An in-depth look at women’s “pay equity”


A Male Matters Advisory

Over the past four decades, the media, which are supposed to objectively reflect all views, have overwhelmingly reflected the views of women’s advocates on pay-equity. The effect of the media’s long-running lack of objectivity and balance is, I think, to create in the advocates’ minds an entrenched and immutable perception that no other view is possible and that pay discrimination against women is not mere whimsy but a widely accepted fact that is completely beyond dispute.

In this atmosphere over time, women’s advocates have, I believe, unconsciously built up such a fragility that a view contrary to their own often inflames them and renders them utterly unreceptive to that view. My views here are practically guaranteed to inflame and anger these advocates, who throughout their adult life have been told by the intellectually dishonest media the “incontrovertible fact” of wage discrimination against women.

The advocates aside, ordinary women can hardly be blamed for believing they are paid less than the men doing the same work at their company. Every day of the year, intelligent, sophisticated individuals — from Hillary Clinton on down — tell them what the National Women’s Law Center tells them in the very first sentence of its position statement on equal pay (if such important, influential groups as this believe women are unfairly paid less, it must be true; why would they lie?):

“American women who work full-time, year-round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.” (For a quick look at how badly this is distorted, go here.)

Updated April 17, 2014

A TWO-PART SPECIAL ON “PAY EQUITY” FOR WOMEN

CONTENTS

Introduction

Part I: Humanist Magazine Article — “Comparable Worth As Misguided Effort”

Part II: Refuting the “Justifications” Used by the National Organization for Women to Push Pay Equity For Women

INTRODUCTION

“Pay equity for women” is a term that supposedly appeals more to one’s sense of justice than the uninspiring and unsuccessful “comparable-worth pay” of some years ago. But for the most part, although pay equity has come to loosely mean “equal pay for women,” pay equity and comparable worth are one and the same. Pay equity is defined by the National Committee on Pay Equity at the bottom of the page thusly:

Pay equity — evaluating and compensating jobs based on their skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions, and not on the people who hold the jobs1— is a solution to eliminating wage discrimination and closing the [sexes’] wage gap [often expressed as “women’s 76 cents to men’s dollar,” a figure derived from women’s and men’s median yearly earnings].

In other words, pay equity for women, like comparable worth in the past, aims to eradicate differences in wages across male- and female-dominated occupations. It could require, for example, that a company’s predominantly female secretaries be compared to the company’s higher-paid predominantly male maintenance workers. If pay equity deemed that the secretaries were worth as much to the company as the maintenance workers, it would require the company to raise the secretaries’ wages in order to eradicate the pay difference. (Companies would not be permitted to lower “male” wages to eliminate differences. Equality can proceed only along the feminist plan!) The “true” worth of secretaries, as well as all other workers in traditionally female jobs, is something pay-equity advocates imply only they know. “…[I]f we are not college bound,” says the National Organization for Women-New Jersey, “we also want occupations that have long been filled predominantly by women to be recognized and paid for their true worth. When a man working as a general laborer on a union construction job can support a family, yet a woman working as a waitress or a cashier cannot, we see a problem….” I don’t know how the writer missed the fact that the general laborer’s wages were no doubt higher because of the union. (She also ignored the fact that waitresses and cashiers can themselves become unionized laborers if they want the same pay. More on that extremely important but conveniently ignored fact later.) Nevertheless, her vision largely explains the impetus behind pay equity.

Each year pay equity for women is brought to the nation’s attention through a campaign called “Equal Pay Day.” This year Equal Pay Day in 2012 falls on Tuesday, April 17. It is observed in April by organized feminists who use “women’s 76 cents to men’s dollar” to show “how far into each year a woman must work to earn as much as a man earned in the previous year.” [By this, women would have to work 16 months to earn what men earn in twelve months.] The day is observed on Tuesday to symbolize “the day when women’s wages catch up to men’s wages from the previous week. Because women on average earn less, they must work longer for the same pay.”

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PART I

Humanist Magazine Article: “Comparable Worth as a Misguided Effort”

Foreword: In 1986, The Humanist magazine published my article (below) in which, among other things, I criticized the National Organization for Women (NOW) for pushing comparable-worth pay (pay equity) as a way to close the gender wage gap. I said the gap “will persist as long as men and women continue coupling and agreeing, for whatever their personal reasons, that the man will be the primary breadwinner and the woman the supported childraiser.”

NOW pushed pay equity then, and continues to push it just as rigorously today, even though the group is no closer to getting it legislated than in the mid-’80s.

The Humanist | May/June 19862

Comparable Worth As Misguided Effort

By Jerry A. Boggs

Many feminists conveniently ignore crucial factors when arguing for comparable worth.

“We simply won’t accept a ruling that justifies injustices,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the National Organization for Women.

That and other feminist denouncements quickly followed the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling on comparable worth on September 4, 1985. The ruling overturned a prior one by U.S. District Court Judge Jack Tanner. Tanner had ordered substantial pay raises for state-employed women based upon comparable worth — the idea of paying men and women similar wages for different jobs determined to be of equal value to an employer.

Why do feminists continue pushing a doctrine viewed more and more as illogically conceived and totally intractable?

