Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rant: Equal Pay and Unpaid Labor in the Household

     So, for those of you joining me for the first time in this blog, welcome.  I've done some edits since I posted this rant this afternoon as I had some of my friends really throw me for a loop by saying I was "dead wrong" and it caught me off-guard.  I should have known that I'd get more of the same arguments that I present here in the rant below, but I didn't think I'd get them from so many of my more liberal friends.  Well, I guess a lot of people have fallen into the same beliefs that so many conservatives have as well.
      The problem is, many of us Americans have put blinders on our eyes to those outside of our circle of friends, family and acquaintances.  We stop looking at those around who have it worse than us.  We lay blame on the innocent because WE managed to get out of the situations that I'm talking about below, but there are many, many others who cannot all over the world.  If you are reading this, you obviously want to know more about the wage gap and unpaid labor, and I've changed my approach in writing this article to include links to other articles that I read which spoke of these issues within the last few years.  I have also included a more recent link to an NBC article that speaks of Unequal Pay Day on April 4.  Unfortunately, the new administration is tearing down many of the advances we made to shortening this gap, and if you don't believe it, then please go on your way because you're too closed-minded to take what I have into consideration and I really don't need more negative feed back. (Constructive criticism and valid articles are welcome however.)  I've had enough of that as a woman all of these years as it is.  I probably wouldn't have gotten the lashing I got this afternoon if I'd been male.  And now, my "rant"....

Equal Pay

     "Equal Pay Day" happened on April 4 this year.  It's how many days a woman would have worked into the next year to have made the same amount of money as a man the previous year.  If you want to read more on it, visit this article: NBC NEWS ARTICLE: What is Unequal Pay Day?  I hadn't done enough research up until today to know the true meaning of it, or had even known it existed until April 4.
      On that day, an acquaintance on Facebook posted and article and then dared all of their liberal friends to call them out on the 'fallacy' of unequal pay.  The acquaintance was male, which I sort of expected, and he called out one of his friends who was a very outspoken, liberal female in order to counter him.  She didn't, except to say that that unequal pay actually existed.  I was a bit more outspoken, but only after reading comments left by other females pointing out just how "ridiculous" it was to say that there was inequality in wages.
     I was far more surprised at the females saying that "of course I make as much as a man" and just how many blamed other women for not making as much or not working in the same fields so it was a woman's fault.  WAIT ONE SECOND.... What?  So even women have fallen for this lie that it's a woman's fault.  If she's not making the same amount of money as a man, it's her fault.  So if a woman and a man have the same job but she's not making as much, it's her fault?
     So it's a woman's fault for choosing a job that she can do for less money and that she should go out there and get a job that pays more.  It's her fault for not choosing a better job.
     Even though when I was a child in the 1980's people said "you an be anything you want to be."  But when they put a list of jobs down in front of me, never did they say, "Well, if you really want to make money you should go into a technical field rather than go into retail."  They didn't list jobs that went to men typically.  When I went to school they never said that going into engineering or the sciences was the way to go.  I was given a list with typically "female" oriented jobs like nursing, teaching or child-rearing.
     But it's 2017!  Find a new job!  You say this to me as if it's really "that" easy.  To get into those technical jobs, the ones that pay a whole lot of money it means spending a bunch of money that I just don't have, and I'm considered "middle class".  Put yourself in the shoes of a woman who is considered lower class.  Where would she get the money to go into school to get into one of these technical jobs?  What if she has children?  I researched a carpentry technical school earlier this week and found that I'd have to wait until the class period opened, then apply to a bunch of jobs, hope one would hire me, and then also find time to go to classes 40 hours a month.  If that woman has children and a household to upkeep with a husband who also works 40 hours, do you really think that she would have time to get into it?

     Before you start going all Sigmund Freud on me, please stop reading into this article as me being unhappy with my pay.  Sure, I'm unhappy, but for different reasons than the pay-gap.  I make more than all of the males that have worked with me because I have seniority and I'm good at my job.  But I did the same job a few years ago and made almost $2 more an hour until my boss screwed me over and dropped me to a "keyholder."  And like those women who keep saying "it's your fault for not doing more" - no, no it wasn't my fault.  I have a crappy boss who also had a crappy boss and they played favorites.  She's still trying to get me to step down because she doesn't like that I challenge her.  But that's another story for another time.

