Forget gender equality and focus on gender priorities
Men do a lot more housework today than they did ten years ago, but they do the same amount of housework regardless of whether they are single or married. This means men are more self-sufficient than they used to be, but also that they are only doing what women would call “the basics.”
Women do more housework when they are married than when they are single — even with no kids. Which means women are doing more than the basics because they want to make a nice home for the marriage. And men already thought they had a nice home. Men don’t care about the extra housework women are doing: the genesis of unpaid, unappreciated labor.
Forget the wage gap. Let’s talk about the emotional labor gap. Parents have to decide who runs to the emergency room when the kid is sick, who goes home when ceiling fan falls in the living room, who remembers the dietary preferences and food allergies when the extended family comes into town. You can’t outsource everything. So one person has to have a job that has fewer time demands.
And I’m so sick of telling you that men and women are not the same so we can’t treat them the same. Women keep their marriages together by saying yes to sex even though they don’t want sex. This would have helped me a lot in my first marriage, where we had sex three times in six years. (I tracked ovulation every time — one miscarriage. Not kidding. I’m a very focused girl.) You don’t need to tell men to say yes every time in order to keep their marriage together. No sane woman in the history of the universe is badgering their husband for sex while they are breastfeeding and recovering from a vaginal tear.
There is no way that I believe society forces women to focus on kids. Here’s why. Because women do better than men in school. Across the board. In preschool, in elementary school, in high school, in college. And women earn more than men in their 20s and in the corner office. So how could it be that women feel pressure to suddenly start acting like men own them?
I think it’s the opposite. Women hear all the time how smart and capable they are. And then women get showered with cash for competing effectively with men. So why would women stop? No one is encouraging women to dump everything they achieved and wash baby bottles. Women choose it. Because women have choices. And they have a different list of life goals than men do.
And don’t tell me about the women who don’t have choices, okay? This is not a blog post about Syrian women in relocation camps. This is not a post about women in homeless shelters. Stop derailing my argument with discussions of women who are powerless because it’s insulting to women who are educated and in control and have time to read blog posts.
I’m so frustrated that the conversation about women is not shifting faster. So fuck every single woman who is still talking about how women need equality at work. Men and women aren’t equal and it’s totally ridiculous that we are still talking about this. Did you know that the reason women don’t negotiate as much as men do is because women have a better intuition about when they will get something and when they won’t? That’s right. Men negotiate because they are not as intuitive as women and then men penalize women for not acting as dense as men during negotiations.
You know why I’m really pissed off? The BBC asked me to do an interview last year and I said yes. They did a segment on the Prime Minister of New Zealand and how everyone was asking her if she’s gonna have children and there was outrage. So the BBC asked me what my opinion is, and of course all the other people they contacted said boo hoo hoo women should not suffer for having children. And of course I said why are people even asking because she will definitely have kids. (And I was right.)
So I can’t do any more talk shows. I can’t stand it. I can’t stand how far behind the world is in the discussion of women. We have so much data to get us to the next stage, and no one is moving.
But this blog is moving on.
Instead of gender equality we should focus on gender priorities, to support people in whatever choices they make. Instead of defining people as male or female, how about defining different types of people by what they care about — those who care what the house looks like and those who don’t. Those who care about getting the best basketball coach and those who just book whichever guy has the right time slot in their schedule.
Then you don’t need to make your family schedules a political platform. Instead everyone can push most in areas they care about most. And there will be a gap. For sure. Because we don’t all care about the same stuff.
And then we can talk about how I don’t care about being on BBC because it interrupted lunch with my kids. And that I care more about making grilled cheese than being a pundit. Because I’m a girl. And I bet I’m not alone.
But your way means there’s no controversy and each couple is left to prioritize as they see fit. That doesn’t bring the attention like pretending women are downtrodden.
A neighbor when I was a child was so downtrodden that she had a PhD in Physics before having kids, and yes, she stayed home with them. Eventually she got a pt job at the mall when they were in school. Her husband made plenty of money and appreciated the nicely kept house and good meals.
What an ignorant amd rude comment. Bravo to you! Your mother must be proud!
We didn’t end up in this conversation overnight and the shift is not going to happen quickly, but it will happen. True feminism is supporting women’s goals regardless of what they are (including choosing to stay home with the kids). Thank you for being the voice of reason.
