Gender Equality Bake Sale

For every dollar a man makes, a woman makes only 77 cents. This is the main gender inequality issue that a few women brought to the attention of their fellow schoolmates at Jordan High School in Utah. These female advocates had a bake sale where males had to pay a full dollar for a cookie, while females only had to pay 77 cents. One of the members of the Young Democrats Club, Kari Schott, stated that “On social media […] people got really mad, like they came up and talked to me […]. They didn’t think it was fair and I said yeah, it’s not fair. That’s why we’re doing it” (ABC 4 Utah). The Young Democrats members received much feedback from the students who experienced the inequality first hand, some expressing that men and women deserve equal pay and some critiquing the statistics. This kind of talk is what the Young Democrats club wanted to achieve because it allowed people to consider their thoughts and biases towards the issue, then reevaluate their own opinions about the patriarchy that is still prevalent in today’s society despite the equality claims.

The women of the Young Democrats club at Jordan HS have blatantly brought out the fact that such gender inequality exists. In relation to Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, male privilege, the advantages made available to men because of their sex, is something that’s often be hidden from society, whether it intends to be or not. McIntosh states that “males are taught not to recognize male privilege”, which is exactly why Jordan HS’s Young Democrats club saw the importance of pulling attention to the issue. Often times, people do not recognize their own privileges, so Schott and the other members of the Young Democrats club ensured that this inequality was no longer invisible to their peers who otherwise may have thought that gender equality, equal treatment and access to resources for men and women (Aulette and Wittner), was fully implemented in society.

In “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, McIntosh highlights the fact that men won’t admit that they are over privileged, even if they know that women are disadvantaged. Jake Knaphus, a Jordan HS student stated in response to the gender equality bake sale; “I believe in what they’re doing. I believe in their standing for a cause, but I just don’t believe the statistics they’re using are correct. I would love to have a debate with them, about what they believe in” (ABC 4 Utah). Knaphus confirms McIntosh’s ideas almost word for word. Knaphus was likely feeling some degree of victimization from the gender equality bake sale and therefore tried to stand up for himself and his rights. This is the exact response that the Young Democrats club wanted to receive in hopes that people would realize that with every 77 cents a woman receives, she is made to feel significantly undervalued compared to men, especially when doing equal work.

After the Women’s Liberation Movement, a social movement that promoted gender equality in the mid-twentieth century (Aulette and Wittner), many people were under the influence that gender equality had been achieved. However, society proves to continue to be influenced by gender inequality. Several examples can be seen in Faludi’s “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women”, such as the fact that the majority of women are being paid less than $20, 000 per year, nearly double the male rate (Faludi xiii). Or that female college graduates earn less than males who have high school diplomas, and a female high school graduate will typical earn less than a male dropout (Faludi xiii). According to Faludi, it is legal for husbands to rape their wives in 30 states, and only 10 states have laws against domestic violence (xiv). This patriarchy, when men hold the power and women are excluded from it, helps show that women’s rights were nowhere near liberated by the Women’s Movement because there is still a great deal of gender inequality that suppresses (arrests the development of a feeling, action, or expression) women and their rights as human beings.

When we think about the male privilege, gender inequality, and patriarchy that can be seen throughout society and proved by simple acts such as the gender equality bake sale, it leads us to the idea that if women are treated so unfairly when compared to men, then the inequality in regards to intersectionality, the connectedness of social categorizations, of race and gender, would be of an even larger issue. For example, if the same equality bake sale was conducted, but with females of colour versus white males, or even deeper as to cisgender, self-identity follows the gender that corresponds to their assigned sex, white males versus transgendered, when a person’s gender identity does not match their assigned sex (Aulette and Wittner), females of colour. These situations would produce an even larger response because the privileges in these situations would be much larger and in some sense much more invisible if no attention is drawn to them.

In order for improvements to be made in regards to the privileges that people have over others, the invisible knapsack must be unpacked, to use McIntosh’s terms. People need to pay attention to language and be aware of how they express their own privileges and the privileges they are trying to pull attention to.

Work Cited

Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford Universty Press, 2015. Print

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. Nexstar Broadcasting, 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

Faludi, Susan. “Introduction: Blame It on Feminism.” Backlash : The Undeclared War against American Women 1 (1991): Xi-Xxiii. Web. 7 Apr. 2015.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Web log post. Amptoons.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. <http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html&gt;.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Gender Equality Bake Sale

  1. MJ

    Rau,

    Great piece! I wrote about the same topic as well, and I really enjoyed how you related the idea of the wage gap to McIntosh’s “White Privilege”. I agree with you and the fact that Knaphus confirms the idea of male privilege word for word. It is amazing to me that some students, as well as individuals who commented on the article still denied the existence of a wage gap in our society. In regards to the intersectionality of gender, race, and transgendered identities, I think it is important to note that in Canada aboriginal men and women are paid less than both white men and white women. This too speaks to the idea of white privilege, male-privilege, and the discrimination people still face. Additionally, I think that the language used in the article and by the commenters is interesting as it speaks to stereotypical ideas of gender norms.

