It’s beyond frustrating that there is still an overwhelming denial of the gender wage gap. Time an again I see conservatives posting tidy little sound bites asking, well shouldn’t a man who risks his life putting up power lines make more money than a woman sitting behind a desk? Shouldn’t a doctor make more than a nurse? Once again they purposefully turn a blind eye to the actual problem and make it about the sensitive constitution of liberals/millennials/women/etc. Y’all this isn’t about paying the woman working at McDonalds the same as a skilled electrician (though that woman flipping burgers does in fact deserve a living wage).
The first quandary we need to ponder is why are their fields that are predominantly populated by one sex or the other? Instead of assuming women don’t want to participate in physical work, perhaps look at the culture that surrounds those jobs. We are beginning to see just how unwelcoming to women the military is and I can only imagine that other such macho-minded professions are similarly inclined. Even if we assume they are not, employers are not doing a good enough job to combat the stigma of misogyny. If men weren’t so keen on paternal posturing when I go onto Lowe’s, I might be more open to learning about construction. But instead I get a verbal pat on the head and not so subtle questions about my “husband”. If I can’t even be treated with respect on a personal home improvement project, why the hell would I pursue a career along side these professionals?
It is undeniable that girls are steered away from STEM fields at an early age, too. Struggles in math in science are excused as normal rather than addressed. When we are told we’re good at something it is often qualified with the statement, “for a girl”. This is compounded further if the individual in question happens to be a woman of color. We are making headway in these fields but it is in spite of the conditions we are immersed in rather than because of them.
And then there is motherhood. Our nation of self-sufficiency zealots leave women alone to struggle between a rock and a hard place. Our society depends on the birth of new citizens, yet men repeatedly shirk their responsibility. Women are punished if they choose not to have children. We have whispered words for those women. We assume there must be something wrong with them, physically or mentally. They must lack the maternal warmth required of femininity.
Yet women who choose to have children are equally punished. They are seen as a burden to their employer and will be denied raises or promotions within these child rearing years. In the interim, men reap the financial benefits, while simultaneously losing out on vital time with their families with the denial of paternity leave. A coworker’s husband was laughed at when he chose to use his two weeks of vacation to stay home with her after the birth of their child. Even in this time of supposed sexual egalitarianism women must split their time between home and work responsibilities much more than men, and they wind up losing at both. The public/private sphere’s dichotomy is alive and well.
So here we are, trapped in a society that proclaims that women should just suck it up and make it work. Honestly, we are in many ways. We succeed despite the patriarchy conspiring to beat us down. We’ve made so much headway in the last 50 years and it’s easy to become complacent. But we can’t or we will slip back. And it would be just great if we felt like society had our back in some small way.
We shouldn’t be penalized for childbirth, whether that be within our careers or the premiums we pay in insurance. Men must contribute financially to the well being of women because that’s how a healthy, truly equal society works. I don’t complain that I subsidize their Viagra with my premium, they shouldn’t complain that they subsidize my (hypothetical) pregnancy with theirs. After all, it’s not like we’d be getting pregnant without their help. How is this not their cross to help bear?
The gender wage gap is real. For every excuse that get’s spit out by conservative pundits I ask the question, but why is it like that?
And can I just say after looking at this map, goddamn it Louisiana. Can you just not be the worst in the country at something just for once?