Help me with this discussion over Women's Equality Party

(32 Posts)
Awellboiledicicle Fri 01-May-15 16:03:48

I shared the news article yesterday about Sandi Toksvig on my fb wall. Lots of shares and positive comments from female friends. Then a comment from a male acquaintance. Basic summary being that it is discrimination to call it women, the name is off putting (possibly true) and then pointing out that men suffer discrimination too.

This was responded to with pointing out that men have superiority in our society etc. That doesn't mean all men are treated well.

A second male friend today saying that it is all wrong, pay gap is a myth, women have just as much opportunity, his wife pitches in that if you choose to have kids then you should expect to take a hit on your career and m en could give up work if they wanted to

Argh. I'm getting really riled, but I can't make them see. He points out high male suicide rate, homelessness.

I'm losing will to argue, but know he will think that means I think he is right

slug Fri 01-May-15 16:09:32

"There mere fact that you believe such myths and spout such uninformed trollop is evidence enough for the need for a Women's Equality Party"

Awellboiledicicle Fri 01-May-15 16:14:28

:D

They are both old acquaintances of Dh. I might delete them. Not quite the attitude I know!

I didn't expect people to not see the sexism and mistreatment of women.

BuffyNeverBreaks Fri 01-May-15 16:15:20

If people don't want to see, they will not see.

In similar arguments, I tend to prioritise giving a good account of myself (never knowing who else is reading and maybe finding it helpful or thought provoking) and knowing when to stop wasting my energy on brick walls.

flowers

slug Fri 01-May-15 16:15:51

If they argue (and lord knows they probably will)

Send them here first. After they complain, send them here and finally, shut them down by answering all there comments by referring them here

GinAndSonic Fri 01-May-15 16:19:23

Slug love it. Bookmarking everything.

uglyswan Fri 01-May-15 17:04:53

Here's an interesting and amusingly written point-by-point breakdown of the "the pay-gap doesn't exist" "women choose to be paid less by having kids (on their own?)" argument.

uglyswan Fri 01-May-15 17:05:30

slug grin

FesterAddams Fri 01-May-15 18:25:52

Re "the pay-gap doesn't exist" a better source than some random on Reddit is Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2014 Provisional Results, Office for National Statistics, which says:

"The gap is relatively small up to, and including, the 30-39 age group (with the exception of the 16-17 age group). In fact, the gap is negative for the 22-29 and 30-39 age groups, meaning that women earn on average more than men. Thereafter, there is a relatively large positive gap. This is likely to be connected with the fact that many women have children and take time out of the labour market."

This tends to support your friend's wife's point.

uglyswan Fri 01-May-15 19:16:24

"This is likely to be connected with the fact that many women have children and take time out of the labour market." - again, one their own??! At the risk of belabouring my point and boring everyone to tears (I assume the whole pay gap question has been discussed on here) - do men not have children? And if taking a family break from work has such disastrous long term financial consequences (a 13.6 % gap in median hourly wage for the 40-49 age group and a whopping 18% for 50 to 59 year olds), then why does this affect only women?

FesterAddams Fri 01-May-15 20:40:20

It's anecdotal, but on AIBU and the relationship boards the main factors quoted for why women tend to be the primary carer and/or SAHW seem to be:
- single parent
- by choice
- economic

One thing that could help to change the economic equation would be to increase non-transferable paternity leave to be equivalent to maternity leave. (For why the "non-transferable" bit is important see e.g. www.tavinstitute.org/news/shared-parental-leave-minimal-impact-gender-equality/ ).

uglyswan Sat 02-May-15 10:32:21

Interesting point re parental leave, Fester. Would just like to add that, for very many people, the main economic (and a lot of these "personal" choices are economic) factors are cost and availability of adequate childcare services. Which also have an enormous effect on child poverty. Besides which, I do think there have to be some drastic changes made in the workplace, especially the long working hours culture that seems to be endemic in the UK (you're all completely insane - what's the point of a working time directive if everyone just ignores it???!!!), so that working full-time isn't completely incompatible with family life.

