Recently I’ve been finding that Facebook has turned into an excellent way to keep politicized.
Until recently, I was freely and basically passively posting feminist related articles, with a nice circle of feminist-friendly friends, who would give my feminist articles thumbs up and make nice feministy responses. However, lately when I post these feminist related articles, I’ve been finding a lot of responses that have re-sparked my political edge. Comments that justify, explain, or sympathize with the problem that to me is so obvious. SO – I’ve decided to keep track of the responses I get to various articles, and use my blog as an opportunity to write an articulate explanation of why I believe what I believe. It’s easier than getting into stupid debates on facebook that turn people you haven’t seen since grade 7 into your mortal enemies. Starting today.
So today I posted an info graphic I found on Feministing about the gendered wage gap.
Here it is:
This led to the Facebook question: isn’t this because women have children? Well that’s a common response and I don’t hold it against anyone who may have also wondered that, but it reflects deeply held sexist beliefs that are bad for women and contribute to inequality. Here are my thoughts on why the “baby excuse” is sexist, and doesn’t explain away the fact that this info graphic is representing a sexist reality.
People have been blaming women for the wage gap ever since there was a wage gap. the reality is that there is a lot more going on here than just the fact that women are “choosing to take time off work” and therefore “sacrificing their job opportunities”. A friend posted this study, which found that women who don’t have children earn equal wages to men, as support for the earlier claim. It’s interesting to note that in this study there was no notice of any income change in men with children, although women with children seem to be headed down the poverty track. In fact, it says “The last three men nominated to the Supreme Court have all been married and, among them, have seven children. The last three women — Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Harriet Miers (who withdrew) — have all been single and without children.” Men are never told they have to choose between work and a family, whereas women are. That in itself is sexist. The only reason men with families don’t take dents in their paycheque is that they depend on women to do domestic work for them.
This is a perfect example of the way gendered constructions and norms hurt women. It is a reflection of a sexist society, not a justification for a sexist reality. Women getting paid less because they carry the burden of childrearing while men face no barriers to balancing work and family is a reflection of a deeply sexist problem, it doesn’t explain away sexism. Women are forced to work double jobs, while men continue to profit from the fact that childbearing is a women’s domain. Also, please note women don’t get paid for caring for children, even while the kids dads make money off of their work by being freed up to stay in the office till midnight, or whatever. Domestic work is still labour!
Basically, we could be doing WAY more to ensure equality in the workforce instead of penalizing women for their choices/circumstances. But that doesn’t happen, and that’s probably because to equalize wages would require men to make a little less. And who wants to make less money? Especially when that means also recognizing your privilege, denouncing it, and participating equally in all aspects of your life in order to make it easier for women to participate actively in the work place. To me the bottom line it that women make less on average in all the sectors represented in that info graphic than men do in the same field, working the same hours. And thats a reflection of a sexist society no matter how you slice it.