Conversations Over Pokey Sticks

This story starts a couple weeks ago, but in light of recent articles and issues circulating the media realm, it seems relevant to bring it up again.

Early in November, when it was unseasonably warm and I was reveling in being able to wear shorts again, I was grabbing Gumby’s with a friend. We were talking about the weather and holidays and school and all the things that it didn’t allow us to do because of keeping busy (sleep was a big one on there). Then we got to talking about his music venture, as he owns a recording studio in the basement of his condo.

“It’s just so tiring and getting to be something that’s taking up too much of my time,” he said.

“So, is this something you’d like to continue in the future?” I asked.

“Well, maybe for the time being. But not after school.”

To this I was a little confused. I remembered speaking with him a few months earlier, when he was interning with another established music producer in Nashville, and seemingly preparing for a career in the industry.

“So you’re not looking to make music production into a career, then,” I concluded.

Then, he rationalized that it was a volatile industry that was slowly consolidating and making it harder for up-and-comers to make a living out of it (sounds familiar). But what he said next was what took me by surprise the most.

“I mean, I  want to be a dad someday, and I need to have a job that will allow me to provide for my family.”

I paused. Skeptical. Maybe he didn’t intend for it be, but it sounded like a very one-sided idea of supporting a family. And that got the wheels turning.

“Are you assuming that you’ll be the one doing the supporting in the family? What about the wife? Wouldn’t you rather pursue something that interests you and have the equal support of a partner willing to not let finances get in the way of your goal? Is it completely out of the idea that she might be the breadwinner?” I had a lot of questions at that point.

There was another pause, this time coming from the other end.

“That’s a pretty traditional idea you have,” I finally said.

Maybe it’s growing up in a single-mother household that made me a little defensive about the comment, or maybe the fact that we were just talking about gender inequity in the journalism world during my History of American Journalism class a few days prior. But I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of him thinking that it was his sole job, as the head male of the household, to be concerned about covering finances for the family.

On the other hand, I had never thought that I would ever enter a relationship in which I expected the male to “take care of me” and support me from a financial standpoint. I’ve always been firm that I will live within the means of whatever career I pursue, and if that’s within the journalism and writing world, I’m willing to sacrifice a life of luxury to do something I love that may not be financially compensated in an extravagant manner. At least, I can wait to make my millions as a journalist down the road (KNEE SLAPPER).

The fact of the matter is that the glass ceiling and gender pay inequity in the workplace exist, and progress to eliminate it has seemingly come to a standstill. Women still only make about 75 cents to every dollar a man of the same position makes. For women of minority races, the wage gap and likelihood to be in a position of power within the hierarchy of a business is larger still.

So while I can conclude that as journalist I may not be making much in the near future, I can’t accept the possibility of earning less than a male counterpart doing the same work as I. And for someone to tell me that they will make up for it by providing for me so I don’t have to worry about it is just as upsetting.

I feel like that wasn’t my friend’s intention, mentioning that as a possibility. But still. It was food for thought.

Then, another turn of events when he sent me a link from Feministing criticizing a Fox News opinion piece about the supposed “War on Men.” I had read the original opinion piece and had multiple bouts of eye-rolling. The Feministing critique seemed to capture my feelings in a humorous, sassy manner, which I was approving of.

But what’s this? Part of the opinion piece, and subsequent criticism, included beliefs that men were no longer interested in marriage because women were becoming too independent and not letting themselves be in the inferior position of needing to be “taken care of.” Sounded familiar, but this time I wasn’t sure what my friend’s thought on the issue was. It, as I’ve reasoned above, is a notion that I am completely against, and seems to me to be an outrageously sexist idea. Not only does it conclude that women should not be ambitious outside of the homemaker role, but that men are so unable to fathom an independent woman with goals that they no longer wish to be with them. Everybody loses. In this case, especially for Fox News.

It was all food for thought.

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