Friday, August 15, 2008

Because I love nothing more than to argue during my lunch hour...

Over in a feministing thread about China and the little girl who sang versus the little girl who "looked cute" on tv, Jackal1994 (I know, it's a jackal! Is it a jackal?) threw up a comment that sie apparently tried to put up on a post that was eight pages back already. While I'm not sure why you'd bother responding to a post that's eight pages back, I ended up reading the comment. And now I'm going to talk about it. It's pretty long, but I've definitely seen some of the arugments pop up before, and I feel like responding. I do wish I had a "below the fold" option, though.

Oh well. Onward!

...A) Puckalish, I will accept that there is work-place discrimination against women. You had a possible(?) move to shift and meet somewhere in the middle, retreating from the 26% figure (albeit with outright attacks upon me for having the nerve to disagree and being able to articulately state my opinion). Is it wide-spread, systematic, and around 26%?
I highly doubt it. And I will tell you why. The business mantra is: money. Morality and ethics go out the window as we saw in the 70’s when Lee Iaccoca (then in ford top brass) along with others decided to NOT recall the pinto (prone to exploding when struck in the rear even at low speeds) because some pencil pushers figured out that the lawsuits from the dead and injured would cost less than a recall.

How does this apply to women’s pay discrimination? Well, didn’t Merril Lynch just pay $2million dollars for a discrimination lawsuit? Going by the business mantra (money) it’s plain lunacy to presume that all companies everywhere are discriminating against women.

This would open these companies up to such a huge liability that businesses would be going under left and right.

Annnd, time out!
Sie goes on some more about this. At length. But, I want to interject for a moment. See, the argument is essentially "Businesses want to make money. Discrimination opens them up to lawsuits. Lawsuits are expensive when you lose. They'd lose more money in a lawsuit than they gain by discriminating. Therefore, they don't discriminate." Which sort of seems like it makes sense if you just think about it casually. But, if we look at reality, we know that's not how it really works.

First of all, this argument assumes that the discrimination is both intentional and planned out. That is, that the people who are doing the hiring and determining pay are sitting there thinking "Oh, this is a man, therefore, we will pay him more. This is a woman, we will pay her less." Maybe I'm being dumb, but I just don't think that's what most people believe is happening, nor do I think it's how most wage discrimination is occuring. I think it happens, but I think that a more subtle discrimination is at work a lot of times. I think that men are given preference because they're seen as being go-getters, etc. The person doing the hiring or determining raises isn't thinking "that's a guy, so he deserves more" he's thinking "Oh, this guy has x, y, and z qualities, so he deserves more". It's just as bad, but it's not as simple as Jackal is describing, either.

Second of all, there's a cost benefit that you have to take into account. Discrimination cases are notoriously difficult to prove, so there's actually no reason to believe that businesses would be folding left and right if there was discrimination happening. Particularly when a lot of discrimination is happening under the guise of other factors- a woman doesn't get a position because there are concerns that she might take too much time off, for example. It's not as simple as "She's a woman, so we're not going to hire her.

Okay, Jackal, sorry about the interuption, please continue.

Now are there some industries companies that are still discriminating? I would presume so, but these industries would have to be A) dominated by jackasses, and B) have enough clout/money to figure they can do this and get away with it, or don’t care about a (potential) out-of-court settlement of thousands. There aren’t many companies with both of these things. Grocers are out (they make pennies on the dollar in profit), as are department stores, and a lot of other companies except maybe things like IT, Pharmacueticals, stock brokerage houses MAY have a culture conducive to discrimination and the means to pay lawsuits without blinking.

As you can, we're still functioning under the misapprehension that discrimination is always very blatant and easily proven. Given that only the most blatant and offensive examples of discrimination ever make it to trial, I just don't think we can assume that only the most jackassed and wealthy of businesses can "afford" to discriminate.

While some women may have pay disparity (even after variables) of 20% or 30% I would be surprised if even companies in this group with possible discrimination cultures routinely discriminate (as an aggregate total to all female employees) more than 8%. Why? The business mantra: money. The liability is just too great. Each discriminated-against woman may be saving the company $800 per year. That’s worth a potential liability of hundreds of thousands? No. Businesses may be unethical and cruel, but they love money.

