I’ve had a theory for some time now that the minimalism movement favours men. If it’s a topic you’re interested in, you’ll have no doubt noticed that the vast majority of leaders in the field are men. Being the type of person who loves to know the why of everything, it’s a theory I’ve given serious thought to. My question is why are all the thought leaders and loudest voices men when women have the most to gain from living with less?
When I first stumbled across the idea of minimalism it was a female voice I encountered – that of Marie Kondo. Her book, ‘The life changing magic of tidying’ literally changed my life. I’m the one who followed her book word for word, and ended up decluttering 80% of my possessions. Two years later I continue to own just enough underwear to last me a week. The book only focused on one aspect of minimalism; decluttering and organisation. It focused purely on stuff and negated any mention of relationships, impulse buying and assessing what adds value to life as a whole.
These ideas came from some of the aforementioned male leaders in the field – The Minimalists. Both male, both earned 6 figure salaries before realising it didn’t make them happy. I wonder how far behind the female versions of them would be now? Perhaps earning a good wage whilst trying to balance family, work and friends, yet to reach the point where they realise more isn’t really more at all. These two guys seemed to have it all figured out and are still two of my favourite voices in the field. What I find most interesting is that their audience is mainly made up of women.
Why women need minimalism more
Social pressures constantly encourage us to have more but until we’ve experienced having it all, the notion that we’re actually happier with less is a hard idea to swallow as truth. According to Forbes magazine, if the consumerism market has a sex it would be female. Women are the most powerful consumers driving 70-80% of all sales and as a previous shopaholic that’s easy to believe. Women are sold to over men and these pressures are gendered. As women we’re typically targeted with clothes, gym memberships, beauty standards, children’s things and even plastic surgery.
As a result of this gendered targeting, women have more stuff. I know this because I am one. When it came to decluttering my own life, my stuff far outweighed that of my husband who shortly followed suit after seeing for himself how happy I was with less.
As women, we undeniably have more social pressures, greater expectations and commitments to manage. We’re united worldwide as caregivers, communicators and relationship builders putting us in the driving seat of what our household income is spent on. We have standards set for us that don’t exist for men that are deep rooted in centuries of inequality and gender stereotyping.
A minimalist mindset of only allowing things that add value into our lives, protects us from all these pressures and the grip consumerism can have on us. We have more to gain from living with less because we’re more likely to acquire more stuff, and therefore suffer the effects of this – stress, anxiety, overwhelm and burnout included.
Slow living and Minimalism
We’re more likely to come across the term slow living or simple living amongst influential female voices. Both these terms refer to slowing down and taking pleasure in the simple things in life – something minimalism enables. To me, they are all the same as their collective aim is to encourage a more meaningful life. It’s interesting that the choice of wording is different, perhaps because the word minimalism feels too masculine and intimidating?
Women who adore the slow living movement can shy away from minimalism, still resistant to how much they would benefit from having less and how that would enable the slower paced lifestyle they desire. It’s much easier to slow down when life is only made up of the things that add value to it. The party commitments disappear, the work we don’t really want to do disintegrates and the house is all of a sudden much easier to clean – assuming the cleaning duties lie with you.
why minimalism appears to be a man’s world
A single man earning six figures has far less to gain from a minimalistic lifestyle than a thirty something woman who has far more to juggle. The sad truth is men reach the top first, with greater ease and therefore realise that having more doesn’t equal more. Meanwhile, women continue to be put under more pressure to not only reach the top in their career but also be the perfect mother, wife and throw the best parties. Without the realisation of what having it all really feels like, we’re left ignorant to the fact we’d be much better off with less and with what truly adds value.
Of course, there are plenty of female voices out there speaking up about minimalism but they’re yet to reach the top of their field. Can it be that the male voice is seen as more authoritative and trustworthy? Hopefully not. Although our equals, men are not women and they cannot offer us the same insight because they’re not subject to the same pressures and expectations we are. Perhaps that’s why minimalism is seen as too extreme and masculine by many women who prefer the slow living movement. My hope is that feminine minimalism will gain more traction asap and we’ll all stop trying to have it all – in exchange for only what adds value.
I’d love to know your thoughts on all this. Let me know in the comments below.
Pin for later