journey from a very young age. Needless to say we are raising our son the way my husband was raised (and would have done the same if he was a girl).

    I really think watching my parents (especially my mom) binge and save really affected my relationship with money. I’m still trying to break the cycle.

  9. Willow says:

    If it’s not, it should be required for every high school student to take a class in how to handle money and how to pay for college (including different types of aid). I remember one of my sisters living dirt poor, working in fast food, had no idea all the federal aid she could get for college until I realized her living situation and told her.

  10. Shirurusu says:

    It’s ridiculous how differently men are raised to talk about money, most of the guys at my work place had parents who told them about mortgages, savings, stocks, salary negotiations etc and I got absolutely nothing from my parents, even though my mom is herself a working career woman and my parents are lovely people. It just wasn’t discussed and I made many mistakes until I finally sat myself down and read a few books about paying myself first and using a number of bank accounts to save for different things.

    It still makes me angry when the guys who are much younger then me (and many who still live at home not paying rent while the girls the same age had to move out at an early age) get such a head start compared to the women in their generation. When it comes to not not being rich etting a head start and starting to save early is so important :/ I’m happy with my finances now but I had to work really hard at it.

  11. Granger says:

    Nobody taught me anything growing up, and I was terrible with money once I started living on my own. My husband’s mother is a self-taught financial whiz, though, and taught her sons so much. I’ve learned a lot about money since we got married, and now we’re raising our daughter and son with an appreciation for and understanding of how to save, how to spend, how to give.

    One thing I’ve never been good at is salary negotiation. I’m being offered a promotion at work right now and in my opinion, it should come with a hefty increase in pay, but I start sweating just thinking about how to approach that conversation. But I just found out that a man I work with, who is 20 years younger than me and has less experience, is now making the same salary I’m currently making. It’s not that he isn’t working hard, it’s just surprising to me that he jumped up so significantly. I’m guessing he — like many men — had no trouble asking for the salary he felt he deserved, which is something most women aren’t good at doing.

  12. Dani says:

    Financial planner here, and I’ve always said that women are more comfortable talking about sex than money, which is unfortunate. Personally, I’ve tried to normalize the conversation with both clients and friends, and I always appreciate when a friend or family member is comfortable enough to ask me about something – even if they work with another professional or manage their own stuff.

    Women in particular need to understand the issues around money. We live longer and are more likely to be caregivers for either children or parents, and we’re also more likely to be paid less than men due to a combination of factors. I’m thrilled when I hear about young women who are seeking to educate themselves, because having this info will give you a lot more power in future years. (And if you’re a woman who chooses to avoid the topic and leave it to your spouse, I want to STRONGLY encourage you to consider another approach.)

    BTW – women are also underrepresented in financial services, and it’s a job where being female has a distinct advantage… and it pays VERY well. So if you’re curious, I encourage you to check it out! I love going to work and helping my clients.