For many feminists who may have changed their minds about comparable worth, the motivation is probably fear of their cohorts’ scorn and rejection. Other feminists still promote the concept because they believe it is the only remedy for the “pervasive wage discrimination against women,” a notion they have invested as much belief in as its sister notion, job discrimination against women.

But do feminists present an accurate appraisal of these two discriminations — an appraisal which justifies a radical plan like comparable worth? To me, their conclusions need much rethinking. To begin with, two important points have never been decisively and officially cleared up regarding job discrimination.

First, how much of women’s underrepresentation in the generally better-paid “men’s” jobs is attributable to discrimination and how much to choice?

Feminist Colette Dowling, in her prodigious study of female behavior entitled The Cinderella Complex—Women’s Hidden Fear of Independence (1981), contends that the main reason women are underrepresented in traditionally male fields is not employers’ bias. Says Dowling, “It is the thesis of this book that personal, psychological dependency — the deep wish to be taken care of by others — is the chief force holding women down today.” (Italics Dowling’s) In other words, choice, not discrimination, is a factor conveniently overlooked by feminists seeking an explanation for apparent inequities in the workplace.

Indeed, The Cinderella Complex leads one to believe that, contrary to the media portrayal of women’s cheery surge into the labor market, few women willingly choose to leave the hearth; that, of those who go to work, most in time resent having done so; that many career women soon find their ambition collapsing under the weight of their desire “to be taken care of.”

In the January 27, 1986, issue of The New Republic, researcher Barbara Ehrenreich also points to choice as a major factor keeping women out of the labor market when she writes of career women:

A small but significant number of women are deciding not to have it all after all, and are dropping out of the corporate world to apply their management skills to kitchen decor and baby care. There is no doubt, from the interviews in Women Like Us as well my own anecdotal sources, that some successful women are indeed using babies as a polite excuse for abandoning the rat race.

Discrimination appears even less an influence when some statistics are considered, according to an editorial in the November 28, 1985, Detroit News. Of the more than seven million new jobs created in this country since 1980, 78.4 percent went to women, as did 65 percent of all wage increase since then — this despite the fact that men still outnumber women in the workforce.

These statistics imply that employers in general not only do not disfavor women but often bend over backwards for them. Preferential treatment of women can be found even among the publishers of Penthouse magazine, where, one would think, the suppression of females would be written into office policy. “Our company,” says Kathy Keeton, wife of co-owner Bob Guccione, “is run by more women than men, and they get paid more than the men.”

All these factors combined imply something quite different from the feminist assertions that discrimination is the cause of female underrepresentation in traditionally male occupations. Indeed, it seems clear that the opposite has occurred: we have ventured into blatant, systematic job discrimination against men. And this raises my second point in our consideration of comparable worth.

Antimale employment discrimination is hardly new. How many years ago was the first male denied a job, a promotion, or a training opportunity because of his selective service classification? How long have males alone been forced to interrupt their education and careers with military duty during which they earn a pittance? When did employers begin routinely assigning men, regardless of their individual size and strength, the rigorous, dangerous, out-in-the-elements jobs for which the pay cannot begin to compensate for the increased health risks?

The final reconsideration of the comparable worth argument entails a close look at wage discrimination.

Many economists see influences other than bias acting on the earnings gap between the sexes. Seniority is one example: in work where men and women perform the same tasks and where the pay differential only slightly favors men, women, on average, accumulate less time on the job because they leave the labor force at intervals to care for children. Furthermore, as Colette Dowling thoroughly documents, women in all types of work tend more than men to shy away from unionizing and from hard-selling their achievements for pay raises — techniques long used by men to secure wage increases.

But what about the much wider wage gap between “female” jobs and “male” jobs, at which comparable worth is specifically aimed? What accounts for the wage difference between, say, a secretary and a truck driver of the same company? Is the male trucker paid substantially more because the employer values “female” work less, as some feminists charge?

In reality, one job is no less valuable to a firm than another — pay differences notwithstanding. Many disagree, of course, and cite such things as stress, complexity, and responsibility as the determinants of a position’s value. Unfortunately, in the process of trying to judge the point value — to compare the worth — of each of the countless small and large tasks involved in manufacturing, selling, and servicing, value-rating runs into a snag: as everyone soon discovers, responsibility, difficulty, complexity, and so forth are, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder; something complex to the comparable worth advocate strikes the employer as simple and vice versa.

Many defenders of value-rating, including, no doubt, many women in “undervalued” work, in truth want importance bestowed not on their jobs but on themselves. Nearly everyone grows up developing a strong need to stand out and be recognized. Work evolves as a natural path to that, and we learn to think that certain occupations — lawyer, engineer, or manager, for example — are more important than others. The higher pay for these positions confirms, we think, their higher value to our employers as well as to ourselves.

Yet, as mentioned earlier, all jobs are equal in value. Consider the “lowly” busboy job in a restaurant — one of many poorly paid “male” endeavors. Most would declare that a busboy position is worth less to the owner than the better-paid chef’s position. But imagine the result were the owner to abolish the job one morning without, of course, redistributing the duties.

Comparable worth advocates are correct on one point: “female” work is just as valuable to business and society as “male.” But if the value of a job does not determine its pay, what does? Supply and demand does, but this has been argued so much in the comparable worth debate, apparently, that feminists have grown deaf to it. Perhaps a different approach will inspire them to lend an ear again.

