Tagged: pay gap

It is a gift! A gift of … Alasdair Thompson?

alasdair7Alasdair Thompson is back, like a nasty, self-centred rich white zombie, seeking brains.

And boy oh boy is he unable to let things go.

In 2011 he was the subject of an international media furore for saying that some women’s productivity and income is affected by difficult menstruation; a truth he was internationally pilloried for speaking about.

It was a Life Changing experience for him, about which he’s written a book due for publication in October 2013.

alasdair1alasdair5And as Toby Manhire in the Listener notes

In four of the five blog posts that he’s published in the site’s first four days, Thompson makes reference to the circumstances of his departure from his post at the EMA – in two of them, he talks explicitly about Mihingarangi Forbes and Campbell Live.

Let’s revisit that beautiful, beautiful furore, shall we?  Here’s Mihingarangi Forbes’ fucking amazing interview with Alasdair.  Seriously, a high point of modern NZ television journalism.  I will never not piss myself laughing when he complains about being under the weather due to a very early monthly meeting.

Here’s Rachel Morton’s unedited interview with Alasdair (sadly marred by microphone gremlins).

Here’s my posts on the subject.

And here in graphic form are his greatest hits (please do note:  all exact quotes from the video interviews linked above).
alasdair4alasdair2alasdair1alasdair10alasdair8 alasdair9

Make your own!

For ongoing lulz, he’s on Twitter too!

H/T: Toby Manhire

It’s just so hard to measure sexism, because, you know, sexism

Thursday 21 February marked the day that New Zealand women effectively stopped working for free – in comparison to their male counterparts.

This was marked on the Green Party’s Facebook page, and almost instantly a very common argument was raised:

I am 100% in favour of equal pay, but the problem with measuring the overall pay difference is that men, on average, have longer careers than women, as more women than men leave the work force to raise children. It’s a very difficult thing to measure properly.

I quote the comment not to hint that you should all descend in pack formation and tear the dude in question to pieces, but to illustrate: this is the problem with trying to speak about individual issues of patriarchy.

You talk about the pay gap, and people (not just dudes) say, “Oh but women take time off to have babies.”

You talk about women still being the predominant raisers and carers of children, and people say, “Oh but women are generally more nurturing.”

You talk about socialisation and constructed gender roles and peer pressure and people say, “That’s true, but in a [assumed hetero/cis] couple the woman probably earns less anyway so it makes sense for her to be the one to quit work.”

Lather, rinse, repeat.  (Issues not shown:  lack of flexible working arrangements because managers refuse to adapt to the 21st century; employer assumptions that all women are cisgendered, heterosexual, fertile, and planning children; differing levels of respect and accommodation given to men who chose to actively parent; etc.)

It’s all the same problem.  It all comes down to patriarchy.  And it means that when we say “effectively, women are paid so much less than men on average that they’ve been working for free until today” someone gets to just State The Facts about women’s shorter/interrupted careers … without being forced to consider why women’s careers are the ones that get shortened and/or interrupted.

Oh, and also?  There are plenty of douchebags in this world who do, absolutely, deliberately pay women less for the same role as men because they’re sexist pigs and because they know that they can play the “but what if she gets knocked up?” card whenever they like.  And good common-sense just-how-the-world-works people will nod and carry on letting patriarchy (and don’t forget capitalism, because there’s a reason it’s hard to consistently quantify the pay gap) screw us all over.

Thanks for that.

The reality of gender discrimination – in science

In my post on the gender pay gap and school performance – and the apparent disconnect between the two – I pondered thus:

Maybe it’s as callous as this:  boys doing less well at school is a problem because it highlights, as Beppie shows, just how bad the gender gap in employment is.  It shows categorically that men continuing to sit at the top table more and get paid the big bucks more is not down to superior performance nor training.

Well, I’m not alone in that thought.  In an article on sexual discrimination in science, an anonymous author (and I have no quibbles with hir anonymity, because saying this kind of thing can randomly coincide with a downturn in one’s career) tells us:

In total, 127 faculty members were asked to rank the candidate in terms of competence, starting salary they would offer, willingness to mentor the candidate, and likeability. The only difference in the applications was the name of the student – 63 were from “John” and 64 were from “Jennifer”.

