We don’t have it. Not really.
We are often presented many options in life, but truly having an unhindered choice is rare. There are payoffs and trades that we all make for our choices. There are few options to weigh that don’t have unnecessary societal prices. I’ve seen them called bias prices. A bias price can be the discrimination a man feels when taking his child to the playground, the diminished pay a woman may receive for choosing to go into paid work, the discriminatory nature of people when you are not a binary gender or their lack of consideration as they insist that you must have a gender and you must inform them of what it is.
We pay a price for all kinds of bias when we make all kinds of choices. This price must be weighed and measured and rolled into the prospects of that choice. To go back to the choice of Elliot Reid on Scrubs, the options that this leaves are not really choices. To earn the highest pay you can as a female or to do the job you actually love? For that character, the price of her choice not only included lower pay because of her gender alone, but being cut off financially from her family. That didn’t leave real choice, but I appreciate the writers for having her go in the direction of passion.
This price is paid for in other ways by men who feel like the choice of putting in over time or spending time with the family is not a real choice. There are men who enjoy spending time caring for family and want to do more of it. Many are starting to set themselves up for it by asking for flex time and working from home. I am sure that many families have benefitted from this change, but it comes with a price. I’d like to thank the first man who stood up and demanded paternity leave, who left work when the child care office called, who decided to stay at home with the kids. They and those men who have come after them pay a price for those choices that is similar to the price women pay for being in the workforce, particularly in male dominated or masculine fields.
Choice does not come with sexism or discrimination, not real choice. There are many other factors that rob us of real choice, but this can be a beginning.
Distancing ourselves from the bias price within gender won’t solve these other factors. For some of us, it is simply a place to begin that journey. For others, it will be a place to end. We cannot be post-feminism until choices can be made without outside hate, shaming, negativity or influence. Feminism isn’t the only ism we will need to be past for that to happen, though. We will also need to be post-masculism, and need to have embraced the variety of choice that pertains to other genders. We will have to be passed the ridiculous feeling that we have a right to know the gender of the person we are talking to, because whether or not they tell us should be their choice.
Join me next Friday as we begin to look at the non-binary genders! Follow me here and on Twitter @createparity for new posts and news articles on gender and check out my new Facebook page!