Our experience of life is, in large measure, regulated by the degrees to which we can tolerate life’s offerings — by, in words appropriate here, what we can bear. For instance, as my friends know, I cannot bear much mugginess. I could not, for very long, reside in Florida; I leave that state and its kind to the rugged souls able to put up with heat and humidity unbearable to me. My intolerance thus restricts me to more northern climes.

The “what we can bear” principle also affects us in our dealings with the consumer and labor markets. The goods and services we purchase are, if we are prudent, governed by what we believe our incomes can accommodate. Likewise, the jobs we consider taking are decided by the principle of what we can bear. If, for example, a $15,000-a-year job is needed to support one person with a dependent, that person will not go looking for work paying $10,000 per year. With his or her expenses, he or she could not accept that amount. On the other hand, if the individual was like the typical busboy — a young adult provided free room and board by living at home — then he or she could accept it.

Despite a women’s movement twenty years in duration, most women are still in two categories: supported by men fully or almost fully, or anticipating to be. With all or nearly all their needs provided for, or with the provision of them in the offing, women as a group are able and willing to bear lower pay than men, who are still expected to be at least primary providers and who, as such, must earn enough to handle the expense of supporting two or more persons when the need arises.

Thus, we still have scenarios like the following perpetuating the income gap between the sexes: an employer advertises a “female” position at, say, $10,000 annually (or at any salary which the employer might choose), and far more women than men respond, because the imposition on males to earn more than women renders them unable to bear the offered pay and permits women, in the competition for jobs, to underbid men for the lower-paying ones. The income gap, then, is not just a matter of women being paid less than men. It is also a matter of men as primary providers generally needing a higher income than women. Therefore, the gap will persist as long as men and women continue coupling and agreeing, for whatever their personal reasons, that the man will be the primary breadwinner and the woman the supported childraiser.

Comparable worth poses serious threats. Its enforcement in the public and private sectors could result in a cost of billions to the economy, and it could drive many small businesses out of business and many large ones out of the country. Moreover, it would hand women in “female” occupations a victory of the pyrrhic kind: many men working the dirty, dangerous, out-in-the elements jobs will seek the cleaner, safer, more comfortable “female” positions and can demand, as is their right, that affirmative action open those jobs up to them. These are factors all comparable worth advocates ought to consider.

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“A quarter century after the passing of the Pay Equity Act [in Canada], the wage gap between men and women is expanding, not shrinking. A new report shows the wage gap between women and men has grown to 31.5 percent….” -Our Windsor.Ca, “Pay equity is a myth in Ontario, says member of Canadian Union of Public Employees,” April 17, 2014

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Now that you have read my decades-old perspective on pay equity — a perspective I still hold — it is time to read NOW’s, along with my responses.

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PART II

Refuting NOW’s “Justifications” for Pay Equity For Women

The National Organization for Women (NOW) probably pushes harder for pay equity than any other feminist group, perhaps harder than even the National Committee On Pay Equity. NOW’s undated site “Pay Equity Now!” says, “The National Organization for Women has a long history of supporting equal pay and comparable worth. In 2001, the National Conference adopted a resolution to support the ‘Pay Equity Now!’ petition, which was developed by the International Wages for Housework Campaign together with Philadelphia NOW, Pennsylvania NOW and the Philadelphia Coalition of Labor Union Women….”

NOW agitates for pay equity with these seven “justifications (my response to each follows this list):

1. WHEREAS in the US, the richest, most powerful nation on earth, women’s average pay has dropped from 76% in 1992 to 73% of men’s wages, 62.6% for Black women, 53.1% for Latina women; and

2. WHEREAS women are often segregated in caring and service work for low pay, much like the housework they are expected to do for no pay at home; and

3. WHEREAS closing the wage gap between women and men cannot be achieved without revaluing the responsibilities and skills women use in their work compared to what men use in theirs;

4. WHEREAS underpaying women is a massive subsidy to employers that is both sexist and racist;

5. WHEREAS by opposing pay equity in international forums, the US government encourages multinational corporations to underpay women everywhere in the global economy; and

6. WHEREAS all women, particularly mothers, who do the vital but unpaid job of caring for children and/or other dependents, are penalized by getting the lowest pay when they go out to work and are discriminated against in such areas as pensions, health care, and social security credits, among others; and

7. WHEREAS pay equity is a major step toward revaluing all women’s work, raising all women’s wages and status, and establishing all women’s entitlements;

THEREFORE we the undersigned demand that all branches of the US government stand with women, the vast majority of whom are overworked and underpaid, and

1) withdraw all objections to — and actively endorse — pay equity and maternity care provisions for all women;

2) Sign, ratify and implement provisions in international conventions entitling women to the pay and benefits they have earned many times over.

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My response (in italics) to each of these “justifications”:

1. WHEREAS in the US, the richest, most powerful nation on earth, women’s average pay has dropped from 76% in 1992 to 73% of men’s wages…

In truth, the richer the nation, the bigger the gender wage gap tends to be. That’s because in rich nations the men earn more. The more men earn (specifically, the more buying power they have), the more they are able to give wives the option of staying at home or working part-time or full-time for wages less than their husband’s. (See “New mothers with husbands in the top 20 percent of earnings work least, the report notes. As Ernest Hemingway said, the rich do have more money. So they also have more freedom to leave their jobs.“) That option is considered a luxury by women the world over. In the old Soviet Union, women longed for that option because they were treated as equal to men and required3 to work.

