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AIBU to think that men who declare that the reason for xyz structural inequality is "women's choices"...

(33 Posts)
AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Wed 18-Dec-13 21:00:38

... are in fact buying into that notion because they are deeply reluctant to recognise that structural sexism exists?

And the reason people don't want to recognise that structural sexism/ racism/ disablism/ insert ism here exists, is because they have a deep seated (sometimes subconscious) vested interest in keeping it there because they benefit from it but they can't bear to admit even to themselves, that they benefit from it because to do so would be to either change their mind and recognise it (which would be emotionally and intellectually challenging), or explode their own image of themselves as nice, reasonable, decent, fair-minded people?

But that in fact, unless they are very young and inexperienced or very uneducated indeed, they are simply nobs of the nobbiest variety?

I am really fucking sick of them. Really sick of being told that structural disadvantage exists because of the choices of the group who are disadvantaged within that structure, with no reference to the choices of anyone else, particularly not of the group who are the advantaged ones and who directly benefit from the structure.

Presenters and guests of the Today programme, fuck off. Friend's husbands, fuck off. Smug white middle class men who assume that they've been treated the same as women all their lives so the fact that they are now doing better than most women they know is solely because they are exceptionally talented people and being white, male, middle class and able-bodied hasn't helped them even one smidgeon, just please, fuck off. Apart from anything else, you are unutterably tedious.

Ah that feels better. grin

TheDoctrineOfSanta Wed 18-Dec-13 21:16:49

Sing it, sister.

<hands Basil some cranberries to squish mightily>

Loopytiles Wed 18-Dec-13 21:26:26


contortionist Wed 18-Dec-13 21:31:06

I'm not sure whether this is what you're talking about, but it's always struck me that the very common explanation of the gender pay gap as being due to women generally preferring lower-pay occupations has things exactly the wrong way round. I'd say instead that things which women in general like to do are valued less.

TheDoctrineOfSanta Wed 18-Dec-13 21:36:48

I'm not even sure it's "like to do" - I think there evidence that in some professions that became more female dominated, relative pay dropped.

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Wed 18-Dec-13 21:40:00

For shiz!

I had a white, upper-middle class, british male as my tutor as uni. He insisted that, get this, that in Britain today, white, male 'natives' were the most discriminated against people. He forced us all to promise to never fill in those anonymous diversity questionnaires you get (when applying for jobs etc.) because if they saw you were white/male they would treat you badly or ignore you so they could fulfil their 'ridiculous' quotas. hmm shock angry

He was one of the most important people at the uni, had a professorship, was well monied (had inherited the family farm, over his sisters, natch hmm) but still thought he had it tough. Thought it was easy for women to get ahead because they have quotas and a special minister and the fact that men can make it without all that just shows that it women who choose not to make the effort. AAArgghh <explodes>

Afraid to say I sort of swallowed it at the time, because you are taught to respect educated, powerful men, but he makes sick, looking back.

AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Wed 18-Dec-13 21:41:01


Teachers, estate agents, dentists, lawyers - all have seen pay drops as women entered the trade.

Today programme today: woman on talking about the fact that women don't get promoted because they don't do small-talk. They focus on the job. They don't build social capital by networking.

Everyone forgets that when they do that, they get thought to be gossiping, wasting time, chatting, doing nothing, not pulling their weight.

Men talking about the match - networking, bonding. Women talking about the weekend - gossiping, time-wasting.

Never a hint that when women do what men do, it gets construed as a negative.

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Wed 18-Dec-13 21:41:40

Should say he came out with most of this while giving us women on the course a pep talk on how to succeed!

AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Wed 18-Dec-13 21:42:35

God it sounds head-bangingly awful Youmakemewanna

scallopsrgreat Wed 18-Dec-13 21:46:07

Oh Basil I soooo needed this post today. Thank you! In fact can. I just stay cradled in the comforting arms of FWR and not interact with the nob end men out there who spout shite like that <nestles down with a blanket>

You are of course completely correct and here's some vodka for that cranberry juice you are squishing.

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Wed 18-Dec-13 22:48:15

yanbu! In fact I'm sick of hearing that women 'talk too much' when in fact, studies have shown that in mixed groups men talk more. Women nag, are shrill, hysterical etc hmm I've heard it all - even on MN in the last few days.

I cannot believe the sexism that is tolerated in so many circles. Twitter has been driving me batshit. Grrr.