I always feel torn by your posts. I would love to sit and discuss this issue with you. I feel like you just say what you think without concerning yourself without all of the social/political bullshit, and I wholly respect that. I also feel that this same idea could be expressed without bringing gender into it. We are all unequal, because we are all unique. I enjoy your blog very much. They always give me pause.
@Autumn and @Dana — If you take the idea of intersectionality seriously, you need to consider sex, race, socioeconomic status, disability status, IQ, physical appearance, weight, etc. The list is endless.
When we consider each intersection, we are left with the individual. This is the triumph of Western thought: we must operate at the level of the individual.
In this post, Penelope tells the truth: that we are all privileged for being able to read her blog posts, that modern “feminism” fails to provide for women what they actually want, which is the ability to make choices for themselves as individuals.
Wjat fails to provide women what they really want is hardly feminism, so much as society. Women already have the ability to make choices for themselves as individuals.
You think damming feminism makes you ‘cool’, and an egslitarian. In truth, it just makes you look ignorant and ill informed.
Penelope, if you feel strongly that no one is listening when it comes to this topic change your target audience. Talk more about BLACK women concerning work and life and career. We are a hungry demographic and we will listen and take notes and not sit around and argue. Just state the facts.
How would this discussion be different if it were about black women?
The conversation would be different if we talked about black women’s choices because the options are limited or not even discussed due to our socioeconomic condition despite the increase in the number of educated black women. We have to work! Education does not equal wealth as the majority of us have student loan debt, we are the one family member that graduated from college amd works a decent paying job, thus we are the family member that relatives flock to when they need money to pay a bill, get a car repaired, or pay for a funeral. We have been sold many lies about how to become wealthy, not realizing that our white female counterparts were helped along the way to obtain the lifestyle they have: a small inheritance, money for a down payment for a home, a used car to drive in college, heck even a hand me down couch for their first apartment. As an African American, each of those expenses would have been paid by obtaining consumer debt with high interest rates. When you have wealth and a support system, whether inherited or from a husband, no matter how small, it gives you options.here is a study about the myths regarding wealth amongst African Americans
I have been reading your blog since 2008, when i graduated early from grad school at 22 y.o. I had no idea that being a SAHM and homeschooling was an option, especially after obtaining a degree…until I read your blog. My fiancée is supportive of my dream and we are making sacrifices to ensure that we carve out the life we want for our family.
Thank you for the inspiration and I hope you research and post about the black women’s experience. Post about the women that want to leave the cubical/corner office and dead end social work and educational jobs(that is where many of us end up and are encouraged to pursue, not stem).
Xandra, thank you for posting this. You expressed what I was thinking when I posted Penelope should write posts for black women.
Penelope, some of your posts are directed towards and/or about non black woman (unbeknownst to you). These revelations about work and career and family may seem new and profound and revolutionary to the mainstream but they have been the reality of black women in this country since…I don’t know when. What I’m saying is, take the time to solve the problem that black women are facing in this area and you help ALL women (more or less) because we tend to be at the bottom of the social economic ladder in this country. We are the canary in coal mines.
I hope this clears things up for you.
I respect your writing and opinions. Thank you for your openness.
It would be beneficial for everyone if Penelope were to write a post about single motherhood, especially single motherhood for those of us who hover at or beneath the poverty line.
We had our choice of men. We chose wrong. Now we have our beautiful children. What does success look like for women who have a full time job (motherhood), a part time job (salaried position), yet need another part time job (independent business) to get by? And where in our community do we go to find support for day to day things?
This would neatly address your request for attention to black women’s experiences and concerns.
Thank you for the comments. This gives me a lot to think about. I feel largely unqualified to give career advice to black people. And I think it would be inevitable in a post on that topic that I would say something racist. So that sort of scares me…
And, to be honest, writing about being a single parent scares me as well. It’s really really hard. Like, so hard I think I can’t write about it without crying. The amount that single parents are ostracized by the two-parent world is amazing to me. I mean, it makes total sense, I’m just surprised.
I have a rule for myself that the best posts are the ones that scare me to publish. So maybe this means that for sure I should write on both these topics.
“And don’t tell me about the women who don’t have choices, okay? This is not a blog post about Syrian women in relocation camps.”
Cracked me up.
No comment except I really enjoyed reading that! Got my adrenaline going!
Feminism should be about providing women with freedom from the pressure to do what they don’t want to do, whether that pressure comes from men or feminist extremists.
