Ms ZiYou gender diversity

Let men be free from the shackles, or why the gender pay gap matters to both sexes

As a committed feminist, I really believe the gender pay gap impacts everyone, especially men. Women are getting more and more prominent raising our (very just) concerns over the unfairness that is now commonplace in the media. But my question is, why are men not concerned?

Gender Pay Gap results

The UK government implemented new legislation to understand and drive progress on the issue – you can access all the returns on the government’s website here.

The headline figures are brutal; 78% of large employers in the UK pay men more. For the sake of balance here are some reports from different sides of the media.

All organisations declare that they pay people equally for the same role (as that has been the law since the Dagenham machinists got that sorted). Instead, the reason they state is that they have fewer women in the senior positions that pay more.

Which leads us to why? Do women not want these jobs, or are they prevented from achieving them? Personally, I believe society has conditioned women to not value money and power, put in barriers to prevent them achieving these jobs, and made these roles as unattractive to women as possible. But we are not here to talk about the impact on women, this has been done to death and debate is well underway.

What this means in society

It’s clear men are paid more, thus hold more power and agency in our society in 2018. The reasons for this are numerous and complex, ultimately resting in the society we have created. I believe women do want to be paid equally but struggle to achieve this due to societal constructs.

The patriarchy is alive and kicking. Even the images you can find – see featured image above – are downright patriarchal. Yes in reality in 2018 we have men deciding between a man and a woman in most hiring decisions for powerful roles. And now I want to pivot – while I hope there is no need for debate that that this screws women, it also screws men.

Men are shackled to their jobs

By creating such a society where we gender earning and power, we are forcing men into these earning roles. We expect men to provide for their families. It is taken as a given that a father is a provider. As much as there is a societal judgment on working mothers, stay at home fathers have it much worse. As well as expecting men to provide, we want them to excel and chase promotion after promotion. There is no readily blazed path to the daddy-track available for men who want to take it easier. And what man would choose to stay home, if his female partner earned less?

Yet is it the same root cause that ties men to their jobs. Those pesky gender-specific roles that are defined by society. If mum is always going to earn less than dad, surely it makes sense economically for mum to stay home? Why don’t we encourage men to spend time caring for their families? And work part-time? Or take on the stay at home parent role?

Why don’t men act?

Yet I do not hear much noise about this. The media doesn’t cover many stories about men wanting to stay at home, or men wanting a lower stress position. The majority of men seem quite content to keep their privilege, keep the high earning roles. And as a direct result of this, women are relegated to the house.

We are not taking paternity leave to anywhere near the same scale at maternity leave, yet we have an equal number of fathers and mothers. And we have to ask why? Is this man’s choice or societal pressure? Similar to the gender pay gap, I don’t believe it’s men’s real choice, but the pressure they feel from society to conform. We are so conditioned by what we feel is normal, and what everyone around is doing. Even if that does not work for our current situation.

Women are shackled to the house

By disregarding and downvaluing women’s contributions in the workplace, society has led women towards the home, somewhere their contribution is valued. Everyone likes to feel the master of their life in some way, and hence women have picked up the mastery of household management. Which some people (both males and females) love and excel at. Yet others get very frustrated as demonstrated perfectly in Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique.

People are individuals

We all have our own individual strengths, and areas in which we excel. In line with the economic principles of specialisation and division of labour, we should allow people to do with they do best, irrespective of their gender. Our society as a whole will be more productive if we get the best people on the right jobs. I know I for one don’t believe that men named John are more capable to run a company than all women. So why do we have more CEO Johns than women? Is this why productivity is plummeting in the developed world?

Losing your privilege is hard

I get this. If you are a white male, you are used to leading and being top, equality must be hard. The skills needed to be equal and collaborate, are different from those used to leading. We need to support this transition and adjust the cultural expectations we place on males and females. We need to all work together to remove gender-based expectations from society.