“Many of the best and brightest women in the United States get an MBA so they can earn high wages, but they end up marrying the best and brightest men, who also earn high wages — which affords these women the luxury of not having to work so much.” -Superfreakonomics, pub. 2009, p. 46, paperback edition

“Thirty percent of married mothers are out of the workforce completely.” -Kay Hymowitz, “Morning Joe,” April 30, 2012

“Cross-sectional studies usually have supported the idea that the higher the husband’s income, the lower is the labor force participation rate of his wife.” -U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

“There is plenty of evidence that most women aspire to marry a wealthy man.” -Dr. Catherine Hakim, author of Honey Money

Male Matters: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages and live as well as their husbands, millions of other wives, whose husbands’ incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

    • accept low wages
    • refuse overtime and promotions
    • choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do
    • take more unpaid days off
    • avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (http://tinyurl.com/3a5nlay)
    • work part-time instead of full-time

In poor nations, men earn less and perhaps a majority cannot support a wife. So women are more likely to work and earn an income closer to the male average. For example, in the United States, in the “nation” of the black community, the men average less pay than white men. One result is that employed black women with small children average a higher wage than employed white women with small children. Should we believe that these black women benefit from discrimination against white women, especially given that black women face the added barrier of racism? Or should we believe that black women must work more because black men earn less?

Another income gap: Tall men earn more than short men. In March 2004, Playboy magazine said, “In the U.S., a man’s salary is directly related to his height. A recent University of Florida study found that every additional inch of height represents $783 in annual pay.” Men who are 5’9” earned in 2004 only $36,149 to the $44,762 earned by 6’8” men. Does shorter men’s 81 cents to tall men’s dollar result from discrimination against shorter men? Or does it result from the fact that tall men are more likely to marry than short men, and hence strive harder to advance because they more often incur greater financial obligation as providers? And did the following seemingly absurd and irrelevant phenomenon have an effect: “Among the 500 in the control group, shortness was found twice as often among those with hearing loss compared to those with normal hearing. The short men were also more likely to have family histories of hearing loss — but not an association with a noisy workplace. Short men were three times more likely to have hearing loss than tall men — and 12 times more likely to be taking medication for some type of illness.” The point is that when you look beyond discrimination as a cause of wage gaps, you can find surpirsing influences. (Source)

“Women control consumer spending by a wide margin in virtually every consumer category.” -Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power

One could argue simplistically that men do the earning and women do the spending. (I have a relative who before direct deposit literally turned his paycheck over to his wife every week.) If feminists say, “Women controlling the spending means women bear the responsibility and burden of doing the spending,” what should they say about men doing the earning?

“Over the next decade, women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history. Estimates range from $12 to $40 trillion. Many Boomer women will experience a double inheritance windfall, from both parents and husband. The Boomer woman is a consumer that luxury brands want to resonate with.” – Claire Behar, Senior Partner and Director, New Business Development, Fleishman-Hillard New York (She-conomy.com

In poor nations, there is another kind of gap that NOW conveniently ignores: “Men in countries with lower per capita income commit suicide more frequently than men in countries with higher per capita income.” This is not true of women in poor or rich nations. (Source: The Journal of Men’s Health & Gender) (Men who fail at being economically successful commit suicide at a much higher rate than do women who fail at being physically attractive. And most ideological feminists tell us women are more troubled than men.)

What NOW ignores: The more women choose the option of staying at home with those they love — their children — the more money their husbands must earn and the more time they must spend away from those they love and with those they may hate — overbearing bosses and back-stabbing, competitive co-workers trying to look good by making others look bad — frequently working exhausting hours in soul-destroying jobs to support a growing family.

If you apply for a senior accountant position at NOW, why does its site tell you: “Send resume, cover letter and salary history…”? Why do they want to see your salary history? Do they plan to pay you based on how much you were paid in previous years, and plan to pay you less than another applicant who in her last job was paid more than you? Does equal pay for equal work not apply to NOW? 

What NOW ignores regarding women’s 73% of men’s wages [for the same work]: NOW, like many other feminist and socialist groups, assails male employers as greedy competitors willing to do anything for the all-important profit. In so doing, NOW contradicts its own theory behind women’s 73 cents to men’s dollar. According to Warren Farrell, author of Why Men Earn More, if employers paid women 73 cents to men’s dollar for the same work, why would any company, especially one that is greedy and profit-obsessed, want to hire men at all, at any level? How could Manufacturer A, which employs only men, compete with Manufacturer B, which makes the same product and employs only women? Why would a consumer buy “greedy, profit-obsessed” A’s product when she could buy “greedy, profit-obsessed” B’s for 27 percent less? If General Motors were non-union and it replaced all the men with women this afternoon, the auto maker would be in the black tomorrow morning. And it would drive its competitors out of the market.

2. WHEREAS women are often segregated in caring and service work for low pay, much like the housework they are expected to do for no pay at home…

“Often segregated…” implies that when women apply for a job outside the caring and service industries, they are often discriminatorily denied that job and forced to accept “caring and service work for low pay.”

