gender

A Response to Maddox’s “How Every Company in America can save 23% on Wages”

A Response to Maddox’s “How Every Company in America can save 23% on Wages”

I despise sloppy sociology.

Look, I get it. Social systems are really complicated. One’s eyes can glaze over after reading the tenth article on a row on Mertonian strain or average distance within social networks.

But it’s important that, if we want to dismiss the political aspirations of people, we do our homework.

Maddox is one of my favorite Internet satirists. Sometimes, as a satirist, a person needs to make an argument that might be exaggerated or polemical or aimed for the average person in order to make a point.

However, when people are grossly misinformed about an issue, an article that purports to present a view of the world can actually cause serious problems.

To wit, Maddox has recently posted an article where he takes issue with the idea of sexism as being the cause of the wage gap.

Let’s respond to a lot of these arguments, but first, let me begin with my strongest example of how sexist priorities operate in the real world: Social work.

It’s no secret that social workers are underpaid.

It’s also not a big secret that most social workers are women, and in fact more so in recent years.

So one of the best examples of a “pink collar” service profession, a nurturing profession, is one which is both overrepresented by women and underpaid and overworked.

Now, I offer this example because it robs so many of the bullshit excuses we hear.

There’s no “free market” estimation of work value here going on here because most social work is either in the NGO or public sector. It’s government who’s paying social workers; specifically, it’s government underpaying social workers. (And teachers, another “pink collar” profession, but let’s not even open a can of worms here).

Rather, we have brutal political priorities that make it so we want to make sure that there’s always money for aircraft carriers and subsidies for corporations but can scrimp on things like entitlement payments or social services.

These brutal political priorities, by the way, are economically harmful to us collectively. If we thought about the value that a good social worker has in terms of avoiding long-term externalities, one could make a great case for tripling their pay. Think about all the ways that a social worker helps reduce theft and criminality by getting people in touch with resources to survive, improves life conditions and makes communities safer by intervening in families that have destructive and abusive dynamics, and so forth. Or think about how much better off we’d be if the foster system were not a disaster that is so well-known as a disaster that the messed-up foster care kid is a cliché.

Those brutal political priorities that are the cause of low social worker pay aren’t specifically sexist. I don’t think that politicians are rubbing their hands together and saying, “Let’s hurt women by paying social workers less!”

But it’s an example of why this wage gap between men and women exists. It’s an example of a sexist impact, because it disproportionately harms women, socialized to go into nurturing and support roles. And the brutality and lack of concern about family dynamics is based on sexist and patriarchal value systems that feminists oppose. The fact that politicians aren’t castigated for the way that they’ve screwed up juvenile justice, foster care, child services, and a host of other social work services, but are burnt in effigy if they raise taxes, is based on a value system that has sexist roots. Women bear the brunt of the impact our collective amount of family dysfunction, and they also bear a large portion of the work of fixing that family dysfunction.

More importantly, it helps explain why even excuses like “Women go into different fields” don’t cut it. Those excuses in turn assume that the relative pay that fields get is based on justice, when that assertion is not only absurd but often undermined by the apologists who then go on to claim that it’s men with disadvantages!

So, let’s look at some claims that Maddox makes specifically now, in light of the ideas above.

Maddox claims, “The prevailing theory is that it’s because women are conditioned to have lower expectations in the workplace.”

No, it isn’t.

This is one of the best examples I have ever seen in history of a strawman argument, a deliberately weak interpretation of one’s opponents viewpoints that makes one’s position seem stronger in false comparison.

One is free to look through my blog for the times I’ve discussed gender inequality and race inequality. Like this one on color-blindness , or this one on the bronie phenomenon , or this salient piece on sexual assault and statistics. You’ll see plenty of explanations for both of these factors, and I doubt this conditioning is found plenty of time.

Or let me turn to other scholars.

The European Commission names the following factors: “Direct discrimination, the undervaluing of women’s work, segregation in the labor market, traditions and stereotypes, and balancing work and private life”. Of those, “lower expectations” is a small part of just one, “traditions and stereotypes”.

The Center for American Progress similarly looked at the breakdown. They found that “Women need an additional degree in order to make as much as men with a lower degree over the course of a lifetime. A woman would need a doctoral degree, for instance, to earn the same as a man with a bachelor’s degree, and a man with a high school education would earn approximately the same amount as a woman with a bachelor’s degree”. These are just massive inequalities, what we’d call a big “signal”.