Who goes home when ceiling fan falls in the living room!! Oh my gosh, I loved this sentence because it is so true!
I get to sit in the kitchen looking like I’m working very hard (writing which of course I mostly am) while my sweet wife cooks dinner for me (shops for all the groceries, and runs all kinds of mundane errands).
Because if she did not cook dinner, I would be much thinner than I am.
But I would not enjoy as many gourmet meals as I do if she wasn’t around to make them.
This post is so good, and it reminds me what a gosh darn genius you are and why I love the way your brain works.
Thanks for writing the posts no one else will write. This post reminds me of the ones I constantly write saying the same thing about trends, and how colour is so much more timeless than BROWN OR CHARCOAL to the point where I sometimes feel like a broken record.
Just like you.
But we keep writing because no one else is saying what we’re saying!
I love you Penelope!
Maria, your comment makes me smile. Because I’m scared to talk with you about white paint. I know you write about it ALL THE TIME and still I am not getting it. I don’t trust myself to do undertones or bright/dirty or all the other things you have said a thousand times. So maybe I can stop being so shocked that I write about forget about the pay gap a bazillion times.
Brown and charcoal are not a color? :/
They are neutrals :) I read both Maria and Penelope and never miss a post from either of them. In fact I think Maria led me to Penelope. Maria is the Penelope of home decor. Penelope is the Maria of gender studies!!
In my current position I have a perfect example of this since my male peer and I have similar level of responsibility and value time over money. We work 8 hour days and take all our vacation. Our bosses are women and men (with nannies and housekeepers) and prefer to be at work for longer days, make more money and never take vacation. This is not a male/female difference, but a matter of priorities. When we separate our life choices and priorities instead of our gender, I feel like everything makes more sense and we can have more productive conversations.
PS I would like to also get rid of any “women” centered employee resource group since they seem to create further division rather than any useful purpose. There were 5 board members on my employer sponsored women’s resource group and 3 were laid off. Who would want to join now? It seems like it was not useful for networking and only wasted time since they are no longer employed.
Loved the post, as usual. I was one of those who were reluctant about accepting your advice at first. I didn’t want kids, I was ambitious, etc. A few years later, here I am: four months pregnant, having downsized my already small business and trying to figure out how we can live on one income so I can keep my freelance work as merely an entertainment while I focus on children. So I’ve decided I’m going to save myself time and trouble and just follow your advice blindly. It’s tough to swallow but once you accept it, you feel more peace.
About the issue of this post, I think you’d probably feel less frustrated if you’d assume that feminists don’t fight for women’s happiness, but for a political agenda and government money. The problem is they’ve had amazing success pretending their message is universally good and making it permeate all layers of society, just because it’s a message that sounds and feels intuitively good.
I don’t think that mainstream message is going to change any time soon. If anything, it will get more and more extreme, especially because the alternative has become so politically incorrect that no one (but you and a few others) has the guts to speak out loud. But hopefully, more and more people will change the way they act and the choices they make without caring what others think, to a point where it just won’t make sense to keep defending the equality message. In order to accomplish that, we’ll need to raise more independent, self-validated kids who aren’t afraid to make their own choices and are not brainwashed by the liberal agenda. So, as always, you’re right and homeschooling is the way to get ourselves out of this equality mess.
Thanks for writing and take care, I hope you’re doing well.
Nicely put. Finally a woman (oops did I say Woman!) who speaks some sense and honours the person. We have distinct identities and men and women are different, this should be celebrated. This is a fact and not some ideological bs that is often spouted in respect of gender.
Yes! Smart women opt out of high powered careers because we have a choice, and we are perceptive and realize that corporate success does not align with our personal goals. Of the three of my high school class that went to Princeton (all girls because we get better grades) none of us work corporate jobs anymore. (We’ll be 15 years out of college next year.) Two are SAHM; I decided it’s not worth it even if I don’t have/want kids and have given up a law career and financial security to pursue my love of mountains. We were able to make these choices from a place of privilege.
This is not to say that systemic discrimination against women in prestigious corporate or professional services environments does not exist and make it harder for women to be recognized and promoted (e.g. it’s hard for a small sized woman to carry the same amount of gravitas as a tall man and there is still a lot of old boys club) and maybe make the decision “it’s just not worth it” easier.
