And then I realized, Maybe I can buy my way out of this one.
September 8, 2015 4:05 PM   Subscribe

SAVING FOR A DAUGHTER BUT NOT A SON: THIS FATHER IS STARTING A FUND TO COMBAT THE WAGE GAP Meaning if we raise our daughter as the "equal" of our son, we'll still have come up 21.7 percent short. How do we give Ivy the same opportunities as Abe? Do we praise her 21.7 percent more? Hug her 21.7 percent harder?
posted by Michele in California (83 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
That's ridiculous.

21.7% more than (21.7% less than 100%) is only 95.2911%.
posted by blue t-shirt at 4:09 PM on September 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


Gotta show that girl 27.7% extra and get back to math class
posted by blue t-shirt at 4:12 PM on September 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


Is there any reason to shout about this?
posted by adamvasco at 4:52 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like he's missing the most obvious and easy solution: just give 21.7% less to his son.

Or maybe that's what at tiger parent would do.
posted by FJT at 4:54 PM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


This was a good article. Thanks for posting.
posted by latkes at 4:56 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


By all means, privatize the gender gap. Why do I feel like someone in an oak panelled room somewhere is rubbing his hands together and intoning: "EEEExxxxxxcellent!"
posted by salishsea at 4:57 PM on September 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


What Could Possibly Go Wrong, parenting edition.
posted by effugas at 4:58 PM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


The What if you son is gay? question is so bizarre.

Guess what? If he's gay he's likely to earn less than straight men. I'd say "straight peers" but let's be honest: most straight men don't consider gay men to be their peers. Because ignorance.

Anyway, this article is pretty muddled to me. Basically he runs into the problem that it's really difficult to disentangle bulk issues (that women are on average paid less) from individual decisions (what if she chooses to go into a field with lower average pay on purpose?).

I am sympathetic to the author in that my only real personal anxiety about my children is economic. I think they're been happy, well-adjusted people (mostly) once they're adults but I worry that unless they both decide to be machine learning researcher/lawyers/HFT experts that they'll be unable to stay in the middle class and be economically sound. But for better or worse I can't solve every problem for my kids so I do what I can and let them handle the rest.

In the meantime maybe buy your daughter some shorts dude.
posted by GuyZero at 5:14 PM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Totally gonna hug my daughter 21.7% harder.
posted by Joe Chip at 5:28 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


By mefi's own ftrain (previously).
posted by mbrubeck at 5:29 PM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a thoughtful essay, but how can he hope to solve his daughter's future problems without addressing his wife's current ones? Why does he have all this money to put away for the daughter, plus he "just started a company," while his wife, who wants to restart her construction career, can do nothing but send out resumes? It seems like they should put that money towards his wife, and maybe in the process they'll uncover some strategies that would be fruitful for the daughter too.
posted by xo at 5:46 PM on September 8, 2015 [39 favorites]


What if your child is transgender, or queer, or non-conforming? Or why do you assume that your children, who are obviously being raised with privileges, will fall into incomes that are close to national standards, rather than incomes that reflect their drive and accomplishment? This seems like a dangerous thing if the children ever actually figure out it happened.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:51 PM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Maybe I'm just extremely grumpy this morning, but I think the chances that your son won't be jealous of the fact that you are partitioning off a $3 million investment vehicle for your daughter are exactly zero. And the fallout of that over the next 20 years or so might present a tiny bit of a problem for you, your partner and both kids. Seriously, almost anything else would be a better strategy than trying to monetise your parenting headaches. To pick an example entirely at random ... maybe you could think about your own current practices as a partner, and try doing something constructive to help your partner restart her own career. Showing both your kids how it's done is probably more useful than throwing money at your daughter in the blind hope that she'll figure it out.
posted by langtonsant at 5:55 PM on September 8, 2015 [31 favorites]


Or, what xo said with less piss and vinegar.
posted by langtonsant at 5:57 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


This sounds like so terrible an idea that it almost has to be a joke - parents seriously proposing to give their daughter a large amount of money because she's a girl and thinking that this won't kill the relationship between the siblings plus render junior a lifetime MRA. Plus "we have to give your sister a lot of money because the world beats up on women" just...as salishsea says upthread, that seems like the privatization of a structural problem.

I mean, you could say "well, little boys are spoiled by the world, so who cares if he feels like his parents didn't love him as much? and men are largely useless as family members, so who cares if their relationship is ruined?" Or even "the son has to accept his privilege and if he wants a relationship with his sister, he has to accept that his parents will be giving her investments to generate three million dollars - if he can't accept that, he's an overpriviledged whiner".

