Today, we come full circle back to the issue of gender equality. Since the early 2000's, the feminist movement in the west has become a louder and louder voice in the mainstream media, and have effectively garnered more support for their cause than was ever thought possible a decade ago. As a general fan and lover of women, I'm happy to see that they've made the gains that they have. I'm not one of those individuals who believe that feminism should not exist anymore, but I am one of those individuals who do not personally identify with the feminist movement, nor do I call myself a feminist. Feminism should absolutely not be abolished, despite the fact that women have achieved quite a bit of equality already. Actually I have two main reasons why I believe feminism is still necessary in the western world today, and if you ask me privately, I will tell you why if you are curious
But with all that being said, I still do not identify myself as a feminist. Why? And what does anti-feminism really mean? Well firstly, I don't personally call myself an anti-feminist per se, as i don't disagree with everything feminists claim...but I guess the first logical step to understanding what anti-feminists stand for would be to take a look at what the definition of feminism is, and simply put the words “I am against” in front of it. For simplicity sake, let’s go with the definition that the GaG administrators recently broadcasted, as its fairly short and to the point:
^She claims she's not being paid as much as her male friend. How sure is she?
So as someone who doesn’t identify themselves with the feminist movement, this must mean that I am against the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. Correct? Well, not quite. I’ve always been a fan of analogies, so lets use one here to help flesh out this point. If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you know that Islamic radicals recently carried out a seemingly coordinated attack in France, Tunisia and Kuwait, killing more than 50 people and leaving many more injured. Now, a non idiot would look at this situation and say “damn those radicals…they don’t speak for all Muslims”, and in my opinion he/she would be correct in saying so. Now what would a non-idiot say who also happened to be an atheist? He/she might say, “damn those radicals…they doesn’t speak for all Muslims, but I do still find some of the ideas within mainstream Islam to be backwards, illogical and lacking evidence.” To them, being an atheist, (a person who does not believe in a god, period) does not mean being blind to the unfair castigations that non-violent Muslims often suffer for the actions of a few radicals. But it does mean that as an atheist living in a free thinking society, they have the right to pick apart the erroneous views and doctrines that mainstream, non violent muslims practise and preach. The situation today concerning feminism is not all that different. The radicals within the movement are often the go-to scapegoat for both sides as a means to an end. MRA’s may use the feminazis as a means to show the world how backwards feminism is, and feminists may use the feminazis as a means to deflect attention off of their mainstream, yet less factually supported views.
The reason why I’m not a feminist today is due to a variety of the non-radical feminists views on certain matters they view as problems/inequalities, and their lack of substantial evidence to prove those particular inequalities exist for the reasons that they believe. It’s not because I am “anti-women’s rights.” Confusing? Look at it another way…I am like the atheist who loves Muslim people, and defends a Muslims right to practise, but criticizes some of things that the non-extremists are practising, as a person who knows God does not exist. The definition of feminism is often too simplified, as the fight towards full gender equality is being fought on multiple fronts, and the real problem/point of contention is that everyone believes that each particular battle needs to be fought in a different way. For the purpose of this take, we’re going to take a look at one of these fronts, and I’m going to try to educate the feminists out there as to why there are seemingly so many people who are anti-feminist today
The front we’re going to look at is the issue of the wage-gap. Why the wage gap? Well, the ideas surrounding the issue of the wage gap and why it exists, are a fairly status quo issue amongst feminists today. It’s not a feminazi view to believe that the wage gap in the USA is not only a 23% gap (the infamous 77 cents to every male dollar), but is also an example of widespread gender inequality, spurred by the sexist bias of CEO's. In my opinion, the data does not support this, but feminists will take this issue and push for policies that puts the onus on business owners to implement measures which I believe simply give an advantage to women over men which is not necessary. Lets dig into the details. For the purpose of the myTake, we’ll focus on the situation in the USA.
So the oft touted statistic by American politicians is that women receive 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Now, some amongst the anti-feminism camp will say that this stat is a lie, and that there is no wage gap. They’re wrong. A wage gap does exist between men and women. The problem with this statistic however is that it adds next to no control variables. It simply takes the total amount of money men are making across all jobs, and compares it to the total money being made by women across all jobs. It does not factor in extremely crucial data, such as the average amount of hours worked between men and women, the levels of education between men and women, the kinds of jobs men pursue versus the ones that women pursue, and a whole bunch of other things that should be taken into account. Of coarse, politicians rarely care about the devil in the details, but I do.
