Kate Winslet Thinks Talking About Money Is Vulgar. Let’s Convert Her!

As Jesus once famously said, “The posh you will always have with you.” That means that we may as well learn how to smile indulgently at their foibles and, to the degree possible, not take them too seriously. Especially when they express the opinion that discussing finances, even in terms of the gender wage gap, is rude, as actress Kate Winslet recently did.

“I’m having such a problem with these conversations,” Winslet, who is starring in the new movie “Steve Jobs,” told BBC’s Newsbeat. “I understand why they are coming up but maybe it’s a British thing. I don’t like talking about money; it’s a bit vulgar isn’t it?”

Darling! Of course it’s vulgar. Knowing the price of milk is vulgar. Condoms are vulgar. Even the word “vulgar,” since it carries with it the echoes of bathroom words and the hint of visible bra straps, is vulgar. We shouldn’t use it. Instead we should all sit around our boat-length dining room tables being waited on by soft-footed servants and talking only about the weather.

But since we can’t all live at “Downton Abbey,” it’s vital to see these taboos for what they are: constructions to shame us out of having important conversations that could alter the status quo — and our lives.

Emily Peck at The Huffington Post agrees with me.

just like parents need to have that awkward sex talk with their kids, coworkers need to have that same awkward pay talk with each other. An open conversation about money — the kind that makes Winslet squeamish — is one of the more effective ways to combat pay discrimination and the gender pay gap.

When women are armed with real information about what others are making, that’s when they can best advocate for their fair share.

The whole “knowledge is power” thing isn’t merely a cliche, it’s a very real and useful phenomenon. Salesforce.com recently spent $3 million to adjust salaries across the board so that their female employees would no longer be paid less than male ones. If women there had been too shy to speak of such tawdry subjects as money, they would never have gotten what they deserved.

You’re a badass, Kate Winslet! Just like J.Law and Charlize Theron. Don’t pretend to be a Grantham; you’re a thrice married lady who has done more nude scenes than Sarah Jessica Parker has and you helped to save Richard Branson’s mother from a fire. Those are also things some folks might characterize as “vulgar.” But they’re jolly good things to do anyway, and all part of having a dynamic, fully-realized life. Just like having frank conversations about whether you’re making less money than the bloke across the table from you.

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