But I just...I don't think that's how feelings work in families. I don't think you end up with a good family situation when you dramatically and intentionally overprovide for one member absent actual medical disability. I think that when parents don't give relatively equally to siblings of relatively equal ability, it's really difficult for the kids not to feel that it's about love and personal worth.

(Also, for fuck's sake - can no one ever write from the standpoint of the working class? I know very, very few people who plausibly anticipate that their children will tread the corridors of power.)
posted by Frowner at 5:59 PM on September 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Except, perhaps, as plaintiffs, of course.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:04 PM on September 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe I'm just extremely grumpy this morning, but I think the chances that your son won't be jealous of the fact that you are partitioning off a $3 million investment vehicle for your daughter are exactly zero.

Abe is going to be pissed if they go through with this. His parents can talk about the wage gap all they want but all he's going to hear is: "We're giving your sister $3,000,000 and FUCK YOU ABE!".
posted by MikeMc at 6:40 PM on September 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's a pretty good way to destroy the sibling's relationship for eternity. Heck of a parenting job.
posted by Justinian at 6:43 PM on September 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Gonna hug my son 21.7% less now.
posted by univac at 6:49 PM on September 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Gonna hug my son 21.7% less now.

Gonna hug my daughter and slap my son. Just kidding, I don't have a daughter.
posted by MikeMc at 7:04 PM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think parents do take measures to equalize outcomes between children (y'know, sometimes -- what a generalization). For example, if Child A is prospering financially and Child B lost a house and a job, parents may give a lot of help to Child B and nothing to Child A. It may be that Child A always earns enough to be happy and healthy, while Child B often needs help -- in that case, parents may intervene to help Child B a bunch, while not helping Child A as much.

Child A may come to resent this pattern, duh. But it's a thing.

What's different -- and odd -- in this case is planning and committing to do this in advance. The parents know ahead of time that "statistically" their daughter is likely to earn less. But, given that they are not immediately dying and disposing of their property, why do they need to divide the money this way in advance? Why not, y'know, wait and see like everyone else?

I said above that parents try to equalize outcomes, but maybe Ford is
trying to equalize opportunities. Both kids should have the same chance to succeed, totally regardless of whether and how much they actually succeed.

We frequently endorse this kind of standard in our public lives -- equality of opportunity is one of our big unifying ideals. But I think we mostly don't think about our families that way. If Child B had all the advantages Child A had (and more!), but Child B loses his job while Child A gets a promotion -- do we pay compensation to Child A to equalize her starting position? Or do we help Child B to equalize his current position (and keep him off the street)? I think both dynamics exist, but the latter sounds a lot more familiar to me.

(At this point I am tempted to descend into nit-picking. What if the wage gap is caused in part by abusive parenting of girls, and the Fords are not abusive in this way? Do they "owe" their son compensation? And of course it's possible to have the whole wage-gap debate in microcosm, with this lump sum as the focus. Ford Jr. is likely to become well-versed in those arguments. Better, is my instinct, to avoid these questions altogether by having a more flexible, conventional parental wealth transfer policy.)
posted by grobstein at 7:04 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think you end up with a good family situation when you dramatically and intentionally overprovide for one member absent actual medical disability.

Heck, it doesn't even work out well when actual medical disability is present. My sister resented me for over a whole decade of our relationship because my parents would have to spend so much more time and resources on me due to my disability. It's only been in the past few years that we've been able to mend our relationship.
posted by Conspire at 7:19 PM on September 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


We tell them that a girl can do anything, be anything. But the world constantly interferes with our intentions. One week, both kids seemed to grow several inches and needed new underwear immediately. We went to Target but could find only the Hello Kitty and Avengers varieties. At that moment, parents truly committed to erasing the boundaries between genders would have stomped out of the store and found a place that sells handmade, natural-fiber undergarments free of gender signifiers, but for God's sake we were already at Target. So since that trip my daughter has been covering her nethers with icons of a mouthless cat and my son obscures his with Thor. A small battle lost.

Why are assholes like this always so afraid to be parents? The way to be truly committed to erasing the boundaries between genders is to buy the Target underwear and make both of the kids wear whatever's clean, and if the girl whines a bit about Thor or the boy is mad about Hello Kitty, tough shit, they're the kids and not the parents.

Not suprising that an asshole who thinks that the color some poly-cotton thread is dyed is more important than his actual professed beliefs would center all his parenting in what amounts to a fancy form of buying the girl more stupid consumer shit.

