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What Engenders This?

Posted by Dirck on 11 December, 2012

I see it’s been about a month since I went off on a sociopolitical tangent, so I won’t feel too bad about it now.  Perhaps it’s a form of lycanthropy.

What gets me into a stir is a blog entry I happened upon today which contemplates the on-going and apparently unstoppable difference in pay scales between men and women.  Apparently it’s somehow built into not only the system, but the thinking of those who have their hands on the levers of the system.  Like someone who has been hypnotized into forgetting about the number 6, the givers of raises will, in both real and simulated situations, offer smaller salaries and raises to female employees and even fail to perceive the efforts of female employees to earn those raises.

I don’t get it.  To expand upon a comment I left on the posting, I don’t get it for several reasons.  The primary one, which really should make the whole thing moot; when one looks at an item of modern work, whether it’s a written report or a diesel engine, the gender of the person behind it doesn’t really stand out.  In the former, there is some possibility of a give-away in the use of a first-person pronoun, but in the latter I can’t see someone crying out because a bolt has been torqued to the required degree in a feminine manner.  If the work itself doesn’t care and isn’t affected, then where lies the rationale for paying someone less based on a fairly inconsequential matter of anatomy.

A frequently offered “reason” for this sort of nonsense appears to go something like this: We put the time and effort into training her up for the position and then she swans off and has a baby.  We grant for a moment the greater likelihood of a woman giving birth than a man, but it’s a deeply stupid thing to propose a penalty for doing so.  Not only is it a fairly unpleasant event (at least, the very moment of birth is), but even as far back as 1776 the value to a nation’s economy of producing a subsequent generation was noted.  Unless and until we stumble upon a reliable Huxley-esque means of decanting fresh children, that’s an activity that will necessarily rest with women.  I’m not one to insist on an ever-growing human population, but if the species is to persist at all, adding reasons for women to avoid child-bearing seems dumb.

One can also point to an example of a class of people who get paid rather a lot on the justification that their career will be short and they have to pack a lifetime worth of earning into a very few years.  I point to professional athletes; while not all of them make obscene amounts of money, the rates in the major leagues are generally pretty good.  I don’t argue that this is a bad justification, for while I don’t actually see the utility of professional sports I will happily admit that a guy who laces on skates and runs up and down a court for an hour while being tackled by huge sweaty behemoths certainly won’t be able to keep it up for decades, and if people want to see that sort of thing they should pay the gladiatorii at a rate that sees them into their pain-wracked golden years.  However, if we accept that “short career due to limitations of the human frame” is a good reason for high wages, then we really can’t propose it as an equally good one for low wages (and here I dance on the edge of getting into trouble for hinting that the capacity for bearing live young is a ‘limitation’).  I suppose there are some who view sports as more important than the continuation of humanity, but they’ll have a hard time talking me around.

I’m glad I don’t get it.   The only drawback to not getting it is that since I don’t know how it works I don’t know what to suggest to do about it.  So really, I’m just running my fingers here to no real end other than to fill space with my own befuddlement.  On a positive note, though, I’ve been paid no more for it than if I’d been a woman.  Hail, equality!

Today’s pen: Cross Aventura (just a picture for the moment)
Today’s ink: Cross black (no profile for it because it’s the only Cross ink I’ve got, and it’s black; big deal)

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8 Responses to “What Engenders This?”

  1. Maja said

    I fully agree with you. I’m a woman, but what rational person *wouldn’t* agree with your logic?. In the case of professional tennis players, there are tournaments in which the prizes for men exceed those for their feminine counterparts, but that is based on the number of games played in the tournament, I believe…so I’ll give them that one 🙂

    And on a completely different topic…..I see you are using your Cross Aventura today. I am doing likewise, but I had to fix mine after the section ring started leaking. For some odd reason, the section has a moveable ring (close to the nib end of the pen) that twirls around and causes the cartridge inside to rotate. I don’t see any functional reason for it, but there it is! Anyway, I tried using some silicone caulking (GE Silicone II, to be exact, which doesn’t react with metal) but it still leaked ink, so I gave in and used a resin-epoxy mixture on it. Not the prettiest job, but for a $30-$40 pen, I don’t mind…and it is fairly easy to remove without damaging the metal should a better solution crop up. I was thinking of using Krazy Glue, but I’ve read that it actually absorbs water so that didn’t seem like a good choice (and it’s a more aggressive approach). I hope your Aventura lacks this manufacturing/design defect….

    • I very nearly went into a digression about the obvious gender inequality within professional sports, but between the lunch whistle blowing and my inability to remember exactly which golf course The Governor was thinking of desecrating with female presence in a recent episode of The Walking Dead I abandoned the effort.

      Hmmm, to the leaky, motile ring. Mine pen, virginal as it is, has neither dribble nor movement about that part. I wonder if Cross’s warranty forgives mostly-reversible attempts at home remediation? 😉

      • Maja said

        Ha, well, the shipping charges to Cross would likely exceed the current value of the pen, so I shall stick with the repaired pen I have as a reminder to not buy pens that have received many negative reviews, thinking my own would be the lone exception to those reviews 😉 The resin-epoxy dried clear so it’s hard to see unless you really look closely….

  2. Hear hear! Well said, sir!

  3. A couple of addenda:

    1) My wife, whose mother was an early riser-to-management at a provincial crown corporation (eek! Socialism!), told her the bizarre flipside to “she’s going to take off and have a kid,” which is “he’s got to support a wife and children on what he’s making.” The reasoning being that only men are, while engaged in employment, the primary income provider AND married AND producing offspring. The single mother is not a new phenomenon (without invoking anything some folks might describe as questionable morality, the War Widow was a strong feature of the whole last century), and being the primary breadwinner is hardly gender-specific, especially in this age of people having six part-time jobs to be able to afford rent and a trip to the food bank.

    2) On a related topic; How much more pathetic female characters are in modern romantic comedies vs. the (theoretically) repressed women of the 1930’s and ’40’s romantic comedies. I know I’d rather watch Adam’s Rib than… well, I’m so uninterested in the modern expression of the genre I don’t actually know any titles.

    • Maja said

      I distinctly remember asking my mother (when I was young) why men earned more than women, and I recall her saying something about men having to look after their families, financially. My mother disagreed with it, as did I, but it always struck me as an odd reason, even then….

      As for (2)—-yep, I am in full agreement with you there, as well. Have you seen the Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell film “The Front Page”? It’s brilliant 🙂

      • Maja said

        Whooops! I meant “His Girl Friday”, which was based on “The Front Page” (a film I have yet to see, but should)

      • I have, but it’s been so long ago I’d be embarrassed to produce any proof in a quiz. Perhaps that will be the next choice for “let’s watch something that’s safe with the son right here in the room” night.

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