Not to mention the straight privilege

Straight couples can play the game and benefit from these social conventions. Gay couples, on the other hand, cannot. Hence why lesbians make the best feminists, as they lose most from these conventions. Our society has been set up to work best for those in male/female marriages, and we need to sort this. Do we not want a society that works for everyone?

Don’t rage on #metoo

If you feel the need to complain about #metoo, you definitely need to check your privilege. Seriously, if you feel it is appropriate to touch someone without consent, or proposition someone you have power over then yes, I can confirm #metoo is out to get you. If you don’t fall into that category, and you are still unhappy with #metoo, ask yourself why you feel powerful men should always be believed over women?

Rage on the mediocre white men

If you do have rage, I’d suggest you direct it towards all the mediocre white men occupying positions of power. There are far too many of them around, and they are very vocal about their demise. Yet if they truly were the best people for the job, they would have nothing to worry about.

Screwing others to get ahead is wrong

What sort of society are we creating if we constantly compete and harm others? Where someone actually believes it’s ok to minimise others opportunities? We are enabling a world where dynasties still rule, and you are more likely to make it if your parents did. I believe in a true equality of opportunity, and that we need to break down the barriers preventing this.

In summary

  • Men are shackled to their jobs
  • Women are shackled to the house
  • Hence we lose out on the intellectual abilities of half the population
  • And the caring nature of half the population
  • Therefore our society is underperforming

Over to you

  • What are your thoughts?
  • Do you feel shackled to work?
  • Or shackled to the house?
  • What does true equality mean to you?


17 comments on “Let men be free from the shackles, or why the gender pay gap matters to both sexes

  1. “If mum is always going to earn less than dad, surely it makes sense economically for mum to stay home? Why don’t we encourage men to spend time caring for their families? And work part-time? Or take on the stay at home parent role?”

    My husband feels this hard, though the reason why he works full time and I doesn’t is because of the flexibility of my job, not that he earns more (I do). He would cut back to part time to spend more time with our son in a heartbeat if the opportunity arose, but unfortunately it isn’t even a consideration.

    1. See, it’s exactly people like your husband that really lose out due to these policies and societal norms. We need it to become much more acceptable and normalised for men to go part time.

      1. A friend of mine actually has done this His wife earns good money They don’t have kids live well below their means and he is just not ambitious He went down to 4 days a week a few years ago. Most of our group were horrified but it means Fridays are his day to do all his hobbies chores etc Meaning the rest of the time they can spend as a couple. Also means the wife can do less of the household chores she doesn’t have time to do through working long hours.. It totally works for them and they have a great work life balance

        1. Hi FBA, your friend sounds ace, and sounds like him and his wife have found a great balance that works for them – we need more men like him being trailblazers!

  2. I think emotional labor plays a big part in the role of women feeling shackled to the house on top of the reasons mentioned above – there is a great article on this published by Harper’s Bazaar.

    I also think the pay gap and equality is inextricably linked to organized religion. Our inability here in the US to break some of these prevailing sexist ideas is due to the strong hold of these institutions on the family unit and reinforcing gender stereotypes for what works in their interpretation of a religious book.

    True equality comes down to worthiness of the human rather than the worth of our roles in society. (Maybe…? Still mulling over this one)

    1. Oh yes, the emotional labour one is very true, somehow women still end up shouldering far too much of that burden as well,

      And religion no doubt plays a part as well, with their constant promotion of their “correct” way to live.

      True equality comes down to worthiness of the human rather than the worth of our roles in society. (Maybe…? Still mulling over this one)

      That indeed is an interesting one to ponder.

  3. somewhere their contribution is valued << I didn't really see that until my friend who was a lawyer…said I'm better at being a mother owing to the fact that workplace politics was a mine field that didn't seem worth the struggle when the alternative was child rearing. i think we dichotomize choice alot… when it's not always so easy… i know i'm guilty of it…but

    1. Yes, it’s shocking that even today we usher females away from these hard roles, into easier roles such as childrearing. And we don’t offer men the same option. But I think we can do better. And we will realiser easier is not easier, just different.

What do you think?