Orman came out of the closet this winter, after years of professional fame, in a “casual chat’” with Deborah Solomon at the New York Times. It appeared as if she’d made an impulsive decision on the eve of her new book’s debut: Women and Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny.
Here’s the turning point in her interview:
Are you married?
I’m in a relationship with life. My life is just out there. I’m on the road every day. I love my life.
That’s the standard “closet” answer—the reply showbiz people are trained to repeat so they don’t go down in flames for being a bulldagger.
But Deborah pressed on, sensing the beard.
Meaning what? Do you live with anyone?
K.T. is my life partner. K.T. stands for Kathy Travis. We’re going on seven years. I have never been with a man in my whole life. I’m still a 55-year-old virgin.
She’s as rich as Cleopatra, so there’s no further point in obfuscating. Someone must have died recently in her family, who was the last stumbling block. That’s usually the celebrity sore spot. For whatever reason, Orman no longer needs to shelter someone’s tender homophobia.
Last, we got a taste of Suze’s righteousness, who can make a point that Rosie O’Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres might’ve neglected:
Would you like to get married to K.T.?
Yes. Absolutely. Both of us have millions of dollars in our name. It’s killing me that upon my death, K.T. is going to lose 50 percent of everything I have to estate taxes. Or vice versa.
Many people shrugged their shoulders at Suze’s confession. “She had short hair,” they said, “I knew it. She wore golf shorts and visors that would make a straight girl cry.”
But I had a different reaction; I was curious to look at Orman’s advice and see if there was something dyed-in-the-wool dykey about it. I believe there is.
Money and sex get confused with virtue, and virtue is a feminine trait. There is a great deal of belief among women that if they are “good” — that is to say, modest and self-deferential in their needs, be they orgasmic or financial— they’ ll be rewarded with the status of respected wife and mother.
In Suze’s new book she asks: “Why is it that women, who are so competent in all other areas of their lives, cannot find the same competence when it comes to matters of money?”
When Suze says “money,” read: “men.”
She promises to “investigate the complicated, dysfunctional relationship women have with money [i.e., men] in this groundbreaking new book.”
Yeah, tell it, sister.
She calls on women to “save themselves.”
When men get popular financial advice, there’s a complete change of language. They don’t get “saving” advice, they’re told how to “invest.” Most of them don’t have to “save” themselves from financial dependency on women.
What Orman is saying, a tiny bit more openly, in her new book, is that she knows most women’s money lives are defined by their dependence on men, be they husbands, lovers, or fathers. She is urging women, rhetorically, to cut it off.
I know the word “virtue” sounds old -fashioned— but so is the urge to “find a man,” and “have a baby” with said man. Those goals are more pressing than ever, as feminist philosophy becomes a novelty item.
In lesbian culture, there’s no currency in being sexually virtuous. No one cares if you have slept with “X” number of women before you sleep with them— not because they’re so open-minded, but because there’s no economic basis. There’s no “finding out whose baby this is.”
Lesbian sexuality is not designed to answer any notion of virtue; it doesn’t answer a patriarch’s need. This is why Suze Orman is incredulous that straight women keep getting taken to the cleaners financially— she is oblivious to the “call of virtue,” not matter how many New Age platitudes she espouses.
Traditionally-brought up women think that if they try, try, try, to take care of everyone and deny themselves fulfillment beyond retail-trivia, that they will get their BIG REWARD. You know, the "push present."
Orman would sooner push the “push present” out the window. Her advice to women is “no one is coming to rescue you, Prince Charming is deader than God, and you have got to wake the fuck up and DIY.” Her book sounds like a pep talk to women in a domestic abuse group.
Suze isn’t the only financial adviser to speak this way. But as a “life-long virgin,” she has a little leg up on the self-sufficiency tip. She doesn’t yearn for men’s romantic love, and so that particular tango will never be hers to treasure or regret! She’s a conservative investor, she doesn’t live anything resembling a bohemian lifestyle, and she scolds out advice like more of a jeweled and tanned misanthropic femme, than a man-hater. She thinks everyone is pretty clueless, and like most rich people, she considers herself entirely self-made.
But in one respect, Suze is radical: she has not been “a good girl.” She never gave a shit what men thought, because she never fell in love with one.
Don’t lesbians have quarrels over who makes the most money, don’t they break up over class differences? Or course. Same-sex couples are as big a case of romantic foolery as anyone.
But like gay couples, dykes don’t have to struggle with the gender guilts that one party “ought” to make more dough, or be more savvy, because of a “Y” chromosome.” Neither is there the assumption that one of you would be better at calming a child’s tantrum, or washing out a filthy sink. You can fight it out, in your own quirky little queer way! “Virtue” just doesn’t come into it.
If Suze is as set for life as she claims, and her family loves and supports her, I dare her to show the balls it would take to offer some sophisticated and politically savvy financial advice.
Go on, Suze, dare to offend someone other than a consumer debt-holder! Question the dominant paradigm, girlfriend! I don’t need any warm fuzzies about “balance, courage, serenity.” I need a “bad girl,” with a big, thick portfolio, who tells it like it is.
This story was originally published in QueerCents, a site devoted to "LGBT" financial advice, but which I find more fascinating than whatever "straight" advice is out there! Editor Nina Smith met me when she did a bunch of candid interviews, Ten Money Questions, with queer "celebs" about their financial life. (You have to read Dan Savage's; it's so funny). When she did mine, I told her it was more revealing than any sex interview I'd ever done! That led to us talking about Orman, and this story...
Photo: High school Yearbook entry on Ms Orman, from South Shore, Chicago, 1969