Today (what's left of it) is Equal Pay Day! As many organizations raise awareness about the gender pay gap, just as many, if not more, are raising their voices denying the claims that women make less than men. I've had these conversations with countless individuals, both male and female that believe the pay gap is exaggerated, or entirely fabricated and is just another thing that is so tiring for everyone because of political correctness or what not. I could go into statistics and studies, put some nice pie charts to try to persuade them that this is a thing and they're actually doing far more harm than good by saying it doesn't exist, but I won't do that. We live in a society where we take what we want from facts and figures and leave everything we don't want. On the one hand it increases dialogues, as most things are not so clear cut, but on the other it allows biases to infiltrate our thinking and makes it that much harder for us to change.
Instead I want to talk about a saying that many of us have heard before: "Men need to be able to support their families, women don't." It's said in many different cultures and even here in the US. Acknowledging the presence of single mothers is actually a more recent development and even though we'er saying this less and less society still demands of the man to support their family. Boys are taught from the youngest of ages that to be a man means to be a provider.
If everyone believes that men absolutely need to be making money and they can't be men without being providers, but women are just doing it just because, they're far more likely to discriminate. It's patriarchy coming out in full force. The problem could be as small or as large as anyone is saying it is but the mere fact that we so easily come to the systems defense without the desire and urge to uncover the truth is problematic. And our need to uphold patriarchy is terrifying, whether or not the difference is significant. Everything in the culture (not religion) upholds patriarchy and has created the ideal environment for these human right violations to exist.
Whether they happen or not, is even less important than demanding transparency into a system that is filled to the brim with barriers that make it extremely easy to discriminate against entire groups of people.
So whether you believe in the gender gap or not, you should still take a stand against an oppressive society and demand that the barrier in place, whether you believe that they're in play or not, be removed so that along the way they are never used. Again, I can sit here and try to prove to use how our systems are oppressive, but that shouldn't matter. You don't need to see the injustice to stand up to it, you just have to stand up.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the co-founder and Director of Mental Health for MCL, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness wherever he is through his writing, workshops and speaker events.