So what are the causes of the gender gap?

Well, one does happen to be lowered expectations in the workforce, sure. Women rightly begin to believe that their efforts just don’t get noticed. Many understandably begin to retreat.

Maddox has a reply on this front, though. He states, “There are plenty of powerful, successful and wealthy women who break this mold every day”.

There’s “plenty” of people who win the lottery too, Maddox. Want to suggest that as a means to fix the gender wage gap problem?

Fact is, there are some women who are hugely assertive. And this is a great thing. But the reason why feminists don’t “focus on the positive”, as he’d like us to do, is because that’s giving people a pat on the back before the job is finished.

This is one of the great challenges of activism, and it’s obvious Maddox doesn’t do any of it. Bono, for example, had a wonderful TED Talk where he went into how poverty is improving globally. He wanted to talk about the positive.

But he also knew that if he just did that then people would stop working. Men and white folks want to hear about how sexism and racism are over so they can stop having to work on those fronts.

Bono pointed out that there’s two possible ways that you can end up going when you see improvements: You can see complacency, and a slowing of change, or continued effort, and the continued rate of change.

The reason why we have to talk about the negative so often is because so many men are insistent that nowadays it’s an advantage to be a woman or a black person in the workforce. Many people refuse to believe that there is still something like gender and race inequality. (And I mention these together because they are linked, as the Center for American Progress article shows, and because the resistance to the idea of white privilege shares many of the same cognitive problems and failings as the resistance to the idea of gender privilege).

Worse, those women who are assertive themselves face challenges. I’ll quote again from Tim, citing “findings of researchers from Carnegie Mellon and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, which demonstrates that women who haggle for better pay are viewed much differently than their male counterparts”. In other words, women are just perceived as bitchier when they are assertive. Women find themselves in a double-bind: They can not negotiate, and be viewed as wallflowers, or try to be assertive and aggressive in negotiation, and be viewed as non-collegial.

However, the domestication of female aspirations is only one factor.

Another is the “old boy’s” network. That may be part of why we’re seeing women enter the lower echelons of industries like law and finance, but still struggle to make it to the higher echelons. The best jobs are still filled by social networking, by one’s “Rolodex” as it was put in the olden days, and having access to those traditional mechanisms like being the gold buddy or the college roommate of a person at the highest echelons is a massive part of the issue. Inequalities in what scholars call “social capital” is a big part of what causes inequality in general.

There’s also subconscious bias. Both male and female employers, human resources professionals, interviewers, etc. are likely to be saddled with subconscious ideas about how women should act and what their capabilities are. The Implicit Attitude Test project, for example, has found that for both race and gender, people’s subconscious biases are quite easy to replicate and even get some degree of measure upon.

Another factor is the perception of the “mommy track”, which saddles women intended to have kids and those who have no such expectation (and is itself partially the result of the second shift, where women continue to bear the disproportionate brunt of domestic work even when they work as hard as their partners). For those of you who believe that the “mommy track” is rational, Tim Wise has a wonderful set of responses.

Here’s another brilliantly obtuse argument: “Women make up about 51% of the workforce, according to the US Department of Labor. So either companies don’t want to save 23% on their wages, or the “77%” wage gap number is bullshit, because both can’t be true”.

But since women are about half the workforce, they’re already represented roughly equally. In fact, the female unemployment rate is slightly lower at the moment than the male unemployment rate. There’s just not a ton of women out there to hire more cheaply.

Maddox makes a false analogy to how employers are willing to hire non-English speakers to pay them less, ignoring that part of this dynamic is that employers have biases against native peoples of color and often hire immigrants in preference, but this is below comment. It’s cheap to hire illegals because you can threaten deportation. You can’t deport women. Women get paid less because of other factors, garden-variety sexism (both subconscious and overt bias) being part of it.

But you know what? I’ve heard employers joke, and heard stories of employers joking, about hiring the minority or hiring the woman because it will be cheaper. See, here’s the thing: Wages aren’t fixed by magic. In most environments, how much people are paid depends on their ability to negotiate. And as we’ve seen, on average, a woman’s ability to negotiate is just lower than a man’s, for both psychological and economic reasons.