     Thankfully in America as of just last year, the pay gap has shortened.  Women are starting to go into more male-oriented jobs.  Men are starting to go into more female-oriented jobs.  Problems still exist with discrimination in those jobs, but I'm not here to talk about that.  There are plenty of really interesting articles on the subject including one from a man who switched his name's with a female co-worker's for a week and found himself shunted because of how men treated him thinking he was a woman.  So go read them if you like.  I'm very proud of the females out there who can really reach out and get a job and become a CEO and such.  At least they're driven, outgoing, motivated and making a name for themselves.  But, there ARE fewer company CEOs that are women than men still, and until that gap narrows a bit more, we're still looking at about $0.83 to every $1.00 that men make.  And yes, 51% of that gap is due to a difference in job types.  I won't deny it.  And I'm sure the children that are being raised now understand that they don't have to become nurses and teachers right...?
     There are a whole lot more articles about that online you can read about how low income and lower educated children make up a big chunk of those people who are sitting at the bottom of the workforce.  Can they make it big for themselves?  Doubtful.  They're in school districts who have a huge disadvantage when it comes to training them to be ready for the technological world they're living in right now and it'll will take a whole ton of motivation and a whole lot of luck for them to pull themselves out to get on that track.  Females in the lower education areas still believe that they are nothing without a man, oftentimes they'll marry young, have kids and never finish education, very few will ever go anywhere in their lives.  Would they want to?  Yes, most likely, but would they have the training to be able to do this?  No.  Without a proper education the world is closed off to them and they don't even know what could be out there for them.  That saying of "what you don't know can't hurt you" is actually false, because many of these lower income families hurt by not knowing that there's a bunch more out there.  And it's even worse in other countries.
     My own, personal experience growing up in a relatively low-middle class neighborhood surrounded with middle-to-upper class kids made me realize some things as an adult.  Yes, I was able to go to college, yes, I could have done a whole lot more to have advanced myself, but I was completely unaware of the disadvantages of the direction in college I chose.  Neither of my parents had completed any upper education so they were completely unaware of the challenges that would face me.  For them, those who went into college automatically became successful.  It doesn't happen like that anymore, but for many, we have the internet at our disposal and we can learn things about the world and jobs.  I for one would have told my past self to have at least gone into business classes if I wanted to remain in retail.  My parents never would have thought in a million years to suggest that, not because they wanted me in a 'woman's job' they just didn't know.
     Again, I can see my own, personal failures and I know how to fix them.  But because of mental problems: anxiety and depression, I have problems doing anything about it.  I've persisted and I've told myself that I need to either be happy in my job, or I need to do something about it.  And besides those poor and uneducated, there's a whole lot just like me who have it even worse to the point they can't even get a job because the world never prepared them for how cut-throat it is to "make it big".

     For now, that's all I have to say on the subject of wage inequality.  I honestly need to learn more about it, but I think it's unfair to lay 100% of the blame on women for not making as much as men.  The inequality exists and it should be addressed at the very least in raising children so that they can make educated choices on what they want to do and not let gender be a deciding factor, whether they are female or male.

Unpaid Labor in the Household

     So, as I thought about it this afternoon after getting bombarded by negativity this afternoon, I wondered if this topic was a completely different subject from Equal Pay.  But I still felt that it played a part, and after doing some research on the topic, found I'm not all that far off in my understanding.  I just needed to tweak my wording better to explain my feelings.  Apparently I'm not the only one who believes that the wage gap has something to do with unpaid labor in the household, but I just didn't quite have the phrasing down.  So if you're actually interested in unpaid labor, please read the following two articles from a bit over a year ago:

NY TIMES ARTICLE : 2/23/2016


     To summarize the articles: women spend more time doing unpaid labor than men do.  By having to spend more time doing these unpaid tasks, they have less time to do paid tasks like working full-time jobs.  Thus, there is more of a pay-gap because these women spend more time taking care of households and children.  They also spend less time doing leisure activities than men do.  The Atlantic article actually shows this unpaid labor gap via a graph in various countries around the world and how much time is spent by women versus men.  In most of the examples, women do more unpaid work than men.  Read it if you don't believe it.  The gaps may have shortened in a year, but I doubt that it's shortened enough to be significant.