WoTmania Wed 18-Dec-13 23:18:37

YANBU (why can I not bold that)
I hate the inaccurate preconceptions, that shit about women 'enjoying' housework hmm or being better at it or just seeing it when men don't.
I hate the double standards and how what women and men do gets labelled negatively when a woman does it but not when a man does.
I could go on but I won't (because I'm female, obviously a man wouldn't feel the need to not go on at length)

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 18-Dec-13 23:23:56


Wimmin just like this cleaning shit, innit? Of course, I could lift a finger around the house, but I'd hate to disrespect women's choices. I'm just that sort of feminist bloke ...

perlona Thu 19-Dec-13 02:27:15

Female dominated professions see their pay scales drop because due to maternity leave and family friendly hours they need more people to fill the jobs than they would if they were hiring only men. If you have an important job available, say heart surgeon, peoples lives depend on that person actually turning up, there aren't many professionals at that level available to temphmm.

AskBasilAboutCranberrySauce Thu 19-Dec-13 08:19:19

Oh it's all because of maternity leave.

Oh yes, of course it is.

Because there is no such thing as sexism. We're all equal now and if we aren't, it's because of women's choices.

Thanks for clearing that up.

LittleBearPad Thu 19-Dec-13 08:38:26

Yes because of course you can't rely on a woman working part-time to turn up to her job can you Perlona. You'd need cover hmm.

Employing two people to work 35 hours between them versus one person to work 35 hours does not significantly increase costs to the employer and often means that in a crisis you have two employees to lean on not one.

Whether the heart surgeon is a woman or a man makes bugger all difference to whether they are at work or not.

And as Basil is saying women make their choices within the options society gives them.

Many women do work part time, often because they are the lower paid person in the couple and so if one parent isn't going to full time it makes sense for it to be the lower paid one to maximise household income. However it is often the case that women simply are paid less than men for doing the same or equivalent roles and so the cycle of childcare being women's work perpetuate itself.

And as for women enjoying housework. HA HA HA

BuffytheElfSquisher Thu 19-Dec-13 09:34:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 19-Dec-13 10:39:45

Basil YANBU.

And I have noticed that I have been reluctant to recognise structural sexism because I did not want to admit that some of my friends are, as you say, nobs of the nobbiest variety and unutterably tedious. sad angry

But I had a corporate dinner thing last month with a small group of men, one of which held the others to account for being sexist. It does happen, not often enough, but it does. smile

scallopsrgreat Thu 19-Dec-13 10:48:12

<applauds Buffy>

What always amazes me in these conversations about employment is the total inability for some to look beyond the structures we have now and look at how workplaces could be set up. Just because some professions require long working hours at the moment, doesn't mean they need it or it couldn't be redesigned another way. The workplace is a shining example of something made by men, for men, those men that do not have childcare responsibilities.

I am reading Woman on the Edge of Time at the the moment (which is great btw) and that has some amazing ideas about how an equal world could be designed (and some not so good!). For example every seven working years each person takes a sabbatical for a year where they can go off and travel or do another job or learn or whatever. That'd be great.

BarbarianMum Thu 19-Dec-13 13:06:24

I get uneasy when I see equally shared childcare/work presented as the 'ideal'. I think the ideal is flexibility, regardless of gender and regardless (largely) of reason.

Where I work you can request flexible working for childcare or because you want to spend more time rock climbing. They will accomodate if the job allows. It's great but it cuts both ways - my desire to spend Christmas day at home with my kids is rated no higher than my colleagues desire to spend it at home sleeping off a massive hangover.

YoniMatopoeia Thu 19-Dec-13 13:18:25

Yanbu. And the reason there aren't more women CEOs. It's because they don't want that high pressure job hmm

SauceForTheGander Thu 19-Dec-13 13:22:15

Yes Basil all of this. If I hear my middle class, privately educated, white father complain he's persecuted and the victim of racism / sexism because of some goddam Boots advert I'm going to fucking lose the plot.

I've tried saying to him "know your privilege" but he prefers to believe he's the victim of a feminist conspiracy.

BuffytheElfSquisher Thu 19-Dec-13 13:45:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

funnyvalentine Thu 19-Dec-13 23:08:35

A lot of women buy into that explanation too, which is quite depressing. And I'd say that most people are really bad at seeing another way of doing things. Especially with something as well established as the workplace. I read recently that the 9-5 5 day working week emerged in the industrial revolution and hasn't changed since, even though it doesn't suit so many people nowadays.

It's only since I started paying attention more that I realised just how much society and structural inequality affects our choices. And the converse of what you say in the OP, I thought I'd been treated the same as all the men around me. Which meant that my not doing as well as I'd have liked was obviously down to my (lack of) ability.

Wish I'd heard more about all this when I was younger! I think even just being aware would have given me more confidence.

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 20-Dec-13 08:57:56

"I thought I'd been treated the same as all the men around me. Which meant that my not doing as well as I'd have liked was obviously down to my (lack of) ability. "

Yes. angry

I've wasted 10 years not questioning this. angry angry

But I'm going to start upsetting people by questioning it publicly in the new year. My new year's resolution is to be the most unpopular person around. I am looking forward to it. The thought cheers me up no end, strangely. hmm grin

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