The media makes up these controversies to distract. Less confident women who need to know what the crowd thinks, are poisoned by the media stories. I think Jordan Peterson said something like “the media is not only dying, it’s cutting its own throat and bleeding out fast”. The future is pundits like you Penelope, writing articles on the internet and sending them to us direct. I love you too.
I work for a great company that adjusts women salaries to men, which is outstanding.
I’m the only woman in a team of project managers, but also the highest performing, despite being virtually a single mum 6 months a year and a limited support system.
I’d rather my great company let me work less, and expected less from me. That would make me happier.
Money is not useful if one doesn’t have time!
Try being a woman who chose not to have children and then tell me there’s no societal pressure to do so.
This is so true. And even as I approach 50, I’m still asked when I will have kids (hello! menopausal!) because I look 10-15 years younger.
When I was 25 and asked for a sterilisation I was told to wait till I was 30 as I would change my mind. When I was 34 and asked for a sterilisation, I was told to wait till I was 40 as I would change my mind. At which point I insisted and my consultant did the procedure (all free on the British NHS).
And yes, some women do change their minds, but those of us who pursue a permanent method of contraception have a regret rate of 4.3% if we are aged 20-24, and 2.4% if we are aged 30-34. This means that 95.7% of 20-24 year olds and 97.6% of 30-34 year olds who seek permanent contraception, DO NOT REGRET their decision.
Study here: https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(16)54301-5/fulltext
The rules governing the world of work are determined by men. This is why women don’t want to play the game and don’t thrive there. You’ve got it backwards – women choose family because work is unfulfilling, not that work is fulfilling until women choose family. Another thing you’ve got backwards is pay – jobs traditionally filled by women pay less because women are valued less, not that that women just happen to only be drawn to low paying jobs. (What a coincidence!)
Take accounting for example – women are flocking to it so it’s becoming a low pay, low value job. Or how about doulas – what could have been a lucrative specialty eventually covered by health insurance, is turning into a low pay caregiver job, because women themselves have imbibed the rules of the patriarchy and do not value their own work.
There can be more than one way to have a career, earn money, be a founder, if society would be supportive of it. You have embraced the masculine way as the only way. However, there has to be a societal change for other ways of work to be accepted and successful. One woman can’t just proclaim that she’ll be a founder of a company where she’s not aiming to be a billion dollar unicorn or where she’s planning to ratchet back after a few years to have a child, because no man would fund that. That company could be successful, could produce something that women need, but the men running the world only care about dominance, 9 figures and what they need.
Society would be better off with both the feminine and the masculine in government, in finance, in software, in business. I’m not about to accept the status quo as natural or inevitable. Rather than talk about gender equality and gender priorities, we need to talk about traits being labeled feminine and masculine and the automatic devaluation of feminine traits. Competition vs. cooperation. Belligerence vs kindness. Winning vs. sharing. Equality means that the feminine is valued as highly as the masculine. Then, within this context, individuals are then truly free to choose what matters to them, what characteristics to express, and who to be.
Ginger, I love this comment, so great!
I’m a fan of Penelope’s but always find the gender commentary off — mixing up cause and effect. I know plenty of dads who have scaled back work to make grilled cheese and eat with the kids.
This is a beautiful comment that gives me hope.
This comment is genius.
P – thought this might interest you:
Oh my gosh. Everyone should click this link just to see the headline and picture. I love it so much.
You would be popular on YouTube, I suggest focusing appearances there. People are hungry for alternative points of view.
“Stop derailing my argument with discussions of women who are powerless because it’s insulting to women who are educated and in control and have time to read blog posts.”
I’m relieved you’ve acknowledged your true target demographic. Maybe you have in the past; I’ve just never seen it before so I’m glad to see it here. So much of what you say doesn’t apply to women in poverty with low educational attainment, or who aren’t from upper middle-class backgrounds (for example, the insistence that being able to read well isn’t important for children). So it’s very clarifying that you’re pointing out that these mothers are not your target audience.
I think she has alluded to this is another blog post or comment, but we did always assume this was the case.. Who else is she gonna make money from?? lol
Though I think in her mind, her advice is helpful for women and people who eventually find themselves in a more privileged position, since different social classes have different “scripts” they are expected to follow if they want to stay or move up the ladder.
