Patriarchy, The Wage Gap, And Other Feminist Lies

Patriarchy, The Wage Gap, And Other Feminist Lies

Don't let the comments fool you.

I often hear devout feminists scream incessantly about how our culture is an oppressive patriarchal structure, a system of domination by which the wealthy, white, male ruling class has authority over everyone else.

However, much of what we hear about the plight of American women is false. Some faux facts have been repeated so often they are almost beyond the reach of critical analysis. Though they are baseless, these canards have become the foundation of Congressional debates, the inspiration for new legislation and the focus of college programs. Here, I examine some of the most popular feminist claims, which are pointed to as proof that we live in a society that privileges masculinity over femininity.

Deconstructing the claims

Evidence of patriarchy comes in various forms, but feminists often point to statistics like the wage gap as proof that our society unfairly benefits men at the expense of women. This is a good place to start. Firstly, we need to understand where that statistic comes from, and what it actually “proves” – or rather, disproves.

In 2015, women earned 83% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time U.S. workers.

Is this proof that we live in an oppressive and unfair system that perpetually discriminated against women? Well, no. There is undoubtedly, a wage gap, insofar as the median earnings of men and women differ; but the claim disregards factors that make simple comparison less straightforward.

For starters, the pay gap statistic simply reflects the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. In the very same Pew Research Study, if you read past the headline, you’ll find that when age was taken into consideration, women between the ages of 25 to 34 earned 90 cents for every dollar a man in the same age group earned.

Further, the deceiving statistic also does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. In a 2013 study (also conducted by Pew) women were more likely to say they had taken breaks from their careers to care for their family. These types of interruptions can have an impact on long-term earnings. Roughly four-in-ten mothers said that at some point in their work life they had taken a significant amount of time off (39%) or reduced their work hours (42%) to care for a child or other family member. Roughly a quarter (27%) said they had quit work altogether to take care of these familial responsibilities. Fewer men said the same. For example, just 24% of fathers said they had taken a significant amount of time off to care for a child or other family member.

When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers.

Now, a feminist might argue that the reason women take more time off from work than men is because societal expectations, normalized by patriarchy, “pigeonhole” women being into lower paying “pink-collar” jobs in health and education. According to NOW, powerful sexist stereotypes “steer” women and men “toward different education, training, and career paths.”

Well, let’s take this claim seriously. Consider, for example, how men and women differ in their college majors. Here is a list of the ten most remunerative majors compiled by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Men overwhelmingly outnumber women in all but one of them:

  • Petroleum Engineering: 87% male
  • Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration: 48% male
  • Mathematics and Computer Science: 67% male
  • Aerospace Engineering: 88% male
  • Chemical Engineering: 72% male
  • Electrical Engineering: 89% male
  • Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: 97% male
  • Mechanical Engineering: 90% male
  • Metallurgical Engineering: 83% male
  • Mining and Mineral Engineering: 90% male

And here are the 10 least remunerative majors—where women prevail in nine out of ten:

  • Counseling Psychology: 74% female
  • Early Childhood Education: 97% female
  • Theology and Religious Vocations: 34% female
  • Human Services and Community Organization: 81% female
  • Social Work: 88% female
  • Drama and Theater Arts: 60% female
  • Studio Arts: 66% female
  • Communication Disorders Sciences and Services: 94% female
  • Visual and Performing Arts: 77% female
  • Health and Medical Preparatory Programs: 55% female

It’s apparent that men are overrepresented in STEM fields, while women are overrepresented in ‘caring’ professions, which typically pay less than STEM jobs. Is this evidence for the claim that patriarchy pressures women to pursue less lucrative careers? Well again, no.

A multi-national study, conducted by researchers from the University of Missouri, examined the claim that women are “pigeonholed” by patriarchal societies to pursue “pink-collar” careers; and they found that countries with greater gender equality see a smaller proportion of women taking degrees in STEM fields. Interestingly enough, countries such as Albania and Algeria have a greater percentage of women amongst their STEM graduates than countries lauded for their high levels of gender equality, such as Finland, Norway, and Sweden. This research has been dubbed “the gender paradox,” for good reason – consider for a moment that there are two reasons men and women differ: nature and nurture. If the popular feminist claim that men and women are exactly the same in all aspects of their being were true, you'd think that flattening out the socio-economic environment would make the differences between the sexes would disappear. However, paradoxically enough, the opposite happens – when you remove environmental factors, the biological differences are allowed to maximize.

Furthermore, for the past few decades, untold millions of state and federal dollars have been devoted to recruiting young women into engineering and computer technology. Yet, the efforts have not yielded the results they intended. The percent of degrees awarded to women in fields like computer science and engineering has either stagnated or significantly decreased since 2000. (According to Department of Education data, in 2000, women earned 19 percent of engineering BA’s, and 28 percent in computer science; by 2011, only 17 percent of engineering degrees were awarded to females, and the percent of female computer science degrees had dropped to 18.)

This evidence suggests that though young women have the talent for engineering and computer science, their interest tends to lie elsewhere. Women, far more than men, appear to be drawn to jobs in the caring professions; and men are more likely to turn up in people-free zones.

Is this a bad thing? Of course not.

In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths. To say that these women remain helplessly in thrall to sexist stereotypes, and manipulated into life choices by forces beyond their control, is divorced from reality—and demeaning to boot. If a woman wants to be a teacher rather than a miner, or a veterinarian rather than a petroleum engineer, more power to her.

Some other evidence to consider for all of the feminists out there:

Women are attending college at higher rates than men

This fall, women will comprise more than 56 percent of students on campuses nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Some 2.2 million fewer men than women will be enrolled in college this year. And the trend shows no sign of abating. By 2026, the department estimates, 57 percent of college students will be women.

Black & white women raised in similar environments have similar income levels

A recent study published by the New York Times has help lay waste to the popular feminist claim that women are unfairly disadvantaged by the current socio-economic structure. The study, led by researchers at Stanford, Harvard, and the Census Bureau, found that although black men earn less than white men raised in similar environments, black and white girls from families with comparable earnings attain similar individual incomes as adults. The fundamental claim of the intersectional theorists, that women are among the “oppressed classes of people” in Western societies, is mere rhetoric.

Suicide rates are far higher for men

You might think, if Western society was the oppressive patriarchal institution feminist’s claim it is, surely suicide figures would show women give up on life more often than men. But that's simply not the case. In the US, of the 38,000 people who took their own lives in 2010, 79% were men.

Does all of this 'prove' definitively that we live in a perfectly gender-equal society? Of course not. But the bogeyman that feminists blame for women's problems or under-achievements simply doesn't exist - at least not to the degree they claim.

Seeing as women are free to pursue any career they want, own any property they wish, attend any college they desire, are owning businesses and running corporations, actively involved in political power, engineering and science, are protected from discrimination by law and are openly praised for all this to cloying degree... We are NOT living under patriarchy and have not been for some time.

Cover Image Credit: The Guardian

Popular Right Now

An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.

Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.


A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?


Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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