Dec. 12th, 2011

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I had been thinking that my ambivalence and stresses about owning my own abode were a classic “first world problem.” Poor me! So spoiled! Have to decide whether to paint the guest room cream or sage all on my own! And then I saw this piece:

Women own 1% of world’s property.

Which made me go "Huh." Because, in the US, for at least the past 5 years, approximately 20% of homes are bought by single women. Even when the single women are making about $10,000 less than single men purchasing a home (noted in article sidebar here.)

What kind of property are women owning? How do partnered or family-trust women get tallied in this? (It's got to have a vast impact in NZ.) If we're seeing the first 2 or 3 generations of women in the West starting to own their own property, and only 1% of the world's land is owned by women, then a whole lot of my gender is in the equivalent of minimal first homes. We do not, in fact, have huge tracts of land.

As a gender, we could have increased our percentage of Planet Earth ownership by buying different property. But for so many of us, simply getting in the door, simply having the door, was important. (Really: I did a large freelance job to literally get a new front door for my house.)

Still, standing back and taking a deep breath, the stresses I feel about my house don't seem particularly gendered. These stresses are:
* Not enough time/inclination to garden/maintain landscape.
* Longer-term maintenance expenses (in second half of 2011 I was hit with $2000 in essential structural repairs).
* Geographically isolated/distant from events, volunteering, socializing = travel/vehicle expenses and high carbon footprint.

My resources as a financially independent non-corporate individual, who is doing OK regardless of gender, are maxed out owning and caring for 440 square meters of Planet Earth. I know several women who dream of farming and owning more land, and I believe the planet would be better for it if they could. But, again - resources.

Aside from the land issue, in discussing issues of women and space and doors with people, I'm disturbed to note that Virginia Woolfe’s classic essay, “A Room of One’s Own,” seems to be slipping out of the public consciousness. Unfortunately, the essay's beginning is seriously tangled, which doesn't help in our aliterate era. It's the home of the classic quote, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”. More delicious quotes are here. The essay focuses on female voice and authorship, but its points about privilege and space and time resonate on the topic of women and property.

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