The Wage Gap exploitation of women continues

As you may have heard, Obama recently signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which corrects language in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that caused a wage discrimination case filed by the eponymous Ms. Ledbetter in 1998 to be dismissed by the Supreme Court, because it was not filed within 180 days of the employer’s decision to discriminate.

In signing the act, the President linked Lilly’s case to that of all women:

Lilly knows this story isn’t just about her. It’s the story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn…

Now, there is no doubt that the statute of limitations needed correction, but it was not itself an indicator of sexism. If anything, it was evidence that those who were trying to fight sexism in the 1960s did not understand the law or business well enough to know that the Equal Pay Act was inadequate as written.

But, never mind that as Feminist politicians spin the yarn that the ruling against Ledbetter was the result of systemic oppression against women, and not because a majority of Supreme Court Justices decided to enforce a clumsily-written Act as it was written, rather than as it should have been written.

The Damsel in Distress Narrative

And, spinning a yarn is precisely what the hooplah surrounding the Fair Pay Act is about: the psychosocial narrative of the Damsel in Distress, in which leading Feminist activists, pundits, and politicians of both genders play Knight in Shining Armor in order to win the love of the endangered princess. And we all know that in order for there to be a Damsel in Distress, there has to be an evil Dragon that is Distressing her.

That mythical monster here is systemic wage discrimination.

Using Lilly Ledbetter as poster child for the act is another way of tapping into the human instinct for the noble victim narrative. We are used to this sort of political story-telling; politicians are constantly invoking the names and (carefully edited) stories of individual Americans whose proud yet anecdotal suffering is intended to justify sweeping legislation.

But the fact that the law is named after Ledbetter, and not after a nameless deluge of cheated women employees, tells its own story. The Equal Pay Act passed in 1963, Ledbetter filed her case in 1998, thirty-five years later. It is now a decade since Lilly filed her case, 45 years since the Equal Pay Act was passed that we are passing the Ledbetter Act. In a country with over one hundred million women, in almost half a century we have a single name on which we can hang this phenomenon.

If “Lilly knows this story isn’t just about her,” then who else is it about? Name them, Mr. President.

Lying America into a War (on Sexism)

As the Lilly Ledbetter anecdote is the type specimen for systemic sex discrimination — in the absence of a sky-darkening flock of discrimination cases — the statistic invoked by the President in conjunction with Ledbetter is the fraud used in the absence of valid evidence of systemic sex discrimination.

That “78 cents on the dollar” talking point refers to a gap in median wages, not a gap in wages for the same work.

A median is the middle value in a set of values. Imagine putting all the paychecks earned by full-time working men in one row, and all the paychecks earned by full-time working women in another row. Then pull out the ones in the middle of each row.* That is what those numbers refer to.

So, it is not “women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn” as the President said. It is a single woman and a single man who happen to fall between equal numbers of their own gender on the pay scale. That’s what a median is.

And the President’s claim? That’s what a lie is.

These two hypothetical paychecks are not for the same work, not for workers with the same qualifications, not for the same number of hours above full time (men work longer hours than women on average), and not for the same employer. The only thing these two incomes have to do with each other is that the number of people earning more is the same as the number of people earning less.

In other words — just like complaints about the Ledbetter case — this talking point has absolutely nothing to do with the content of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Its sole purpose is to fabricate Workplaces of Mass Discrimination (WMDs) that justify Feminist activists, pundits, and politicians painting themselves as the Hero riding to war in order to save the Damsel in Distress … who is then expected to reward the Hero with love, votes, and donations.

You know, greet them as “liberators.” We heard this same bullshit story from the previous administration in regard to Iraq.

If It Is Real, Why Use Fake Proof?

Even after having Lilly’s anecdotal role as the last half century’s celebrity of wage discrimination pointed out, even after having the deliberate falsehood of the “78 cents on the dollar” scam explained, many will still insist (as so many Republicans did for so long after the toppling of Baghdád) that the WMDs must be out there. We’re just not looking in the right places! Yet!

But, “78 cents on the dollar” is not the only fraud used to stitch together the Dragon that is required for the Hero to earn the Damsel’s devotion. Wage inequality advocates will also resort to the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, the sample size of which cannot possibly provide a valid equal pay for equal work comparison. They will also fail to mention the longer hours worked by full-time employed men compared to women, or the huge gap between men and women when it comes to workplace injury and death.

Even the fact that “78 cents on the dollar” compares only full-time employed men and women hides an inconvenient truth: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics** the median income of women working part time (less than 35 hours) is actually higher than that of their male counterparts. Oops!

The question I pose now is this: if the WMDs are there, why must Feminists consistently invoke bogus figures and anecdotal cases? If there is such a thing as this wage gap Sasquatch, why not produce a carcass instead of a string of cheap hoaxes? If systemic income discrimination is real, why keep using fake proof?

So, to all the women and sympathetic men cheering on the Heroes of Feminism, who are hard at work rescuing Fair Damsels from the cardboard cut-out of a Patriarchal Dragon they’ve propped up … don’t forget to congratulate yourselves for being the most consistently well-duped demographic in the past 45 years.

-Sam, from his personal blog archive


* When dealing with such large sets of data, however, medians are typically derived statistically rather than by actually locating the middle datum. Even so, comparing two median incomes is still about comparing two individuals, not two genders, and without regard for the quality and quantity of work being done.

** “Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2000,” Report 952, August 2001

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