Maxwell Hawkins Headshot

What makes sexism morally wrong is much like the reasoning for why racism is morally wrong. Judging groups of people based off what they might look like is inherently immoral and extremely unintelligent. This is the case because all people are made uniquely and equally, and treating people otherwise is blatantly wrong and un-American.

Men and women alike need to “pony up” and help other individual people combat real sexism when it arises. While giving someone the benefit of the doubt is generous, and assuming innocent until proven guilty is required, when there is evidence to show that within an individual situation there has been sexist discrimination, all people must mobilize their support.

One example from my personal life would be this: I used to work on campus at one of the restaurants — I’ll keep it anonymous for the school’s sake — and there was one fellow co-worker who was being very disrespectful to one of the female shift leads, his actions falling under borderline sexual harassment.

When that shift lead spoke to the boss about the co-worker’s poor behavior, the boss did nothing to stop it. Immediately after this instance, a large group of us all quit in protest. That boss has been fired long ago for this instance, and that co-worker no longer works at that restaurant either. I’m not saying that I am morally superior to anyone, as I still have many personal faults, but this is how people should act when someone in their community faces sexist discrimination.

It is important to keep in mind that, to many people’s distaste, this stands for all people, not just women. Men face obstacles based on their gender too, though in a different way of course.

More men are victims of all violent crimes, except rape, than women. Men also commit more violent crimes and women tend to commit more nonviolent crimes, like identity theft. Women tend to get a lighter prison sentence for the same crime as a man. Most homeless people are men. Women are doing better than men in school, especially K-12. Men are more likely to commit suicide. More men are discriminated against when fighting for child custody. Most deaths in the workplace are men, and most injuries in the workplace are men, because men tend to pick more dangerous jobs. Most people who are shot wrongfully by police are men, and men are more likely to be unemployed than women are.

If women want the support of men when it comes to women’s issues, then women also need to tend to the needs of men and their issues. Cooperation only works if men and women work together. If men only fight for the needs of women and women do not do the same for men, then that incentivizes men not to care about women’s issues.

One talking point that needs to be made clear is that the pay gap is a myth. A social scientist never creates a univariate study, which the pay gap is. That is because people are more complex and their lives themselves are more complex than just their gender. Thinking all people who look the same experience the same life is a rash generalization based upon unintelligence.

Therefore, when studying wages or pay between people, we also must factor in age, number of years worked at a firm, the job itself and its pay, level of education needed and choice. One study showed that men tend to take more risk and go after a higher paying job than a woman was at this firm.

At the same time, most college graduates are women, and most jobs that require higher education are filled by women. So how can the pay gap still exist when women are higher up in the workforce than men? One possible reason is that the “pay gap” includes all men and women who are working, meaning it includes Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Bill Gates.

The inclusion of a small group of outliers tend to change the average. If anyone has taken a statistics course at UT, they would know with extreme outliers, median is a better measurement than mean, which makes the gender pay gap unfit by many statistics and social science standards. Using those outliers, slapping a term on it called “The Patriarchy” and then trying to describe the structure of western society is not even vaguely appropriate.

This does not mean that employers are spot-free, some instances of sexist discrimination still exist, and we as a community need to fight against it. Fighting for salary transparency for all employees and paid maternity and paternity leave is one step to help stop discrimination in the workplace. While we have made great strides in gender equality, American political culture has us at each other’s throats constantly, making an environment where good changes cannot be made. The only way to stop hatred is with kindness and understanding, nothing else can work.

Maxwell Hawkins is a junior at UT this year studying political science, public administration and economics. He can be reached at mhawki13@vols.utk.edu.

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