Conservatives are rarely in favor of legislating enhanced maternity leave and are fervently opposed to equal pay for equal work. And everyone knows that Conservatives are passionately against abortion. Why do they hate women so much?
A key element to start with here is the interpretation of equality. To a Liberal, equality generally has to do with Egalitarianism. When a Liberal sees income or wealth inequality, he sees a problem. On the other hand, Conservatives interpret equality as blind justice. When a Conservative sees an individual of a certain ethnicity get a job or scholarship offer because of his skin color despite being less qualified than another applicant, he sees a problem. Conservatives strive for equal rights and treatment under the law while Liberals strive for equal results and representation. This is a cause for disconnect and misunderstanding across the political and social spectrum.
Starting with equal pay for equal work and employee benefits such as maternity leave, Conservatives have several contentions, two of which being a scientific argument and a logical reason. From a scientific standpoint, the “fact” that women make less than men for equal amounts of work is false. When comparing the salaries of all men and all women, it is true that women make roughly 75-80 cents for every dollar men make. But this statistic neglects the quality and quantity of work, the amount of experience each worker has, and a host of other vital dynamics. The truth is that women work part time more often than men, men are more willing to travel for work, men take fewer sick days than women, men are far more likely to do dangerous work than women (and account for nearly all workplace deaths because of it), and, maybe most importantly, women temporarily leave the work force to give birth to children and raise a family far more regularly than men (infinitely more regularly when it comes to giving birth). When all of this is considered, there is hardly a wage gap between men and women at all, and women seem to be on the up-and-up when it comes to income and jobs in the grand scheme of things. To sum up in a sentence, Conservatives don’t care about equal pay for equal work because we already have it.
The logical thought process for being opposed to equal pay for equal work and mandated benefits goes a little something like this:
- Employers and workers must privately and voluntary come to an agreement on compensation and working expectations and conditions. Compensation covers the salary and benefits the employer gives to the worker, and expectations and conditions involve productivity, hours, vacation time, responsibilities, and many other variables. Once agreed upon, the employer and employee enter a legally binding contract that both must mutually uphold.
- This is a contract and exchange like any other. If you enter an agreement to pay five dollars for a pair of sandals, the merchant cannot be expected to give you the footwear without being properly compensated. If you skip out on work, your boss has the right to deduct your pay, fire you, or whatever else the agreed-upon contract permits him to do.
- When individuals, regardless of pigmentation or kind of genitalia, agree to work for an employer, they are responsible for understanding the details and terms of the contract they are entering. If the contract is undesirable, workers are free to take their skills and potential labor elsewhere.
- Just as bad products (like PT Cruisers) and services (like singing classes for tapirs) are squelched by the free market, bad contract offers are too. If an employer were to advertise employment vacancies for $1.50 an hour in today’s day and age, he would surely be unable to get enough help to run his business. He is forced by the free market to provide a reasonable wage or go out of business.
- Focusing on women, if a female enters into a labor contract with an employer, she is responsible for finding out whether or not said employer provides benefits such as healthcare that includes birth control and maternity leave. If she finds that the employer does not offer sufficient benefits, she is free to find employment with a more suitable place of work.
- This is not unique to women. Individuals who wish to travel to Europe once a year must inquire about vacation time before agreeing to exchange their labor for a salary. Students who want to work nights and weekends must also be aware of what will be expected of them before signing up for a job.
- Should women choose to opt for a work-life balance more regularly than men, their options as individuals will be limited via their own volition, and the results will be noticeable on a grand scale. This occurs the same exact way when comparing individual men who prefer a work-life balance to individual women who are primarily focused on their careers.
- An unintended side effect of enforcing policies like equal pay for equal work is potentially pricing women out of job opportunities and giving free rein to actual misogynists. If female labor is effectively more expensive than male labor, due to the real costs of providing maternity leave and equal pay regardless of productivity, employers, regardless of their feelings about the sexes, will be encouraged to hire men. Just as certain materials are undesirable because of their need for maintenance, women carrying the burden of mandated benefits become less desirable as well.
- As for the misogynistic employer, women are left unable to force said employer to bear a cost for his prejudice. If an employer is required to blindly pay men and women equal wages, he will be even more inclined to hire men exclusively. Why hire someone you dislike when he or she is just as expensive as someone you prefer? Without equal pay for equal work laws, women can offer their services at a lower rate to instantly cause misogynistic employers to bear a cost for their bigotry. A competing employer who does not discriminate against women would have the opportunity to pay less for his labor, and free up money to outcompete the misogynist in other areas of business. Discrimination becomes expensive, and it is subsequently discouraged.
I give credit to the great economist Milton Friedman and his various works for turning me on to much of this reasoning.
Conservatives follow this line of thinking because of their interpretation of equality. Women are not special; they are individuals with their own inimitable merits just like men. To deny a woman the opportunity to succeed and fail in the same way a man does is discriminatory and sexist, and threatening for Conservative fathers of daughters.
Liberals would generally disagree because they believe we should be made equal, not treated equally. They view women as inferior to men, and wish to artificially legislate equity independent of merit. Conservatives judge individuals based on the content of their character, while Liberals judge them based on the content of their underwear.
The anti-abortion argument is not so complex. While many Liberals attribute the pro-life position to belligerent religiosity (and that is certainly the case at times), there is sensible rationale to consider here as well. Conservatives acknowledge the imperfection and fallibility of man as a cornerstone to their beliefs and principles. Men are corruptible, biased, and imperfect, and, therefore, should not be permitted to control the lives of other men. This kind of thinking may be why so many Conservatives are religious: man cannot tell me what is right or wrong, but a supreme and eternal creator can.
Conservatives do not believe man is so clever as to be able to determine when a fertilized egg should be considered a life or whether or not that or any other innocent human life has value. A Conservative cannot be in favor of legalized abortion in a general sense because man has no right to draw fatal conclusions about such complicated, mortal matters. This applies to doctors, mothers, politicians, and the rest of us. We have a right to life that no human can take away.
While Liberals may not be able to fathom it, science makes a solid argument against abortion as well. DNA is the foundation of life, and it is what separates individual organisms from one another. A new strand of human DNA is created almost instantaneously at the moment of conception, so whether fetus, embryo, or zygote, all are unique human lives. Based on the right to life principle that is inherent in humans, no one is divine enough to be allowed to terminate a pregnancy.
Whether you agree or disagree with the Conservative mindset on these issues, it is again wrong to call Conservatives hateful or bigoted for their beliefs. Difference in opinion is what makes the human experience so bountiful, while the slandering of controversial perspectives is one of many challenges to the existence of the thinking man in society. Somebody must be relatively wrong, and someone must be relatively right. But, in politics, to be wrong is not to be evil, and to be right is not to be good.
In part III, I will explain how Conservatives hate science.