Another one of Maddox’s claims that shows how utterly unfamiliar he is with this debate and how out of his depths he is is this gem: “critics struggle to contend with the fact that countless studies have shown that women have a higher job-satisfaction, despite the supposed wage inequality.”

But this “paradox” is only a paradox to people who don’t do any work in social justice.

Here’s an acronym that anyone who actually talks to feminists is likely to know: PHMT, or “Patriarchy Hurts Men Too”.

It may be possible that men are pushed into professions that are more competitive, more high-paying, but less good for the soul. They may be being pushed into professions that make them wonder if they are contributing.

So while women may be getting the shit end of the stick when it comes to quantifiable advantages like socioeconomic status, income, etc. they may be getting a psychological advantage.

Men are trapped by patriarchy just as much as everyone else. Privilege is always harmful to the people who have it. Orwell pointed out just how utterly banal colonialism made the English in “Killing an Elephant”. He made clear that both the colonized and the colonizer enter into a mutual relationship of mistrust and dependency.

Tim Wise has talked about how privilege can make people sick: It can give us a false sense of our invincibility. White men can often sail through life with every expectation that the world will just keep picking up after them and keep fixing things for them. The few times that doesn’t happen can be terrible for us, and we’re getting to the point that it’s just such a big handicap to have such a small and sheltered view of the world.

The best example Tim offers is about the Columbine shootings. He was told by a SWAT officer that they didn’t go in to save the kids at Columbine because they knew that these were white parents who would ring them out to dry for the slightest mistake.

In that moment of hesitation, those officers made it so that the privilege for those Colorado kids was no longer an advantage. In every other environment in life, they’d see doors open for them. But for the kids that died, there would no longer be any doors, because of the one time privilege did come back to haunt them.

But here’s the point. Orwell, Paulo Freire, Tim Wise, Noam Chomsky… the host of people who make philosophically clear how bad privilege and power is for the powerful are not going to then say that that power doesn’t matter.

Men may have the less satisfying jobs, but we are more likely to get the jobs that give us the money that we can use to have plenty of satisfaction when we get home. We get to have power, influence and respect.

And if we want to talk about stress? Women have a lot of stress too. A friend of mine had a friend point out to a lot of debate that people’s fear of sharks or lightning is viewed as cute or benign (and I would add that our fear of non-white terrorists is applauded), while women’s fear of being raped is viewed as misandry, even though the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network has found that one in six women are going to be victimized in their lifetimes. Maybe RAINN is wrong. Maybe the number is one in eight, or one in sixteen. But it’s enough that a woman has some justifiable reason to be afraid when they go out of how men look at them.

Women have a lot of justifiable fear that their boyfriends or husbands will shoot or beat them.

Women have a lot of stress over entering the mommy track, or having their opinions constantly ignored by men.

Maddox then uses a Politifacts statement, but it’s emphatically clear that he didn’t get the meaning of it:

“The Obama campaign took a legitimate statistic and described it in a way that makes it sound much more dramatic than it actually is. The 77-cent figure is real, but it does not factor in occupations held, hours worked or length of tenure. Describing that statistic as referring to the pay for women “doing the same work as men” earns it a rating of Mostly False.”

The 23% pay difference is a real statistic. The Obama campaign used that statistic, for sake of simplicity, instead of those statistics that take into account the other factors listed. That’s something I find to be problematic, but you will note quite clearly that the Politifacts review here does not deny that there’s a wage gap.

Of course some of the factors in the wage gap aren’t sexism. In sociology, you rarely see any one variable, even one as major as gender, explain anything more than 10 to 15 percent of the variation in a set of data.

But people who have done the disaggregations, even conservative scholars, have found that you can control for variables all day long and you still get an average pay gap differential. The Center for American Progress article has a very careful breakdown and analysis. And we also know from a host of studies that women face all sorts of barriers, so it’s not just a statistical observation but a tested fact that there are barriers to women in the workforce.

Moreover, can’t anyone see that even the factors of “occupations held, hours worked or length of tenure” are themselves partially influenced by sexism, so that you can’t eliminate them from the analysis as if they weren’t part of the problem?