If you’re having trouble understanding this, we can look at the issue in a small fictional microcosm. Say that we lived in a world with only ten people (5 men and 5 women). There are only two careers available…one is a scientist, and the other is a secretary. Lets say that 4 of the 5 men went to become a scientist, and they worked a full day doing that, while only 1 woman went into that field, and she only worked half a day because she had a kid to take care of back home. Now, we all know that scientists generally make more than secretaries, and we also know that people who work longer are going to be paid more in the same field than people who work less. Basically, when a politicians says that women make only 77 cents to every male dollar, they are taking the total amount of money these 5 men and 5 women make and comparing it to each other, without taking into account how long they are working for and what career fields they chose to work in.
A better study would take a look at all the scientists working, and compare only the women and the men who were working comparable hours for example, and see if the pay gap still exists. Then they would add another control variable, say the levels of education between male and female scientists who worked comparable hours, and they would see if a gap still existed…and so on down the line. Now if we expand back into the bigger picture, we can already think of quite a few reasons why a woman may be making less than a man. The studies that politicians and some feminists like use are not always the same studies that I like to use. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with those studies in particular, but the interpretation of them are often misconstrued to make the problem look larger than it actually is. Fortunately, the general public is privy to studies that do just as I and many others believe needs to be done before coming to a decision on the wage gap issue.
One such study done by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) called, Graduating to a Pay Gap decided to take a look at this issue with a more scientific approach. The study was done by two women, Christianne Corbett (who has her masters degree in cultural anthropology and a bachelors in aerospace engineering) and Catherine Hill (who has her PhD in public policy) who are both members of the AAUW. They conducted a fairly rigorous study of the pay gap issue, where they looked at students one year after graduation and compared their earnings, while taking into account factors such as “college major, hours of work, economic sector and the presence of children”
Now I encourage you all to at least read through a bit of what they did, as it is worth your time, but for our purposes, the conclusion of this type of rigorous study is most important. What they come up with?
This model shows that in 2009, women working full time or multiple jobs one year after college graduation earned, other things being equal, 6.6 percent less than their male peers did. This estimate controls for differences in graduates’ occupation, economic sector, hours worked, employment status (having multiple jobs as opposed to one full-time job), months unemployed since graduation, grade point average, undergraduate major, kind of institution attended, age, geographical region, and marital status.
So what we first see here is that the apparent wage gap, when real control variables are taken into account, is much smaller than 23%….more like 6.6%. And this number doesn’t even include absolutely every control variable that could be used to explain the adjusted gaps existence (This is explained further by an article in the Huffington Post that looked at the study in question). But lets take a look at this 6.6% number. Is this adjusted wage gap due to sexism? According to the AAUW, its “unexplained” or in other words, they have no proof of a gender bias. Going further, they stated that,
individual choices make a difference
such as “choosing your college major carefully”, “researching your intended occupation”, “learning how to negotiate” and “seeking out union jobs”. With even more research done on this matter, and more necessary control variables added, is it possible that this 6.6% gap is even lower? Quite possibly. But what does the U.S. government have to say about this...more specifically, the branches of government actually responsible for crunching numbers and studying data. For this, we turn to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the U.S. Department of Labour. Now for those of you unfamiliar with what the St. Louis Federal Reserve bank is, its basically one of twelve reserve banks that act as regional arms to the U.S. central bank, known as the federal reserve. These aren’t banks where citizens get to store their money in, like your local JP Morgan Chase. No, these are the banks in control of the currency itself, and are responsible for micromanaging the economy on behalf of the government. The head central bank is controlled by a board of governors, with a chairman (appointed by the president of the United States) at its head (currently, its a woman named Janet Yellen). Anyways, the St. Louis Fed took a look into the wage gap issue, and published a whole piece on the matter on their website. The people working at the central bank are amongst Americas best when it comes to economics and crunching numbers, and what they found was that when looking at reliable data, the wage gap was actually much smaller than what people thought it was. One such study I would like to highlight for the purpose of this take was the one overseen by the U.S. Department of Labour. Here is what they found:
A recent report prepared for the U.S. Department of Labor analyzed the gender wage gap using Current Population Survey (CPS) data for 2007. The report takes into account differences between men and women in educational attainment, work experience, occupation, career interruptions, part-time status and overtime worked. The result is striking—these factors explain approximately three-fourths of the 2007 raw gender hourly wage gap of 20.4 percent. The adjusted 2007 gender hourly wage gap is roughly 5 percent
Now when you actually follow the source provided by the St. Louis Fed for this, you can find the report done by the U.S. Department of Labour, and they concluded in the paper that adjusted wage gap,
may be almost entirely the result of individual choices being made by both male and female workers.
