The Potty-Mouthed Princesses are back for a third outing in “What if Santa was a sexist?” asking, “What if Santa was as sexist as society?” While boys would get whole skateboards, girls would get apparently not even 77% of a skateboard, judging by the visuals, but a quarter of a skateboard at best. Not withstanding, it’s a metaphor I suppose, not a graphical representation. “How about the long fucking overdue gift of equality?” they demand.
Listen, every time you use that sort of language, one of Santa’s elves takes one of your really exciting presents and uses magic to turn it into a pair of socks—so can it! Otherwise, it’ll be no Barbie dream house for you! Capisce?
Okay, I just lied—forgive me. It is, after all, the season for parents to lie to children, although, since you girls all have feminists for mums, that’s all year-round for you, so I’m going to be honest with you and spoil the magic: Santa isn’t real; he has been your parents all along, and yes of course they are just as sexist as society. So, as it’s Christmas, here’s the gender income gap for kids:
A Halifax survey in 2001 revealed that girls get on average 18p per week more pocket-money than boys, and while 69% of girls get pocket-money, only 62% of boys do. A more recent survey by goHenry.co.uk (2013) has replicated these results, showing a gender disparity of 3% in favour of girls. A government survey in 2002 showed the same disparity in child spending—girls spent £13.20 a week, whereas boys spent only £12.30. LoveMoney.com in 2010 found that parents spent more money per year on girls than boys; £2,126 compared with £1,999. Over the course of a childhood, girls have £2,029 spent on clothes, whereas boys will have £1,819. On after-school clubs and activities, girls will have £603 a year spent on them,while boys will only have £556.
So there’s a gender pay gap for kids, but it’s in favour of girls? Oh no, honey, it’s not a pay gap! Pay would suggest you were working for it! What this is is a gender-free money gap! In the same Halifax survey, 29% of boys claimed they were doing two hours or more of chores to earn their pocket-money, whereas only 12% of girls made the same claim. According to the goHenry.co.uk survey, boys’ pocket money dropped off more quickly as the child nears adulthood. By the age of 17, girls are on £5.55 per week, while boys are on £3.53 but are more likely to have taken up Saturday jobs to earn money for themselves.
Patriarchy, right? Well, in a way, it is, or at least it is certainly traditionalism. In adult life, a man’s best strategy for climbing socially will be to work hard; a woman’s best strategy will be to choose a partner who is generous and, thus by inference, probably already successful. Whether it is conscious or not, the disparity in pocket-money is a way of reinforcing the more successful strategies in adult life; to be a good provider, if you’re a boy; to expect to be provided for, if you’re a girl. These roles are reflected in adulthood.
If you ignore the differences in choices, ignore the fact that men are less likely to turn down overtime, and refuse to compare like with like, you can certainly argue that on pure averages men earn more than women. I know we keep calling that a myth, but it’s not exactly a myth—what is mythical is the beliefs about the why it is, not the how it is. For example, Cha and Weeden found that one of the factors preventing gender wage parity was a greater tendency for males to overwork (that is work more than 50 hours a week). Is this a case of women feeling a greater responsibility for child care, as the discussion in that study suggests, or a case of men feeling a greater responsibility for supporting both woman and children? In writing Quiet Desperation: The Truth About Successful Men, Jan Halper found that 34% of the senior level executives she interviewed felt that family life had suffered as a result of their overwork; “they regretted spending so many hours at the job and if they were to do it over, they would spend more time with their wife and children from the outset.” The remainder brushed aside Halper’s questions with rationalizations like “You can’t look back” or “I did what I had to do.” Not exactly words of triumph. Perhaps anticipating this argument, the whole point of making the voice of FCKH8 a series of latter-day Veruca Salts is to dissuade people of the notion that spending more time with children could be in any way construed as a privilege.
There have been Equal Pay Acts in both the UK and the US in 1963 and 1970, respectively. Much to the chagrin of Jessica Valenti, who found it was the very existence of an equal pay act that made her radical solution to the gender pay gap, “What if we paid men less?”, illegal. Valenti’s response to this discovery—”Bummer. Because the alternatives sure don’t seem to be working”—demonstrates that the potty-mouthed princesses are not the only ones who do a passable impression of Veruca’s tantrumatic exclamation “Don’t care how; I want it now!”
