Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Question 10

One of my favorite old books is called The Book of Questions, by Gregory Stock, Ph.D. My version is copyright 1985. I see on Amazon that it has been revised and updated as of 2013, and is available for Kindle.

The book is what the title claims. It offers up 200 philosophical and moral questions. One could simply answer "yes" or "no" to many of the queries, but the idea is to think about it and explain the answer.

Since today is the 10th day of March, I thought I'd open the book up to question 10. Given that Sunday was International Women's Day, this seems an appropriate sort of question:

Q. Which sex do you think has it easier in our culture? Have you ever wished you were a member of the opposite sex?

My answer to this question would be that males, specifically white males, have it easier in our culture. This is because white males dominate the political landscape and we are a patriarchal culture and have been for thousands of years.

A patriarchal culture is one in which males hold the power: they are heads of household, leaders of groups, leaders in government, bosses in the workplace. To me this is clearly the case in most segments of U.S. society. Women do not have equality here. (Yes, I am a feminist; I believe this is wrong and should be changed.)

Most studies show that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar a man earns when performing the same work. This is often "explained away" as necessary because women require more leave to care for family obligations, to have children, etc. However, even a single woman who has no children or other family to tend to earns less than a male doing the same job. Of course there are always exceptions, but they are not the rule.

This wage gap means that women, on average, earn the median yearly pay for women who are employed full time is $11,084 less than men doing the same work. That's a lot of cash to lose simply because you are female.

Discrimination against women still exists. I've experienced it myself many times. These days I find it most strongly in health care, where male doctors simply look at me and want to prescribe Valium simply because I'm a woman. How dare I take up their valuable time? I have no doubt that if my husband presented with a similar problem, he'd received a great deal more attention and had more testing.

Regarding the second part of the question, I don't recall ever wanting to be a man as an adult. I'm sure as a young girl that I probably did. It was obvious to me from an early age that I was considered inferior by some of the males in my life simply because I had to sit down to pee. I am sure that led to some youthful magical thinking.

I have mostly been happy as a woman. I think my career has suffered from my gender, unfortunately, because a lot of my health problems have been related to my female plumbing. But perhaps had I been born a male, I'd have had different health issues. Some people are simply sickly.

I do think, though, that women are dismissed and short-changed in many industries in this country. When women are seen as people, and not as "something less-than," I will consider us equals.

Undoubtedly, that will not happen in my lifetime.

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