Women CAN Earn More Than Men – But Only In One Industry. Porn.


This month, one of Belgium’s women’s rights organizations, zij-kant, caused quite a stir with their annual “Equal Pay Day” message. Instead of merely high-lighting that women in Belgium, on average, earn 22 percent less than men, the organization launched a video starring porn actress Sasha Grey with the message “Porn is about the only way women can earn more than men; find a better alternative.”

The campaign has not surprisingly garnered quite a lot of interest, ranging from outrage that Sasha Grey is supposedly presenting herself as a victim, to amusement with the video’s explicit content, to applause. I find myself in the third camp, for three main reasons.

First of all, it is getting more and more difficult to garner outrage over the continued fact that women almost uniformly and in every single country in the world earn less than men for similar work. In June 2011, the US Supreme Court narrowly decided that it would not even hear a case regarding pay and promotion discrimination against women, because “women” are not a class. The plaintiffs had argued that, while there surely are many differences between women, when it comes to pay and promotion we share one key characteristic: we tend to be under-valued at work. The Belgium video short-circuits the glassy-eyedness that often follows a comment about entrenched gender pay gaps. If only because the protagonism of a porn actress titillates, at least the ad has people listening, including potentially a few who would otherwise have resisted sitting through a minute and a half of “feminist propaganda.”

Secondly, the core message—that porn is one of the very few professions where women consistently earn more than men (sex work being another)—is more likely to jolt people into action than a more generic “isn’t it awful” comment about continued pay inequity. Porn and sex work, generally, are still relatively stigmatized professions in many countries. Moreover, even for those who understand that sex work, including as a porn actress, can be a choice, the point is precisely that no one should be forced to carry it out. Therefore, the notion that women would have to have sex for money in order to overcome pay discrimination is a stark reminder that something has to be done.

Thirdly, the ad impressively strikes a balance between presenting Sasha Grey as an empowered woman who is choosing to work as a porn actress, and using the stigma of pornography and sex work to get a crucial message across. This is all the more remarkable because subtle messaging around pornography and sex work is so rare. A recent article in The Atlantic highlights how politicians’ reluctance to even talk about sex work keeps policies in place that seriously hamper the effectiveness of HIV prevention initiatives. While New York City distributes free condoms by the millions, for example, city police have destroyed or confiscated thousands of condoms found on suspected sex workers, and use condom possession to justify arrests.

The Sasha Grey ad is bound to make some people uncomfortable, even very uncomfortable, because of its explicit language and peripheral nudity. But what really should make us uncomfortable is the continued undervaluing of women in the formal workplace. I am thrilled that Sasha Grey has thrown her fame behind this message.

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  • malematters

    As a group, women have longer, healthier lives than men.

    Women’s 78 cents to men’s dollar is arrived at by identifying and comparing median income for men and women. The 78 cents refers to the point at which 50 per cent of workers earn above this figure and the other 50 below. It doesn’t take into account the number of hours worked each week, experience, seniority, training, education or even the job description itself.

    No law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap – http://tinyurl.com/74cooen), not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act…. Nor will a “paycheck fairness” law work.

    That’s because pay-equity advocates continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women’s equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of “The Secrets of Happily Married Women,” stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. “In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at http://tinyurl.com/6reowj, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier….” at newyorker.com/arts/cri…. If indeed more women are staying at home, perhaps it’s because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they’re going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman. Yet, if “greedy, profit-obsessed” employers could get away with paying women less than men for the same work, they would not hire a man – ever.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Because they’re supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home.

    Feminists, government, and the media ignore what this obviously implies: If millions of wives are able to accept no wages and live as well as their husbands, millions of other wives are able to:

      -accept low wages

      -refuse overtime and promotions

      -choose jobs based on interest first, pay second — men tend to do the opposite

      -work part-time instead of full-time (“According to a 2009 UK study for the Centre for Policy Studies, only 12 percent of the 4,690 women surveyed wanted to work full time”: http://bit.ly/ihc0tl See also an Australian report at http://tinyurl.com/862kzes)

      -take more unpaid days off

      -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (views.washingtonpost.co…)

    All of which LOWER WOMEN’S AVERAGE PAY.

    Women are able to make these choices because they are supported — or anticipate being supported — by a husband who must earn more than if he’d chosen never to marry. (Still, even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap. If the roles were reversed so that men raised the children and women raised the income, men would average lower pay than women.

    Afterword: The power in money is not in earning it (there is only responsibility, sweat, and stress in earning money). The power in money is in SPENDING it. And, Warren Farrell says in The Myth of Male Power at http://www.warrenfarrell.org/TheBook/index.html, “Women control consumer spending by a wide margin in virtually every consumer category.” (Women’s control over spending, adds Farrell, gives women control over TV programs.) “A recent research study revealed that the average woman spends eight years of her life shopping [spending] — over 300 shopping trips per year. Men, only a fraction of that.” -

    http://www.terryoreilly.ca/blog/show/id/78

    See “Will the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Help Women?” at http://malemattersusa.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/will-the-ledbetter-fair-pay-act-help-women/

    By the way, the next Equal Occupational Fatality Day is in 2020. Year 2020 is how far into the future women must work to experience the same number of work-related deaths that men experienced in 2009 alone. http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2010/04/equal-occupational-fatality-death-day.html

     

  • prochoiceferret

    As a group, women have longer, healthier lives than men.

     

    Kind of makes you want to become one, doesn’t it? There’s the whole multiple-orgasm thing, too.

     

    Women’s 78 cents to men’s dollar is arrived at by identifying and comparing median income for men and women. The 78 cents refers to the point at which 50 per cent of workers earn above this figure and the other 50 below. It doesn’t take into account the number of hours worked each week, experience, seniority, training, education or even the job description itself.

     

    Actually, it does.

     

    The rest of your argument is kind of moot in light of that correction, so you may want to take some time to revise it. Take your time—neither we, nor our advocacy for closing the wage gap, are going anywhere.