Obama Revives an Old Feminist Myth

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“When more women are bringing home the bacon, but bringing home less of it than men who are doing the same work, that weakens families, it weakens communities, it’s tough on our kids, it weakens our entire economy.” Thus said President Obama at a recent “women and the economy” event at the White House, where he portrayed American women as victims of pervasive wage discrimination in the workplace.

This theme was nothing new for our president. Indeed it was but an echo of what he had said during his 2010 State of the Union speech—that it was imperative “to crack down” on the purportedly widespread “violations of equal-pay laws so that women get equal pay for an equal day’s work.” That, in turn, was but an echo of what Obama had said just nine days after his inauguration, when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law making it easier for women to sue employers for pay discrimination: “It is a story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every $1 [that] men earn, women of color even less.” And that, in turn, was itself an echo of Obama’s 2008 campaign pledge to eliminate the gender “pay gap” by taking concrete “steps to better enforce the Equal Pay Act, fight job discrimination, and … give women equal footing in the workplace.”

In the last presidential election, this type of rhetoric earned Obama the devotion of left-wing feminists from coast to coast. Vicky Lovell, a director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, lauded Obama for projecting “empathy for women’s financial struggles,” and for understanding that “women are more economically vulnerable than men.” Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, likewise praised Obama for articulating a plan to pass “essential legislation that provides basic fairness in the workplace.”

To be sure, such sentiments would have considerable merit if not for a single, stubbornly inconvenient detail: The contention that women are underpaid by American employers in comparison to men is demonstrably untrue. A complete fiction. A gargantuan lie, actually. As longtime employment lawyer Warren Farrell, who served as a board member of the National Organization for Women from 1970 to 1973, explains in his book Why Men Earn More, the 22-cent “pay gap” is neither a result of gender bias nor workplace discrimination. It can be explained entirely by the fact that women as a group tend to make certain very logical and legitimate employment-related choices which, while affording them a number of benefits that they value highly, tend to suppress incomes—for reasons that are also logical and legitimate.

Consider some pertinent facts. Far more often than men, women tend to seek employment in fields that are non-technical or which involve the social—as opposed to the physical—sciences. Moreover, they seek employment in fields that: offer a high level of physical safety; involve work that is performed indoors as opposed to outdoors (where bad weather can make working conditions poor); feature a pleasant and socially dynamic working environment; are characterized by lower levels of emotional turbulence; offer desirable shifts or flexible working hours; and require fewer working hours per week or fewer working days per year. As well, women tend to gravitate toward fields that do not require long commutes; men on average commute 36% farther to get to work, a fact that translates into about $1,500 in extra annual pay. Similarly, women are more inclined to pursue jobs that do not require geographic relocation—the result being that females make up only 18% of all workers who are transferred abroad by their employers.

Such advantages come at a cost; they make certain fields more attractive and thus expand the pool of applicants to a point that, in some cases, exceeds the demand for services. This, in turn, exerts a downward pressure on salaries. Yet this tradeoff is quite acceptable to many working women: Only 29% of women, versus 76% of men, report that their primary motivation for working is to “build wealth.” Research has shown repeatedly that women are more likely to pursue jobs that they perceive to be socially useful, while men, for various reasons, tend to give greater emphasis to money.

An even more significant cause of the gender pay gap is that women tend to compile fewer years of uninterrupted service in their jobs than men. Indeed, women are far more likely to leave the workforce for extended periods in order to attend to family-related matters such as raising children. This is simply a life choice to forego some degree of financial reward in exchange for the emotional reward of being an at-home parent, whether full-time or part-time. During the course of their overall work lives, men accumulate an extra 5 to 9 years on the job as compared to their female counterparts, and each of those additional years translates to approximately 3 or 4 percent more in annual pay.

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  • mrbean

    Prez Obama dun knows dat it beez dah white man dat beez keepin dah black peoples down. Yassah, an dey pays dah bruthas an dah sistas lessa den all dah honey crackas who steals dah monies fum fah poe black peoples. Obama gonna git dah secand term an weez goona git ah reparations unter HR 10. Yassah…. Whitey gonna pay all dah black peoples lots mo' monies….yonowatahmsayin… smacking lips…..metttt……mettt….metttt.