If women face hiring barriers, of course they’ll struggle to get into occupations that might look good on the resume. They’ll be the first fired and the last to get hours and opportunities, so their average hours worked and length of tenure will go down too.

Let’s say that it actually looks worse to an employer that someone has four years of experience as a social worker than four years of experience in finance.

How is that not itself sexist or irrational?

Why is the value system that would lead us to think that going to Wall Street to try one’s hand at being a millionaire, or being a good programmer or something, is somehow intrinsically better for one to be a good worker than having the ridiculous emotional and physical stresses of social work?

That was actually always part of the point of affirmative action in employment. It was the recognition that a woman’s resume and a man’s resume that seem to be roughly equivalent (have the same numbers of years worked at firms of equivalent prestige) just aren’t.

Maddox offers this theory: “My own theory, completely unsubstantiated by any studies or research, but a sound theory nonetheless: jobs that pay lower have fewer responsibilities, less at stake and are generally lower stress. A foreman on a construction site has significantly more responsibilities and stress than a low-stress, lower-wage job.”

Okay, I’ll agree, that may be part of the factor. But let’s say that women who try to enter, say, venture capital are encountering discrimination, like with the Ellen Pao case recently and the fact that the number of female venture capitalists has gone down in recent years. Wouldn’t they be facing just as much stress as their male counterparts?

So Maddox’s argument, even if it were true on average, would ignore how many times sexism still causes inequalities that aren’t justifiable.

Worse, why would women choose low-stress jobs so frequently?

Maybe they’re already encountering the stress of being the subordinate group in a social environment.

Maybe women are constantly told about their weaknesses and inabilities.

Maybe they don’t want to have to fight through the glass ceiling.

Sound sexist? It isn’t, actually, but it’s also just true.

A poll in Australia found girls were perceiving increased sexism. One of the most astonishing aspects of studies like this is the reaction that many men have. They often say, “Oh, that’s just women being sensitive”. Men, especially white men, are so predisposed to think that women are wrong that they disagree with women about their own perception of reality. Isn’t it obvious how sexist that is? A woman saying, “I feel like I’m encountering more sexism these days” being told by a man (who would not be usually the person encountering misogynist bias) “No, you’re not” is a microcosm of the entire gender problem we have.

You can find this research everywhere if you want. Women are constantly telling researchers that they encounter problems and then they’re ignored.

Let’s step back just a second and think.

Why are we so surprised that sexism still exists?

Why are we so surprised that racism still exists?

The 1950s and 1960s are still in living memory. The era when women were supposed to be housewives and black people were supposed to be segregated is one that a lot of people alive today lived through.

It takes time and generations for these trends to change.

Yes, we’ve seen amazing progress on both these fronts. We may well soon have our first female President after having our first black President.

We’re seeing better progress on homophobia too. Class inequality is worsening, but I think we are seeing people begin to see more and more clearly how unequal our economic system is at its base.

So if someone tells us, “Sexism is over”, we should react with skepticism.

We should be thinking, “Wow, that’d be a pretty remarkable fact. The Glass Ceiling Commission found huge inequalities in the 1990s, men and women are still socialized differently in everything from their toys to their cartoon shows… I better check to make sure”.

A careful person would look for inequalities that might be hiding. They would consider how maybe things may not be as rosy as they would like.

And a person doing this is not a misogynist, or an inveterate pessimist. Hell, they’re very likely an optimist.

A responsible person makes sure a problem is resolved before they stop worrying about it.

Can’t we do the same with gender?

Post-Script

After extensive discussion, this was elicited from Maddox:

“… I acknowledged the possibility that the remaining 5-7% wage gap may be due in part to discrimination”.

After which I was accused of “writ[ing] a lot” but not “say[ing] a lot”.

So then, folks, we should do something about it. (Putting aside that I do not agree that “the remaining 5-7% is due to discrimination” and view it as a lot more. However, because these variables are all interconnected, you can’t really disentangle them, as Tim Wise pointed out to David Horowitz).

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11 thoughts on “A Response to Maddox’s “How Every Company in America can save 23% on Wages”

  1. no says:

    This article is full of social justice bullshit. You said yourself in the beginning there is no wage gap by saying that professions get marginalized, not genders. Then you proceed to shoot off a number of half truths to convince people about your so called “argument” without having any facts. The nail in the coffin is that you post this drivel without sources or evidence for any of your purported claims – all in the name of furthering your agenda. No. Stop this bullshit. You are not right, and what you’re doing is hurting people on a larger scale than you think.