But everyone focusing on the relationship between the siblings is wrong, the problem is accepting the default narrative of people as "good parents" just because they say so. I'm sure this dumb fucker loves both his little girl and his little boy, it doesn't mean he's fit to raise them.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 7:47 PM on September 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Why are assholes like this always so afraid to be parents? The way to be truly committed to erasing the boundaries between genders is to buy the Target underwear and make both of the kids wear whatever's clean, and if the girl whines a bit about Thor or the boy is mad about Hello Kitty, tough shit, they're the kids and not the parents.

HA HA HA HA HA HA.

You seem to have mistaken my actual human child for some kind of machine that actually respects its instruction set. I have sooooo many fights with my freaking children in between 5am and 8am every morning as it is. This is NOT the hill I choose to die on
posted by langtonsant at 7:53 PM on September 8, 2015 [30 favorites]


Yeah because it's all about the money nowadays. I find this man appalling.
posted by mygoditsbob at 8:28 PM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was recently wondering about what the world is going to be like once the "Tumblr Generation" gets older. Well, now I have an answer to that question a bit sooner than I expected.
posted by DrAmerica at 8:31 PM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think having a parent who can stay home, mostly, for very young children, is the best opportunity enhancer. Then later they make their own, recognize their own opportunities. This husband and father is at least thinking about the future, and has the means to implement some kind of plan. It is nice he is not dog paddling in the Mediterranean literally, though figuratively, maybe.
posted by Oyéah at 8:39 PM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


He got paid several thousand dollars to write that? Time to reinvent myself as a writer. Thank God I haven't reinvented myself as a mother yet!
posted by tippy at 8:41 PM on September 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


What bothered me about this is that he says he is putting away this extra money.

Not they?

I guess since he makes more than her, the money and decisions are his?
posted by Puddle Jumper at 8:48 PM on September 8, 2015 [14 favorites]


I wish the internet would stop showing me how fucked up people can be.

Now, where are are cat videos?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:50 PM on September 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


There are cat videos on here?!?
posted by Justinian at 8:58 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


giving one kid's supposed male privilege a price tag and hanging it over their head sounds even more barbaric than the usual cis practices of gender-assignment
posted by thug unicorn at 9:24 PM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


You can easily do this without having to resort to complex investments or financial instruments.


I'm simply raising my son with a wire mother, and my daughter with a cloth mother.




Or is it the other way around? I can never keep them straight.


I don't have children

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:50 PM on September 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


Also, "Maybe I can buy my way out of this one" is a terrible idea in nearly every situation, with the possible exception of a traffic ticket in Mexico.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:00 PM on September 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


There is a kind of trolling indistinguishable from truth. That is where you will find me.

and

I'm kind of getting my dander up preemptively because when this one hits the web I am in for a world of hot shit.

I agree that, as written, this is a terribly inadequate solution for the pay gap. Even if he's mostly serious (Outlook hazy, ask again later) I doubt that he'll finish carrying it out once Abe fully understands and shares his opinion. Wish I could work up some sputtering, white hot fury over someone I've never met, but it's late and I have stuff to do tomorrow.
posted by maudlin at 10:15 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


What bothered me about this is that he says he is putting away this extra money.

From the article:
And I am doing it with my wife's consent, because we agree that Maureen's situation is frustrating. She's paying an awfully high price for her gender, my wife—underemployed, underutilized. She wants to participate but isn't sure how.
posted by modernserf at 10:35 PM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I feel like people get their hate on early in a piece of writing and the throbbing veins and pall of blood red that descends across their vision prevents them from reading the whole thing. Or maybe the physical reaction starves their brain of oxygen and makes it impossible to commit later parts to memory. Either way, people end up reacting to small parts and not the work as a whole. I find it a curious phenomenon.
posted by wierdo at 10:57 PM on September 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


I like the idea. I think it's really sweet of ftrain to think of it, specifically because it's the only thing he can control about a shitty situation.

Okay, so I don't know how his son's going to handle the difference in money situation or not. I strongly suspect the author's not actually going to save $3 million anyway given how money goes these days, so maybe it won't be that drastic of a problem. I can't speak for that anyway. But this is the one thing he can do on his own to attempt to combat the shittiness that is being female in our society. Whether you agree with it or not, generally speaking there ain't shit one person can do to combat this massive of a societal problem, but he thought of some action he could take to feel better, and good for him. I don't know how it'll pan out in the end, but I at least really appreciate the thought.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:03 PM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's the long game.
He thought, I suck at this parenting lark I need independent, resourceful kids.