    • bresner23

      Feminist version of equality: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5OdQGbVNa4

    • Ghostwriter

      Not the "Amos n' Andy" bit AGAIN!!!! What does THIS have to do with what the article was saying? I wish you'd stop doing this,mrbean.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    If he is trying to solve this problem, why is his white house one of the offenders?

    • intrcptr2

      Because he's not trying to solve the non-existent problem?

  • oldtimer

    The pay scale for a nurse, police officer etc. is the same whether male or female.

    • Rifleman

      Apparently, some women need to be paid more to make up for the days they miss. That's a socialist's idea of "fairness".

    • mlcblog

      Don't tell O.

  • WildJew

    Historically, there have been demagogic "knights in shinning armor" who came to the rescue only to leave desolation and misery in their wake. Germans, Japanese, Italians, both women and men alike, internalized this harsh lesson in the previous century. This twenty year disciple of Reverend Jeremiah Wright is cleverly exploiting the "gender gap," thereby hoping American women will provide him the needed edge over his Republican opponent. It does not speak well to the good judgment of Americans who will vote for a racist and a demagogue out of what they perceive to be their self-interest.

  • Rifleman

    Apparently that's how it is in dp run organizations, like the hussein WH, so they assume everyone else is like them.

  • babyanng

    Age ain't nothing but a number for these loved-up A-Listers. My BF and I both think so! He is almost 10 years older than I. We met via ~~Agelessmeet .COM~~ a nice place for younger women and older men, or older women and younger men, to interact with each other! Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends :)

  • mrbean

    Most federal government employees (67%) are women. Federal civilian workers had an average wage of $83,679, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.5 By comparison, the average wage of the nation's 101 million private-sector workers was $51,986. Figure 1 shows average federal- and private-sector wages since 2000, and it reveals that the federal pay advantage over private workers has been increasing steadily. In addition, federal workers enjoy average benefits of $42,462, which compared to average benefits in the U.S. private sector of just $10,771. That huge advantage stems both from more federal workers receiving certain types of benefits and from particular federal benefits being more lucrative than those available in the private sector. Blacks are also 400% to 600% over-represented in percentage of federal goverment jobs.

    • mlcblog

      you expect us to respect this? after you once again contributed that n***** drivel…sorry about the word but that's what it is,no matter the race of the speaker.

      As I have said before, I consider it demeaning and now perhaps most of all to your own self, as it is hard to take you seriously when you would engage in this unfeeling and so out of fashion an old style of mockery. I think you can do better.

      • mrbean

        How Is This? ARADC Stands for Illinois Attorney Registration And Disciplinary Committee. It's the official arm of lawyer discipline in Illinois.
        1. President Barack Obama, former editor of the Harvard Law Review, is no longer a "lawyer". He surrendered his license back in 2008 in order to escape charges he lied on his bar application.

        A "Voluntary Surrender" is not something where you decide "Gee, a license is not really something I need anymore, is it?" and forget to renew your license. No, a "Voluntary Surrender" is something you do when you've been accused of something, and you 'voluntarily surrender" your license five seconds before the state suspends you.
        2 Michelle Obama "voluntarily surrendered" her law license in 1993.
        3. So, we have the first black President and First Lady – who don't actually have licenses to practice law. Facts.
        Source: http://jdlong.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/pres-barac

        • mlcblog

          All good points, yes, except that I fail to see what, in 3., "black" has to do with anything. We are talking about behavior, and I find the inclusion of their race unnecessary or perhaps racist here.

          Which brings me to my main and original point. Are you not the same 'mrbean" that wrote this? and regularly contributes this type of verbiage?

          Prez Obama dun knows dat it beez dah white man dat beez keepin dah black peoples down. Yassah, an dey pays dah bruthas an dah sistas lessa den all dah honey crackas who steals dah monies fum fah poe black peoples. Obama gonna git dah secand term an weez goona git ah reparations unter HR 10. Yassah…. Whitey gonna pay all dah black peoples lots mo' monies….yonowatahmsayin… smacking lips…..metttt……mettt….metttt.