    PS: Not denying a gender gap does not implicitly mean a gender gap exists, or that they were hinting at just that.

    • arekexcelsior says:

      I say no such thing nor do any of my sources. Professions can be marginalized AND genders can be marginalized too. That’s an incredibly silly false dichotomy. If you read carefully, I make the example to point out how there can be both wage gaps for reasons that are not specifically sexist but have sexist IMPACT and reasons that ARE, at their basis, sexist. The “pink collar” is caused both by gender and other factors.

      Bob Blauner in “Talking Past Each Other” talked about exactly this misconception. See, when people of color talk about racism, they usually include both specifically racial discrimination motivated by bias and racist outcomes of otherwise color-blind policies. White folks usually only conceptualize racism as being actions motivated by specific and overt bias. So the fact that we do not have a full employment policy may not specifically be racially motivated, but it sure as hell as racist impact because it is people of color who for OTHER reasons are disproportionately likely to be unemployed. Class bias in general in policy impacts people of color.

      Similarly, in my view, many of the social phenomena being discussed are sexist not because the decisions were made by outright sexists who had a sexist motive but because the impact is disproportionately borne by women.

      But, again, it’s patriarchal values that dismiss the value of keeping together a family (because that’s traditional women’s work) and lionizes competitive tasks like finance, sports, etc. that makes social work be paid shit. It’s not just policy blankly, because policy priorities are determined not just by apparently rational factors like political calculations and elite preferences but also by cultural factors. A sexist society makes sexist policies. How weird.

      “Without having any facts”? You mean, aside from the numerous pieces of careful scholarship that I point to, which include a statistical fucking breakdown of where sexism comes? The Tim Wise articles I point to have just a ton of scholarly sources and an assload of statistics. I can cite you statistics all day, but you and other people like you don’t listen, so what I’ve learned to do is respond to the arguments differently.

      Say I quote you this statistic: “Despite the increase in the number of women-led businesses since the original Diana Report was released in 1999, the number of women leading the charge in venture capital firms has steadily declined, from 10% down to 6%. With the vast majority of venture capitalists men, it is not surprising that women-led businesses seeking financing through these private equity mediums are at a disadvantage.” Are you going to say, “Oh, shit, I’ve seen the light, you’re right, sexism is deep and pernicious?”

      “Without sources?” You mean aside from the Center for American Progress, the European Commission, multiple articles from the nation’s leading anti-racist, my own links that themselves have citations (as with the rape link)…? And you’re comparing that to Maddox having… a bunch of periodicals.

      Honestly, what would sway you to believe that there is social injustice and it matters? If you saw evidence that 25% of companies discriminated on the basis of gender in their hiring and human resources policies? 50%? 75%? What threshold would satisfy you and others who want to call others’ serious concerns “social justice bullshit?”

      I have an upcoming article on this topic. People who have the derisive term “SJW” are implicitly saying, “Someone else who believes there is an inequality and is doing something about it is doing scorn”. Why?

      I really want to think what the fuck you think is “hurting people on a larger scale than you think” by posting a blog. I might make people think that there’s an injustice when there isn’t… and then what? Maybe affirmative action programs might hurt some male candidates in jobs? What’s the nightmare scenario?

      As for your P.S.: That’d be a problem if I didn’t show you statistical fucking evidence of gender discrimination, in specific, AFTER controlling variables. Read the link or don’t, but if you don’t, then you should shut up. Honestly. It is you, the type of person who make anonymous comments with no evidence implying some kind of slippery slope that they can never possibly justify, who’s the problem. If you had engaged with me with, say, some kind of link, then I could have then replied to it and indicated why I don’t think it’s compelling, and we could have had an actual discussion that might shed light on various complexities. I’ve changed my opinions on racial and gender injustice before in response to evidence.