AskBasil Sat 02-May-15 12:09:26

" if you choose to have kids then you should expect to take a hit on your career"

Why is that then? Could it be something to do with the fact that in spite of the fact that 80% of women have children, the workplace has been set up to mean that if you have kids you have to expect that?

Isn't that structural sexism at work? In that, if women had had an equal say in how workplaces were set up in the first place, there would not have been an automatic assumption that children=career hit?

For men, it's the opposite: men who are fathers, are actually better-paid than non-fathers. This is even if you adjust the data for the fact that fathers will tend to be older than non-fathers (and therefore higher up the career ladder anyway). So why is this? Why isn't your friend saying "If you choose to have kids then you should expect your career to be better paid"? - Because for men, that's true.

It's only women who take a career hit from having children, while men's careers benefit. So it's not having children that is the problem.

FesterAddams Sat 02-May-15 14:50:22

OK so instead of (or as well as) encouraging the transfer of the financial "hit" of childraising from women to men, we could transfer it to a third party - either to the employer or the state.

If transferring the hit to the employer you would have to structure it so that both the mother's and father's employer paid for childcare equally otherwise, in the current situation where women are predominately the primary carer, it would incentivise employers to discriminate against women of childbearing age. Transferring the hit to the employer might also incentivise employers to favour older employees who would be presumed to be unlikely to have further children - which could be considered a good thing in counteracting age discrimination.

(One could argue that there's some precedent for transferring some of the "hit" to the employer - the pay rise that some men used to get on marriage. But that was a very different world.)

This all sounds lovely but there are economic and moral arguments here too. To what extent should we expect third parties subsidise childraising? We already collectively transfer some of the financial hit of childraising to third parties through child benefit, tax credits, preferential access to social housing, maternity and paternity leave etc. Maybe I'm hard-hearted but I struggle to see the moral case for asking third parties to subsidize other people's childraising further than we already do.

The economic doesn't seem solid to me either. Sure, if you're Sheryl Sandberg it makes sense for your employer to fully cover your childcare, but many people don't earn much more than nursery staff. And those that do earn multiples of a nursery staff's wage already tend to pay for childcare. So to gain economic benefit for the economy you'd have to construct a scheme that benefited primarily middle class parents who work. I believe that Nick Clegg is proposing something in this direction. I'm not sure that it's popular.

FesterAddams Sat 02-May-15 15:10:59

"It's only women who take a career hit from having children, while men's careers benefit. So it's not having children that is the problem".

Yes, we still see lots of people behaving according to patriarchal gender norms - broadly after becoming parents fathers tend to work harder and longer hours, mothers work less or not at all (which enables the fathers).

I'm not sure what you expect society to do about this other than to encourage and remove barriers to more men being the primary carer or "co-primary" carer (if that's a word). Or, as OP's friend's wife put it "men could give up work if they wanted to".

As an aside, and this is totally not my field, but I came across this interesting Norwegian sibling and twin study that suggests that there's a strong genetic effect here.

AskBasil Sat 02-May-15 16:10:17

I don't accept your premise that any society we can possibly imagine, needs to define having children as a "hit".

If no-one had children there would be no-one to sell anything to, no-one to look after anyone else and no more society.

Capitalism, a patriarchal economic system, has defined having children as being a hit, a drain on society. That is partly because women, who are not valued as highly as men, are the ones who have them and so by definition anything we do which men don't, is a bit shit really.

We don't have to go along with that thinking though. A system which valued women would not have defined having children as being a financial "hit", it would have defined it as productive behaviour and rewarded it accordingly.

Tweaking at the edges of patriarchal society can help, but actually until we get rid of patriarchy altogether, the values that define what women do as shit will remain so we'll never get real equality that's based on valuing us as highly as our society values men.

mipogaxx Sat 02-May-15 17:14:59

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

slug Sat 02-May-15 17:21:04

Well, this feminist graduated at the top of her computer science degree class and still sees useless twats paid the penis bonus hmm

FesterAddams Sat 02-May-15 17:27:02

Pre industrialisation, children were economically an investment primarily to the benefit of their parents (and particularly to their mothers) - they were their parents' unpaid domestic workers, elderly care providers and pension pot. So it was pretty much solely up to the parents to make the cost benefit calculation as to how many children they could invest to have, and the degree of investment put into each child.

