After reading the poor comments from Novak Djokovic about differences in salary between genders in tennis (please see my blog post detailing this further, here: https://fashionfeminismfood.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/breaking-up-with-novak/) I announced to friends that I was with, that I was breaking up with him. Heartbroken, but knowing that I was making the right decision, I explained to my friends the reasons I had to end it with Novak. The response was fascinating.
One friend, slightly older than me, began to question me. I initially thought that he was showing an innocent interest in my opinion and I appreciated this.
Firstly, he agreed with me that determining a salary on the amount of spectators you attract to your match is absurd.
Then, in a quick turn, he began to seemingly question my authority, my views and evaluate the quality of my opinion and argument.
“So, given that male tennis players play for longer than females do, do you think that the males should be paid more”? He asked me. Initially, I had to think about whether they do in fact, play for longer (I’m not exactly a tennis guru!). I then tried to clarify his question, saying that if my colleague who is a male, same age and same title and job responsibilities chooses to stay two hours longer on a typical working day, that he should not be paid more as that was his personal choice and not an obligation.
From here, I had another male friend who is also older than I, exclaim and chuckle in my face whilst shaking his head “no, no, no, that’s not what he said”, the reaction was astounding. It was as if I had gotten something so wrong and I had lost all credibility in my argument. My friends returned their attention to their phones, appearing to end the conversation entirely, not interested in anything else that I had to say.
I gathered all of my courage, and ensured my voice was strong and un-wavering, and explained my opinion, “I believe that if someone who is working the exact same job, at the exact same level as another person, however is working more hours and is paid on that basis, then of course, they should be rewarded for working more”.
And with that, the two guys said “exactly, simple as that”.
I found it so interesting, that the initial argument that I brought up with them, was almost completely overlooked, brushed off to the side and a new argument was fired at me.
Further, the argument already has a widely known acceptable answer. If I had of said “no, even though the male tennis players play for longer, both females and males should be paid the same as they are working the same job”, there would have been absolute disgust from both of my two friends.
I did not appreciate that my opinion was seemingly put to the test, and initially the two friends laughed at my failed attempt to explain myself. I do not have to prove myself to anyone. No one should have to feel that way. Gender equality is gender equality. That is the issue here. Just because my two friends are privileged, middle-class white men, does not mean that they shouldn’t care about, on average, the 17.5% gender pay gap in Australia.
Maybe I should just leave everyday 17.5% earlier than my male colleagues?
What a joke.