I know, a common enemy!

Behaviour so egregious Daughter and Son grow up secretly pooling resources to combat dad's inadequacies and help each other through life.

Genius.
posted by fullerine at 11:06 PM on September 8, 2015


If smugness were a currency, he would have more than enough money for both his children.
posted by Beholder at 12:16 AM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seriously dude, if you're going down the modest proposal path, don't settle for half measures: just eat your son.
posted by langtonsant at 1:20 AM on September 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


We share a bank account; our money all goes to the same place. But somehow we decided it was her job to earn enough to finance day care. Think about it: I expected my wife to justify the freelance work she was doing by covering child-care costs. It's weird.

No, dude. That's not weird. That's patriarchy and it's common as dirt.

We can predict that, because of the systematic economic inequities, our daughter will not be on the same financial footing as our son.

You seem to be confusing statistics with individuals.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:51 AM on September 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


I was all ready to come in here and say this was a stupid idea, but I see my partner has already said it.

I'm kinda glad we both agree on this.
posted by naturesgreatestmiracle at 2:23 AM on September 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think parents do take measures to equalize outcomes between children (y'know, sometimes -- what a generalization). For example, if Child A is prospering financially and Child B lost a house and a job, parents may give a lot of help to Child B and nothing to Child A. It may be that Child A always earns enough to be happy and healthy, while Child B often needs help -- in that case, parents may intervene to help Child B a bunch, while not helping Child A as much.

Child A may come to resent this pattern, duh. But it's a thing.


I know a family where the opposite is true - the sibling with the highest income (by 5-10x) has received the most financial support. Probably because the others think, I won't borrow what I can't ever pay back, and that one thinks they are going to pay it back (but never do). But it's a topsy-turvy thing.
posted by jb at 4:10 AM on September 9, 2015


The wage gap is a part of a larger system of oppression, not something that can be easily identified at the individual level, but sure as hell felt at the individual level. I don't know that this measure is the right way to fight systemic oppression. Maybe raise 3 million dollars and start a nationwide community organizing campaign to raise awareness of what systemic oppression is and how to work on it at a system level?

Just a thought thought. The bonus is that your kids get to be raised by a parent who works to make the world a better place for all oppressed people, and that's eleventy-billon percent more of all the parts of love of and parenting that matter the most for both kids, regardless of their apparent gender at birth.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:51 AM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


For a the few thousand dollars this man is planning on socking away in an a attempt to close the wage gap for his daughter three decades down the road, his wife could put a down payment on a truck suitable for hauling her tools around, file for a business license, and take out an ad in the Yellow Pages as a carpentry contractor. A few years of admittedly hard work, and she might close that pay gap between her and her husband.

I can't help but feel that a mother demonstrating the advantages of an entrepreneurial spirit to her daughter would do a world more good than a pile of cash handed to her by daddy.
posted by Pipedreamergrey at 6:38 AM on September 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I presume the author is MeFi's own Paul Ford?
posted by aught at 6:53 AM on September 9, 2015


Crap, sorry, mbrubeck already pointed that out. (Missed that in reading the thread somehow.)
posted by aught at 6:54 AM on September 9, 2015


What's going to happen when he finds out about the height wage gap? Shoe lifts?
posted by enamon at 7:02 AM on September 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


This doesn't seem at all serious to me. First, as noted above, it will drive a wedge between the kids. Second, who thinks a writer has an extra $3 million?

Like langtonsant, I see this very much like Swift's "Modest Proposal" -- it's one of those reductio ad absurdum things I heard about in college. Isn't it?

In my family we have a daughter, two sons, and another daughter; I certainly wonder how I will pay for big things for them (education, a car) as well as smaller things (clothes, music/sports fees) as they grow up. It never occurred to me for my wife & I to try to tackle the wage gap ourselves, short of teaching all four kids to be smart and confident…and then working the hell out of our network and theirs to try to vault over that gap. (But maybe that only makes things worse? Ugh.)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:07 AM on September 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think he's (really) serious. It's a ridiculous response to a ridiculous situation,

I think he's working through a complicated social and personal problem by thinking and writing about it, in a way that anyone who's ever read any of Paul Ford's other writings would recognize as his style / mode, and not start shouting "asshole" and "fucker" and "unfit" and "bizarre" about.
posted by aught at 7:08 AM on September 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


I know a pair of siblings, early 20 somethings. The parents give the girl several hundred dollars for Christmas, and the boy nothing. "Girls need supporting" is evidently their rationalization.
posted by Ambient Echo at 7:38 AM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


They must've been at Target on an off day; I've been getting my cousin's kids clothes for gifts at Target for years, and I've never seen a lack of solid-colored underpants for boys OR girls.

