obligations are not privileges
November 3, 2015 § 1 Comment
Regarding the wage gap, when you say “it’s the result of personal choice,” what feminists are hearing is “personal responsibility, libtard!” What they’re thinking is, “yes, in a patriarchal society women are boxed in and forced into motherhood by society’s expectations of them.” So, every time you correctly make this argument, you’re just talking past them because they don’t recognize that women make legitimate choices of their own, not in consenting to sex, careers, motherhood, or anything else.
They don’t recognize women’s agency so nothing is ever their fault and women make no contribution to the existing set of cultural norms, as if men get to decide what women want and expect of them. No widely observed behavior among men – like choosing careers that pay more or working longer hours – can ever be a response to expectations and demands that women make upon men. The idea that such a thing is possible has never even occurred to them, not in 40 years of feminist scholarship, theorizing, and advocacy.
What needs to be emphasized is what Warren Farrell argued for decades, which is that choosing to opt out and have children is a choice, one that women have and which men do not have. The reason men don’t have this choice is not because of the patriarchy, but because women do not allow men this choice, since it’s women that expect men to be breadwinners.
This is why men subordinate most of their career decisions to making money, because they have less choice than women have regarding careers, not more.
They don’t have the option to consider things like “work/life” balance if they expect to be suitable mates. It’s women who ultimately choose mates, and we can see statistically that married men out earn both women and unmarried men, meaning that women expect men to be breadwinners. It’s as simple as that.
Look at Norway, for instance, where it is now the case that 26% of men go without having children while only 13% of women do. Women will share above average mates, while a portion of the male population becomes superfluous if it should become the case that men are not earning as much if not more than women on average. That is the result of women’s choices and a corresponding lack of male choice, not the patriarchy.
It is not male privilege, but female privilege and the wage gap reflects this female privilege. For men it is not privilege, but obligation.
Obligations are not privileges. How else are men to respond to that if not by tying their identities and social value to making money above other concerns? Why else would he be doing it if it was not the case that women demand men be breadwinners?
Let me ask the question this way: Do we think that men who make less than the average female in a given population are more likely to be married or less? Research shows that we can estimate by the dollar amount how likely a man is to be married, that is how strong and direct the correlation between male earnings and the likelihood of marriage is. There’s no speculation here. Women demand you have a job that is as good or better than theirs or else you are socially and sexually invisible.
So, on the one hand, women create profound social consequences for men if they do not make as much if not more than women, then on the other, they claim that greater male earnings are proof of women’s oppression.
The way to frame this side of the debate is to emphasize, as Warren Farrell has done, that men have less choices regarding careers, not that women simply “make choices” which result in them making less money. Until the debate is framed this way, you might as well be talking to a brick wall. No feminist is going to even understand the counter argument.