    On my post, you asked me whether or not I thought the wage gap was due to a firm hatred towards women, or because employers view men as more capable. I was wondering what your opinions on this topic were.

    Like

    Reply
    1. rau Post author

      Hey MJ, thanks for the feedback! I believe the wage gap is more so due to the fact that people who are hiring men and women for various jobs want the job to run smoothly. In order to have a system run as smooth as possible, there has to be an idea of the “right way” to have it done. So I think that these higher-up members will hire people who resemble themselves in a way that gives the employer confidence in his/her staff. And, despite the gradual change in high job positions, most of the leader roles are held by men who want to be able to form other men into himself. I hope that makes some sense!

      Like

      Reply
  2. Ash

    Awesome job, Rau! I especially enjoyed your analysis of how the invisibility of patriarchal privilege played a role in the controversy surrounding the bake sale. As you said, Jake Knaphus was explicitly confronted with the privileges he has, and this made him uncomfortable. People are often aware, sympathetic, and express their support of equality movements, however, when they must become accountable for their privilege and relinquish the power that inherently comes with it, there is a backlash. I liked how you drew attention to those who had a voice in this bake sale and those who didn’t. What if the bake sale had been girls of colour or transgender girls? Do you think the response to it would have been different? Do you think different issues within the wage gap discussion would be brought to the forefront? For example, the fact that women of colour receive even less money that white women.

    Like

    Reply
    1. rau Post author

      HI Ash, thanks for the reply! I do think the response to a bake sale focussed on the equal rights of females of colour, to use one example. My reasoning for this is because it effects less people. So in the gender equality bake sale, all of the men were at a clear disadvantage, and these men made up a large portion of the school’s population. So I think that since the population of men vs women of colour in a school such as Johnson HS is much lesser than the portion of males vs females, it would not have such a large impact. However, if we were to look at just men, and take a white male vs black male approach, there would be a large portion of the population (the white men) who are at a clear disadvantage in respect to the price of the cookie, allowing for greater outlook into the much larger and more important privilege issues.

      Like

      Reply
  3. mac2121

    Hey Rau! I really enjoyed your work, awesome job! I think it’s really important that these students were successful at making conversation, hopefully the spread of awareness will continue! I enjoyed your point about how people believe that after the Women’s Liberation Movement, people were under the influence that gender equality had been achieved despite there being extreme oppressions through wage gaps. This belief is problematic as there is no progression being made if people believe there is no change needed. I also enjoyed how you brought up the idea that the bake sale’s outcome could have been different based on the people running it. What do you think would have happened if it were all males promoting the bake sale? Thanks again for your piece!

    Like

    Reply
    1. rau Post author

      Hi mac2121! Do you mean if it was all males trying to show the unfair divide between the male and female dollar? I think this would have shown an act of support for the women who are making an unfair wage when compared to men. I think that if men were to run such a bake sale, they would help show that, essentially, the problem of the wage gap stems from the workplace. This might help men and women be able to work together in attempting to get equal rights.

      Like

      Reply
  4. aba

    Hey Rau! As you know, we wrote about the same topics and I like the things that you mentioned, especially your discussion on the Women’s Liberation Movement. Although this was a great step towards achieving gender equality, there are still many steps left to take. I also really like that you talked about representing different groups of people who may be oppressed by gender inequality, especially transgendered people or people of colour! How do you think the representation of other social groups could have changed the dynamic of this bake sale, had they been included? And how do you think the focus of the reactions of other students and the media shift if these other groups were involved?

    Like

    Reply
    1. rau Post author

      Hi aba! Thanks for the reply! I think that the reactions of the students in regards to this bake sale would be the strongest when it applies to themselves. For example, if it we looked at the same experiment but with white women and women of colour, I do not think the men in either regard would have been as bothered by the event. The narrower we get, and the greater intersectionality we include, will ultimately lower the responses because people can be very egocentric and only care about a cause when it relates directly to themselves.

      Like

      Reply
  5. Jac

    Hey Rau,
    This is a great post!
    I think it’s really interesting to look at state legislation and see how things like casual misogyny seep into policy (as policy is unsurprisingly often written by white, cis, heterosexual, wealthy, men) as noted in your post. I think it really illustrates how the idea of social equality still is not yet achieved and suggests that we still have a long way to go. I think it’s interesting that the male student was also frustrated and angry over the bake sale. When I read that I felt it had a lot to do with how people tend to tone police marginalized groups about how they feel. For example, when feminists might vent about how misogyny manifests itself in their daily lives, they’re often told to not be so angry and their tones are policed. Yet when we invert the power structures to be unfair against groups in power, they become angry and they see it as justified. I think that this really shows why marginalized groups can be so angry, and how unreasonable it is for people to say things like “calm down” and such. I also really like how you integrate intersectionality into your analysis, especially about how people would be in an uproar about cis privilege in terms of the wage gap – especially since we know that trans people make significantly less than cis people.
    I think another example of inverting these positions of power was when Laverne Cox was interviewing another woman with the same types of invasive questions people casually ask Cox about in interviews. That feeling of discomfort was present as well.
    Can you think of other ways we can challenge social norms?

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s