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War of the Genders

A confrontational soapbox for rants and politically incorrect manifestos regarding feminism, chauvinism, dating and gender issues.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Rage Gap

Having read numerous articles and arguments against the 'wage gap' issue, I assumed this myth was well on its way to being shelved as another Feminist lie. But evidently it's alive and kicking and will take much longer to die.

As classic examples of such debunking, there's Glenn Sacks's article and Warren Farrell's book.

Side Note: It's interesting to note that while women allegedly earn less than men, surveys show that women spend more than men, own 65% of America's wealth, and six times more retail space is allotted to women's personal items than to men's. Hmm...

There are numerous arguments against this Feminist lie, the strongest ones being:

1. Many women place higher priorities on their social life, families and children, or on personal hobbies. Even high-school girls, when surveyed as to their career expectations, said that they plan to drop from the workforce for at least a year when they have a baby. Now, there's nothing wrong with this. Quite the opposite. But it does have several obvious consequences on their careers and wages:

a) It means women usually spend less time at work and put in fewer extra hours. It has been proven statistically that men put in 8-10 more hours per week than women. This obviously means women are worth less to employers and that they will get fewer raises. It also obviously means that with hourly-wage jobs, men will get higher salaries.

b) Women's disappearance from the workforce will affect their seniority, work experience and industry knowledge.

It cannot be argued that just because women bring children into the world and work harder at home, paying them less is unfair, because companies are not socialist charities. Governments may impose on companies to pay social benefits and take into account basic human needs such as sick-pay, pregnancy and vacations, but not personal choices. If an employee chooses to go back to the university to find a cure for cancer, or to go home and raise a family, their career and wages must suffer.

2. Most wage gaps have nothing to do with gender. There are many other factors that are not taken into account when collecting statistics: Position, seniority, education, experience, hours, etc. Even two people in the same position and title may have different responsibilities that necessitate a wage gap. For example, one developer may be working on the product's complex core algorithms whereas another developer may be doing some web programming. Alternatively, one position may be more demanding or dangerous than the other despite having identical titles.

3. When you combine the above arguments with the fact that many women prefer more 'convenient' jobs and usually don't go after fast-track and more difficult or high-prestige positions, or usually aren't willing to be stationed in Alaska or work long hours, the wage gap is not only understandable, it may even be biased towards women. For example, as this blog argues, female psychologists often specialize in the lower-level child psychology field.

Women disproportionately major in the social sciences and enter lower paying, but more personally fulfilling, careers. Degrees in science and technology provide higher incomes than those in the liberal arts. Also, women who want to spend time with their families will obviously look for more flexible positions and careers.

Also, take the classic example of the computer and technology industry. Women's numbers in computer science have not significantly risen since 1970 despite the fact that these careers are wide open to them and nobody is dissuading them from such choices, yet we have organizations such as Women in Technology (WIT), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and now the ridiculous Women In Games International (WIGI). Men have always been passionate about computers and gaming and now that computers have become a lucrative industry and you can earn a fat paycheck developing games (which sounds like a lot more fun than it is), we have feminists popping up whining about how not enough women are interested in these careers and pushing for affirmative action, even blaming society for women's lack of interest. (Of course, there is no such thing as Women in Garbage Collection International (WIGCI) but that's another story.)

Perhaps one can argue that it's chauvinism that determines the lower wages for typically female careers. But this is untrue. It's the market that determines wages, not some patriarchal conspiracy.

4. I remember reading a survey that showed that the turnover for women was much higher than for men. Whatever the reason for this, it can easily contribute to the wage gap as, obviously, seniority is a very important factor for a career.

All this disqualifies these so-called statistics that show 76 female cents for every male dollar, simply because they ignore all the important variables and factors that affect a wage decision. In these surveys that have been mindlessly quoted a million times as signs of chauvinistic oppression, women and men are grouped together regardless of their actual merit and market worth. Equal opportunity does not ensure equal outcome and just because the wages are not equal, it does not logically follow that women are being treated unequally.

