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Women with Kids Should Expect to Earn Less. Also, Don’t Watch the Ray Rice Video

Sarah Ratchford on why we shouldn't watch the video of Ray Rice assaulting his wife, gender inclusivity in reproductive rights, and the earning potential of mothers in this week's Lady Business.

Image of Ray Rice, via Flickr user keithallison.
I sit here clacking away in a café (OK, it’s a bar, and I’m slugging something called The Godfather II, concocted of whiskey and ginger beer). The man next to me is on what is very clearly a first date facilitated by the internet. He is presumably a wannabe member of Toronto’s illustrious media scene, and he is wailing to the near-mute woman across from him about what a travesty it is that the “strippers and hookers” will no longer be able to advertise if C-36 goes through. “I’d be perfectly fine to look at the strippers and hookers if it meant I could a job out of it,” he says, while she titters in response.


Charmed, I’m sure.

Similar attitudes, as per usual, have shown up in the media this week. It's been revealed that women can expect to be penalized by losing a percentage of their income per child. Not shocking. But men, on the other hand, can expect to earn more if they have children.

As for people who identify as trans? Well, those in power are still questioning whether they even exist.

Image via Flickr user raebrune.
Mothers, Expect To Earn Less While Your Baby Daddy Earns More

Any person who has borne a child, birthed it, and chooses to care for it will tell you the challenges are very real. You’re going to be sleepless for the next few months while cleaning up a lot of poop and milk-vomit. You’ll be hearing a lot of screaming. You’ll be judged for breastfeeding. You’ll be judged for not breastfeeding. The general populace will provide much unsolicited input on how to raise your new human. (Funny how that seems to be the only instance in which the “it takes a village” adage comes into play anymore.) Aside from that, mums have internal struggles, too. Anne Theriault, creator of feminist site The Belle Jar, writes about the feeling of losing her identity after she gave birth to her child.

And now, it’s become clear that, for each child a woman has, her income drops four percent. And if a man has children at home, his income will increase by more than six percent. This is according to a paper by Michelle Budig, a sociology prof at the University of Massachusetts. Hmm, I wonder why this could be? For men, children act as a kind of insurance in the workplace. Being a “family man” signifies that he is trustworthy, dependable, reliable and, dare I say it, maybe even conservative. Mothers, on the other hand, are seen to have their brains entirely dominated by their offspring. As Budig says to the New York Times:


“Employers read fathers as more stable and committed to their work; they have a family to provide for, so they’re less likely to be flaky. That is the opposite of how parenthood by women is interpreted by employers. The conventional story is they work less and they’re more distractible when on the job.”

According to the paper, high-income men receive the biggest increase in pay, while low-income women lose the most money. Capitalism reigns, ladies, gentlemen, and people of other genders. And while we’re on that tip, let me point out that this is not only a class, but a race issue: While feminists frequently bemoan the fact that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, women of colour can expect to make even less. (In the US, Hispanic women make about 53 percent of what white men earn. African American women make about 64 percent of what white men earn, and indigenous women 60 percent.)

Budig’s research shows that unmarried, childless women earn 96 cents for every dollar a man earns. Married mothers, on the other hand, earn only 76 cents.

So, evidently, mothers are seen as largely incompetent, and at the same time, women who are happily childfree are seen as cold-hearted bitches who can’t get their priorities straight. They’re told they’ll change their minds.

People tell me this all the time. Complete strangers are always asking me in scandalized disbelief why I don’t want children. Here is why: when I was a kid, I had a silver Nano Baby (90s kids, throw your hands up!). It lived on a blue nylon cord around my neck, and I would tuck it into my shirt for safekeeping so my teacher wouldn’t steal it. But that’s about as far as I went into mothering the thing. It would routinely drown in cute little piles of its own poop. I have no desire to see this scenario play out IRL.


Now, I have at least one other quantifiable reason, other than “I don’t want one,” which never seems to be a good enough response.

Screenshot via Everyday Feminism.
It’s Not Only Women Who Can Bear Children, So Let’s Start Including Everyone Else When We Speak About Reproductive Rights

Hi. Some people who don’t identify as women also have uteruses, and can also become pregnant. That means we need to be more inclusive when we discuss birth control, abortion, pregnancy, and other aspects of reproductive health. Nonbinary folk, trans* men, and others are routinely left out of the discussion when it comes to bearing children, and in this time of enlightenment on trans* rights, we’d all do better to be more sensitive.