(No, I'm not That Bad Auntie, they get toys, too!)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:39 AM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the underwear part is the best bit of writing in the thing, personally. I laughed.

I also worried about "rendering junior a lifelong MRA" as Frowner puts it. That's putting a tangible evil in the world, and for what?

Really (and I realize this says more about me than about the article) I was just surprised by how casually he tosses off $80,000 as a reasonable starting salary for his daughter. What if she decides to go into a nonprofit or arts field for the love? Surely that's not really something to discourage, even if it does reinforce the wage gap? Must every feminist aspire to be a junior VP by 35? (I suppose this feminism is more Sheryl Sandberg than bell hooks, but...)

Relatedly, the throwaway comment about knitting (an activity beloved on Crone Island) made me feel weird. Immediately beforehand, he's talking about dressing up his daughter in dresses and bows (something that, while fun, REALLY DOES reinforce a lot of patriarchal norms), and then he tosses off "oh, and I guess if she wants to knit, we won't stop her." Dude, knitting is super punk rock and kind of a big thing with third wave feminists. As far as traditionally feminine activities go, you could do a LOT worse.

These are nitpicks. I agree it's a terrible idea, but the conversation it opens is fascinating.
posted by sunset in snow country at 7:43 AM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Y'know, I can see putting some money away to help your kids, knowing that, due to the gender wage gap, you would probably end up giving more to your daughter to even things up if it happens to her.

But I don't think I'd write an article about it under my real name so that the kids would know that's what I did.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:48 AM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


(No, I'm not That Bad Auntie, they get toys, too!)
posted by The Underpants Monster


Don't disillusion me! I like to imagine that you turn every underpants-related moment into a monstrous event! Be true to your calling!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:17 AM on September 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


What if she decides to go into a nonprofit or arts field for the love?

I predict that Ivy will graduate with honors from Cornell and by 35 she'll be an editor at a Conde Nast publication. Abe however will drop out of the College of Staten Island after three semesters and end up working as an assistant manager at a Duane Reade in Bushwick. Well, until he's fired after a robbery for forgetting to make a safe drop that is. Can you tell that I'm really enjoying projecting this out out into the future?
posted by MikeMc at 8:19 AM on September 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


> Why are assholes like this always so afraid to be parents? ...
Not suprising that an asshole who thinks ... I'm sure this dumb fucker loves both his little girl and his little boy, it doesn't mean he's fit to raise them.


Jesus Christ, the author is Paul Ford, he's one of us, he's right here in the room. There's an asshole involved here, but it's not him. You do the math.

> I presume the author is MeFi's own Paul Ford?

Yes, and (to mount my hobbyhorse once again) it would be great if posters would name the author of the piece they think is worth posting on MeFi.

That aside, it's a great post—I'm always glad to have a chance to read Ford's superb writing. Thanks!
posted by languagehat at 8:40 AM on September 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


My sister didn't "apply herself" early on as much as we'd like (my parents were great a telling us what our potential was but not helping us reach it) and she's received a lot of financial assistance from my folks as a result. She had kids early and to her credit extricated herself from a bad marriage. Now I could definitely see myself being bitter if she'd received all of this help up front because "you're a woman and will be disadvantaged as a result" and then decided to go the exact same route.

Not sure what I'm trying to say but the wage gap is society's burden to fix, trying to resolve such a hot issue within a family is a recipe for discontent. Especially if the son gets married to someone who decides to resent his sister more than he does and it erodes both relationships to spouse and sister.
posted by aydeejones at 8:43 AM on September 9, 2015


I had never heard of the author before. I do not think he's being an asshole. On the other hand, I don't think he's as much of a feminist as he appears to think.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:12 AM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


The guy can do what he wants. I'm sure the kids will be fine and it's hardly "bad parenting" or whatever mean sentiments have been bandied about in this thread. I don't think it's a good idea overall to do this, but I do appreciate the sentiment and desire to do something to fix it. I guess my own feeling is that parents and elders of family systems should strive to create equity and equality for all the children of the family and what that looks like for each family is something only a family itself can do for itself.

As for systemic oppression, I really don't think that this effort is going to do much to solve that problem, but it's better than pretending like it doesn't exist.