These same arguments shatter the Glass Ceiling lie. Most women lack seniority or make career choices that would obviously affect their promotion to upper management. An employee who disappears from the workforce, has a high turnover, or who chooses to put in minimal hours and to avoid demanding jobs will not be a likely candidate for CEO.

Personally, I've been in the workforce for over 15 years, and I've seen no evidence of the wage gap. Not only that, but in the world of hi-tech where long hours are the norm, the women I've worked with have consistently been 9-to-5 workers and have long gone home when others stay in late to get the work done in time. If women want equal wages then I'm afraid they are going to have to work for them.

I've also experienced the decision making involved in assigning wages and seen how even men with seemingly identical jobs get different wages for various reasons.

And, as Glenn Sacks argues, if companies benefit from the same amount and quality of work from women as they do from men and it is truly accepted practice to pay women less, then why aren't they exclusively employing women in order to save money?

I can perhaps accept an argument that says that chauvinism gets in the way of a woman's promotion. If men saw women as incapable of fulfilling certain roles then women would indeed be promoted less. But this wage gap argument is basically saying that millions of managers around the world, when presented with work given by a woman who worked just as hard as everyone else and has the same qualifications and position, consistently think to themselves "well I normally pay my marketing assistants 15 but since she's a woman I'll give her 11". Excuse me, but that's just extreme paranoia.

As usual, angry, working women rant and rave, proving that the only real gap is between men that work hard, and women that whine.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Logical Passion

In Jewish law there is the strict consequence of an action based on its essence and what it destroys or damages. This is called 'punishment'. But punishment cannot be considered a whim of a God anymore than getting electrocuted when you stick your finger in a socket can be called a whim of nature. It is a simple logical consequence of your action.

In some cases this 'punishment' is death. A kind of death logically appropriate to the act. I consistently encounter people that balk at the amount of sins in the Bible that demand that the perpetrator be put to death in various ways. However, what they dont realize is that the Sanhedrin (a kind of supreme court of Jewish judges) was considered bloodthirsty if it put to death more than one person every seven years. This is because the leaders/punishers can only punish if they also ensure that their people don't get to the point where they need to be punished. What also actually happened in Jewish history is that when the times deteriorated and there was no longer enough inspiration and a prevalent sense of duty and strong faith amongst the Jewish people, these judges chose to disperse and take apart the Sanhedrin rather than have to punish the increasing number of sinners. The logic was that since the times did not create a context whereas people were inspired and helped to maintain and understand the strict letter of the law, the system of strict punishments was no longer applicable by men.

This is an example of the duality in Jewish law where there are the idealistic concepts and strict consequences on one side, and practical application of the law on the other. Rabbis were given the ultimate power not only to add to and apply the law to changing circumstances, but according to Judaism they even change reality when they make legal decisions based on Jewish axioms. Applying Jewish law is not only logical, but mystical, and therefore demands a certain kind of disciplined and moral person.

But while this is a fascinating and complex subject and demands a lot more exploration than this, I brought this up chiefly as an example of what I call 'logical emotion'. The judges may have acted as if their feelings of sympathy and mercy got priority over their logic and strict legal rationality, but the truth is that this mercy or sympathy, as described above, was based on logic and has its place in Jewish law even more so than the death penalty.

Another similar concept in Judaism is God's Mercy. God is perceived to have an aspect of strict judgement (Din) and another of mercy or compassion (Rahamim). God finds ways to apply 'mercy' to someone who is trying to hurt himself by breaking the rules, by 'distancing' Himself from him, thus allowing for obstacles between the person and his consequences or self-inflicted spiritual damage, giving him a chance to fix things before it comes crashing down on his head. Divine mercy is an act whereby the man is pushed down to the first floor of the skyscraper so that he doesn't hurt hmself when he jumps out the window. This, again, is a perfectly logical perceived 'emotion'. No logic or legalities were thrown out the window just to give us a Hollywood ending. Compassion serves as the yang to the yin of judgement and has its own rules and logic.