Maybe because Penelope is ENTJ, she may mix up cause-effect a bit because it doesn’t matter to her as long as the correlation “gets the job done”. Eventually she’ll hit all the right checkboxes or amount of checkboxes for the thing she wants to happen (e.g. money, career, family goals). ESTJ are like this too but more orderly and methodical because Si aux grounds them.
I don’t give a crap who you’re writing for. I’m a black man and your advice works for me – when I choose to listen. I just wish courage was as easy as honesty…
@harris497, your comment made me so happy! I’m a black woman, who has been reading Penelope Trunk since 2010, and am certain there is more of us here too. I come for the honesty, stay for the honesty, and come back for it again and again and again. My gawd, look what they’re doing to Kanye for daring to refuse to be “enslaved by monolithic thought”. Honesty and the daring to ask questions contrary to popular opinion should not cost so much. It’s a warning to the rest of us to keep your damn mouth shut.
Now for those making accusations about class, I don’t see how SOME of Penelope’s advice can’t apply. An asshole boss, is an asshole boss, and everyone one of us, regardless of class, has had to deal with one at some point.
And please don’t tell me that a certain class of people can quit and a certain class can’t, because people stay in bullshit jobs for more than money. (I know cause you don’t know how may miserable bosses with long, fancy titles and all the money in the world that I’ve EA’d for, where I had to hide their Jack Daniels and keep a supply of mints at their desk or pick up their prescription meds). We all have our price we willing will suffer.
Living in New York, I have a wide range of friends, from friends in my affulent Cobble Hill nab, to friends up and down every wrung of the corporate ladder, from gay to straight, from on food stamps to private jet money, that I have at one time or another sent them a Penelope Trunk post for something or other they were struggling with. For the friend who was on food stamps and wanted to give up, I sent her PT’s sexual abuse post. It made her see that it could happen to anyone, color, money, sex has nothing to do with it when evil choses to visit your home. I also sent her PT’s post on having her lights turned out and not paying her bills. There isn’t any shame when you just don’t have the money but are working hard to get it.
But then again, maybe it’s the INFP in me that can so easily see these universal connections, see past the bullshit, down to the values that matter. Which brings me back to Penelope, I like her writing like I like my drinks – straight, no chaser! Thank you for suffering the slings and arrows of outraged, self-righteous, moral indignation for those of us too afraid to voice the same opinions outside our “safe space”. What price honesty, eh?
It’s definitely the INFP in you. lol
That’s not to say that Penelope’s content isn’t interesting/entertaining or applicable in some ways to all of us (the secrets that business people employ to keep money coming! etc), but a lot of it will likely lead to people in more precarious positions to get fired, land them in jail, and/or destroy their lives, especially if they are ill-prepared to execute (which I think is why Penelope tries to weed people out via mbti, to know who will have a good enough Te or whatever cognitive function to do what she’s telling them to do).
Luckily, Penelope’s Te is often extra-busted due to the autism, so she will be relatable to the incompetent parts in all of us (maybe especially INFx who are often scrambling around in circles). I think that’s part of what makes her thoughts extra unique, but I wouldn’t say that all her actual advice-advice is going to be applicable to all audiences.
In the UK the ideal is to have controversy and diametrically opposed positions.
The idea that adversarial debate is the best way of finding information is a deeply rooted culture idea in English culture (and no American, Australian culture are not the same they are more like an offspring of UK culture.
Many other people in the talking heads business have complained that this is not productive and that they feel they were framed into a role by the show producers. Very similar to your experience.
The UK fetish for adversarial debate is just as annoying and destructive in it’s own way as the USA need to jazz everything up with more entertainment value (increase stimulation and demands on our attention).
Australian comedian Tom Gleeson has done a satire of this kind of TV format called hard chat with Tom Gleeson.
Absolutely brilliant. This is true feminism right here. I want so, so much more of this.
Have you read about the former dominatrix who has opened a female empowerment school in New York? It focuses on teaching women to speak up in business or personal situations when they might otherwise freeze. It could be in the face of sexual harassment or discrimination at work (one woman mentions her boss asking her to go make their lunch arrangements, while the multi-million dollar contract she orchestrated was being signed.) This article points out that “gender roles that trap women in submissive societal positions are the same as those locking men in sexually dominant ones.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/20/style/confronting-sexual-harassment-dominatrix-training.html
Would this woman have been able to achieve success had it not been for her sex and for her career as a sex object? I don’t think so. I don’t think her “school” would have opened and she certainly wouldn’t have been featured in the NYTimes.