Interesting how both the U.S. Department of Labour and the AAUW came to almost the same numbers and pretty much the same conclusion. Far from being an issue of unscrupulous male CEO’s trying to cut corners by paying women less, it actually becomes an issue of women making less career savvy choices and conducted less wage negotiations with their bosses in comparison to their male counterparts.
^Are they all just feminazis?
Now I purposefully used those sources as sources for this take, because too often, i find that men trying to argue their point, will use sources that are questionable at best. You wouldn’t (and probably shouldn’t) trust a source from Fox News to tell you how great women and blacks have it. But if a group of diligent and educated women, from a respected organization fighting for women’s rights, who have a natural bias towards proving that the wage gap issue is as big as feminists claim, do a study which shows that the feminists don’t have it quite right, you start to question not only this issue, but other issues that non-radical feminists have certain stats for that sound a bit outlandish on the surface. Even more convincing is when you have central bankers, arguably the smartest economists in the world, telling you that the wage gap issue is not as big as people say it is. At this point, you’ve opened a legitimate point of contention within the feminist camp…a point of contention which i find often has no room for debate within feminist circles, because just like many social movements, there's often a lack of nuance.
Despite this evidence being readily available, you still see this total misunderstanding of the wage gap issue amongst feminists today. Here’s a recent example i dug up from a myTake posted by a GaG admin.
Note the part that I highlighted, “Equal pay for equal work (If we’re doing the same work, why should men get paid more?)”
My response to this given the data? Equal pay for equal work already virtually exists in the USA. The problem is that women en masse, across the broad spectrum of available careers, are not doing exactly the same work as you claim. Not only are you not doing the same work, but when you do actually do the same work, you are not doing it for as long, or with as much expertise (amongst other things) as men are. This does not mean men are smarter. They aren't. It just means they are doing something right. Referring again to the U.S. Department of Labor on the matter…the wage gap "may be almost entirely the result of individual choices being made by both male and female workers.” And with the adjusted 5 to 7 percent gap that “may” exist, the hard proof which shows that its due to any sort of gender bias just isn’t there. The AAUW notes that part of the new 6.6-cent wage-gap they found may be owed to women's supposedly inferior negotiating skills, and not unscrupulous employers.
So when we come back full circle to this issue of feminists versus anti-feminists, this is what we have: We have a playground where one side (feminists) live in a bit of a bubble on certain matters concerning gender equality which they have yet to escape from. On the side of anti-feminists, you also have people who occupy a bubble. These particular anti-feminists are on the right side when it comes to the issue of the wage gap, but only by default. These are the anti-feminists who just hate women, and will be anti-women no matter what the issue may be. But individuals with a more nuanced point of view, the ones who see the right and wrong of both sides, often choose to identify with neither side too strictly (egalitarian is often the term of choice, but its a term often used by non-egalitarians to describe themselves, so be careful with this). So when you hear certain people make the claim that feminism is not for equality, but is looking for female superiority, think about the issue of the wage gap. This is but one example which i picked because it acts as a microcosom to the whole gender equality debate, which is filled with several different battlegrounds such as this, that turn out to have important details beyond what normal feminists preach.
What would it look like to a non feminist (lets call him Jack) who looks at some of the real data I described above, then turns on the tv or the computer to see a fairly run of the mill feminist claim that, “because the wage gap is 77 cents to the dollar earned by a male…we need to push for legislative action to give women an advantage to even the playing field against this clear gender bias”? Wouldn’t Jack’s reaction be something like, “Okay let me get this straight… according to the data, there is almost no wage gap when some personal choice factors are taken into account, and the much smaller gap that may or may not apparently exist actually isn’t proven to be due to a particular gender bias on the part of CEO’s…and yet I see fairly typical, non-man hating feminists like Hilary Clinton, Obama and respected feminist bloggers pushing for legislative action to be taken to deal with what i view as an almost non existent problem?…sounds like they are trying to give women advantages over men in the workplace that they do not need” This is the root of the “feminism = women > men” viewpoint. The wage gap issue is just one issue amongst several that are like this, but I use it as an example for simplicity sake. Feminism is more than just a belief about women gaining equal opportunities. It’s also about figuring out what the problems actually are and how to actually solve them...and that my friends, is where we often disagree.