28 April, 2005

Hooray for men

Everyone can relax, it turns out that that whole "feminism" thing was wrong, and there is in fact, NO discrimination against women. Yes, that's right! Women have got it worse than men only because of their own choices.

I learned this after I saw a "Mallard Fillmore" comic today, that claimed "if you compare apples to apples, women earn MORE than men". My first thought was, "Hah! Mallard Fillmore. What a stupid name!"

But then I noodled around, and eventually came across what I think is the source of this claim: a book that came out recently (Jan. 2005) by one Warren Farrell. He seems to be a pretty despicable human being. Here's a quote!
If a man ignoring a woman's verbal 'no' is committing date rape, then a woman who says 'no' with her verbal language but 'yes' with her body language is committing date fraud. And a woman who continues to be sexual even after she says 'no' is committing date lying...

We have forgotten that before we began calling this date rape and date fraud, we called it exciting. -- Warren Farrell, in Myth of Male Power
Farrell also has expressed some disturbing views on rehabilitating incest that he's not so proud of any more. Nevertheless, he has in the intervening years become a hero of the "Men's Rights" movement, has published several books, and now has, according to dozens of sites (including the anti-feminist Independent Women's Forum) definitively put the nail in the coffin of the gender wage gap claim with his book, "Why Men Earn More".

Dr.* Farrell provides us with 25 (count 'em!) reasons why women earn less than men. Cribbing from the IWF article:
The real reason than men tend to out-earn women is the choices they make. Men are far more likely to take unpleasant and dangerous jobs, what Farrell calls the "death and exposure professions." For example, firefighting, truck driving, mining and logging -- to name just a few high-risk jobs -- are all more than 95 percent male. Conversely, low risk jobs like secretarial work and childcare are more than 95 percent female.

Farrell points out that in California, prison guards can earn $70,000 per year plus full medical benefits and retire after thirty years with a hefty retirement package. But it takes little imagination to figure out why California still has a difficult time staffing its prisons, and it goes without saying that most prison guards are male. Says Farrell, "As with most jobs, there's an inverse relationship between fulfillment and pay."
He summarizes with this Seussian jingle:
Jobs that expose you to the sleet and the heat pay more than those that are indoors and neat.
Farrell is right, of course. Oh - except for the part where he claims equal pay for equal work. Try this, or the article "So How Far Have We Come? Pestilent and Persistent Gender Gap in Pay", by Margaret Gibelman in the journal Social Work (2003, Vol. 48, Issue 1). This is one of a handful of, well, actual sociological studies of this question I found through a few careless minutes of searching that approach the questions Dr. Farrell claims to answer with more nuance and depth. I quote from the above:
A history of occupational segregation by gender and the associated salary inequities has been well documented. Research by economists and sociologists has revealed that the wage differential between men and women is only partially explained by the characteristics of the worker (such as education level) or the job (see, for example, Acker, 1989; England, 1992; Gibelman & Schervish, 1995; National Committee on Pay Equity, 1995)... A recent study by the American Bar Association revealed that, "despite surging numbers of female lawyers, bias against women remains entrenched in the legal profession and results in steep inequities of pay, promotion, and opportunity' (Bernstein, 1996, p. A9). Among college and university admissions officers in doctoral and comprehensive institutions, men's median salaries were higher than women's median salaries at every position, even when the years of experience were the same. These differences could not be explained (National Association for College Admission Counseling, 1997). The American Association of University Professors reported that for the 1996 to 1997 academic year, female faculty members, depending on their rank, earned 85 cents to 96 cents for each dollar earned by their male colleagues (Moses, 1997). A University of Michigan study that tracked the careers of 1,226 physicians trained at that university's medical school over a 10-year period found that women occupied lower status positions and experienced unequal pay (Colburn, 1993).
Et cetera. But, as I said, Farrell IS correct: a significant portion of the difference in wages for men and women can be explained by occupational segregation. What Dr. Farrell forgets to discuss is that women continue to bear the majority of the burden for raising children. That men are able to abdicate their responsibility in order to pursue their careers, while women are not (and are slighted because of this expectation), is a matter of unquestionable salience. The implication that women's choice is at fault in this regard implies that women can achieve equality simply by copying the behavior of men: that is, give up on raising their children. I hope I don't need to point out what a terrible model of egalitarianism this is.

* His Ph.D. is in political science, so there's no doubt that he's eminently qualified to answer this sociological question. And since he IS so highly qualified, let it not be said that I am attempting to slight his accomplishment and erudition. I will give him his due without the least trace of irony.

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