How does the thesis “gender roles that trap women in submissive societal positions are the same as those locking men in sexually dominant ones” therefore apply to this dominatrix?
Adrienne you sound like such a repressive right winger in this post which of course you are not. The fact that women want to give birth to their own children and care for them is not news to anyone with an ounce of common sense. But in the modern world where gender is seen as a social construct your view is blasphemy.
Omaha, gender is a “social construct”? You sound like a flat-earther or a climate-change denier!
No, Michelle, that is not what I think at all. Did you even read my comment? Please re-read and reflect on what I actually said.
What’s up with Mailbag? There hasn’t been a post since December! Are you just giving up on it, Penelope?
I saw your comment and I got so sad that I haven’t posted. So I posted just now.
I actually love mailbag. I save all kinds of good questions people ask me. And I love answering them. Sometimes it takes a comment like yours to remember what I love doing so I can start up again. Thank you, Simone.
Yay, long live mailbag! Penelope, your posts are one thing (which I heart always), but I truly love mailbag, the questions are like reports from the trenches of workplace America and a needed reminder that I am not alone in my distress or observations about work, family, life, the existential angst of making the right goddamn choice, so thank you for not abandoning it.
Everytime I have a question come up for mailbag, I search your blog and there’s always a post that provides answers. You’re such a prolific writer. So really mailbag is a chance to hear from your readers, so please keep their letters coming!
And thanks for consistenly listening and engaging with your readers!
In your corner always…
I was going to post this exact question. The mailbag is the best part of this blog.
I had a related discussion with my husband. I’m not happy at my job, but there are perks like telecommuting, which has been really good for my family. I’m here when my teenagers get home and I make decent enough money. I told the husband if I don’t figure out something else by the time my kids are done with college, I’m going to quit working. He said, well are you going to do the cleaning? I said, sure. So he says “You’re too smart to stay home cleaning.” I said “I’m too smart to put up with the nonsense at work.”
I haven’t really ever been the woman who wanted to stay home full time, but I think I’d enjoy being the woman who retired early.
Oh, hm. It never occurred to me that at some point it’s not scaling back to take care of kids. It’s early retirement. It’s a turning point on this blog. A new phase of life…
Love this! Are you by chance a Mustachian?
If there was less homophobia, everyone would be having better sex & emotional connections & getting what they want out of life. If you hate sex/homelife with you partner so much, chances are you’re not with the right partner. And there’s a big fat chance that if you’re unsatisfied it’s bc you’re gay.
What an interesting and thought provoking article. I’ve followed you for years – you always have a smart, honest and fresh take on things. I’m not sure I agree with everything here and find that it made things out to be more black and white than I think the topic is… but it definitely made some worthy points to think about. I especially like the idea of doing away with gender and replacing it with “things people care about”.
Feminism for pro-work in the UK is all about continued state control over children. The only way women who earn less than £90k in the UK (London specific, but cultural point here) can survive while raising children is to take on government support.
The argument over women at work is really about where the family source of support lies. Taking power away from men and outsourcing support to women and children is one basic way the elite class can maintain power over other men. It doesn’t give the women and children more options or brighter financial futures. 90 percent of mothers work full time in the UK.
Personally I am sick of the conversation too. I am tired of women trying to tell other women what to do and whining that reality doesn’t meet ideology. Empower women to make decisions in their families and futures’ best interests.
Well written. Please expand on the State and the cost tool of children. I agree there is a certain shady agenda about how the political elite control family life. I endorse a book I am now reading: The Global Sexual Revolution: Destruction of Freedom in The Name of Freedom.
The points about housecleaning really landed with me. After many years of marriage and default cleaning along the lines you articulate, I’ve changed. A bit. No, I don’t clean the whole house. And I really, really, don’t give a shit if the kitchen is clean. But my wife does and if it makes her life better when its clean, then I’m willing to work harder to keep it clean. Not because it (the kitchen) is important to me, but because she is important to me.
Love your work. I only check in a few times a year, but it always makes my day.
I’m the primary breadwinner and insurance mule in my DINK household. I’d say my husband and I are an outlier but I know lots of women in my shoes. Some are intertile like us, and many are childless by choice. The men usually work part time in the gig economy like my doctor’s husband who was a stay-at-home dad and made spending money driving for Lyft, or my husband who does travel gigs as an AV tech in the spring. For so many men the job situation changed with the loss of manufacturing but men have been losing out on professional jobs since the 1980s. (None of these house husbands are counted among the numbers of people trying to work full-time time in today’s economy, but I digress).
