• Wed, Apr 11 2012

We Shouldn’t Be Surprised That Sexist Men Make More Money

man with moneyAlright feminists, prepare to shake your head and control your righteous anger, Business Insider is reporting that men who think women should have a “traditional” role make approximately $8549 more than their modern male peers. Their headline boldly asks, “Do Sexist Men Earn More Money?” And the answer is a pretty unequivocal, “Yup.”

It seems like we should start getting offended in the name of equality, but we might want to pump the breaks on this one.

Men who want women to assume a more traditional role as housewife and stay-at-home-mom probably have a single income family. Their wives wouldn’t be working and contributing to the family’s financial stability. That would automatically make these men more inclined to push for promotions or enter career fields with stability and high-income potential.

Even for young men who aren’t married and supporting a family yet, conservative views would suggest that they’re planning to build a traditional family sometime in the future. They would likely be planning ahead for that eventuality. It would make sense that they would be trying to earn more money from the very beginning of their career.

I have another problem with this piece of data. Even as a feminist who has very firm beliefs in gender equality, I have a hard time equating “traditional” with “sexist.” We have no further information about these men or these families and yet we feel comfortable labeling them with what should be a serious offense.

Close friends of mine would fall into this “traditional family” group. One couple in particular includes a husband who is the head of his household and a wife who stays home with their children. I know, for a fact, that he works overtime as often as possible to help provide more for his family. This couple believes that having the man be the breadwinner and the women be the home-maker is a part of their religion. They read Ephesians 5:23 “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior,” and see it as a model on which to build their family.

Now, do I believe that this makes my friends sexist? No. They have never tried to convince me that I shouldn’t work outside of the home. They have respect for me and my right to be seen as an equal in the workplace. It’s simply not their choice.

It’s possible that men who answered that women should have a more traditional role simply meant in their own families. And I think it’s unfair to equate what might be a person’s religious practice in their family to sexism in the workplace. Gender equality means giving every woman the right to make a choice, and some women might choose to take those traditional roles. And it’s a good thing that those women can find partners who share their beliefs.

There are a lots of serious issues in the workplace where sexism greatly effects women and their ability to succeed. That doesn’t mean we have to claim every man who supports traditional family roles as sexist. And it doesn’t matter if they’re driven to make more money because of the way they’ve chosen to build their family. As a former single mother, I can completely understand the extreme motivation that comes from having mouths to feed at home.

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  • L

    “Even for young men who aren’t married and supporting a family yet, conservative views would suggest that they’re planning to build a traditional family sometime in the future. They would likely be planning ahead for that eventuality. It would make sense that they would be trying to earn more money from the very beginning of their career.”

    To me this presumes that woman aren’t planning of that future and that pay inequity exists because woman are simply not working hard enough. I understand your overall point, but this part feels like victim blaming to me.

    • Lindsay Cross

      I see what you mean! And that definitely wasn’t my point. The study actually doesn’t compare women at all. It was simply looking at men who think that women should take a traditional role vs. men who don’t. I know plenty of women who are planning for the future and working as hard as they can. But as a former single mother, I do think that the idea of having children to feed (now or someday down the road) is a really extreme motivator and might persuade people to take more dependable, high-earning jobs from the very start.