Your Mind

I’ve Got a Sickening Theory About Salary Equity Between Genders

By February 29, 2016 4
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So I had this thought a while ago, and I pushed it out of my head…

But I just read an article that pretty much proves it, so, I guess it’s time to write it up and pay it the horrifying homage it deserves.

I read this article on moviepilot.com a few weeks ago detailing the ordeal X-files star Gillian Anderson had to go through in order to be paid appropriately for her appearance alongside David Duchovny’s character in the show’s recent revival. Reportedly, she was offered half of what Duchovny was getting, and it wasn’t a new trend, either; it’s something she’s fought since the beginning of the show back in the 90’s. She stood her ground for a fair salary, but the idea that she even had to argue is pretty unsettling.

And after reading said article, I had this weirdly practical and asinine thought that, perhaps Gillian’s character, Scully, was just not valued as much as Duchovny’s.

Now, I spent last summer watching the entire original X-files series in its entirety, so I neither endorse nor condone the statement I just made. But when I thought about what I loved so much about the show, and what drove its plot forward and what pushed and pulled viewers through such a crazy alien world…

Scully was great. She was spot-on. I want to be Scully. But you know what? Without Duchovny’s character, Fox Moulder, the show would, literally, not have existed. The X-files was his creation and his journey; Scully was merely along for the ride.

(I promise this is not just a creepy X-files fan blog).

Granted, the two were a team, so if the revival were to happen, it would make sense you’d need both actors on board to really bring it back to life, but in all honesty, if they had just cast Duchovny…

I think they would have been alright. Duchovny could easily have been the same dude with a different leading lady. And, when I watched the first two episodes of the revival, Scully’s part was pretty foggy anyway. She does her usual “Moulder, is that a good idea?” routine, and does some crazy reconstructive surgeries as her day job…

But again. I’m scared, but I’ll say it. I think they could have been alright without her.

My real fear is that our society is so Pavlov-ed to value men and the male role that we, as viewers, consumers, workers, employees, employers, can’t see past the ends of our own noses, and just can’t bring ourselves to value both genders equally, whether we truly recognize it or not.

There’s a bittersweet twist to this here: I don’t think women are underpaid because, like, we’re chicks and people want to degrade us in society. It’s just because, somehow, women simply aren’t valued as much as men.

Yes, since you ask. There is a difference.

It’s not that we are perceived as if we can’t do the work the same as men, it’s that our position, our time, our title, our work ethic, our daily blood, sweat, and tears literally is not valued as much as our male counterparts’. Not that we incapable, just that our capabilities are not as valued as those of those other humans with a Y chromosome.

Bare with me here: I was asked to babysit overnight for a family I love and have known for many years. They literally needed me for 24 hours, from 12 pm Saturday to 12 pm Sunday, to watch over their three kids. I assumed, quite frankly, that I’d be paid a pretty penny for my time. After all, I am a 26 year old adult, with both my BA and my MA in Education, plus half a lifetime’s worth of babysitting experience and expertise; I was thinking I’d at least get a couple hundred bucks for my time, especially in Lower Fairfield County, USA.

Uh, no. I’m glad I checked with the family before I did the deed. They were hoping to pay me a mere $100.00 to watch their kids for literally my entire weekend. What’s more, they insisted that none of their friends had ever paid anyone more than that to watch their kids overnight, either.

I brought the issue to my fiance, and he laughed, and remarked that we couldn’t even kennel our dogs for a hundred bucks a weekend, let alone could he ever imagine putting such a minuscule price limit on the invaluable service of child care for your offspring.

So, that’s my point. Basically, I valued myself and my time as pretty damn important. My credentials make me highly qualified for the job, and therefore, my compensation should reflect my level of expertise. The parents, however, were just looking for someone to fill a void, to play a part for a few hours so that they could go out and enjoy themselves. Their only concern was getting the position filled; they weren’t interested in the level of quality I could deliver.

Granted, when you mush this metaphor together with the whole “gender” issue, things get pretty dicey. But I think there is a perpetuated view in society that men work harder, they grunt less, and they get more done. These are qualities, however superficial and falsely attributed they are, that employers seek, both in and outside of Hollywood. Just ask my CEO’s boyfriend — unfortunately, women have a bad rep for being overly emotional or high maintenance because, quite frankly, sometimes, we are. 

I’m not saying this is right. I’m not saying this doesn’t need to change. But when a “noteworthy” yet anonymous Hollywood agent comes out this week and admits, plainly, flatly, that when it comes to equal pay, “Women all across the board are just not valued,” I have to take a moment and say: Oh shit. I was right.

And doesn’t that just suck? 

Comments

  • SonofaGlitch

    Lol.

    No.

    Look, there are certain things men are valued more for. True.

    There are also certain things women are valued more for.

    You talk about only getting paid a hundred bucks for watching kids right? Here’s something not considered – would a man even get offered that job?