The results were stark. Jennifer was ranked less competent than John and was offered a median starting salary almost $4,000 lower than John. In addition, the faculty was less willing to mentor Jennifer, but, strangely, found her to be more likeable. All this from a piece of paper.

And when considering why these kind of results get rejected, our author considers:

Despite the fact that hard data is difficult to argue with, many scientists managed it. My own explanation for this reaction is that on a subconscious level, data like this support the implication that men in science didn’t necessarily get there on merit alone, but also because their female competitors were being discriminated against. That must be quite threatening and hence provoked a defensive response.

Again I emphasise that we’re not saying you’re lazy, menfolk.  Just that, well … you could afford to be lazier than we could (assuming the Guardian article’s author is a woman.)  You didn’t have to be as exceptional to get where you are.

That’s what privilege is all about.

The gender pay gap and school performance

Beppie has a great post up at Hoyden About Town about the head-deskingly obvious connection between the increasing gender pay gap and the on-the-surface-contradictory gender school performance gap.

I would hypothesise, quite simply, that boys don’t work as hard at their schoolwork because they don’t have to.

Ding.  Ding.  Ding.  We have a winner.

Oh, I’m not saying individual boys are horrid, lazy, entitled sods.  It may just be, you know, that teachers are well-aware that women will have to work harder and perform better for their entire lives just to be treated somewhat equally to their male counterparts.  It may just be that we still live in a patriarchal society which oppresses women, so some teachers push their girl students harder because they know what challenges they’re going to face in later life (like getting fired because their boss can’t take responsibility for his own brain.)

What struck me as well, though, is what this contradiction then means for the typical, semi-regular “oh noes, boys aren’t doing so well at school, what’s wrong???” handwringing.

Because obviously, boys’ lesser academic performance in school isn’t really hurting them that badly, in the grand scheme of things.  It’s not like we can say “shit, boys are doing less well at school, so they’re not getting into university or high-paid jobs!!!” because that simply isn’t the case.

Maybe it’s as callous as this:  boys doing less well at school is a problem because it highlights, as Beppie shows, just how bad the gender gap in employment is.  It shows categorically that men continuing to sit at the top table more and get paid the big bucks more is not down to superior performance nor training.

Of course, patriarchy can’t allow this kind of clear evidence of its existence to sit out there for all to see; so any minute now I’m sure there’ll be wall-to-wall coverage of another “study” proving that women, despite our apparent intelligence, are just self-absorbed baby-making factories who can’t commit to proper careers.

Purely coincidentally, you understand.

Maybe he was PMSing

Alasdair Thompson, creepy bullying sexist pig extraordinaire, has lost in his (and his wife’s!) complaint against the Broadcasting Standards Authority.  A complaint which basically reads “how dare you quote my exact sexist words, you’re making me look sexist!”

The lack-of-self-awareness factor is heightened with a touch of “you breached my staff’s privacy!  Of course I probably breached it first by talking about them on camera to a journalist to prove some point I had about how you bitches just need to choose between babies and A Real Job, but how dare you do your job by broadcasting that!”

Take it away, BSA majority:

“It is our firm view that if the item caused any harm to Mr Thompson’s reputation and dignity, this was not a product of unfair editing on the part of the broadcaster, but was the result of how Mr Thompson chose to conduct himself in the interview and was largely self-imposed.”

Hey now.  Maybe his hormones were just running wild and he wasn’t rational enough to make a serious career decision, right?  He would never normally loom over women and threateningly insist he’s not a bully, of course, so maybe it was just that time of the … oh, you know where I’m going.

Down Under Feminists’ Carnival XL: bigger, better, more punnage

Welcome to the 40th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival.  I am your stunning hostess, Queen of Thorns, “QoT” to my friends and “single-handed destroyer of progressive NZ politics” to my trolls.

