The Pay Gap Is Between More Than Just Man & Woman

The Good 4 Utah, Gender Equality Bake Sale article opened up with he following line, “Here’s a quiz. 2 cookies, 2 chocolate chip cookies, exactly the same. Yet one sells for a dollar, the other 77 cents. Why? Because in America, for every dollar a man makes, a woman only makes 77 cents. So we’re raising awareness for this…” said Kari Schott with the Young Democrats Club at Jordan High School.” (good4utah.com) It is great that this bake sale was organized to spread awareness about the gender wage gap, it’s problematic that the chocolate cookies are the same. Why? Well since the cookies are the same it implies that men and women are exactly the same and that other factors such as race and sexuality for example do not have an impact to a person’s pay wage, when in fact it does. The bake sale fails to acknowledge intersectionality or gender diversity and it’s role in society and thus perpetuates a white cis-gendered feminist agenda, as opposed to a feminist agenda that acknowledges the differences amongst the population of all feminists. Whilst I acknowledge it is a great idea for awareness, it definitely fails in many ways.

Intersectionality is hugely overlooked within today’s society and perhaps because it makes introducing and educating others about these issues so complex. The bottom line is you cannot look at a situation through a single lens. For example, let’s say Fred is a queer, Jewish, cis-gendered man. Fred can only be viewed within the contexts of being a queer, jewish, cis-gendered man. His queerness can not be separated from his Jewish and cis-gendered perspectives and vice versa. We must view Fred on a whole as a queer, Jewish, cis-gendered man and we must observe how the different planes of his identity intersect, overlap, and interact with each other. The bake sale fails to do this by only breaking up the categories into Men and Women. This is also problematic because there are a wide range of gender identities that are not simply cis-gendered men, and a cis-gendered women, when in fact there are transgendered, intersex and other genders to be considered. Gender and Race have been known to affect pay wages and employment rates, for example in Canada, “…all racialized groups—except those who identify as Japanese and Filipino—tend to find themselves on the unemployment line more often than non-racialized Canadians. Racialized men are 24% more likely to be unemployed than non-racialized men. Racialized women have it worse: They’re 48% more likely to be unemployed than non-racialized men. This may contribute to the fact that racialized women earn 55.6% of the income of non-racialized men.” (Canada’s Colour Coded Labour Market, 2011) That is only amongst racialized populations, non-conforming gendered and disabled people are affected as well, again the bake sale has simply oversimplified the gender wage gap issue.

I personally felt that the bake sale was neat idea to raise awareness, after all anything yummy does attract people’s attention especially within the highs school setting. Though there should’ve been an attempt to diversify the baked goods, because in life not everyone is a chocolate chip cookie. The world has been made for chocolate chip cookies! So what are the brownies, cakes, Nanaimo bars, hard candies, baklava, tongyuan, mochi balls, cakes and pies (etc.) supposed to do? Surely the Chocolate cookies can’t speak for everyone. With the lack of representation and acknowledgement of these other diverse groups and issues that pertain to those groups, fixing these problems will be even harder if these issues are not brought to the forefront. We cannot fight for the equality of all women, for by saying so is assuming that all women have the exact same issues which homogenizes the group. Within that homogenized group some women’s issues a hierarchy will appear and some issue’s will become more of a priority than others for example white feminists’ priorities will be taken more seriously over a radicalized feminist’s priorities.

For some constructive criticism for the bake sale, I do not expect a high school bake sale to have a massive, diverse plethora of desserts to represent each non-white, cis-gendered, able-bodied, straight person out there. However, what I do expect is some attempt at demonstrating diversity. Have different desserts for the racialized, the disabled and queer gendered, and include a disclaimer that all groups are not represented due to the diversity of lives in America/ North America or wherever. It’s OK to acknowledge the impossibility of representing everyone at a bake sale. The fact that there is some acknowledgment to diversity opens up the opportunity for bake sale buyers to learn about the different groups out there. I would want the bake sale organizers to let it be known that the gender pay gap in America is not as black and white as being an issue between only men and women. It is an issue that involved all the parts of a person’s identity and we must investigate and acknowledge that.