Okay, now I'm not a math major, but I'm pretty sure that math is flawed. Let's take a mid-level analyst at my last job. You're looking at a position that's worth about 60k a year. Now, let's assume that a woman in the same position is making 8% less than her male colleage. 8% of 60k is 4,800. So, she's making 55,200 to his 60k. That's a savings of 4,800, not 800. Over time, that can add up, but that's not the point, anyway. Again, I just don't think that discrimination is about saving money. I don't think that a manager is thinking "if I pay her less than a guy, I can save some scratch!"

While businesses are primarily concerned with making money, they're also run by people, and people have biases. The business is about making money, but all it takes is one manager who is doing hiring or determining pay who is sexist, and you've now introduced bias into the equation. And it may be subtle- honestly, 55,200 to 60k? Not a huge difference. Is it enough to raise eyebrows or stand up in court? Or is it possibly something that might be chaulked up to differences in negotiation skills or different quality reviews?

I'm going to pass over the B point because: 1. I'm not familiar enough with the conversation to respond yet. 2. I think that some of the premises of the B section are really suspect.

C) Petpluto (I believe) mentioned that feminists are fighting against the types of oppression that men face in the “provider” role model. I will give a couple of examples of why I (anyway) don’t believe this to be true.

Let’s look at divorce.

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s divorce was unheard of. I think this is because marriage was more an act for survival instead of fulfillment.
By the 1960’s technology in leisure devices and increased standard of living (thanks in large part to Unions—I believe) meant men and women sought fulfillment instead of survival. During the 70’s no-fault divorce swept the land and was passed as law in 49 states. The leading argument was that women shouldn’t have to be in stagnant unfulfilling marriages, or violent ones either.

As I wasn't particularly aware of politics when no-fault divorce laws were being drafted, I can't say whether the "leading argument" he's claiming was actually such, but even if it was, I think it's worth noting that men shouldn't and don't have to stay in bad relationships, either. Carry on...

The argument also was that this enabled women to break from the accepted and safe “housewife” role.
Now, here is my point. A huge tsunami of divorce enabled women to “shatter” their gender roles. But what did divorce do to men? Why were so many women unfulfilled with their husbands in the first place?

In what way did divorce allow women to shatter gender roles? What does that even mean in the context of the conversation?

I put forward this supposition (and try not to think about men, but how YOU WOULD FEEL working 8-10hrs a day with a newborn or toddler at home). When a man (or anybody) has to work long hours and miss his/her baby’s first crawl, first words, first steps, first day at school that person has to accept that he/she is doing something necessary for the family (providing an income) but must disconnect himself/herself from their emotions or be swept up in sadness.

To which I want to point out that someone working as a stay-at-home parent is making just as many sacrifices as someone who goes to work. How would you feel, Jackal, if you busted your ass keeping up a home and caring for a child for 12-18 hours a day? If you had to work long hours taking care of a family and home missing out on getting out of the house, of being involved in a carreer you love, of being intellectually challanged at school or work, etc. How would you feel if you lived your life depending on someone else to bring home all of the money so that you didn't lose your house and so you could put food in the belly of your baby?

Being part of a family is hard, and I have no doubt that if one parent is working full time while the other cares for the child that there's some frustration about missing out on some aspects of the child's growth, but this one-sided representation of what family life is like- that it's all the "breadwinner" giving up and sacrificing and turning off emotions lest sie be "sept up in sadness"? It's bullshit. Both parties are making sacrifices and giving things up, and have reasons to be happy and sad for their respective roles.

...So greater freedom in roles for women meant an INTENSIFYING and STRICTER gender roles for men! So, freeing gender roles for women is NOT “fighting for men too.” In most cases it makes things worse for men. Women are NOT fighting to enter into:
Logging, mining, commercial fishing, roofing, sewage, or construction. How do I know? Because I haven’t heard about one single sex discrimination lawsuit in those fields (and I read the paper & internet news all the time).

And clearly, because Jackal hasn't heard of a single sex discrimination case in those fields, women must not be getting into them. I mean, sure, it only took me ten seconds of online searching to find articles about women having a hard time getting into construction work, or about how more women are trying to get into the field. In 1993 about 600,000 women were in construction. By 1999, that number had grown to almost 900,000. That's still only a fraction of the industry, but it's growth.

