There is – as the economist Ryan Bourne noted – a striking crossover between those campaigning most vociferously in Britain on the “gender pay gap” and those campaigning to abolish men and women.
“There’s a remarkable Venn diagram to be made representing people who think gender is fluid and people who get very upset about the gender pay gap,” he wrote.
Stop that man! This is not a subject to wander in to with opinions. In fact, add the gender pay gap being trumpeted by the UK government to the list of subjects that many people of both genders feel safer just shutting up about, lest the howling Twitter mob descends. It is fascinating to watch the way in which expression of opinion – as distinct from public opinion – is policed these days in an increasingly puritanical manner.
It seems clear that there is a pay gap of sorts, although the picture is complex, as the brilliant Kate Andrews put it in The Times earlier this week.
“There is something more sinister than misleading data here. As the gender pay gap has deflated over the years, feminist groups have needed to skew statistics and omit information to keep the victimhood industry relevant. The message they want to spread ignores the accomplishments of working women and tries to recreate the bad old days of outrageous discrimination in the workplace.”
I have no answers on this gender pay gap row, only a few polite questions, if it is still permissible to ask questions.
1) Can a government realistically fix this by decree even if the problem is as described? The UK workforce is more than 30m-strong, constantly shifting and developing, driven by personal choices, economic necessity, credit, investment, accident, education, privilege or poverty of choices, and global trends. The idea of a fix – mandated by the Number 10 that can’t get its story straight on the Russian poisoning – seems fanciful. The law exists on equal pay for the same work. Enforce that. The rest is public relations to make politicians feel good, no?
2) What’s the accurate picture on class – on pay and opportunities – and isn’t that potentially even more important, particularly to the working poor who hardly ever get a look-in on the London broadcast media?
3) The fashion – in the hyper-liberal parts of Britain – is gender fluidity and imposing a code of thought on feminists in particular who object. For 25 years at least it has been apparent that this is going to be a major battleground in the culture war raging in the West. Anyone in my generation paying attention – and versed in the work of Camille Paglia – could see it coming decades ago. The radical left lost on economics and always needs a fight. This is the next big fight, taking a small number of cases (where people need support, dignity and assistance) and turning it into a society-wide struggle to control opinion. Only recently has this all gone mainstream. Toilets and public facilities are being gradually de-gendered. The government seems to have lost its mind on the matter. Schools are asking parents whether prospective pupils – as young as 11 – are male, female or other. Children are being prescribed powerful drugs. There will be documentaries, victims and court cases, no doubt, in a decade or so, when people ask how it was allowed to happen without adequate controls.
That being the case, we seem to be moving rapidly to an establishment position that gender no longer matters and biology is irrelevant – or so fluid as to be nothing more than a state of mind.
No-one voted for this shift. There was little in the way of debate. But one of the consequences, applying unfashionable logic, is surely that the gender pay gap – if it exists as described – is as irrelevant as the concept of gender. Or perhaps men and women are still a thing, after all. Which is it?