Sources:

http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/gender-equality-bake-sale-causes-stir-at-utah-high/10246/0gE6cCkPA0mvNkLZEjyO4Q

http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2011/03/Colour%20Coded%20Labour%20Market.pdf

(I apologize for the lateness 😦  Also I love the theme of food)

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5 thoughts on “The Pay Gap Is Between More Than Just Man & Woman

  1. Interesting analogy, I loved the food theme all the way through! I really liked that the video complimented what you wrote in your analysis. I agree with you that the bake sale should have tackled the issue with an intersectional approach opposed to the 2nd wave feminist way they did it. I find though that for highschool children this was quite good on their part. I personally had no idea of what intersectionality was until I entered university, so in many ways you can’t blame them for their ignorance. Seeing that these teens wanted to bring awareness to this issue, I’m sure through education they would look into a more diverse approach.

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  2. I completely agree with you! The bakesale stopped to go further than second wave feminism but it was still an interesting way to raise awareness. It did get people to openly talk about the subject. Like motherwillow, I had no idea what intersectionality was until I took GNDS 125, so I don’t blame them. However, it would be nice if they had courses about gender studies in high school. I would have definitely taken it, and be aware of these gender and racial matters earlier. Hopefully, the students who organized the bakesale get to understand intersectionality and have a broader approach in the future!

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  3. I think you analyzed this in a very interesting way! I like how even though the article focused on the gender wage gap, that you also looked at it through the perspective of peoples identity as a whole whether they are cisgendered, queer, transgender or of a different racial group. I agree with you that this bake sale should not have just covered gender rights such as the second wave of feminism, but the intersectional approach to help promote full equality in society. I think it’s a big step in our society however, when a group of highschool students are standing up against things such as the wage gap, and its important to acknowledge their lack of ignorance on the whole issue, as they clearly have a goal and an agenda to reach.

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  4. As I mentioned to HJH37, I question the integrity of our school systems. Being a racialized female myself, I often focus on race and gender and neglect to think about other bodies. My high school education also seemed limited in only going as far to examine things through lenses of races and gender on occasion. I think concepts such as intersectionality and awareness of other bodies in society should be integrated into our social science and humanities courses.
    You mentioned integrating other representations of different bodies in society into the bake sale which made me think of the criticism outlined in lecture about Third Wave Feminism. Playing devil’s advocate: do you think that making the bake sale too amorphous could potentially detract from the central issue of inequity? Also, out of interest, what are some first steps you think could be taken towards eliminating the pay gap?

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  5. 13SRHS thanks for your questions! I would feel that broadening the bake sale would give under represented groups a time to shine (yes I understand they are high school students but lets give them a hypothetical feminist teacher that guided them) Feminism itself is being criticized for being to broad but I think people under the feminist umbrella have it’s sorta fixed that with sub-genre and focus groups that focus on those issues. At the end of the day it’s a bake sale and I’m sure exposure to those groups could do no harm and I don’t feel it will be taking away from men’s and women’s rights/ issues as the spot light has been on the gender binary for so long. As for fixing the wage gap, well the .77 cents for every dollar doesn’t really take into account the different jobs women are choosing and it’s more often than not lower paying jobs and the same for radicalized peoples etc. The solution is hard for me to gage because I’m personally focused on awareness, and to me it seems like a systemic and institutional issue and much much deeper than equal pay for equal work.

    As for gender studies in high school, I must say I’m very fortunate as I had gone to an arts school where many students at a young age were willing to come out as gay or transition before graduation. I knew and was aware of these issues yet I had no knowledge on feminism or a gender studies course I could ask questions, I did here rumours that it was briefly covered in anthropology. But I feel the younger we educate people the better and the more they can grow/ build upon that knowledge. I’m behind it 100%.

    Thanks for all the lovely comments. 🙂

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