I’m entirely enamoured of the fact that 40 in Roman numerals is XL, so I’m putting our plus-size Antipodean bloggers up first:

New study shows correlation between fatness and selling one’s soul to Satan

Definatalie writes about re-learning her love of cycling.  sleepydumpling at Fat Heffalump talks about Why I Don’t Diet and Fixing the Relationship with Food.  Bri at Fat Lot of Good sees that fat-shaming is now getting aimed at four-year-olds to the extent some are developing a fear of food.

sleepydumpling is on a crusade, people.  A crusade for all super-fatties, deathfats, people who just cannot find clothes in their size for love nor money.  Warning: utter fuckwittery in the comments.  Remember, fatshion is activism.  And no, fat acceptance will not in fact kill you.

There’s been discussion lately about the role of the fatosphere on people’s perceptions and lives.  Dr Samantha Thomas has done a for-real ivory-tower-shaking academic paper on how the fatosphere proactively challenges fat stigma, and sleepydumpling covers the same topic in Breaking Down Fat Stigma: Shame.  Sonya at Lipmag was one of the interviewees for Dr Thomas’ paper.

The body plays a huge (BOOM BOOM!) role in a lot of feminist discussion, and things always get good and heated around one fact in particular: pregnancy and how you are probably Doing It Rong right this minute.

You read a book while pregnant?  You’re gonna DIE!!!

Feminethicist posts a quick note about double standards around scars – especially stretch marks.  Aussie MP Andrew Laming fights the good fight for homebirths.  Bluebec confronts the notion that any particular way of having babies is “unnatural”.

Pregnancy isn’t always wanted or continued, of course, and that’s why apparently I have to keep explaining that the “right to life” movement are a bunch of wanks with the intellectual honesty of a guppy.

And of course once Junior makes it out into the world it’s all downhill for progressive parents, who simply cannot win.  Ever.

Buy this Mozart CD or your baby will sprout wings!

Blue milk continues to post on her presentation on feminist parenting.  Part 4 covers “what is feminist parenting?” and Part 5 looks at the difficulties with being a feminist parent.  She also talks about the idea that some parents are too sexy to breastfeed – and provides a challenge with a follow-up post on glamorous images of breastfeeding.  Another post discusses pro-feminist fathers.

Breastfeeding also shows up as a really nifty shorthand for “crazy woman” in the Game of Thrones series, as discussed at Hoyden About Town.

Bee of a Certain Age talks about learning to love after having her children.

Our kids just aren’t getting a break:  Lessons to be Learned covers the Toddlers and Tiaras phenomenon and blue milk looks at high fashion’s role in sexualising girls.  Feminethicist has been having some fun challenging the heteronormativity when people play joke-matchmaker with babies.

Unsurprisingly, I did not take kindly to Family First’s insinuations that some families are just “obviously” worse than others.

For further reading, Mindy at Hoyden About Town has reviewed The 21st Century Motherhood Movement.

Where does a lot of this crap come from? Our wonderful media, of course.

This just in: reading mainstream media could be the reason you’re really angry all the time

Feminethicist is just thrilled by a camera app that makes your romantic partner look tolerable again. I have a slight issue with bra companies’ media releases being treated as scientific fact, with a sprinkling of obesity panic on top.

Rachel at Musings of an Inappropriate Woman takes on the latest theories of Bettina Arndt and the treatment of women who are famous for being pretty and throwing together a good outfit.

LudditeJourno, posting at The Hand Mirror, covers Michael bloody Lhaws’ preference for referring to poor brown people as “feral” and coleytangerina at The Lady Garden gets freaked out by news of a “cougar attack” … then a tad depressed.

Emma at Lip asks where the strong women are in literature.  Kate Barker discusses anti-feminist imagery.  Cara at Life is a feminist issue talks about our media ban on reporting suicide, and whether that’s really looking all that effective.

MJ at Kiwiana (inked) tells Stuff where they can shove their scare quotes when reporting on domestic violence.

Time for something a bit more positive:

Retrospective:  awesome women being awesome

Penguin Unearthed talks about Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir as part of her Travelling Feminist posts – here’s another on Norway.  The Hoydens share the news that Sensei Keiko Fukuda has become the only woman ever granted the 10th degree black belt in judo.  Double Antandre talks about Nancy Wake.

Another big issue of the past month has been identity, especially given Google’s being douchebags about what’s considered a “real” name (all the more aggravating because it’s based on needing “real” demographics to sell to shitbox marketers).