What NOW ignores: Men, too, says Warren Farrell, are often discriminatorily denied a job, such as dental hygienist, nursery school teacher, cocktail waiter, and any of many other job categories reserved for women. Worse, after being denied one of these jobs, many of the men, unlike women, are forced to accept work that is often not only low-paying but also dangerous. Of the 25 most dangerous jobs listed by the U.S. Department of Labor, according to Farrell, men occupy between 90 percent and 100 percent of them. As a result, of the nearly 100,000 American workers who died from job-related injuries over the past 15 years, 95 percent of them were men. If women represented 95 percent of the workplace deaths, ideological feminists’ — and the media’s — explosive outrage would have resulted in government programs to close the “gender workplace death gap” 20 years ago. But because this death gap affects virtually only men, both feminists and the media give it little or no thought. Clearly, they value women’s wages far more than they do men’s lives, the lives of our fathers, brothers, uncles, nephews, and sons. This partly explains why there is no Male Death and Injury Recognition Day.

As for a woman being discriminatorily denied a job, she knows full-well she can sue the employer. She also knows she can solicit NOW to put on additional heat publicly to embarrass the employer into complying with NOW’s agenda — a tactic long-used by NOW.

What NOW ignores in “…the housework they are expected to do…”: When NOW makes such fatuous statements, I lose, hard as I try not to, even the tiniest shred of respect that I may have had for the organization.

First, bear in mind two aphorisms dispensed often by NBC’s women-embraced “Dr. Phil.” The aphorisms no doubt threaten NOW’s most cherished tenet — that in our “oppressive patriarchy” all women are powerless in all areas all the time (and therefore should be given everything gratis, should be given rights but not held responsible). The aphorisms:

“No one does anything without a pay-off [real or imagined, immediate or delayed].”

“No one can control you without your permission.”

So…do husbands expect their wife to do all the housework? Yes, many do. But for every such man, a woman expects her husband to do all the income work or at least be the primary provider.

Unmarried women, too, expect things of men. Even high-earning single women often expect their date, even one earning less than they, to pick them up, then pick up the tab for dinner and everything else during the evening. This female expectation signals that single women expect men to pay all the expenses, and that they believe “My money is mine and yours is ours.” Once married, a woman is likely to expect her husband to be the primary payer/provider.

And for every wife who is expected to make up for her husband’s DiversityConcernsunequal homemaking, a husband is expected to make up for his wife’s unequal money making.

What NOW ignores in “…for no pay at home”: Is NOW suggesting that stay-at-home wives, who the group says do domestic chores “for free,” should be paid for doing them? That suggestion seems also to be made by NOW’s New Jersey chapter: “Young women want to have options when it comes to raising our children — options that are not limited to ‘career oriented’ and ‘stay-at-home mom.’ We want our government and our employers to support us socially and economically in these family options, and not just pay lip service to the wonderful role of motherhood.” (Stress mine.)

Well, why not just throw your socialist demands right out there.

Suppose the government did cave into NOW and began paying women for their domestic labor. Obviously, it would have to pay them enough to live decently (a “living wage”), and would have to give them regular cost-of-living raises. If the government announced it was going to do this, millions of working wives might immediately quit their job and join the formerly “unpaid” wives, tickled pink to be paid a nice salary to stay at home and do the domestic chores which NOW has condemned for decades as oppressive and demeaning. (Such condemnations, I suspect, increased husbands’ aversion to picking up the slack!) The result? A gender labor segregation by government fiat! The very segregation NOW opposes!

If in fact NOW does think the government should pay wives for doing their domestic chores, does it also think the government should pay a husband for doing his, such as handling the finances, doing the yard work — mowing, raking, fertilizing, climbing trees to trim branches, etc., risking injury and death, doing the driving when both he and his wife are tired — and repairing the plumbing, the family cars, the appliances, the computers, the children’s bicycles? Somehow I doubt it.

By saying “…for no pay at home,” Now ignores a painfully manifest fact: Stay-at-home wives do get paid for doing housework — by their husbands. Where on earth does NOW think the money comes from to pay for these wives’ (and children’s) essentials such as food, shelter, and clothing, and for their non-essentials such as dining out, going to the movies, and taking vacations — in short, for a standard of living equal to their husbands’ and options more than equal to their husbands’?

But for the moment, let’s loosen our grip on reality and side with NOW. How much, exactly, should a housewife be paid for her domestic labor? We get a clue from NOW’s own founding mother, the late Betty Friedan herself: “Housework is peculiarly suited to the capabilities of feeble-minded girls; it can hardly use the abilities of a woman of average or normal human intelligence.” Hmm. Maybe husbands or the government should pay stay-at-home wives just three or four bucks a week.

Even if NOW doesn’t go so far as to think the government should directly cut a check to women for staying at home, they want women’s domestic work to have economic value that is reflected in Social Security and tax credits. But giving stay-at-home wives these credits can also produce unintended negative consequences. (To see some of the consequences, see the article that says, “Working moms would rightly view [these credits] as unjust favoritism for those who stay home.”) The credits could add to an employed woman’s reasons for wanting to put in less time at work and more at home. They might inspire some employed married women to look at stay-at-home wifery as a bona fide career! Hence they would widen the gender wage gap that seems to send NOW into a storming rage.

