For hundreds of years, women have been treated as inferior to men. This hasn’t always been the case though. In the times of hunter-gathers, all people were valued, integral parts of the community. In ancient Egypt, gender didn’t dictate any social status. (O’Brien) In modern times, however, women have been mistreated, disadvantaged, and abused, and had little to no consequences for doing so. Women are seen by some as having less inherent value than men. That mentality justifies a difference in pay between them. Instead, some believe every person, whether woman, man, or enby, should be valued equally, and should be paid equally for equivalent labor. Today, all around the world systemic problems face women, for example, for every eighty-nine cents made by a woman, one dollar is made by a man doing the same labor. (O’Brien)
Not only are women paid less, but they are sometimes unable to work high-paying jobs because societal norms force them to spend their time and energy running their households. They are expected to care for children, do cleaning and cook meals. This labor is unpaid, which means they often become financially dependent on their partner. Men in power have disenfranchised women for centuries, restricting them from owning land, voting, writing, being educated, or having high-ranking positions in society. (O’Brien)
Restricting women’s ability to earn their own money reduces the agency they have. If people are worried about earning enough to eat, they won’t take a day off work to march in a rally. Religious institutions have sought to sequester women, and force rigid, obedient, roles onto them, all done in the name of a higher power. These pretenses are used to justify cruel and unjust actions taken against women.
Governments use laws and policing to withhold self-agency from women, LGBTQIA+ people, and people of color, including indigenous people. Without the right to vote, their voices on political leaders are silenced, and they aren’t taken into account. Issues they value, like equal pay for all, aren’t addressed. People have taken stands against the system, but in trying to bring awareness to these issues plaguing women around the world, and speaking out against them, and the people responsible for their proliferation, many throughout history have suffered and been killed. (O’Brien)
Women endure hate-filled, ignorant, sexist, bigoted, crude, and dehumanizing remarks regularly. (O’Brien) One of the most common places for these interactions is in workplace settings. This awful treatment drives women out of the workforce, or into worse, lower-paying positions to get away from the people who mistreat them.
How do we reduce the impacts of issues like pay inequality?
One way to reduce these issues' impacts is by speaking out against inequality and raising awareness about the systemic issues women face simply for existing as they are. By addressing problems such as the wage gap, and calling on leaders to change policies. (O’Brien) Social media has become a home for discourse surrounding these topics. It is important to recognize the part we play within the system, and the power we hold to shape it.
Throughout the years, thousands of civil activists and feminists have rallied and written for their cause. They confront firmly instantiated institutions and beliefs. We can follow in their footsteps and march, picket truths clenched high. (O’Brien) Going on strike from businesses with unfair and unequal hiring, firing, or payment practices. By celebrating the achievements and lives of women, and voting for female leaders. (O’Brien) As a society, we should value everyone regardless of their gender, race, or other attributes. Everyone should respect, and be respected. It is irrational and unfair to pay someone less just for having a different body when it has no bearing on the work they do. It is selfish and cruel to force women to participate in unpaid domestic service, or to restrict their access to voting, ownership, and education. As a connected and intelligent culture, we should be able to solve these humanitarian issues. Regardless of who we are, these issues are our issues, for we are engaged in the anthropocene.
Do you think women should be paid the same?
Should women and men be paid equally?
O'Brien, Cynthia. Working toward Gaining Equality for Women. Crabtree Publishing
Imani, Blair, and Monique Le. Modern Herstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People
Rewriting History. Ten Speed Press, 2018.