The only thing I would caution against is making sure that the boy understands why, and that it's not part of the tradition of training helplessness in females, I.E, "girls get more gifts and lifetime financial support from mom and dad than the boy does because she's a girl and isn't as capable". Because that feeling just sucks so hard for all the kids in a family system.

And really metafilter, I am surprised by how mean some of the comments were. That's a tad irritating and reminds me of why I don't spend a lot of time online anymore.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:17 AM on September 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


This thread really is quite surprising. Usually I don't think people usually immediately go to attacking the author's character, do they? I consider this experiment a good thing to talk about, although I'm really hoping instead of keeping his kids out of the conversation, he informs them about what he's doing.
posted by halifix at 9:38 AM on September 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think people got really agro fast because this is a provocative idea that raises emotions. Clearly, the article is intended to stir strong feelings and it succeeds at that! We are very upset and threatened by the idea of just handing the girl child more money, because culturally we have very strong messages about fairness with the idea that everyone can pull themselves up if given a fair playing field. Of course, this is farcical in our highly stratified society, and there is no fair playing field, even within one family. That's what the author is acknowledging and confronting. It throws us off kilter to be confronted with that. That's my 2 cent analysis of why people aren't just like, "Huh, funny idea. I'm not super into it myself but different strokes!" I could be wrong.
posted by latkes at 9:55 AM on September 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think that I'm bothered by the way the article seems to assume that the family is a good metaphor for the state, and that "fairness" in one functions as a good metaphor for "fairness" in the other. This is usually a kind of conservative move.
posted by Frowner at 9:59 AM on September 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised that anyone is surprised by the vitriol in this thread. Vitriol is part and parcel of the MeFi experience. Perhaps you're just surprised because the author isn't one of the usual targets?
posted by MikeMc at 10:00 AM on September 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


One of the things that happens when girls inherit money is, just like men with money, they attract lovers/spouses who are only after their money. In the case of a woman, once her man has run through money, she tends to be poorly positioned to take care of herself in the style to which she was accustomed.

So if the author is not addressing a whole lot of other things as well, this is very unlikely to redress anything in his daughter's adult life. As other's have pointed out, a better solution would likely be trying to solve the wife's problem of being underemployed. Of course, that would be a lot harder than the quick fix answer he has invented for his daughter.

I don't think that makes him an asshole or bad person. I think that just means that, like most folks, the problem space looks huge and overwhelming to him and contemplating a real solution is exhausting. And so this idea is kind of an emotional security blanket. Or just an attempt to be provocative and get people thinking and talking, which is not a bad thing.

Father's caring about their daughter's is one of the strongest forces to combat sexism. If they are CEOs, it sometimes even helps reduce the wage gap: www8.gsb.columbia.edu/ideas-at-work/publication/733/like-daughter-like-father
posted by Michele in California at 10:04 AM on September 9, 2015


Who are the usual targets of vitriol on Mefi? I'm confused by that question.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:26 AM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Who are the usual targets of vitriol on Mefi? I'm confused by that question.

Kim Davis, Darren Wilson, Mike Huckabee, anyone who writes for Breitbart, The Daily Mail, the Koch brothers, NY real estate developers, Ted Cruz, Ted Nugent, Nigel Farage, Jim Morrison, Iggy Azalea, Joel Osteen, Republicans, Ayn Rand, people who live in Oregon, ride antique bicycles and wear repro Victorian clothes, ICP, pro-lifers, cops, Vox Day, MRAs, Jerry Seinfeld...I need to stop for now, I'm at work.
posted by MikeMc at 10:50 AM on September 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


People whose names start with a letter that's in the range from A to Z or anyone who has a name in a non-roman alphabet.
posted by GuyZero at 10:51 AM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


So you are saying there's an "in-group, out-group" mentality that prevails on Mefi and this guy is part of the imagined Mefi in-group and perhaps I am surprised by "one of my own" getting attacked? If so, that's pretty far off base, because I feel zero affinity towards the author, unless the dad is a queer trans woman. And since he ain't, I don't.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:46 AM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Can we maybe swerve back to the subject of the post, please?)
posted by wenestvedt at 11:55 AM on September 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


But when when I talk this, most parents (including liberal ones) defend the test under the rubric of equality and fairness.

I find that hard to believe.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:38 PM on September 9, 2015


So you are saying there's an "in-group, out-group" mentality that prevails on Mefi and this guy is part of the imagined Mefi in-group and perhaps I am surprised by "one of my own" getting attacked?