     Do I believe that my time is spent doing more chores than my husband spends at his leisure?  HELL YES I DO.  Okay, I've got it out there.  It's true.  Am I angry about it?  Sometimes.  Do I want to spend more leisure time myself?  Heck yes.  But I've also seen what my household looks like after I've been sick or thrown into a pretty bad bout of depression for a week.  Do I want to live in a pig-sty?  No.  Is it my husband's fault?  Yes...and No.

     One of my friend's this afternoon pointed out that I was kind of passive-aggressively pointing out my unhappiness with my husband in this rant.  (Not those exact words but let's tell it like it is, I sort of was.)
     Since I moved out of my parent's house, I have had a lot less time to do things that I would call "leisure."  I'm pretty sure there are plenty of women who find themselves in the same boat.  We have household chores to tackle because we were raised to take pride in our homes.  I know there's a bunch of women who are probably the opposite (and probably a lot of men who would rather have a cleaner household and spend more time cleaning than their wives do - so I won't discount them!)  And I'm sure there are plenty of households where both parties are either slobs or both of them like cleaning.  I'm at a disadvantage in some cases because I know I could just lay off chores for awhile and do what I want to do, but I was also raised to keep a tidy house and I also have terrible allergies which means I'll be sick if I don't do these chores on a regular basis either.  My husband was raised in a rather more lax environment where cleaning was done when necessary and he doesn't see chores the same way I do.
     That's not to say that I don't believe he doesn't do enough chores, but I do believe he spends less time on those chores than I do.  He cooks, he does dishes, he takes care of the cat litter, he takes out the garbage, cleans the toilets on occasions and will do other chores that I ask of him if I remember to ask him to do them.  When I do those same chores, I tend to spend more time doing them because I do them more thoroughly.  Some of the chores that we both shared once I have taken over entirely because I felt that he wasn't doing them to my standard.  Am I complaining about it?  Yes.  Do I believe that by complaining it will fix all my problems?  No.  Do I believe that he can change overnight to do them the same? Nope.  No-Siree.  Because many men like my husband don't see chores the way I do.  The few extra minutes that I spend scrubbing that toilet means I don't have to do it for another week, but that quick swish he does means we'll be scrubbing it a few days down the line.  I take pride in my chores as a job well done.  He sees them (I think) like a hurdle he has to over-come the fastest way he can to get onto other more enjoyable things.
     Am I going to let it get me down?  No.  Will I complain about it sometimes?  Heck yes.

     Just like so many other women who deal with this problem, we make our own beds so we have to lie in them.  That's just how it is.  But should it be this way?  Probably not.  I argued that the USA is still a Patriarchal society.  Does that mean that men are the majority?  No.  It just means that men have the advantage.  Do all men take that advantage?  No. I'm proud that my husband isn't one of those, but for a very, very long time in the USA men did (and still do in some cases).  Men have the advantage of still being the 'bread winner' because they can't have children, so the wives have that privilege.  Women were raised to do the chores and men were raised to do the work and then spend their time off at their leisure.  Let's be a bit more specific - in a Capitalistic society like ours, the men make money by selling things, the women spend the money by buying food and necessities for the home.  Do women spend more money than men?  Yeah, but we're buying things for the home and for children.  That doesn't mean women are better off or make more money than our male counterparts, men just don't have as much of an interest in shopping than women do.  We don't run the country though...white men do.

     Where am I going with all of this, you ask?  Why am I bringing all of this up in the rant on equal pay?  Well, someone called me out saying that the time spent on household chores shouldn't be brought into the pay-gap. (I did math and everything comparing if we did get paid for all of the hours we spent working paying and non-paying jobs which figured into about a $3/hr difference.)  Sure it's not like I can say to my work that they need to pay me more because I spend 20 hours a week on chores and my husband's not spending the same amount.  But I do think that I personally have lost a lot of the drive that I used to have before I had a house and chores to do.  Is it my fault?  Yes.  Did I chose this?  Mostly yes.  Is this rant all about me?


