Wage Equality

What are we teaching our young women about equality and wage equality?  This is the question I’m left asking after hearing about the “Should I Stay or Should I Go” segment on Kyle and Jackie O on September 24th.

I don’t listen to the radio much, so I’m grateful to my hubbie for sharing the segment with me this morning.

Here’s the upshot of the segment (copied for Kyle & Jackie O’s facebook page)

Sienna is 31 years old and has been dating Lee for 4 years. He’s also 31 years old.

They live together (rent) and are committed to each other. They often talk about marriage, kids and are starting to save to buy a place together.

Lee has his own landscape gardening business which brings him in a ‘normal’ income of around $80,000. He’s been doing it since Sienna met him and he loves what he does… although she has some concerns about the amount he is earning. Sienna works in graphic design and has continued to climb up the career ladder – now earning a high income of ‘let’s just say over $150,000’.

The problem she is finding is that she is now finding her attraction to Lee dwindling. She says that she hates having the feeling like she has to pay for everything, she also wants to go on holidays to places that Lee can’t afford and says are too expensive. She also says she is putting more in towards buying a place and can’t help but feel that is unfair.

Sienna says she’s not a snob but more likes the tradition of a man taking care of a woman. She would like Lee to be more ambitious and earn more than her so she feels like he’s in charge and providing for the family.

Should she stay or should she go?

woman-carrying-manOMG! This is such a step backwards in the Equality movement.  Right about now I would be swearing but in the interest of my readers I won’t.  I’m finding it hard NOT to judge this situation…. let me see:

  • I want “the Man to take charge” in the relationship
    So LET him.  What does what you earn have to do with who takes the leadership role?  Oh hang on – even better SHARE the leadership roles.
  • I don’t like “the feeling that I have to pay for everything”
    Surely that’s a decision she makes?  There is a point at which everyone has to decide whether they want to accept certain expenses or not.  If she feels like she’s paying for everything and her partner ‘goes along with it’, then a frank discussion between both partners has to be had.  If there is such a disconnect in both partners values, then you have a basis to make an informed decision on.
  • She has concerns about the amount her partner is earning – $80,000 for doing something he loves
    Huh? $80K is nothing to be sniffed at, and if your man is happy doing what he does and gets paid that much – why would you complain?  Trust me, my hubbie was stuck doing a job (where he earned a good income) and he was miserable – which meant he was dreadful to live with.

If you’re looking for an excuse not to be with your partner, using the disparity in income is pretty weak.

If you want your Man to be the ‘leader’ and ‘main bread winner’, then you’re just going have to accept what he can earn and be done with it.

Nearly from the outset, I earned considerably more than my hubbie.  This was due to my drive and the fact that I made some pretty key decisions with career at the right time.  This was over 20 years ago and at no point did we ever have the concerns that Sienna has raised.  It’s (generally) always been an equal partnership – there are things that I do better than my hubbie and things that he does better than me, we just play to our strengths.

Certainly, the decision to have children impacted on our partnership. We had to renegotiate a few things, but as with all partnership decisions it required discussion and compromise from both of us.

I listened to the podcast of the show from the 24th (Kyle and Jackie-O podcasts) and I’m pretty stunned by the comment “none of my friends would date a man that earned less than them”.  Seriously! I feel blessed to have a man who is comfortable (and proud) that his partner can and does earn more… I feel blessed to be able to say “do what fills your cup” and support him in doing that….

No, it hasn’t always been easy, yes we’ve had to make some compromises in lifestyle and holiday choices – but we’re together, we’re happy and we’re passing that legacy onto our children.

As my hubbie said, after all these years what does the money really mean?  It just isn’t important given all our other blessings.

Not withstanding all the other things, the principle and the precedent with comments like:

likes the tradition of a man taking care of a woman

and

would like Lee to be more ambitious and earn more than her

are incredibly dangerous and undermine everything that equality is about….

It’s time to stop thinking in terms of protector and protectee – and start thinking in terms of partnerships.

What do you reckon?

 

4 Comments

  1. Rhi Leetham September 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    Normally, I don’t read my mum’s stuff, but she messaged this one through to me to have a look at. After nit-picking a few minor mistakes, I started thinking about this.

    Being fairly young, I’m still in school and talk to some of my friends about what they want to do with their life. A few months ago, I was having a chat to one of my friends who is really bright, but she said that she would prefer for us to go back to a style of life like the 50’s and the 60’s. This rubbed me the wrong way, mostly because of my upbringing, but also for the fact that I have been working hard for a few years now to have a ATAR high enough to get into Veterinary School, if by some God unknown reason we did, then I would have spent a useless amount of time, money and effort doing something that ended in nothing.

    If my partner wants to care for me, and be ‘the main bread winner’ he can, he just shouldn’t expect me to just give up on my aspirations and limit what I can do. If I’ve worked hard to get where I am, then he better love it, or leave it.

    Sienna said “she is now finding her attraction to Lee dwindling” basically because of the ‘wage gap’. This scientifically is stupid. Attraction comes down to a set of chemicals inside your brain that dictates your emotions at a particular time. If you find yourself less attracted to this person, It’s probably because you’ve grown away from them. Don’t blame your petty issues on something you can solve.

    This has been the two cents from Charly’s young daughter.

    • Charly Leetham September 28, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

      Beautifully said daughter mine. I’m so sad to think of the mixed signals we’re sending our men. They must be so confused “get out of our way and let us achieve” but… “be our main bread winner, protector and champion” …. What a dreadful dichotomy for our menfolk.

  2. maria eves September 30, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    2 minds are better than 1….. choosing a bloke is about vibration its entwined and having the same vision for the future…everything is about we and no longer i…its about teamwork not individuality….

    thanks for sharing Charly…great insight here..

    • Charly Leetham September 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      Thanks Maria – and that’s a pretty cool way of looking at things. Yes, our relationship is definitely a partnership and about teamwork. Thanks for dropping by.

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