      I can give you hundreds of sources that point to widespread inequalities in every aspect of social life. Here’s a few:

      http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/02610151211209090
      http://gas.sagepub.com/content/25/6/764.short
      http://www.usnews.com/news/stem-solutions/articles/2014/03/26/study-women-heavily-discriminated-against-in-math-hiring

      Just to show you I can be honest, here’s two that show some of the complications in these issues:

      http://www.irle.berkeley.edu/workingpapers/104-04.pdf
      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927537114000785

      I can, if you actually give a shit and aren’t just passing the buck on privilege, discuss why these latter two articles do not provide the kind of evidence people seeking to deny gender inequality would need. But can you understand why I don’t particularly care to? Why I, and plenty of women, are going to assume you’re just venting or have no idea what this debate is actually about?

  2. John Nikolouzos says:

    Then the government should pay teachers and social workers more, which I am 100% behind. Has nothing to do with how many women are working in these sectors, here in Greece I keep seeing old movies from the fifties and sixties where teachers were predominately male, they got paid ridiculously low wages even when it was an overwhelmingly male profession. There was a term in Greek, “lentil hero”, aka “pallikari tis fakis”, because they could be heroes in their profession but only on a lentil diet because they couldn’t afford anything more, which produced wimply, scrawny bodies because of lack of meat.

    Again, the governments of the world have always paid teachers shit. Even when it was thought to be a men only profession. Hell, the profession started back in ancient Greece with slaves as teachers.

    • arekexcelsior says:

      John: Thank you for an intelligent and well-thought out response!

      You are absolutely right that sexism and sexist values is not the only reason that women are paid crap in the public sector. Nor did I imply such a thing. However, what I was arguing was that the professions that women tend to go into tend to be paid less because of value systems that I do think are in part sexist. So it’s both that society undervalues those professions to begin with, as has often been the case, and further tends to undervalue it because of sexism.

      However, we always have to ask: If something isn’t happening, WHY is that the case?

      Why is there so much resistance to paying social workers and teachers more?

      Why is there so much hysteria about doing pretty much anything that might help families or improve human capital and resources?

      Racism’s a part of it, as Martin Gilens has pointed out. You can predict very strongly how someone feels about welfare based on their perceptions of people of color, for example.

      But let’s look at that belief system for a second. The archetype of the bad welfare recipient is the welfare mother. I’ve heard female welfare recipients who get their nails done on the government dime be mentioned in almost every debate I’ve had on welfare.

      So isn’t that sexism too? Why aren’t male welfare wasters a problem?

      These factors intersect. An intersectional scholar like bell hooks would argue that the welfare resentment was a combination of racial resentment when public services began to effectively be used by African-Americans and the specific way that black women are often despised.

      The brutal political priorities we have are based in sexism too. Politicians and certain members of the public don’t much care how our bombs will make orphans and widows, or how women tend to reap the brunt of the chaos that things like the Iraq invasion cause. Because women just don’t have as much power and clout, their perspectives and needs tend not to make it to the bargaining table.

      Now, are there public professionals that get paid crap for other reasons? Yep.

      One of the big ironies is that we have a culture that lionizes soldiers and police for standing against chaos yet pay them garbage and cut their mental health protection. Soldiers and cops should be paid more than they are and should have access to better PTSD counseling. (A further irony is that I, someone who tends to oppose militaristic and police-based responses to problems, ends up being one of the people picking up after the mess of those problems by helping soldiers and officers cope with the challenges of being changemakers).

      Soldiers and police are obviously traditionally male jobs, so there we just have to blame the way that “small government” in America is understood not as cutting corporate subsidies but as cutting services and cutting salaries for the bottom rungs of organizations. That’s capitalist and classist influence.

      Dr. King identified three intersecting phenomena as being the source of humanity’s moral deprivation: Racism, poverty (which he linked to industrial capitalism though he was often afraid of taking that issue on in public) and militarism. I’d add sexism, homophobia, and statism to that list, but the point is that you can’t talk about one of these factors in isolation.

      However, all this said, it clearly does make up part of the picture that the relatively small number of occupations women tend to be clustered into tend to be low-paid support jobs, and for many of those jobs the low pay that they get is not the result of some kind of ostensibly fair free market competition that’s generating some kind of objective assessment of value but is a result of a flawed and elitist political system.

      So if you actually advocate for paying teachers and social workers and public personnel more, you’ll likely find a lot of very sexist attitudes blocking that process. That’s why activists like me link those issues: We’ve found, in our experience, that even talking about something as simple as why we shouldn’t bomb a country that didn’t attack us brings up people who want to express their misogynistic and ethnoracially bigoted views.