     Just like with finding a job, women need to be taught equality at a young age.  But in this case, I think men need to be taught equality in the home at a young age.  I see it all over my neighborhood where the girls do chores but the boys rarely do anything.  IF they do chores, they get paid for them (like walking the dog, taking out the trash or mowing the lawn) but the girls rarely get paid for the chores they are given (washing dishes, setting the table, tidying a bathroom).  There are more articles about if it you want actual numbers associated with this.  Truthfully I was raised equal to my brother on how much money I received versus the chores I did, but it wasn't always equal between my brother and I, and I recognized the unfairness in how we were raised.  Boys and girls both must learn what it takes and learn to share responsibilities for a family equally.

     For those of you reading this who actually do share all of your chores and uphold the same cleanliness standards - kudos!  I'm glad that you've actually broken out of the cave-man era.  But for those of you who have not, do you ever think about how our ancestors basically screwed us over by perpetuating the myth that women must be homemakers and men breadwinners?  I do.

     Let your knowledge become an empowerment for men and women alike and teach them in the ways of equality.  Stop ignoring that it's not there because you don't personally see it in your own life or in those near you.  It's there.  You just have to open your eyes to look for it, and then realize that you have the power to at least try to make sure it ends with you.


     Before everyone goes Freudian on me again, I want to point out that I completely re-wrote this rant because I was numb and depressed that my "friends" were so harsh in their arguments against what I said.  I did research and I still stick firm in my beliefs that women and men are treated unequally in many respects still today.  HOWEVER....  Before you start saying that there's some underlying reason behind me writing this, STOP.  My husband is loving, decent, and kind.  He and I share our lives and we balance our chores and work accordingly.  Am I jealous of his free time?  Of course I am.  Could I do something about it?  Possibly.  But would I suffer for that change in lifestyle?  Most likely I would for awhile until I could settle into it.  But would he allow me to do it?  Of course.  The only thing that is stopping me is ME.  I recognize that, I do not blame my situation on my husband.  I blame much of myself for suffering with anxiety and depression which I could control with medicines, but I hate to become dependent upon them.  I'm also very introverted and I would much rather be a follower than a leader.  I have pushed myself out of my comfort-zone many times in order to try to break out of this mold, but when you have problems in your life that hold you back, it's a very slow process.
     The fact that I write this blog is my way of spending time at my leisure doing something I enjoy to do.  I LOVE writing.  I went to college for it.  But I've been constantly side-lined by friends and family for years.  When I said I wanted to write in High School my guidance Councillor said "you should go into teaching instead".  When I wrote a novel and showed it to my mother, she read through the whole thing but she gave me very little feedback or praise.  I pursued writing in college and had many professors say I should continue writing.  I wrote a ton during my college years, but when I looked for opinions on my original writings from friends and family no one wanted to take the time to read all of it and no one encouraged me.  When I wrote fanfiction I got tons of encouragement but realized I couldn't make a career out of it and tried to go back to my original writing and got no where time and time again.  Did I allow myself to stop?  No.  I've been writing every day for 20 years.  
On a more personal note:  (FYI: swearing will begin in 3 sentences...)

     But out of that 20 years I keep getting slammed by my friends and family.  I get no encouragement from them.  When I write pieces about things that interest me they either get completely ignored or slammed for being wrong.  Well.... FUCK YOU.  I'm writing what I believe and if you disagree then STOP DAMN READING WHAT I HAVE TO WRITE.  Stop cutting me down like I'm a stupid-ass woman who knows nothing.  I'm sick of your lame attempts to correct me.   If you are my friend then you should consider what I have to say and then give me your opinion (with proof if you have it) and we'll discuss it in a nice, civilized manner.  Otherwise just don't say anything at all because you're not my friend if you're just going to slam me down.
      I really don't need the kind of negativity that I got in my life today when I posted something I wanted to rant about.  It's my feeling and my opinion on it, and if you don't like it, then maybe you really don't know me enough to call yourself my friend either.
     I'm going to keep writing, whether you like what I have to say or not.  Thankfully we still have free least for awhile.

No comments:

Post a Comment