Another example of a logical emotion in my eyes, is the concept of Faith in Judaism. Faith is never a blind emotion, but a power within every human being to direct his trust and behaviour towards what he knows to be true. Judaism only demands a 'leap of faith' when you trust there is a ground to land on based on rational consistency. A Jew is asked to place his trust in God, to actually direct his feelings towards what he knows to be true based on reason. Faith in Hebrew is 'Emunah', and 'Amen' comes from the same linguistic root because to have faith is to confirm a decision. To believe is to confirm God through reason, emotion and actions. Faith is a logical emotion that connects you with the truth on a deep and personal level instead of seeing it as an academic debate.

Previously, I attempted to describe love rationally and logically, defining its mechanisms and switches. Which brings us to the question: Judaism commands a Jew to love God, his wife, his fellow Jew. But how can love be commanded? Don't men just fall in love? Don't wives naturally get sick of their husbands and there is nothing we can do about it?

First of all, as argued in Passionate Logic (which is the flip side of the coin to this article), emotion on its own is not necessarily a warm, humanistic force, and logic is not necessarily a cold fish.

Passion is a force, a fire that can be directed and used. In fact, to give passion any transcendental quality above its materialistic roots, it must be given a context and spiritual goal. The only chance emotions have to become anything more than mere chemicals is to use them towards a non-chemical goal.

In addition, unbridled passion can be compared to a raging forest-fire and logical passion to a blowtorch. The former is wild and destructive and the latter is focused and useful for constructive purposes. When emotion is controlled (i.e. directed not murdered), it achieves an intensity instead of a wildness. Focus and the ensuing intensity is one of the mechanisms that stops passion from weakening and dissipating.

In order to achieve this we must understand passion and love, learn to identify its different forms, learn its mechanisms and how to maintain and direct it, and know what to direct it to. This was my goal in previous posts because love is another emotion, another mechanism or faculty which can be directed, maintained and aided using reason.

But if it's all about reason, and proper emotions are basically logic in disguise, then what purpose do emotions serve? It sounds like I'm suggesting that emotions are secondary and subservient forces that are as much a hindrance as a tool.

This also raises the issue of practical reality vs. romance. What do we say to cynics that pursue exclusively practical relationships vs. romantics that look for magic in their marriages? Having experienced both sides, I look back at the magical ones and they seem so illogical, making me stay with a woman whom I would never stick with otherwise. Is this magic self-illusion, or is there more to it?

As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Emotions make you see things differently and yet there's a fine line between loving someone beyond practicality and obstacles, and becoming blind to the damage being caused and seeing only rosy romance. This magic can even make you enjoy your chains and slavery to your spouse whereas logically this would seem preposterous. But it can also make you stay in a damaging relationship, have unrealistic expectations, break your heart, or even make you cheat with another as soon as your emotions for him take reign. Unless, that is, this fire is directed and based on reason.

Romance and love give you the power to forgive mistakes, to work around flaws, to apply Mercy vs. strict judgement, to give your spouse a chance to correct his errors. Emotions give you Faith to stick with your wife instead of bailing out at the first chance of trouble. These emotions may be illogical, but they are also based on reason. After all, they're based on your logical decision to marry towards transcendental goals. Or are they?


Amanda exploded. "Logic! Logic! I am sick to death of logic. Do you want to know how I feel about your logic?"

Father and son studied the angry woman. Their eyes met, then Spock said conversationally, "Emotional, isn't she?"

"She has always been this way", Sarek replied. "Why did you marry her?", asked Spock.

"It seemed the logical thing to do." Sarek looked blankly at his son but his eyes smiled.

-- Star Trek The Original Series: Journey To Babel