Now, this wonderful little explainer has been published by writer Jack Qu’emi, who is nonbinary. From the article:

“The “War on Women” is a war on me, but I’m not a woman… Some trans people have abortions. Some trans people need access to birth control. Some trans people could use the clinic access to get hormone replacement therapy. So why is it that in the five-plus years I’ve been involved in this movement, no one has bothered to even mention people like me?”

Qu’emi suggests that we be careful of our use of the word “women” to mean “people with active uteruses” and suggests using gender-neutral language instead. The article also suggests remembering that you can’t label someone just by looking at them, and to make an effort to expressly mention trans* people when discussing reproductive rights. In a world in which Toronto School Board trustee/terrible bigot Sam Sotiropoulos says he “reserves the right” to not believe in trans* people, those of us who recognize the grey spots in the gender spectrum need to ensure we’re always paying attention to the harm careless language can do.


Photo via Flickr user keithallison.
Violence Against Women Is Not For Your Entertainment

Please don’t watch the video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancée in a casino elevator and then dragging her from it, unconscious. Rice’s fame is not an excuse for us to watch a recording of his now-wife’s extreme emotional and physical pain, and we have no right to devour that pain from the safety and comfort of our couch or office chair.

Rice was fired by the Ravens and suspended from the NFL this week after TMZ posted the video online. But the abuse happened in February, and at that point, NFL’s response was to suspend him for a mere two games. It took visual evidence for the NFL to do anything about it. (His wife, for the record, doesn’t agree with his punishment).

Last week, I wrote about media responsibility when it comes to stolen photos of nude celebrities. This is a very similar situation: media outlets are quick to air the personal lives of public figures, profiting from the pain of “leaked” photos, videos and other information. The Huffington Post, for example, posted the video on Facebook, with the caption “Disgraceful.” It’s also, IMHO, pretty damn disgraceful for them, or anyone else, to spread the footage.

People are posting this video without Janay’s consent. This should be a trigger for us to discuss violence against women, to research, to take note of stats, and to get off our asses and be activists about it. Not to pick Janay apart or criticize her choices. Violence against women is not entertainment, and Janay herself issued a statement on the video and the vulture-like nature of media in handling the case:


“No one knows the pain that [the] media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass [off] for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don't you all get? If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you've succeeded on so many levels.”

I can’t overstate the importance of awareness when it comes to violence against women. But it is not Janay’s job to inspire us to be more aware. She is not a charitable organization, she did not ask to be a catalyst for change, and her personal choices are not for us to judge.

Too often, we frame violence against women as “domestic assault,” which relegates the violence to the boundaries of the home, sending the message that it is a private matter not to be meddled with by those outside of the relationship. Too many media outlets completely gloss over the reality of abuse with their euphemisms.

If we truly care about women who are abused by their partners, we need to listen to them, and to understand the cycle of abuse. People who are abused by their partners are often financially or otherwise dependent on the abuser. They also often still love the abuser. Whether we like it or not, this is a complex issue. Let’s not embarrass Janay anymore by offering more unsolicited opinions.


Toronto Man Plans Antithesis To Cancelled Men’s Rights Festival Back in May, a determined pack of men’s rights activists (MRAs) decided it was a good plan to conduct a music festival called “equality day” in Toronto. As one might guess, it was (ridiculously enough) a day in celebration of men’s rights. Though the festival was cancelled due to the outrage of most everyone else, the MRAs still got together and protested for their “rights” at Yonge and Dundas. Jesse Laderoute is pretty much the opposite of an MRA, and he was quite pissed about that. So he decided to be a good male feminist and create a fundraiser in support of women’s rights.

“I had been reading a lot of terrible news over the course of the summer, and the festival thing was the final straw,” he told me over the phone this week. “This equality day thing was mind-numbing. They lied to performers about the nature of the festival.” Laderoute says it's important for men to speak out as feminists and stand in visible solidarity with women. The fundraiser he organized is called Going Forward, and it will be held in support of Sistering, a Toronto women's shelter providing health and education resources, as well as meals, to women in need. The fundraiser is all ages, and it's going down on Sunday the 14th at the Garrison. It features performances by two bands formed at Girls Rock Camp. Feminist crusader, speaker and social media specialist Steph Guthrie will speak during the day as well, and there will be workshops, art classes, info booths with feminist literature, and a clothing donation.

Laderoute’s band Blonde Elvis will play later on, alongside BB Guns, Tonkapuma (featuring Dan and April from Hooded Fang and Phèdre) Rebecca Fin Simonetti and Schønsee.

Donations of $10 are suggested, and if you love and support women in need, I would recommend making it out if you live in Toronto.