This idea that women are there to look after others, “for” others, rather than for themselves, is pretty poisonous in the effects it has, if indeed it stops women from earning as much as men do. Apart from what I’m going to call the “female” penalty which ensures that women often get paid less than men from the get-go (because why pay them, when they’re supposed to be doing stuff for others anyway), we also have this issue that women are then penalised if they ask for more. Like a huge historical tide of gendered Oliver Twists, women who ask for more money, or for more status, or for more power, are gazed on with slight distaste by the Mr Bumbles in whose gift these things reside, and who are more than likely to respond incredulously “More? More?!?”
As I’ve been writing these posts, Facebook, which is getting better at spotting what I’m interested in, (although it does periodically offer me “Zac for Mayor” posts which make me wish that Facebook had included a “Barffff!!” choice with its new Like options) has offered me a number of posts about Women’s equality, in particular about pay inequality. And amongst those have been a few posts that I find most interesting indeed, because they seem to me to be indicative of a new argument as to why women don’t earn as much as men. It is, you may not be surprised to discover, a shiny new version of our old friend, “It’s all your fault anyway”, which crops up in so many situations.