Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tea Party "Evidence" of Union Misogynists Fails to Deliver

St. Louis Tea Party members have a new claim that unionists are misogynistic. This latest attempt to de-personalize fellow Americans on the other side of the political/economic issue is, to put it generously, flimsy. In the interest of fairness, let's examine evidence of their claim via video of a female union protester made by Mr. Adam Sharp. Before we get to that video, let's look at the definition of misogyny to make sure that everyone's on the same page:
misogyny: a hatred of women.(source)
That’s easy enough. Now let's watch the video:

Finished? Okay. Now we may examine the statements made by this lady at the rally.
"Women are only making about two-thirds the salary of men."
Numerous studies have demonstrated that a gender gap still exists. All serious discussions and debate center not if a gender gap in pay exists, but instead regarding the size of that pay gap and the contributing factors such as a) qualifications, b) experience, c) job duties/title, and d) the influence of parenthood. Stating that the wage gap exists is not misogynistic. It could be misogynistic if one believed such a gap doesn’t exist, or that somehow men deserve better pay for the same work, but that isn't the case here.

One of the more recent and widely cited studies from 2008 suggest that across the full-time US work force, women made 79% as much as men (source). Many critics of the study argue that the gap is smaller when you factor in job duties/experience. Other critics argue that the study doesn't factor in the part-time disparities, which would make the gap significantly larger. So then, do women make two-thirds a man's salary? It really depends on a host of factors. This speaker's statement could be construed as more opinion than fact, but her opinion on the size of a wage gap is certainly not misogynistic.

Onto our next quote:
"Women's earning salaries are going to go down because most women are not as good as men at bargaining for their jobs and their money and their benefits. Collective bargaining puts women's voices..." [the camera conveniently cuts off here]
This is the heart of the matter where Mr. Sharp begins to wax on about how this female union protestor claims that women are inferior to men, and thus, she must be a misogynist. To one who is uninterested in doing any research, Mr. Sharp may have a point. I, however, am a proponent of investigating claims and looking for the facts.

When one actually examines the issue, "Are men more often better than women at negotiation?" you will find, startlingly enough, that this union speaker is absolutely correct. Before you jump to labeling me as a "self-hating woman" or misogynist, consider reading a definitive tome on the topic, economist Linda Babcock's and co-author Sara Laschever's book, Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide (source). In this peer-reviewed, extensively researched book, the authors illustrate many of their own and other researchers’ work, which demonstrate how women more often completely miss opportunities to negotiate for their own self-interests when compared to their male counterparts. I highly recommend this book as it also includes numerous remedies for women.

Now back to our union speaker. Given the evidence that women often don't negotiate salaries and raises, we can plainly see that her statement isn't misogyny. Context is everything, Mr. Sharp. I'm sure that next time you'll make an honest effort to do better.

In addition, the speaker’s whole point that when women belong to unions and are a part of the collective bargaining process, this aides in reducing the gender gap. Certainly not an outlandish claim. Given the St. Louis Tea Party's great concern for the well-being of women, I'm sure they will reconsider their interpretations accordingly.


  1. Yes! About, oh, six months ago or something I heard someone say that the difference between women and men on this point is that when given a salary offer for a position, women often assume it's take-it-or-leave-it, where men tend to use it as a starting point for negotiations.


    Not misogynistic at all.

    But then, applying context isn't exactly the Tea Party's strong suit.

  2. Twist and spin. It's all the tea partiers know ho to do.