Ginger Rogers, Goldilocks and Gender Gaps……

I am guessing that many people have heard of the dancing pair Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I came across a quote about her recently and I realized that it was brilliant in capturing the total and real inequality that women continue to face!

remember-ginger-rogers-did-everything-fred-astaire-did-but-backwards-and-in-high-heels

They have to be WAY better and work much harder to be given even a semblance of equal credit. Then there is the wage gap and time poverty issue. Women have been raging against it for decades and despite the Equal Pay Act passed in USA as long ago as 1963,  there continues to be a real wage gap. Including in glitzy Hollywood as Natalie Portman recently reminded us.http://www.brit.co/natalie-portman-wage-gap/

And as Jennifer Lawrence says in her own direct way in this http://www.lennyletter.com/work/a147/jennifer-lawrence-why-do-i-make-less-than-my-male-costars/

“When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.”

Here, in India, SEBI ordered that women need to be represented on the Boards of Director, which had many of them scrambling to bring in some women from the founding families. Can you imagine that they were required to have AT LEAST ONE woman and they had failed that also ?! It is mind boggling.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/jobs/several-firms-fail-to-fulfil-sebi-rule-for-at-least-one-woman-director-on-their-boards/articleshow/51870537.cms

Reservations for women in Panchayat seats were seen as tokenistic earlier but these women are now wielding real power.

http://www.jaagore.com/power-of-49/5-women-sarpanch-leaders-showing-india-the-way-forward

It is these political social and economic empowerments that will make the real change for sex ratio. Not stopping ultrasound scans and late abortions………..if the Beti has to be bachao-ed, then patriarchy has to be hilao-ed.

In 1975, in a Gandhian kind of protest, women in Iceland left office early to protest the wage gap.

cheaper

“It is known in Iceland as the Women’s Day Off, and [Vigdis Finnbogadottir, Iceland’s first female president] sees it as a watershed moment. …Banks, factories and some shops had to close, as did schools and nurseries—leaving many fathers with no choice but to take their children to work. There were reports of men arming themselves with sweets and colouring pencils to entertain the crowds of overexcited children in their workplaces. Sausages—easy to cook and popular with children—were in such demand the shops sold out. It was a baptism of fire for some fathers, which may explain the other name the day has been given—the Long Friday.

“Things went back to normal the next day, but with the knowledge that women are as well as men the pillars of society,” she says. “So many companies and institutions came to a halt and it showed the force and necessity of women—it completely changed the way of thinking.”

Iceland is one of the most gender equal countries in the world but sadly they had to repeated this a generation later in 2016 !!http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/10/iceland-women-gender-pay-gap/505460/

“The protest put a complex issue into the simple terms of hours and minutes. We’re all intimately familiar with the workday; it’s how many of us mark time. And we can all appreciate how early in the day 2:38 PM is—especially if you’re living in Iceland and women suddenly leave offices and stores and schools en masse. One father who had to pick up his daughter from preschool before 2:38 told the public broadcaster RUV that he supported the demonstration despite the inconvenience. “She should get a better salary in the future like the men,” he explained, as he held his daughter in his arms.

We can also easily translate the lesson across cultures. If women in the United States had staged the same protest, for example, they would have left work at 2:12 PM. In South Korea, it would have been 12:36 PM. In Pakistan, 10:50 AM.”

Besides the wage gap, women everywhere suffer from Time Poverty (yes its a real thing! That ticker tape running at the bottom of your mind screen. Groceries to stock up, pick up child, help with school project, buy fruits, dinner, vaccination schedule, party dress, parents visit….and so on and on, even while you are writing project proposals, preparing office budgets, preparing annual reports…….). While the man of the house needs to be told to do simple things in so many words–“Our daughter has hurt her fingers. Please show some concern and sympathy and TLC.” Or “Our child has a long car ride with you. Carry a water bottle.”

It is not that the men are deficient in some way but that they have been brought up in the belief that someone will do all these things around them. They are not to be bothered with the petty details of child rearing and household management. They will turn up for prize day ( not sports day so much), decide on which school the child should go to ( daily inputs into homework ? Not so much……), plan outings (but not help getting the small children ready) etc etc

Like any socio-economic change there will be a gradual shift in the larger picture but there need to be some shifts in the micro level too. At households, in families, we need to normalize the fact that fathers are also parents! Nowadays there is always a school parents whatsapp group………ok who am I kidding?! It is always mothers on the group. Fussing over lost notebooks, forgotten homework, missed classes. Why are the fathers not included in this conversation? Their time is more precious? What message does this convey to the children? “Parent”- Teacher day is basically Mother- Teacher Day. The few fathers who do turn up are looked upon with a mix of sympathy and admiration, like Katniss volunteering for the Hunger Games instead of her sister. Seriously……..

Time poverty has deserved the attention of Melinda Gate too!

“Specifically, Melinda calls out the gender disparity in time spent doing “unpaid work,” work like childcare, grocery shopping, making doctor appointments for family members, and ensuring that household systems are maintained. These kinds of tasks are the behind-the-scenes functions that keep people alive, keep people healthy, and enable society to function.  Worldwide, women spend an average of 4.5 hours per day on unpaid work—more than double the amount of time men spend. It is work that is historically undervalued and often taken for granted.”

http://verilymag.com/2016/02/melinda-gates-time-poverty-women-in-the-workplace-feminism-2502time-poverty-women

So what do men do with all this extra time?! Change the world ? Eradicate poverty ? Reverse global warming ?……..Surprise! Surprise! In America,(which records and publishes such data unlike my country) , over the course of one year the average American man will spend 73 more hours than his female counterpart participating in sports, exercise, or recreation, 36.5 more hours watching television, and another 36.5 more hours participating in other leisure activities than she will. Across all the categories for which the Department of Labor gathered data, men will spend over 255 additional hours per year engaged in leisure activities than women will.

Meanwhile, named after another famous girl, the Goldilocks Principle is well known and even our own planet is believed to benefit from being in the Goldilocks Zone in the solar system ie not too hot, not too cold, but just right !! http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-22/goldilocks-zones-habitable-zone-astrobiology-exoplanets/6907836

goldilocks

This is kind of what we want as feminists. Not to overthrow the patriarchy and replace it with a matriarchy. Just to make sure that no one is too hot or too cold only because if the sex they were born with but that everyone is sitting in the just right zone!

I guess the ‘Ginger Rogers phenomenon’ never made it big as a thing since it calls out the patriarchy!

So here is my call –girls, women and all the feminists of every gender—let us make this a phrase that means what she said and let us speak up on behalf of women everywhere and speak out against male privilege.

To paraphrase Hermione: “if you name a thing then it reduces its power over you”

Next post will be on the Hermione Phenomemon !! Wait for it !

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