      • Kratch

        Are you suggesting that your personal opinion of the speaker makes the facts he presents undeserving of respect? That because he may be a bigot, or an offensive jerk, or just a person with a different sense of humour then you have (and before you start talking to me about what's funny and what isn't, feel free to address that point with all those people who say the yoghurt commercial with a woman headbutting a man to the floor, to the point he becomes afraid of her was funny and not depicting domestic violence), that the clear disparity in pay vs benefits differences between the female dominated public sector and the private sector don't deserve respect, for the sole reason that, he's the one who pointed it out?

        I think this says as much about you than his former post does about him.

        • mlcblog

          Not at all. I am taking exception to what I consider mr bean's deplorable antics which he apparently thinks is oh, so funny but which to me is just in bad taste, bordering on embarrassing use of ebonics for some purpose I do not understand. I have been suggesting he consider discontinuing this. Yes, I personally find it offensive, yet I do not presume to tell him what to do. That is his choice, if indeed mr bean is a guy.

          I was not talking about the article itself but pointing out to mr bean (again, and this was going to be and will be my last time) the glaring disparity between him wanting to be taken seriously versus the strange and, as I said, not that it's a different taste in humor (I love lots of kinds of humor) but that it's just yukky….as I said, vs. his wanting to be read by us in his intelligent (except for throwing in the word "black," again in my opinion) article delineating the 1, 2, 3 of the O's unlawful law licenses.

          Your suggestion that I don't get it or don't have enough sense of humor I find disappointing,and I despair that I was unable to make my point.

          • Mark Neil

            The problem is, you said "you expect us to respect this?". You effectively disrespected the content, rather than the presenter. Had you said "you expect to be taken seriously now?", it would have been a completely different argument (and I would not have commented, but you instead choose to dismiss the content.

            As to the assertion "Your suggestion that I don't get it or don't have enough sense of humor", you misrepresent me. I never said you nether got it, nor that you failed to have a sense of humour, I said the humour was different. I then pointed to the hypocrites that generally moan and whine about a woman getting a hangnail on TV laughing it up at a man getting headbutted to the ground, and saying "it's only humour", and suggested, if you want to start dictating what is funny and what isn't (rather than accepting different people find different things funny), you can start with those hypocrites first before you come to me.

          • mlcblog

            Your points are well taken. Thank you.

  • Randy

    Excellent article. The concluding two paragraphs were masterful.

  • Eric G

    I am a major in the USAF, and all female majors in the USAF make the same pay as me. All men and women alike have the same opportunities as me to get a commission in the USAF.

  • Western Spirit

    obama is just trying to get women to vote for him. this woman sees through him and i hope others will too. after all he can't run on his record. men are always placed where the rubber meets the road and get paid for it but die off before women do.

  • SassyFrasse

    . RE: "Obama Revives a Black Feminist Myth….."

    Tawana Brawley
    Tawana Brawley

  • Dispozadaburka

    I can't wait for his Muslim Brothers in the White House to demand to breast feed from Michelle and Hilary.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    What does Obama really think women should be paid, at least enough for death rags to cover
    them head to toe and enough for provide tape for their mouths. Who does the Mullah think he is
    kidding, women are chattel in Islam and Obama is Islam's guy in America…………..William

  • Dispozadaburka

    Wait until you see the building in DC that the Saudi's are building.

    Huge, next to the Verizon Center.

    They won't allow alcohol to be served in their building.

    Breastfeeding Muslim men in offices shared with women, ok

    Alcohol in restaurants in a Muslim building in Washington, DC. not ok

  • sedoanman

    If I was an employer, I would be insane to hire a man for $X if I could hire a woman for $0.69X.

  • Ronald Johnston

    osama obama must be the female in his homosexual encounters!!!!

  • mlcblog

    I am thinking that to be fair Warren Buffett's secretary should have to run the company and then she could get paid what the boss does and pay that amount of taxes.

    I mean, is it fair that she does less work than WB?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    Not when democrats pay less for their senate staffers, and white house staffing pays more to men.