3. WHEREAS closing the wage gap between women and men cannot be achieved without revaluing the responsibilities and skills women use in their work compared to what men use in theirs…

What NOW ignores: In truth, closing the wage gap between the sexes cannot be achieved until men stop giving wives the option of earning less than they do, the option of doing unequal money making.

Women’s advocates “often make the claim that women earn less than men doing the exact same job. They can’t possibly know that. The Labor Department’s occupational categories can be so large that a woman could drive a truck through them. Among ‘physicians and surgeons,’ for example, women make only 64.2 percent of what men make. Outrageous, right? Not if you consider that there are dozens of specialties in medicine: some, like cardiac surgery, require years of extra training, grueling hours, and life-and-death procedures; others, like pediatrics, are less demanding and consequently less highly rewarded. Only 16 percent of surgeons, but a full 50 percent of pediatricians, are women.” -Kay S. Hymowitz, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 13, 2011

In the past, wives gave their husband the option of doing less housework than they do. But because of NOWesque feminists, many wives, including some of those who don’t come close to doing their equal share of income work, complain that their husband doesn’t do his equal share of housework. I suspect some see this one issue as reason to head for the divorce court. (Women’s feminist-fueled angst over unequal housework is, I believe, one example of why many men reject ideological feminists’ assertion that feminism promotes gender harmony.)

As long as a wife works for less pay than the average husband earns, she is not doing her equal share of money-making. She can’t be viewed as making an equal contribution, even if she puts in as many hours as her husband. She is similar to, suggests Warren Farrell, the husband who doesn’t do his equal share of domestic chores if he spends all his equal domestic-work time baking cakes….

You may now understand that “women’s 73 cents to men’s dollar” has a much more complicated cause than NOW’s simplistic “discrimination against women.”

To cure the “discrimination,” NOW prescribes the incredibly complex pay equity.

And it is this complexity of pay equity that would, by all objective accounts, wreak havoc on employers.

A study for the Small Business Administration, a government body, found that regulations in general add $10,585 in costs per employee. -The Economist, Feb. 18, 2012

NOW would have better luck with a prohibition on men supporting wives. “Without husbands,” says Warren Farrell, “women have to focus on earning more. They work longer hours, they’re willing to relocate and they’re more likely to choose higher-paying fields like technology.” If men were prohibited from supporting women, every unemployed wife would have to scramble for a job and millions of employed women for a better one. And how would this prohibition effect men? Millions would no longer feel the need to compete so ruthlessly at work. When men compete in this way, many experience a diminished capacity to empathize and nurture. They are less able to become the loving fathers they may want to be, the fathers many feminists say men aren’t capable of being and thus conclude that divorcing mothers should always be awarded the kids in a divorce. (Some of these same feminists also say men should not always be awarded the best jobs). Millions of men would no longer seek a high-paying job to gain society’s respect and a woman’s love. A good number of the men already holding a high-paying and likely stressful job would gleefully walk away, sending employers into a frenzy recruiting women. Men wouldn’t have to earn as much, and women would have to earn more. Presto — the sexes’ wage gap would close with a thunderous clap. An ideological feminist fantasy come true!

Although such a prohibition would of course never be proposed, let alone enacted, it strikes me as less destructive than pay equity. (For a few examples of pay equity’s destructive effects, refer to the above Humanist article.)

What NOW ignores in “revaluing the responsibilities and skills women use in their work compared to what men use in theirs”: In this, NOW expresses the core issue of pay equity. It wants “female” jobs to be “revalued” so that they are considered just as important and valuable — code for “paid the same” — as “comparable” jobs held by men. (Again, refer to my Humanist article.)

When men first learned for sure that they’d better earn more than women:

“The August 1924 edition of Harper’s magazine carried an article entitled: ‘Is the Young Person Coming back?’ which recounted the experience of a young man who asked a city girl if he might call on her. The nub of this humorous piece was that when the young man came to ‘call’, he found to his astonishment that ‘she had her hat on’. To older Americans, this could signify only one thing: she expected to go out. This was not what the unsophisticated youth had anticipated at all. To him, coming to call meant being received in the family parlour, making light conversation with the girl and her mother. On subsequent occasions, it might involve taking tea with them and listening politely while the young woman displayed her skills as a pianist. But this was not what the woman had in mind. She was expecting ‘a date'; to be taken out and ‘treated’, and the young man ended up spending four weeks’ savings in an effort to meet her expectations.” -HistoryToday.com (This is in an article that is critical of men!)

4. WHEREAS underpaying women is a massive subsidy to employers that is both sexist and racist

This mindlessly rehashes NOW’s false contention that employers, despite the 40-year-old law requiring equal pay for equal work, pay women less than men for the same work. See response to number 1 above…

What NOW ignores: NOW proclaims, “Employers have for four decades gotten away with disobeying the equal-pay law.” It’s as if, say, GM hires a man and a woman on the same day to work side by side on the assembly line doing the exact same thing, and pays him $20 per hour and pays her $15. (Is NOW saying women are stupid?) Question for NOW: If feminists can’t get employers to obey the relatively simple Equal Pay For Equal Work law, how will they get them to obey the much more complicated and costly pay equity law?