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine

Chally talks about the kinds of history that go into building identity.  blue milk passes on information on the My Name is Me project created in response to Google+ being douches.  Giovanni talks about Google+, identity and cyberpunk.

Where does a lot of identity come from?  Our “race”, social construct that it is, and religion, and culture, and all other kinds of pretty touchy issues.

Nothing witty to put here

Mindmadeup asks if Australia is a racist nation.  Chally confronts racism at the bus stop.  stargazer discusses how the “default is male” concept extends to commentary about Muslims.  stargazer also posted about the start of Ramadan.

Chally challenges the notion that feminism and religion are mutually exclusive.  Bluebec talks about gender exclusion in the Freemasons.  Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear covers freedom from religion.

Queen Emily at Questioning Transphobia asks “When am I trans?” and when trans people are “real”.

Love and Marriage

In happier news, Rachel is getting hitched!  Of course, planning a wedding doesn’t get any easier when you’re a feminist so she’s provided a handy Guide to Feminist Wedding Planning.  News With Nipples covers some tragi-comic anti-marriage-equality protests.  Hayley at Equal Love Equal Rights posts on marriage equality.

Mr Wainscotting is pleased to announce the launch of Legalise Love, a group looking to get some actual marriage equality happening in NZ.  Idiot/Savant has been taking an interest in our MPs’ views on the subject:  here he is on Hone Harawira and David Parker (and it’s not good news).

As Chally notes, though, we shouldn’t devalue single women.

Then there’s some perennial issues for feminist bloggers:


stargazer helped produce a session on poverty at the Human Rights Commission’s diversity forum and also blogged her speech from the forum on needing an action plan on human rights.  Maia at The Hand Mirror dissects a “game” where privileged people get to pretend to be poor for a while and probably learn some Important Moral Lesson.

Deborah Russell discusses welfare in the Dominion Post.

Rape culture / violence

Blue milk on some truly grotesque rape-as-comic-device bullshit.  Deborah discusses the ridiculous “guidance” given to women around “keeping themselves safe”.

The Naked Philologist deals in two parts with the subject of teaching problematic material – Can you teach Chrétien without talking about rape? and You might be able to teach Chrétien without talking about rape, but I shan’t.

LudditeJourno posts about the Wellington Sexual Abuse Network and preventing sexual violence.  Idiot/Savant notes that domestic violence still gets excused if you’re rich and powerful enough.


A guest poster at Hoyden About Town talks about being a “border gimp”.  Joanna at The View From Down Here talks about building community.

Pay gap

Deborah talks about the gender pay gap and another Deborah’s predictable privileged attitude towards it.  Idiot/Savant covers the Greens’ and CTU’s calling of National’s bluff: if people can just ask labour inspectors to check there’s pay parity in their workplace, maybe we should just start doing that all the time.

And finally, a little collection of random items to fill out your reading.

We can’t stop here, this is bat country!

Blue milk on potentially-problematic vulva-themed art.  Geek Feminism on social media protest action.  Bluebec on trusting people to make their own decisions.  Maia at The Hand Mirror on the cost of being a woman in public.  Chally’s thoughts on being “born this way”.  A guest post on Geek Feminism about encouraging women’s participation in geekiness.  Blogger at the Cast Iron Balcony on how to help the Sylvia Creek anti-logging protesters.  Bluebec on polyamory and doing it right. Feminaust posts on listening to sex workers.

That’s all she wrote

Thanks to our lovely submitters, especially Chally and Rebecca who made my job a heck of a lot easier!

The 41st edition of the DUFC will be hosted at A Touch of The Crazy.  As we still seem to be having issues with blogcarnival, send your submissions directly to stef_thomp [at] hotmail [dot] com.  We’re four years in and going strong but we need your help to keep it awesome!

The list of DUFC contributors is woefully out of date, but feel free to peruse it in the meantime while I get some well-earned coffee.

Another dinosaur bites the dust

Alasdair Thompson has been sacked by the EMA (oh look, apparently we aren’t a country swimming in red tape where it’s impossible to get rid of obviously incompetent employees*).  Line of the day has to go to The End Is Naenae for this take on the predictable Stuff comments:

Weep, munters: you have lost your king.

And props to Air New Zealand for withdrawing their membership of the EMA over it (at a conveniently-placed our-membership-was-up-anyway time).