Anyone is fair game for criticism, but Ford's work has been frequently referred to in FPPs and glibly dismissing him as a random asshole unworthy of attention is what seemed to some off-base.

(And, no, relax, no one is saying you have to identify with someone you find icky, heaven forfend.)
posted by aught at 1:00 PM on September 9, 2015


Anyone is fair game for criticism, but Ford's work has been frequently referred to in FPPs

Those two parts don't make sense together.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:02 PM on September 9, 2015


and glibly dismissing him as a random asshole unworthy of attention is what seemed to some off-base

count me in as one of those people who think the glib dismissals were off-base.
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:17 PM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


This sounds like so terrible an idea that it almost has to be a joke - parents seriously proposing to give their daughter a large amount of money because she's a girl... that seems like the privatization of a structural problem.

Of course it's a terrible thing to do, but not because it's "privatizing a structural problem." It can be a good idea to take private actions against public problems. You know, "be the change you want to see in the world."

Aside from the fact that it'll tear the family apart, the whole premise is wrong. It's based on a blatant misunderstanding of statistics. The gender-pay "gap" is the result of many valid factors, like the fact that men work longer hours and do the most life-threatening jobs. (That's only true on average — but the "gap" only applies on average too.)

And isn't it odd that we never hear about the "gap" between how many hours men and women work, or the "gap" between how physically dangerous men's and women's jobs are? Why don't we recognize "gaps" that favor women?

The bottom line is that the pay "gap" results from the different choices men and women make — again, on average. If you have one daughter and one son, they're going to be individuals who make individual choices, which will tend to lead to different results. There is no reason to think the woman will be underpaid.

That's why a woman who does understand this statistic can happily write this:
In truth, I'm the cause of the wage gap -- I and hundreds of thousands of women like me. I have a good education and have worked full time for 10 years. Yet throughout my career, I've made things other than money a priority. I chose to work in the nonprofit world because I find it fulfilling. I sought out a specialty and employer that seemed best suited to balancing my work and family life. When I had my daughter, I took time off and then opted to stay home full time and telecommute. I'm not making as much money as I could, but I'm compensated by having the best working arrangement I could hope for.

Women make similar trade-offs all the time. Surveys have shown for years that women tend to place a higher priority on flexibility and personal fulfillment than do men, who focus more on pay. Women tend to avoid jobs that require travel or relocation, and they take more time off and spend fewer hours in the office than men do. Men disproportionately take on the dirtiest, most dangerous and depressing jobs.
And while this particular woman who the FPP is about might get a windfall, the lie that women are cheated out of 20-something cents for every dollar hurts women on the whole — by baselessly discouraging them from participating in the labor force.
posted by John Cohen at 5:19 PM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think I've worked out why I'm so frustrated by this. Like others, I don't really think he's serious, but it's hard to know what his point is otherwise. If you remove the "daughter fund" idea, the article is just a list of facts about institutional sexism (obvious to every woman) and a bunch of anecdotes about the limits of parental influence (obvious to every parent). It doesn't stand as a serious discussion of the problem without the "hook" provided by the daughter fund idea. So I feel like the most charitable thing I can do is pretend he's serious and see where that takes me.

But when I do that, the specific proposal seems unbearably stupid. Besides the obvious problem of creating family conflict and the other obvious problem of "hey what about your wife?", there's the other other obvious problem of conflating his current state of knowledge about his children's future well being (based on aggregate statistics) with his future state of knowledge (based on observing their actual outcomes). Statistically, the daughter is more likely to end up short changed by the world, but there's an awful lot of variability in actual lives that these statistics can't capture. Should it turn out that his daughter is better off than his son, he tries to pass off responsibility onto his daughter, saying that he hopes she will share. From that perspective, I'm aghast at his childishness: what a shitty position to put the daughter in, having to dole out cash to her brother; and what a shitty position for the son to be in having to ask his sister for a share of the family money. Grow up - you are the parent and this is your problem. You do not pass the burden of (possibly) supporting your son onto your daughter. Not cool at all.

No matter how I think about this as a concrete proposal it comes off as egregiously stupid. So I find myself wondering what the point of the article really is, and I suspect that I'm being trolled. If the "daughter fund" part is a joke then the article is an unedifying restatement of a very well known problem and in any case I'd rather he didn't joke about such things because this stuff actually matters; and if the proposal is serious then the article is stupid and irresponsible. Either way I wish I hadn't wasted so much of my time thinking about it.
posted by langtonsant at 5:37 PM on September 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


The bottom line is that the pay "gap" results from the different choices men and women make — again, on average.