5. WHEREAS by opposing pay equity in international forums, the US government encourages multinational corporations to underpay women everywhere in the global economy…

In other words, the U.S. government won’t jump on NOW’s band wagon and promote an unfeasible pay concept, so it should be held responsible for “encouraging” multinational corporations to discriminate against women everywhere…. This resonates like a childish guilt ploy to goad the government into coming around to NOW’s way of thinking. But the government isn’t responsible for what multinational corporations do. These corporations are free to pay wages according to local supply and demand, a concept NOW apparently does not grasp and rejects as discriminatory.

6. WHEREAS all women, particularly mothers, who do the vital but unpaid job of caring for children and/or other dependents, are penalized by getting the lowest pay when they go out to work and are discriminated against in such areas as pensions, health care, and social security credits, among others…

See my responses that already address women’s “unpaid” labor.

Men, too, are “penalized” in these ways when they make the choice to leave the money-making to their wife. As for health care, if women face bias in this area, why do they have a longer average life span than men? Why do men on average die sooner of the 10 leading causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, and cancer?

And why are men’s pensions bigger on average than women’s? One big reason: In 2003, one in five men 65 and older was part of the labor force, compared to only one in ten women. As a group, women live longer but retire sooner. (How’s that for an example of power?) The earlier one retires — need I say it? —  the smaller one’s pension and benefits.

7. WHEREAS pay equity is a major step toward revaluing all women’s work, raising all women’s wages and status, and establishing all women’s entitlements…

Again, a rewording of what NOW has said before.

What NOW ignores: All the views that oppose pay equity.

Rapidly growing evidence has amassed over the years showing the gender wage gap to be a myth as it is portrayed by women’s advocates. Despite that mountain of evidence, even the federal government still describes the gap as discrimination against female workers. At the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau is this:

Today [August 2013], women earn about 81 cents on the dollar compared to men — a gap that results in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost wages.

If the federal government promotes the gap as harmful to women, why shouldn’t the everyday woman believe it? Exactly.

If a NOW apparatchik manages to read this entire treatise on pay equity, she is unlikely to admit where I might be right. That’s not just because ideological feminists can be as rigid in their thinking as they say men are. It’s also because of our often deep-seated need to be “right” about our ideas. Or, more accurately, it’s because of our deep-seated fear of our ideas being seen as “wrong.” This fear usually runs deep and powerful in those who routinely take their opinions pubic, as NOW leaders do. It is hard for me to imagine NOW’s chief Terry O’Neill, perhaps after she read Warren Farrell’s Why Men Earn More, going on television and gushing sheepishly, “Boy, was I wrong about the gender wage gap!” She knows this is not what NOW’s rank and file, generally steeped in female victimology, want to hear. She’d likely be pilloried, and her organization would collapse like a house of cards in a wind storm. Moreover, she’d be at risk of losing her high-status job, her likely high income, and her continual, ego-gratifying moments in the sun while being handled with kid gloves by her handmaidens in the mainstream media (“The Ed Show,” for example). She is like any other public pontificator: trapped by her fear of being seen as “wrong” about her long-publicized perceptions.

So O’Neill has no choice, really, except to continue keeping the strange-headed monster of pay equity well fed and pushing for legislation that does nothing but burden business to the detriment of the economy.

And that’s exactly what NOW has been doing, with zero progress, for at least two decades.

____________

For more on pay equity and the gender wage gap, see:

Warren Farrell on ABC television’s “20/20″

Warren Farrell on PBS television’s “Unfiltered”

Why Pay Equity Day is Out of Date

Pay Equity Day or Quality of Life Day?

The Biggest Myth about the Wage Gender Gap

The Gender Wage Gap is a Myth

There is No Male-Female Wage Gap

The Gender Pay Gap is a Complete Myth

No, Women don’t Make Less Money than Men

It’s Time we end the Equal Pay Myth

Equal Pay at 50: The Myth of the Gender Wage Gap

__________________

1. Many ideological feminists think, “In jobs where men predominate, the pay is higher; in jobs where women predominate, the pay is less.” In other words, “which sex dominates a job determines the job’s pay.” Actually it’s the other way around: a job’s pay determines which sexdominates the job. Just as society has steered women into low-paid jobs, it continues to steer men away from low-paid jobs and into jobs which pay more (but which men pay more for with greater seniority and education, as well as with a job accident rate six times higher than women’s and a job death rate 15 times higher). 

2. The article predates the web.

3. I searched for but could not find a source for this.


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5 Responses to An in-depth look at women’s “pay equity”

  1. What an a-hole!!!! Misquoted Colette Dowling, LMSW THESIS OF THE BOOK ????
    YOU DID NOT EVEN READ IT!!!
    ITS SOCIALLY CONDITIONING TO BUILD INTERCONNECTED DEPENDENCIES – THATS WHAT WOMEN DO, BUILD COMMUNITIES, FAMILIES, AND YES WE HAVE TO BUILD THOSE RELATIONSHIPS OR FAMILIES DO NOT EXIST !!! So do not fallaciously say we are afraid and need to be taken care of when what it really is exhaustion and wishing someone would care for us as much as we care for others — and not only are we entitled to this, but if you gents cant cough it up, we will kick you to the curb and some other man who will, they way your wife did!
    Try this thesis of the book – YOUR NO PRINCE – and an asswipe to boot.

    http://www.colettedowling.com/work2.htm

    Oh, yeah the other reference was Penthouse! Dude – you are seriously deranged.

    • Do you always hurl personal insults at people you disagree with? Do you think insults are the way to get people to listen to you? And to agree with you?