      I recognize that this is a long response, but your comment deserved a careful discussion as an example of why these factors are complex and can’t be taken in isolation. I continue to stand by the idea that 100% of that 22 to 23 cent gap can be traced to sexism, in the same way that 100% of why a drug addict got AIDS can be traced to their drug addiction just like 100% of it can be traced to the HIV virus (i.e. there are multiple causes that each had to operate together), because every single part of the reason for the wage gap is based in part on sexism, from negotiating strategies to unequal social capital.

      If you’d like, I can find you scholarship on the factors behind pink collar wage discrimination.

  3. John Nikolouzos says:

    No, sorry, I disagree with the sexism in the workplace, at least in the teacher department. For every woman accused behind her back that she gets her nails done on a government paycheck, there’s at least three men who are accused of reading sports newspapers, or if you’re looking for some sexism, scratching their nuts, on a gov. paycheck. Seriously, the education sector really judges male teachers a lot more harshly than female teachers around my parts. So even if this explains an increased percentage of female teachers, that’s because they are less discouraged and shamed out of the teaching profession. And it’s not just negative sexism at work here. Maternal instincts are greatly valued in the education sector, so women are seen as naturally better at being teachers. Doesn’t make every woman a great teacher, just gives a first impression that’s a lot more positive than the equivalent towards a male teacher.

    Sexism, homophobia, and statism, may exist, as they do in any workplace, but they’re so small compared to the three main reasons they’re negligible.

    Overly I agree with Maddox on this one. You can also listen to more on what he says in today’s Biggest Problem In The Universe podcast he recorded with Dick Masterson. I also consider it deeply condescending when people try to elevate the three problems you mentioned to such a degree as to shoehorn them as the main problems met in the work environment, and that just for women. Women aren’t fickle little creatures, and should not be condescended upon like that.

    And forgive me but when you take all those stats Maddox provided and responded with “I believe it’s not so” that’s not a strong argument. It’s basically hand-waving, and deeply disrespectful to both the one you disagree with and anyone observing the entire thing.

    • arekexcelsior says:

      Based off of your comments, I’m going to guess you haven’t done much actual activist work against either low teacher pay or sexism. I don’t know about the situation in Greece, but as of 2007-2008, 76% of school teachers in the U.S. were female (http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=28). So the idea that the current hysteria against teachers’ unions could not be in part about sexism I think does not pass the plausibility test.

      In any instance, the debate is moot, because my point is that, whether or not people view teachers or social workers in a sexist light, the fact that women occupy those professions and the state chooses to underpay them has a sexist IMPACT. We can debate about the amount to which the motives for that lack of pay is specifically sexist, for either gender, all day, but my point was that policies that are gender-blind can impact women disproportionately. Welfare reform wasn’t entirely motivated by sexism either, but it did have a huge impact on single mothers, which is why feminists opposed welfare reform.

      The assertion that state power in a world where the United States invaded a country without provocation is of vanishing importance is incredibly silly. I’m glad that you view racism as being important, but honestly, given the way that women are treated in the Middle East alone, do you think that gender inequality globally doesn’t matter any more? I suspect you don’t. I suspect you think that gender inequality just doesn’t matter in the West. That’s despite the fact that women are underrepresented by about fivefold in numerous fields in the West. We have yet to have a single female President. There are people who make parallel arguments that you do when they deny white privilege is a thing, even given net worth differences between people of color and whites that are just colossal.

      As for “I believe it’s not so”: That’s not what I did, and presenting it that way is a really disrespectful strawman. By now here and on Facebook I have cited probably 20+ sources, including many scholarly studies. I’ve explained why Maddox’s sources do not say what he thinks he says, and have provided research to support it. Consider the assertion that some make that women’s negotiating strategies are partially to blame for the wage gap, for example. I cited an entire article and quoted a relevant part that indicates that women’s negotiating strategies themselves are not chosen in a vacuum and are influenced by sexist inequalities in how people’s behavior is viewed.

      Meanwhile, Maddox did not reply at all to my assertion that he misrepresented those he disagreed with even after I had shown that the major articles he was rebutting did not express anything like his “prevailing theory” nor to my argument that the supposedly independent variables people are controlling for aren’t. Read the Tim Wise article on the tyranny of independent variables: It has extensive sources and discussion about why various aspects of sexism are more pernicious than they appear.