This is demonstrably incorrect. There are multiple factors that limit which careers women are able to chose, plus our economic system financially rewards traditionally male jobs over traditionally female ones, (and salaries go down in traditionally male professions when more women move into those fields; see the falling real wages of the family doctor), but there is also a measurable gap in salaries for the exact same jobs in many career trajectories.

Take doctors and surgeons. Women earn 71 percent of men’s wages — after controlling for age, race, hours and education. Women who are financial specialists make 66 percent of what men in the same occupation earn, and women who are lawyers and judges make 82 percent.
posted by latkes at 5:42 PM on September 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


and judges make 82 percent

I'm no expert but how do two, say, county circuit court judges with the same amount of time on the bench make different salaries? Don't government jobs have the set pay scales?
posted by MikeMc at 6:09 PM on September 9, 2015


John Cohen: "And isn't it odd that we never hear about the "gap" between how many hours men and women work, or the "gap" between how physically dangerous men's and women's jobs are? Why don't we recognize "gaps" that favor women?"

I'm really disappointed to see crap like this on Metafilter, and it never fails to pop up either. This and the equally stupid "Well how about all the men putting their lives in danger when it comes to the draft? Don't you feel like a total hypocrite now that I've demonstrated how you actually benefit from the patriarchy? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT, WOMEN?"

We've had so many threads showing how women are systematically under-promoted, how the same behavior in the workplace by men and women is judged differently ("showing leadership" vs. "cold and bitchy"), how the expectation that a woman will be the one to take time off for family drives company policies, etc. At this point it's truly ignorant bullshit to tout that the wage gap is something women bring on themselves through choices that are completely free of any outside pressure.
posted by erratic meatsack at 6:40 PM on September 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


I know I'm harping on this now, but I think it matters to point out that many of the the most dangerous jobs, gendered though they are, are not paid very well. So EMTs, long haul truckers, construction workers (obviously huge range in salaries there) and meatpacking workers might be mostly men, but these men aren't getting paid very much to do the most lethal (legal) jobs in our economy. Point being that saying "you take more risk, you get more pay" just isn't true, and can't be used to excuse gendered pay differences.
posted by latkes at 7:00 AM on September 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I often find myself stuck between wanting my son to be happy and having whichever toys and clothes he wants and knowing that society is often so cruel to little boys that do fit within gender norms. Its also hard when shopping for clothes, everything is either boy or girl, dinosaurs and trucks: green, black, brown and blue and things for girls are sparkles, ruffles, pink and glitter. There's no middle ground and it's maddening. There is also a lot of overcoming my own biases. Why shouldn't he have the doll he wants when he has 50 million cars already? Why can't he use my old purses to tote around said cars, and tuck Tinkerbell in bed next to the front loader? Why can't he wear my head band as a crown and be Elsa, singing Let It Go as he spins his "dress" which is actually a superhero cape. His face is lit up, he's excited, he's happy. Why not let him hold onto this pure, uninhibited joy for as long as he can? I'm just scared the higher I let him fly, the harder it will hurt when some jerk at the grocery store makes fun of him or stares or another kids tells him "no, that's for girls". I try to remember that will be their problem, not ours, but I still don't want to see him hurt.
posted by HMSSM at 10:14 AM on September 10, 2015


This is demonstrably incorrect.

Having read the article you posted I don't think it is demonstrates what you say it demonstrates. For example, it includes this:
“The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might vanish altogether if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who labored long hours and worked particular hours,” she wrote in a paper published this month in The American Economic Review.
I think it's fair to say that working long hours is a choice one can make or choose not to make. It does lead to sexist results since women tend to have the burden of child raising fall disproportionately on them. But what John Cohen says is still true even if his implication that such a large disparity in pay outcomes isn't inherently sexist is misleading.

How the quotes in the article about the gap disappearing if firms did not preferentially reward people who work longer or specific hours can be reconciled with the bit you quoted about how the gap is still there when you control for "age, race, hours, and education" I'm not sure since it is Dr. Goldin making both statements and she even seems to be including surgeons specifically in both statements:
Occupations that most value long hours, face time at the office and being on call — like business, law and surgery — tend to have the widest pay gaps. That is because those employers pay people who spend longer hours at the office disproportionately more than they pay people who don’t, Dr. Goldin found.
So that's weird. I'm not sure how the pay gap for surgeons can both be largely due to men spending more hours at the office and at the same time still be mostly present when you control for hours worked.
posted by Justinian at 5:07 PM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


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