Women's Work Comes Cheaper

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
July 7 2010 10:51 AM

Women's Work Comes Cheaper

Another day, another article about how men were more likely to be laid off than women and will, if we get the promised recovery, will be less likely to be rehired, making women an even more dominant economic force by default. The tendency is to spin this story as a battle between the sexes-women winning at men's expense? OMG feminism!-but in the real world, this is a story less of women's empowerment and more one of further destruction of the American dream.

You know how occasionally a company will lay off all its best-paid employees and replace them with new hires that they can pay way less? That's what's going on, but on a global scale-if men are being replaced by women in such great numbers, it's because women come 25 percent cheaper. That's a win for feminism in the same way Sarah Palin is a win for feminism, which is to say not at all. When average working people are seeing their actual income and wealth go down, this isn't a win for women. Or to put it in more specific terms, it's not some feminist victory for you to come home to find your husband laid off with no future job prospects and your much-lower salary being the now sole source of income.

Advertisement

And that's the great unspoken story in these kinds of articles. Women may have 89 percent of all bank accounts, but they're smaller banks accounts. They may now have 51 percent of all personal wealth, but that's because personal wealth holdings have shrunk dramatically.

The "battle of the sexes" frame is the easiest one to grab, because there really was a lot of male anger and fear of loss and emasculation when women stampeded into the workforce decades ago. That's because their actual dominance was actually threatened by women's economic independence. But you can't simply reverse the genders while keeping the same framework and call it a day. There's no real chance that these economic trends mean women are somehow gaining dominance over men. It's probably not even going to do much for women's equality at home. You can't really achieve equality by dragging men down instead of lifting women up. All that does is create more stress and resentment.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM The Global Millionaires Club Is Booming and Losing Its Exclusivity
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.