Among young single or childless adults there is no gender pay gap favouring males. In fact, in their twenties and thirties, women are marginally ahead. So, princesses, in fact, the tyrants keeping Mummy from earning as much as Daddy aren’t the evil men … it’s you! Perhaps rather than swearing to Santa you can go and apologise. Go on: “Sorry for ruining your life, Mummy.” SAY IT!
Calm down, stop crying! I’m kidding around, again! Mummy’s life isn’t ruined! Do this instead: go to any shopping mall and count those shops that cater to a single demographic you will find that more shops are catering to a female market than a male market. Despite men being the highest earners, it is clear that women have the greater spending power. Just as in childhood, females get more free money, while males do more labour for money.
Having submitted Santa to the most foul-mouthed tirade he’s received since he neglected to bring Kevin Bloody Wilson a bike, the newest video manufactures a happy resolution in the revelation that “Saint Nick ain’t a sexist dick.” They could have opted otherwise; after all, with the alias of Father Christmas and as ruler of the North Pole, Santa could easily have been presented as the personification of patriarchy and the purveyor of gendered toys, but then FCKH8’s real focus is selling T-shirts, which incidentally come with either pink writing for girls or blue writing for boys, which may be why gendering of product marketing is not a claim of inequality they’d want to pursue.
FCKH8’s unwillingness to demonize Santa is rather touching really; clearly they have their limits on how much they are prepared to shatter the girls’ innocence. They are not prepared to villainize a beloved mythical character and turn him into an object of fear and hatred. How sweet. Only two months ago, they were quite prepared to teach those same girls that boys rape! Not quite as innocence-shattering as telling your four-year-old son that he IS a rapist, I grant you (yeah, Zach Rosenberg, I’m glaring at you), but I’d place it on a similar continuum of sex-negative psychological child abuse.
Justifying the promotion of the sort of language that could quite possibly damage ones career prospects if used liberally in the wrong company, the princesses explain that “for decades nice women have been ignored making this point.” I’m not sure you can classify all of the second wave as “nice women” since the architects of the current hate movement we see today, such as Robin Morgan, Susan Brownmiller, Catherine McKinnon, Germaine Greer, Mary Daly, Ti-Grace Atkinson, Sheila Jeffries, Andrea Dworkin (that’ll do; it could prove to be a long list), were already in positions of influence. However, I concede there were “nice women” in the movement at that time who lost interest when legitimate concerns began to run out, leaving the hate-mongers to take full control of the reins, or if they did choose to still identify they began to be labelled as “anti-feminist” by self-appointed feminist popes like Faludi, Valenti, or Marcotte for gainsaying false claims or showing anything resembling dissent. To say that nothing has been achieved is to show utter contempt for what the “nice women” were doing, isn’t it?
Depending on whether FCKH8 are Marxists or capitalists (both apparently: “FCKH8.com is a for-profit T-shirt company with an activist heart and a passionate social change mission”), either the promotion of political ideology or the promotion of T-shirts are more important than caring about the individual choices, opportunities, and future happiness of individual children. As Joanna Williams remarks at Spiked Online: “We should be telling today’s girls that the potential to do whatever job they want and earn as much money as they please is theirs for the taking, rather than burdening them with the mantle of victimhood.”
Now that the kids are out of the way! A little yuletide afterthought:
Now that the kids have run off to play Just Dance on the Nintendo Wii U, and it’s just us adults at the table wearing stupid hats, conversation will inevitably turn to whether or not “Baby It’s Cold Outside” normalises date-rape behaviour. In all the time I’ve heard this come up, I’ve never heard someone observe that the line “I ought to say no, no, no. At least I’m gonna say that I tried” normalizes false rape allegation behaviour? At that point, he should say “What, because you should, you’re going to say that you did? Thanks for the tipoff. Off you go; I don’t care how bloody cold it is!”