In this context I wholeheartedly agree that certain women shouldn’t be lamenting the wage gap. My field has well defined pay scales and is female dominated, except at the top two tiers. To the extent there is a wage gap it may be because many women go to 60-80 percent time when they have small children and the few who stay full time don’t travel as much as I do. They work as hard as I do when they are working, but they’re not as flexible. And being in an infertile couple, I know their lives are ones of choice. So yes, when these well-heeled, well-educated friends with cute small children post articles complaining about the wage gap, I bite my tongue even though I want to tell them to shut up, get off Facebook and take their kid for a walk in the woods. It’s what I would want to do…if I could afford it and if I could have one.
With respect to the intersectionality conversation, the women I know who stay home with their kids full time or go 60% at work tend to be white and have husbands who work in tech or finance. But I know a lot of people of color working in tech too so I think ultimately it’s the partner/husband’s job that defines whether there can be a choice the most– moreso than gender or race/ethnicity. But it *is* intersectional because access to jobs is impacted by institutionalized racism…but other stuff too like whether your parents were teenagers when they had you or did a lot of cocaine (like my hubby’s white parents).
I’ll tell you why equality at work-including equal pay – matters.
I went to a talk given by a woman who was a leader in my finance niche field. She’s a senior enough officer at a bank that her salary must be reported the SEC. She did negotiate her salary and got some of what she wanted but not all. She suspected she was getting paid less than her male peers but she was tired of the fight and she was certainly getting paid “enough.” A couple years later, her bank is being acquired and the salaries and retention bonuses of the senior executives are on the front page of Crain’s. She was compensated a full 10% less than the 3 peer men, despite heading an equally profitable business line. Her kids were in college and any trade offs she had made had long been paid back.
She spent the next 3 days with a steady parade of her directs – male and female – who were worried that they were getting paid less because she was getting paid less. Owing to the laws of corporate compensation, at least some of them probably were.
It matters when women get paid less because it means a much larger universe of people get paid less.
Feminism and Higher Education: Unintended Consequences
I was reading an article by Dick Morris on the collapse of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Dick Morris is a political junkie. I read him only when I want to know what interests a political junkie. I don’t read him often.
The seventh paragraph began as follows: “The 81-year-old feminist Gloria Steinem….”
That sentence stunned me. I had not really thought about this. How in the world can Gloria Steinem be 81 years old? I remember Gloria Steinem. She was the only good-looking feminist in the 1970’s. She had gorgeous blonde hair — probably dyed.
Feminism and Higher Education: Unintended Consequences
She got on the talk shows because she was good-looking. I am sure she knew that this was the only reason she ever got on the talk shows.
I remember only one thing that she said: “A woman needs a man the way a fish needs a bicycle.” I thought it was stupid at the time, and when she got married decades later, she proved to everybody else just how stupid she had been.
Anyway, how can it be that Gloria Steinem is 81 years old? How could the time have gone past that fast? That’s what all old people ask themselves rhetorically. The trouble is, 81 years old really is old. The thought of the only good-looking feminist of the 1970’s being a decrepit woman, 81 years old, reminds me that I am not that far behind her.
The movement was highly diverse. It was not clear who the leaders spoke for.
The women I knew in college were smart. They were hard-working. Some of them wanted to get married, and others wanted to have careers. That was in the first third of the 1960’s. The feminist movement did not appear until the late 1960’s. Among the women I knew, there were no major barriers to entry in the business world. If they were any good, they could get jobs after graduation if they wanted to. I don’t think most of them wanted to. They wanted to marry smart men with college degrees.
Women knew in those days that if they waited too long, they would have to start families late. That is not a new revelation. The feminists have apparently figured this out later in life. But women always knew it. If they waited too long, the eligible men would marry eligible women. When didn’t women understand this?
One of the big problems that we have in society today is that getting good jobs requires many years in higher education. Everybody spends years getting formal degrees that do not in fact train them to do anything marketable. They have to earn degrees because employers are using educational degrees as a means of screening the applicants for jobs. If employers say that these jobs require an advanced degree, and if they hire only people with advanced degrees, they escape the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. The EEOC cannot get minorities educated. The minorities don’t stay in school. They don’t earn advanced college degrees. This means that companies can escape the regulatory apparatus of the EEOC by simply making a rule that a particular position requires an MBA or other advanced degree. It is a means of screening. It works.