      In my 25-year-old Humanist magazine commentary, this is hardly a misquote by Dowling: “It is the thesis of this book that personal, psychological dependency — the deep wish to be taken care of by others — is the chief force holding women down today.” (Italics Dowling’s)

      Look it up. Dowling said it, in italics, on page 21 of the paper-back version of “The Cinderella Complex.” Yet you personally insulted me as if I had said it, not Dowling.

      Re your statement: “IT’S SOCIALLY CONDITIONING TO BUILD INTERCONNECTED DEPENDENCIES”. That is not what Dowling is talking about. She talked about women being held down mainly by their “deep wish to be taken care of by others.” From that, how on earth did you get this: “interconnected dependencies, build communities…”? Methinks it is you who did not read the book, which I thoroughly read about 30 years ago and still possess.

      And why do you seem to think only women can build communities? Do you realize that this thinking is sexist?

      Re: “So do not fallaciously say we are afraid and need to be taken care of when what it really is exhaustion and wishing someone would care for us as much as we care for others”

      As said, I didn’t say anything of the sort. And Dowling did not say women NEED to be taken care of, only that women in her view deeply WISH to be taken care of. Big difference. Pay attention to detail as you read, especially as you read views that oppose yours. It will help keep you from embarrassing yourself.

      Re: “the way my wife kicked me to the curb”

      Do you know something I don’t know? My wife just kissed me as she was leaving to go see her aunt as she does almost every Sunday.

      It sounds as if you’re having trouble finding good relationships, and are troubled in general. I suspect NOW often attracts women who themselves have been kicked to the curb by men. I recommend counseling to deal with your anger. And by the way, I warned feminists such as yourself not to read my pay-equity piece. I told you up front that you’d get very angry.

      I wish you’d settle down and re-read everything, slowly, patiently. Or it is easier simply to hurl insults as a way of controlling people?

  2. Shinji says:

    Today in Belgium is the 2012 Equal Pay Day. They promoted the event with a controversial video featuring Sasha Grey. I found it interesting, as a choice.

  3. lindsey says:

    Women can choose to marry a well paid man and opt out of the labour force, many do this because they know there are few other options. A woman does not have the option of moving through life in the way a man does and climing the ladder in the way a man can. Many women are born with the same drive and motivation that men have, and start getting knocked down from about 25 onwards. Most men like there masculine role in life, very few would want to be like women in anyway. Masculinity is built around the true nature of humans, not just of men. Women are held back because there expected to be this other thing society calls feminine, something fake and far away from true human nature. This places women in a trap because they have to live there life and pretend to be something other then there true self. This limits jobs women apply for, it limits the things they choose to learn, and it also limits how much they as individuals demand higher pay. I agree there are people who will try to help women, people who will hold so many jobs open for women for the sake of doing there bit for equality. But none of these people who are mostly men realise what holds women back.

    The problem is that people just cannot get past your sex if your a woman, if you do well people are impressed in a way that links again back to your sex. i.e thats good for a girl. If your strong, then your strong for a girl. etc. If a woman does anything but wife and mother people think there is something wrong with her, by having a female body people by default expect something out of you. And the something that gets you the most approval is babies. Again its just not possible for a woman to escape her sex, she is never anything without woman attached to it.

    Women are expected to live around there sex there whole life, wear clothing that points to it, and develop a mind that it female. Only trouble is that its all a lie, i know and can swear on it that up to being about 22 i was no different to a man in my mind. I had the same ambition, motivation and drive, but it leaves you over the years when one realises that there is no path to take that is free from the constraints being a woman brings. All the paths open to women are only open if you agree to pretend to be different from men.

    When women find out this truth, many opt out and try to get everything from a man, others except there lot and plod along, others become radical feminists. None have the option that men have by just being male. Humans male or female are not able to stand alone, they all need the approval of others. We only notice this when we stop getting it, men get more of it the higher they climb. Not just from other men, but from women too. Women get very little approval no matter where they are, but get strong disapproval the higher they climb. This comes from both sexes. Because women do not get natural approval in the way men do, they do things to try and get it, often by people pleasing, baby producing, and making them selves more attractive. Women end up becoming a social construct and hating themselves in the end as life takes them so far away from who they are.

    If women reject the feminine box, then she gets stood on for trying to be like men. The second she spits out the lie she was ever really any different is the time to hate her, and she still cannot climb the ladder not with men standing on her fingers as she tries.

    • Lindsey, thanks for the long, thoughtful comment. I appreciate your taking the time to lay out your feelings.

      Re: “Women are expected to live around [their] sex [their] whole life, wear clothing that points to it, and develop a mind that [is] female.”

      The same can be said about men. Both sexes try to do what they think they’re expected to do. Men wear “power” suits, for example (“wear clothing that points to it”), because they are expected to have power — which in reality they never attain; they only have responsibilities, like women. You may not look at it that way because everyone has long been told by feminists and the liberal media that women’s responsibilities are burdens and men’s are “power.”

      The same forces that keep women in a certain way keep men in a certain other way. The same forces that limit women’s participation in the world of work limit men’s participation in the world of children.

      For additional understanding for the sexes different behavior, I recommend:

      “The Sexual Harassment Quagmire” at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/the-sexual-harassment-quagmire/

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