But the battle ain’t over, kiddies.  Let’s remember our PM has “no data” on the pay gap (=so it doesn’t exist) and Karl du Fresne is still getting paid to fill the DomPost’s pages with shite (HINT, KARL:  maybe the fact that women’s careers are interrupted by parenthood much more than men’s has something to do with sexism!  THE MORE YOU KNOW.)


*Hat tip to Idiot/Savant.

Check their assumptions: equal pay edition

This might come as a shock, people, but I do actually believe the EMA and Alasdair “monthly sick problems” Thompson when they say things like,

We totally agree with equal pay for equal work

They probably do.  They are probably sincere in this belief.

The bit they’re not mentioning is the bit most bigoted asswipes leave unspoken,

we just also believe women are generally incapable of being equally productive, or doing equal work, to men.

And that’s the fucking problem right there.

(To the EMA’s credit, they go a lot further in their press release today, making it explicit gender shouldn’t play a role in pay and that gender has no role in productivity differences.  Anyone who doesn’t lay those things out plainly and simply?  Probable case of sexist dinosaur.)

Handy Alasdair Thompson roundup, for all your monthly sick problem needs:

If it quacks like a sexist duck …

Originally guest-posted at The Standard.

I suppose one must be grateful to Alasdair Thompson for one thing; at least he didn’t imply that we feeble little women should just avoid all sudden movement lest our ovaries fall out. (This is not to say that all women have ovaries, or even periods, or that men cannot have ovaries, or periods, but I don’t want to blow Alasdair’s tiny mind. For those feeling brave, check out this hot childbearing bamf.

Lew at Kiwipolitico thinks it’s a good lesson in not believing your own hype, and certainly Helen Kelly’s got to be viewing this whole situation as a gigantic win for putting the spotlight on the pay gap and the slightly-scary amount of bullshit our Captains of Industry are seriously small-minded enough to buy into.

But that’s what gets me. Fear not, readers concerned that I’m never going to find a man because I’m such a bitch; I’m not offended. I’m not even contemptuous towards Alasdair Thompson. I’m just a little baffled.

I mean, Alasdair Thompson is the head of an organisation whose sole purpose is to basically convince us that everything is a beautiful level playing field and pay is totally based on ability but also maybe you shouldn’t tell anyone else what you’re paid because then, um, the total fairness of your pay might shock you so much you’ll get confused and fall down. And really being forced to take four weeks off every year is just terrible. And getting a bunch of your coworkers together to negotiate a shared set of terms, well, no one should have to do that.

That’s not actually the easiest sell.

So you’d think you’d entrust the job to someone with enough basic political instinct to not say, in front of a woman union leader and a microphone, that “Women do, in general, [take more sick leave] why? Because once a month they have sick problems.”

(It’s okay, Alasdair. In the 21st century we use the word “period”. And if you’re going to use code, break out the fun shit like “they have Communists in the funhouse”.)

He does seem to have got his bullshit-mojo back though, as he’s had a bit of a whinge at being accurately quoted and is now spamming people on Twitter saying,

Of course women should be paid more than men where their output and productivity is greater than men’s. It’s a pity if saying this is un-PC.

Yes, Alasdair. That’s totally what people are complaining about. Who thinks he’s a clever little derailer den?

But it brings up another of those wonderful rightwing slogans: output and productivity.

Given how committed Alasdair is to his principles, I can only assume his personal KPIs are based on “saying things which your old, white, male Board think are just plain common sense” and measured by “how many women who are obviously on the rag take offence.”

But let’s face it. If that epitome of modern capitalism, the IMF, is anything to go by, all Alasdair has to do is go on being an old, white, rich dude who works for and on behalf of a bunch of other old, white, rich dudes. And the hypocrisy is simply never going to occur to him.

PS: inevitable neggers: go read this shit and know that every time you whinge that it’s not sexist, early childhood teachers just aren’t worth as much as fly-fishing chief executives, God kills a merchant banker.

PPS. Thought about kicking this off with a nice snappy self-aware disclaimer about my own menstrual status. Like you sexist pigs who are already drafting your “lol ur on the rag” trollisms care.

Related Link Round-Up