Still In A Room Without A View
A summer scene in 2018 and the market value of female labour remains as depressed as the women whose labour is valued less than mine. It was back in ’92 that Rage against the Machine stamped the lyrics that are the title of this article into public consciousness. It was in 1908 that E. M. Forster wrote the cutting ‘A Room with a View’, from which Rage took the inspiration. So, 110 years on, how are women holding up? You don’t even need to think to know the answer. The Gender Pay Gap remains so politically hot that it could be the Prime Minister.
Allow me to interject with a dose of typically vigorous testosterone; for anyone who is as yet unconvinced of this issue’s importance, perhaps this will persuade you. If we continue to allow women’s labour to be exploited below its value, then how can an argument for the improvement of wages in general stand?
As long as my colleague earns 74% to me, I will have no leverage against my employer. This may be a clue as to why wages have not risen since the 1970’s, against a backdrop of rocketing productivity and technological advancement. Collective bargaining doesn’t really work if it’s not a bargain for the full collective. This will not be news to most of you.
What is becoming a good general rule of economics is thus: if you empower women, you raise the floor of the whole society. Firstly, they compromise the better half of the human race. Over half (56%) of those are either married or in common-law relationships. 4 in 5 single parent families are female-led. Women spend more time doing unpaid caregiving work. So if you plan on being a woman, a child, a partner, or a senior, there is a good chance you’ll be relying on the income of a woman. You’ll see that there is some self-preservation in this, fellas.
Equality is not about material wealth, it is about justice. No economic advancement was ever, or will ever, be conceded; advancement is fought for and won through the power of a united will. Progress has too long been used as a tool of the status-quo. There will have to come a time when we say that division between us is no longer desirable, bearable, or permissible.
For the girls taking ‘Gender Studies’ at university, to the working woman experiencing the theft of her labour every day: I know this seems an echo of what you’ve been telling us for years. So forgive a young, white, heterosexual male for arriving late to the party, but when these words come from this source, I hope you can take pause to see that your argument is winning the battle, if not the war.