    I ask because plenty of people think men as unqualified for roles in child rearing, even temporarily. That they may be sexual predators out to harm their children. That they just prefer a woman do it because of potential maternal instinct.

    When I was a freshman in high school, I babysat for a family friend for a couple years occasionally. It was a friend of my mother’s who was a single mother of a boy. He and I got along well because I could talk about stuff he liked – video games primarily – that other babysitters didn’t. Thus he kept requesting me, and I kept getting asked to do it. Until I got far to busy to, it was a fine little side job every once in a while (and ludicrously easy, don’t kid yourself and say that watching kids you don’t have to raise fully is a tough task- it’s not).

    But it wouldn’t have ever happened unless, after having three other female babysitters cancel on her, my mom’s friend desperately asked my mother if she knew anyone who had watched me. AND that my mom saw an opportunity to get me out of the house that night. AND that I had already met the child and gotten to know both him and his mom better at a prior function . . .et cetera.

    The fact is, while yeah, there are certain roles that men get valued in over women, there are other roles where the exact opposite is true. Child watching is a big one of these.

  • Tj

    This is a well known and studied problem; I’m surprised that it’s written here as a revelation. You are right, but it’s not new or a surprise. It’s what has been talked about in gender studies for decade and has a large body of research behind it. It’s receiving a lot of interest right now both in the public sphere and in online communities.

    One area that is particularly glaring is how many tasks that are gendered to women are unpaid. Consider motherhood. We’re told it’s natural to have and raise kids. We do it for free! It’s literally the most important job that humanity has to do, and women are not compensated. That may seem extreme, but consider what they are doing. Housework, which still disproportionately falls to women, is also unpaid labor. If that is too extreme, consider that when those are paid jobs; care provider, house cleaner, those jobs are primarily done by women and pay very poorly.

    But even in a normal work environment, where the disparities aren’t so extreme, you will find women undervalued regularly. Their time isn’t valued and are often given busy work as compared to their male colleagues. They aren’t considered for raises at the same rate because their because the way their work is perceived is gendered- I talk about that a little later on. But what might be viewed as leadership in a man is viewed as bossiness and shrillness in a women. Offices are filled with women who end up doing emotional labor type work as well, and this is uncompensated because while it’s often necessary, it isn’t seen as valuable.

    You end on the note that women are overly emotional, high maintenance, and that belief is part of what causes women to be devalued. It’s socialized self-hate taught to us to dismiss any real concerns women might have. Our society is highly biased against women, and we end up taking on more of the burdens in work, personal and family life. If you express your displeasure, instead of taking your concerns seriously, it’s more expedient to dismiss them as a fault in wome hood.

    You see the same thing when looking at white supremecy in the US and how people are taught that their success is entirely their own making, and that blacks are responsible for their poverty. It’s easier to ignore the high poverty level among black Americans by insisting they are responsible for their poverty and could escape it if they only tried harder.

    Women are taught from a young age to be emotionally sensitive and available. They’re taught they are allowed to cry and otherwise express their emotions. And this is where when feminists talk about how the patriarchy harms men too, this is one such way. The problem is that men are also pinalized when they are overly expressive of emotions. They are socialized to believe anger is the only negative emotion they can express without reprisal. This is a frequent cause of inner turmoil and depression for men, along side high suicide rates.

    The other side of the coin with women being socialized to be more emotional is that men are taught that women are more emotional. Their behavior is often couched as emotionally toned. You see men being called leaders and women being dismissed as bossy. Women who are assertive are called shrill and aggressive, the same time men are called bold. But women are also penalized for not being assertive enough.

    JLaw talked about this somewhat recently; how being assertive had someone accuse her of being mad. I won’t dig up the link, it’s easy to find. But it’s there and it’s ever present. Don’t buy into the women are emotional garbage, you’re harming your self. Or at least look into the mountains of work that have uncovered these gender biases. You come across as intelligent, you should be able to evaluate the data reasonably.

    • SonofaGlitch

      You’re an idiot if you think motherhood isn’t “compensated”.

      What do you think marriage even is?

  • Ross

    Here is another theory.

    The wage gap is the average earnings of fulltime working men vs fulltime working women. there is a 27c on the $1 difference.
    The difference between deaths in the workplace between the genders is 900%.

    I postulate that the reason for both is exactly the same (and if yu said women are 900% safer, go to the back of the class). Workplace choice. That is it. No harder and no bogeymen to find.

    Women CAN do the same jobs as men BUT in general don’t. Workplace wage is NOT the be all and end all of a job. If you had the opportunity to do work that that is more specialised, more remote, more dangerous, more hours, more dirty, more physically exhausting, for better money OR one that was none of those things and for less money, you may trade 27c in the dollar or even more as a “wage sacrifice”. It is opportunity cost.

    Until we collectively can rationally look at this and shout down the wage myth, this is going to be raised again in embarrassing regularity