And, honestly, most men don't particularly want those jobs, either. Some do, for sure, but they're not the sort of jobs that most men dream about doing.

So women are using their greater gender role freedom to fight to become: doctors, lawyers, pilots, IT professionals, CEO’s, judges, etc… NOT the death professions.

And this is surprising... because?
Is it weird that people tend not to be attracted to jobs that are highly dangerous but, instead, to safe jobs that carry social respect and high wages?

With more men unable to acquire these white collar jobs, and fewer men attaining an education that means more men will turn to the death professions for employment. This means more workers chasing fewer jobs = wage reduction.

First of all, this pretends that every time a woman gets a white colar job, some guy is forced to turn to a death profession for work. That's just not true. If we're going to pretend that there is exactly a set number of jobs and that every time a woman goes into a job that would have otherwise gone to a man, he necessarily must take some other job, why are we assuming that he's going to turn to highly dangerous "death" work? What, exactly, is stopping him from getting into whatever job that woman would otherwise have had? If she would have been a nurse but is now a doctor, why isn't he going for the nursing position? Why are we tossing him onto a fishing boat?

Second of all, the claim that "fewer men" are attaining an education is patently untrue. In fact, men and women are both going to higher education in higher rates than ever before- women are attending in higher numbers than men, but it's not at a loss to men. That would be like my handing Jackal five dollars and some other person ten dollars only to have Jackal claim that he was somehow losing money. You still gained, you just didn't gain as much as the other person.

So you see when feminists “fight” for ONLY **FEMALE** role expansion it doesn’t help men at all, in fact it puts men from the frying pan into the burner!

Again, to go back to my earlier point, it does this only if men refuse to free ourselves from gendered thinking. If we refuse to see how women breaking out of their traditional gender roles creates opportunities for us to break out of ours, then, yeah, it can mean problems. If you think that your only options are and should be typically "male" fields, you're going to find competition increasing. Feminists are primarily concerned with the jobs that women have because women are currently underrepresented and making less money, but their work is definitely opening doors for men- men can now be a stay-at-home parent without getting as much flack or as many raised eyebrows. Men can work in jobs that have typically been women's jobs but that some men might find fulfilling or interesting- working in fashion, hair, nursing, education, etc.

When is the last time you have seen a feminist leader or webpage moderator talk about the most unconstitutional anti-male law ever made: selective service.

If an 18y/o man doesn’t sign up for selective service he can be imprisoned for up to 7 years.

Why? Because he was too sensitive to kill. This forced (upon pain of prison) societal coercion of men into the male role of killer IS NOT AND NEVER WILL be addressed by feminists.

Why? Because if you’re going to make the argument that men are your class enemy (and oppressor), you can’t admit that women are also oppressing men.

Again, bullshit.
1. Selective Service isn't "women also oppressing men" at all. Women didn't start or create the draft, nor did they decide that women should be excluded. That would be, wait for it... other men who did that. Look at Rostker v. Goldberg for more information, but essentially, the thing that prevents women from being drafted is the fact that the draft's purpose is to get combat troops. Since women aren't allowed to be a part of many combat roles, they can't be drafted. The whole point of a draft is to get combat ready troops quickly. If women aren't allowed in combat positions, what would be the point of drafting them?
2. Feminists do talk about the draft. They have for decades, in fact. The general consensus seems to be "the draft sucks, and nobody should be drafted" from what I've seen. And, as you can see, NOW went to far as to say "If there has to be draft, men and women should face it as equals". Which is to say, if you're going to claim that feminists don't oppose the draft, you should do the ten seconds of research it took to find that information out. Also, if you're a guy, and you feel strongly about the draft being a problem, there's nothing stopping you from trying to get it abolished, and asking for feminists to back you up/give your movement support.
3. A person who is too sensitive to kill won't be thrown in jail- they can register as a Conscientious Objector, and placed in a non-combat position.


Sabertoothed Screaming Lemur said...

That was awesome. Awesome I tell you. You win my personal inter-webz prize for the day. That is all.

petpluto said...

Wow. Truly great take-down.