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that pesky equal pay thing

Every time equal pay hits the news we get all kinds of insightful guests in the spacefem.com feminist forum bringing up the wage gap, and basically telling us it's bunk.

Here are the points anti-feminists make:

1) Women choose lower paying jobs
This is true. But kinda bullshitty, isn't it? Is it just a coincidence that women aren't as likely to choose lucrative careers, or is there a teensy possibility that they're being systematically drive away from those jobs? Is it a coincidence that we as a society don't award careers with lots of women the same as the careers full of men? Are nurses and teachers not in demand or important? You could shrug and say "yup, it's a coincidence! must be biology, estrogen just cancels out our need for money!" and stop the conversation right there. Or you could ask some more questions. That's what feminism is... we hold up signs to say "there's something weird here, friends."

2) You only deserve equal pay if you do equal work
This is also true. But what is equal work? Have you ever met two people, in any industry, in any job, who worked equally? Salaries are very arbitrary, with lots of human intervention and variability. You can justify just about any difference in salary. So let's say I take two months off for maternity leave, and another guy at my office takes two months off for a knee replacement. Are those two absences being looked at equally, or is mine interpreted as "another woman letting her family get in the way"?

What I'm saying is that it's very easy to dismiss a complaint as "well you aren't doing equal work". Again, it stops the conversation.

When feminists talk about equal pay, all we're really asking to do is talk about it. We already did the easy stuff... we made it illegal to discriminate, and to arbitrarily declare a job as being for men or women only. And today, all we're asking is to do more easy stuff... extend the statute of limitations, allow people to discuss salaries.

We look at the big numbers, the fact that men hold a lot more wealth than women in this country, and we ask questions about it. Since the women's movement began, people have tried to shut us up by saying "that's just the way it is". Feminism is about saying, "really?"

We are not looking at that average salary difference and saying that it means we all deserve an instant 20% raise. Do not let anyone tell you that. In fact I personally feel that I have never experienced wage discrimination... but I'm in a privileged world. I'm obligated to bring this up for other women.

We just think it's funny that when the complicated questions are posed, we end up with fiascos like the 2011 Wal-Mart case where OH LOOK SHOCKING, there was discrimination everywhere! Hearing that equal pay is a non-issue after that is like lifting up one rock, finding a bunch of nasty worms underneath it, and having someone tell you there's no need to lift up any other rocks because they're all clean under there.

Lots of times anti-feminists claim to be "equalists" - here to help all humans! Well fine then equalists, how would you explain the wage gap in a way that could actually reduce it? Or do you just not have a plan? That's the feeling I get from the other side.

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
astrogeek01
Apr. 9th, 2014 01:31 am (UTC)
I love (read: hate) how they dismiss all the evidence when people bring up actual discrimination too. "Oh well that's not really what it's like everywhere!" Nooo... certainly not. Ugh.
browngirl
Apr. 9th, 2014 05:08 am (UTC)
They always find one exception which they then take to mean that the rule absolutely doesn't ever hold anywhere. Feh.
smittenbyu
Apr. 9th, 2014 01:52 pm (UTC)
This was a subject that hubby and I were discussing. He's even prouder now of where he works. Because women are paid just as much as men. It's all based on merit and the value you bring to the table! They are recognized in their field for that. The women now are working to get paternity leave as part of the benefits of working at the non-profit.

And yet, this is doable because majority of women (and men) in the organization are from abroad. So, they pay history is lower than someone working in the US. So, for HR it's no big deal to differentiate between men and women.

Pay inequality will always be found someway or the other, depending on which perspective you come from. Hubby complains that there are people he works with who are at much higher income bracket just because he/she worked in the US and his start pay was based on his work in India, even though he has more experience now. Well, his pay might have been great for Indian standards but after conversion to the US dollar the garbage collector is earning more.

Yes, that's how it is. But it only means we work to reduce it! And the office is working towards correcting his pay gap. He got lucky! And his company has a big retention rate. Why wouldn't other companies want this?
(Deleted comment)
jennyrhill
Apr. 10th, 2014 12:38 pm (UTC)
It's funny, I feel like people (especially women) who think there is no pay inequality just haven't been in the workforce very long. The more I learn about the issue, the more examples I see, every day, of women being held to different standards and being subjected to (usually unconcious, thankfully) bias as it comes to the value of their work.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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