You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

August 26, 2011

My first wife used to say to me, when confronted with a decision I made that she didn’t like, “You aren’t considering my feelings!” I would tell her that I was in fact considering her feelings, and made my decision in spite of those feelings. Much to her chagrin, her feelings didn’t automatically win.

The vexatious ACLU, half libertarian and half feminist these days, put out a call to protest a New York court decision in EEOC v. Bloomberg L.P. The decision denied class-action status to women who say they were unfairly discriminated against after becoming pregnant or taking maternity leave. The ACLU laments:

As if that was not enough, the decision ends with a diatribe against the notion of “work-life balance,” stating, “the law does not require companies to ignore employees’ work-family tradeoffs — and they are tradeoffs — when deciding about employee pay and promotions.”

But this case was not about these women’s personal choices to prioritize family over work, or even to seek “balance.” It was about being able to work in an environment free from hostility toward and stereotypes about women — like the stereotype that having a child means you’re automatically less dedicated to the job than your colleagues without children — a stereotype that men rarely, if ever, have to confront.

We caution against stereotypes because they may cause us to miss diamonds in the rough: not all members of a group are the same. But some stereotypes exist because there is some truth to them. As the judge correctly noted, many women do in fact display less commitment to their work when raising children at the same time. The fact that a pattern of reduced pay and responsibility exists does not mean that women are being unfairly discriminated against. They are being fairly discriminated against.

The judge left the door open for individual women to pursue their cases against Bloomberg, but how is such a case different from any other case of an employee being kept down by not getting along with management? You improve your relationship with your manager or you find a new job. If you can’t find a new job for better pay then you’re wrong about your value.

The feminist agenda does not really seek “equality.” It seeks indemnity from all downside risk as it pushes women into the fields of endeavor that traditionally have given men satisfaction and success in life. When women follow that philosophy and aren’t happy, they want someone to pay.

Because we didn’t take their feelings into account.


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