If a young woman at the age of 18 went right into a dynamic business, and she earned her B.A. degree by distance learning, by the time she earned her degree, she would have at least four years of business experience. She can then earn an MBA in another 18 months online, probably for under $10,000. Now she would be an MBA with six years of experience. She would not be in debt. She would also be under 25 years old. She would still be eligible to get married.
At this point, she starts an online business. Maybe she does this by the time she is a senior in college or even a senior in high school. She prepares for the future. She finds a way to earn a good living through her own business, and she learns this by being an apprentice for a successful businessman. She gets paid to learn how to run a business, and she earns whatever degrees she needs for a few thousand dollars and 20 extra hours a week studying for exams. It’s hard work, but success requires hard work.
Instead, young women today spend five years earning a college degree, and then they spend another two years earning an MBA. This costs their parents $50,000 or more to get the B.A., and then the young women go into debt to get the MBA. They wind up in debt, 25 years old, with no business experience. Now they have to spend at least five years getting the business experience. Then they will be 30 years old.
The number of men who are ready to marry a 30-year-old woman with an MBA and five years of business experience is limited. The woman wants to marry up, not down. She wants to marry somebody like she is, only better. Well, so do all the other cute young things. An unmarried man at age 30 with an MBA and five years of business experience has his pick of the various litters. Men tend to marry women three or four years younger than they are. So, the 30-year-old woman with the MBA and five years of business experience is not well positioned to attract the kind of man she wants to marry. She figures this out at age 30. Somebody should have told her at age 17.
Most women don’t look as good as Gloria Steinem did from age 13 to her mid-30’s. What happens to them? Who is going to have the courage to marry them when they are 30 years old, well-educated, with business experience?
Today, 57% of college graduates are women. Higher education favors women. The degree system favors women. So, the competition among women is fierce, not simply to get the degrees, but to get husbands. The pool of eligible men keeps getting smaller, because not that many men earn college degrees. The women are forced to marry down or not marry at all.
This is what feminism has achieved for women. The movement favors formal education and advanced degrees. That is a curse on everyone, including women. Too much time is spent earning higher education degrees. People should be getting business experience, and then, without debt, except possibly a mortgage, they should start looking for somebody to marry. But they are too busy getting advanced degrees to do this. They wind up in debt. They don’t have the experience in business that they need. And the pool of eligible marriage partners is declining.
The feminist movement did not see this coming. The feminist movement has subsidized the bureaucrats who staff the universities of America. They have been the big winners. They get to go into classrooms and teach good-looking, educated, single women. They do this in a time in which there are very few barriers socially against adultery and liaisons with good-looking young women. This is called easy pickings. This is called fringe benefits.
This should be called collateral damage.
It began going on in the late 1960’s. In loco parentis died in those years. I was there. I watched it happen.
Feminism didn’t do this on its own. It took college professors to make it work
This was such an interesting read. I believe that the struggle sometimes does not come from external pressure or oppression but from the internal struggle that comes from stretching oneself to the breaking point in an attempt to do the work of ten men – or women. It can be exhausting trying to be superwoman across board when all you want to do is sit at home on the floor, playing cars with your children. On the other hand, oppression and suppression are a fact of life that cannot be disregarded. It’s all a matter of perspective – and I do believe priorities, as well. Again, quite an interesting read.
This article ( https://fee.org/articles/the-wage-gap-between-men-and-woman-virtually-disappears-when-differences-in-behavior-are-taken-into-account/ ) with links adds to what you’re saying in this post.
A quote from near the end of the article summarizes much of what the article illustrates –
“Furthermore, a recent study found that women choose to enter STEM fields less often in countries where they enjoy a higher degree of gender equality. Coupled with research that finds that men and women in countries with more gender equality diverge more widely in personality—even as they converge in valuing self-actualization—these facts suggest that empowered women tend to prefer pursuing careers they enjoy over jobs that merely pay them well.
University of Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt puts it this way:
Rather than interpreting women’s lower wages as a failure, perhaps it should be seen as a sign that a higher wage simply isn’t as meaningful an incentive for women as it is for men.”