      So in fact it is Maddox who is continuing to openly misrepresent the majority view of his opposition. That’s dishonest. I wait for you to e-mail him or comment on his arguments in that respect. (Oh, right, Maddox’s page doesn’t have comments).

  4. Yeah sorry but your argument is as flawed as an African American armed robber complaining he’s being arrested because he’s black. No, he’s being arrested because he’s an armed robber.

    Teachers aren’t paid low wages because most of them are women. Female (and male) teachers are paid low wages because they’re teachers.

    Unless of course male teachers are proven to be paid more than their female counterparts. Got any source that proves that?

    • arekexcelsior says:

      As a matter of fact, I do, and it took me all of 30 seconds to find it so I can tell you’re not ready to do this work. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs/web/95829.asp : “White and Hispanic male public school teachers earn higher salaries than their female counterparts. Male public school teachers earn between 10 to 13 percent more than females, on average, and a little more than half of this difference is accounted for by differences in the characteristics of male and female teachers.”

      But, again, like most of the people debating this issue with the subtlety of a truck and the astuteness of a mentally deficient piranha, you missed my point entirely. I agree with you that teachers in general are paid crap. I even agree with you, and said it to John and in my opening discussion, that teachers and social workers are paid crap for reasons that are not specifically sexist (in other words, politicians are not creating some kind of conspiracy to underpay women). But since teachers and social workers are overwhelmingly women, that means that those inequalities, partially (probably largely gender-blind), still slam women, get it?

      Let’s say that a guy takes a machinegun and starts hosing people down. He’s like seven feet tall, so pretty much everyone below five foot six gets down in time. Now, I’d say, “Wow, it sure was useful to be short that time”. You would then turn around and say, “He didn’t try to shoot the tall people, asshole!” No shit. But it just so happened that there was an advantage.

      Similarly, the lack of a full employment policy, even though the reasons for that are primarily economic policy to benefit the rich, harms blacks and Hispanics because preexisting factors means they’re already more likely to be unemployed or underemployed.

      Similarly, the HIV virus is completely non-racist being microscopic and having no brain, but it’s harming people of color in Africa because of a host of factors stemming back largely to colonialism, racism and war.

      Predispositions matter. So I used the social worker and teacher examples precisely BECAUSE they’re examples of when the cause for the inequality isn’t specifically or entirely sexist, but it still produces a sex-based inequality. I don’t know how much more simple I can get this for you.

  5. Sorry, but I don’t think Maddox is satirical. He’s just a sexist. His videos say as much. He might have once been joking for the page views, but it seems more and more like this isn’t an act and he’s just saying what he believes. He’s like all of the other little Brogressives out there on the internet. Totally fine when the freedom he wants to tote supports him and those like him, but the second that anyone tries to come up he’s kicking the ladder down.

    • arekexcelsior says:

      I really do think that’s a little unfair. Yes, he’s become turned off by the SJW-types, but I think we have to be accountable to the fact that a lot of the time activists can come off preachy and divisive. It’s difficult to talk about something that you find is wrong and do so carefully without either understating the issue or making people mad.

      On my Facebook page, he was readily able to admit that 7 per cent of the wage gap was probably still about gender and that that was wrong. He tried to use good sources and he criticized me for using left sources, which was inaccurate but he saw the Tim Wise response and that I posted to the feminism reddit and made an assumption. I later added more scholarly sources over time in the discussions but by then he wasn’t reading, which I understand. He did not have a reply for my arguments but I think that all he really wanted to have discussed was that women embrace lower-stress jobs. My response was that even women in high-stress jobs face sexist challenges and that women often have good reasons for picking low-stress jobs like the second shift.

      Yes, Maddox’s videos have a lot more sexism than I am remotely comfortable with, and it’s really not acceptable. But I’ve spoken to him and he is very capable of being reasonable. And we have to be attentive to little differences. I won’t discount the possibility that I’m wrong or have a soft spot in my heart for him due to some of his previous satire which was quite smart, but we have to be able to see the best in people along with the worst.

  6. Pingback: Apparently Necessary Comments About the Wage Gap and Sexism – *Dusk Magazine

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