These days I agree with you that children are economically of benefit of society as a whole. Therefore we collectively invest in their care and education in the hope that their taxes will eventually pay back that investment by paying for everyone else's care, pensions, and other social goods. We do this despite capitalism. One could argue that advanced capitalism requires this since it needs at least a minimally educated workforce and consumers to operate.

So we've gone from the state paying 0% of the investment in raising a child to somewhere approaching 50%*. With the balance paid more by the mother than the father.

If I understand you correctly you seem to be arguing that, rather than the balance being paid more equitably between mothers and fathers in general, the state should pay closer to 100% of the investment. But you don't advance a moral or economic argument as to why this should be so.

*: Back of the envelope calculation - I can't find good figures on this.

BuffyNeverBreaks Sat 02-May-15 20:15:34

So it was pretty much solely up to the parents to make the cost benefit calculation as to how many children they could invest to have, and the degree of investment put into each child.

Was it really? How was that even possible, given a lack of access to reliable contraception, plus no legal safe abortion… confused

My understanding (not an economist, so happy to learn from those who know more) our current system that values labour as productive or not is derived from the ideas of Adam Smith, and essentially anything that doesn't contribute to a country's GDP is regarded as economically unproductive.

In fact (though I am continuing today's theme of utter incompetence at finding anything, so can't find it) isn't there a whole thing called something like uncounted labour, which is all about how without women's work bearing and raising children, essentially our economy would collapse? Hopefully Yonic or someone else will continue to follow me about quickly and efficiently posting links while I gesture vaguely about… stuff… you know…

FesterAddams Sat 02-May-15 21:39:55

"How was that even possible, given a lack of access to reliable contraception, plus no legal safe abortion"

Timing of weaning, rhythm method, vaginal douche, (unsafe) abortion, and abstinence. Obviously, of these, only abstinence was reliable. (Sorry, it's a long time since I read up on this, so I don't have any sources. And IIRC the sources that I read were fairly speculative anyway given how undocumented most people's lives were).

"essentially anything that doesn't contribute to a country's GDP is regarded as economically unproductive."

Yes, you only get what you measure. And also, some things that we measure aren't good. e.g. if I chuck a brick through my neighbour's window I (marginally) increase GDP from all the police, glazier, insurance people etc scurrying around. But that doesn't make it a good thing.

AskBasil Sat 02-May-15 22:14:11

You increase GDP by putting a brick through someone's window?

Really?

<Eyes neighbours' windows>

What about the cost to the state of criminal justice system, police time etc. - is police time counted as positive or negative, given that the state is paying for it? And if the brick causes injury, costs to NHS? Are they offset against glazier's costs?

Had never thought of infenestration (is that the correct term?) as being positive for GDP

scallopsrgreat Sat 02-May-15 22:55:58

"broadly after becoming parents fathers tend to work harder and longer hours, mothers work less or not at all (which enables the fathers)." Women have always worked, it is just a recent phenomenon i.e. 1950s that they don't (except of course they do, men just like to call it something else). Marilyn Waring is good on this (Counting for Nothing).

BuffyNeverBreaks Sat 02-May-15 23:05:19

Counting for Nothing is what I was trying to remember.

FesterAddams Sun 03-May-15 00:09:52

"You increase GDP by putting a brick through someone's window?"

It's a trivial example, but basically yes. Any time money (and by some definitions products or services) changes hands it's counted towards GDP. (The fact that this is obviously bullshit is known as the Broken window fallacy).

"except of course they do"

Yes - obviously in the context of this discussion we were talking about paid work, but I should have been more careful in my terms.

Marilyn Waring is also directly relevant here because of her criticism of the fact that conventional measures of GDP don't capture unpaid work.

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