What's The Fuss at Wimbledon?

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Let's
say you are the owner of a Mom and Pop grocery store. You have two
employees, Jane and Mary. Jane works 3 hours a day, while Mary clocks
in 5 hours. Jane comes to you asking to be paid the same amount
as Mary, since her paycheck isn't "equal" to Mary's. How
do you respond?

Despite
the absurdity of this scenario, this is exactly what is playing
out in the world of professional tennis.

At
Wimbledon, men must play up to 5 sets to win, while women only play
3 sets. Obviously, you can show a lot more commercials for Pimm's
beer during those 2 extra sets of tennis.

But
the female tennis players think they are entitled to equal prize
money.

This
is how the
CEO of the Women's Tennis Association explains it
:
"It's not about the money, but the women feel very strongly
that as a matter of principle…they deserve equal prize money."

Note
the selective application of the word "equal." If the
WTA believes in true equality, then why not pay the runner-up the
same as the first place winner?

And
the comely Anna Kournikova garners $7–10 million from product
endorsements, far more than any male tennis players do. Why not
allow the men to benefit "equally" from parading around
in their underwear?

But
the intellectual dishonesty that underlies the Wimbledon controversy
is a mere skirmish in a much larger war.

Common
sense and anthropological research reveal these facts about women,
men, and work:

  1. Women are
    the primary caregivers of infants and young children.

  2. In order
    to support women in their caregiver role, men become the primary
    breadwinners.

  3. Men predominate
    in occupations such as mining, construction, fishing, and lumbering.
    While these jobs may pay well, they are far more perilous.

But
these biological and social facts are ignored in a recent report
from the International Labor Organization. The recent ILO document,
"Time
for Equality at Work
" makes the case that sex-based wage
discrimination is rampant around the world.

Here's
a glimpse into the ILO's logic: "Truck drivers, for instance,
are usually men." This lamentable fact is explained by what
the ILO calls "occupational segregation," which means
that women are unwittingly being shunted into the low-paying jobs.
Apparently, the ILO wants mothers to breastfeed their infants as
their 18-wheel rig careens down a two-lane highway.

The
ILO report makes the claim that "Occupational segregation by
sex has been more detrimental to women than to men." If this
is true, then why is it that men are often forced to spend long
periods away from home to support their families? And why are men,
not women, the victims in 9 out of 10 occupational deaths?

And
if there is any lingering doubt, this statement on page 51 of the
manifesto reveals the true intentions of the ILO: "The growing
prevalence of wage-setting systems based on workers' productivity
or performance instead of on the content of the job raises new challenges
for achieving pay equity."

In
other words, the "content" of the job (as determined by
some heavy-handed government agency) should count for more than
how much a worker produces. Clearly, ILO does not understand that
delinking salary from productivity undermines the entire economic
engine of society.

If
the ILO's insidious theories continue to spread, the Law of Supply
and Demand will become a quaint historical footnote. Instead, my
Comrade, we will be singing the praises of "From each according
to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

July
21, 2003

Carey
Roberts [send him mail]
is a researcher and consultant who tracks gender bias in the mainstream
media.


        
        

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