I’m pretty sure we all heard MEP (member of the European Parliament) of Poland, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, shouting that women should receive lower pay because “they are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent [than men]” during a monthly hearing in the European Parliament. MEP Iratxe García Pérez, representing Spain, quickly came to the rescue and forcefully shut down Korwin-Mikke’s arguments by stating, and I’m paraphrasing here, that because of men like him she needs to be in the political world to make sure that there is equality for all.
I am ever so thankful that García stepped up to the plate and tried setting the record straight. Sadly, while all cameras were on her, one could catch a glimpse of MEP of Poland smiling and chuckling while taking notice that his absurd and sexist comments had upset a woman. A weak, smaller, and less intelligent being, according to him. This whole ordeal threw me into a frenzy. We live in a world that considers itself modern and equal for all, but when you truly analyze what's going on in today’s society, the truth maybe a little too shocking.
In the United States, according to research done by AAUW, women in 2015 were paid just 80% of what men were paid. Oddly enough, the number had only increased one percent but that wasn’t a significant or perceptible change for the U.S. Census Bureau, stated the writers of “The Simple Truth about the Wage Gap”. Even though the gap itself has narrowed since the 1970s thanks to women’s progress in the areas of education and the workforce participation, Korwin-Mikke’s weaker gender isn’t going to reach equal pay until 2152 as it was stated by AAUW. This will only hold itself true if men’s wages keep rising at a slow rate.
In Europe, the European Union has defined the situation as a “relative difference in the average gross hourly earnings of women and men within the economy as a whole”. Back in 2012, the EU average estimated that there was a 16.4% difference between genders when it came to their paychecks. Specifically, there was a 10% difference in Belgium, 14.7% in Bulgaria, 22% in the Czech Republic, 22.4% in Germany, and the list goes on.
Those facts only compare white men and women. When color is thrown into the equation the wage gap becomes even more shocking.
Mr. Korwin-Mikke said that I, being a woman, am weaker in comparison to him or to any other male. Yet I am the sex that pushes a living being out my body all while facing the risks of bleeding to death, catching an infection, ripping the small, delicate lining between the end of two very important organs (hint: you will probably use one of those when you need to evacuate tonight’s dinner and the other is the only exit for a baby that’s been living and growing inside of a woman’s body for about 9 months), among other things.
Thanks to the writers over at Fit Pregnancy we know that a woman’s cervix can start dilating at 3-4 centimeters all while having contractions that last 30 to 60 seconds and occur every five to twenty minutes. When the pushing comes along, the cervix should be around 10 centimeters wide all while feeling closely spaced contractions radiating pain in your back, groin, sides, thighs, and may induce vomiting. Fine, let's not even talk about childbirth but rather just the fact that we, women, have baby making organs.
Throughout our lives, most of us are faced with cramps that we must endure for about 5-7 days non stop. We must buy pills to make the pain go away; we must buy feminine hygiene products so we don’t dirty up our clothes; we must have mammograms to make sure we don’t have breast cancer. Honestly, the list goes on but does it sound like we are weaker? If anything, leaving strenght aside, we deserve to receive equal wages because all of the products we need to buy just by the fact that we exist.
Moving on to the “women are smaller” argument. Well, that sounds completely ignorant. Let's talk about Kelly Brooke, Oprah Winfrey, Octavia Spencer, and all the other women that are over six feet tall and weigh more than Korwin-Mikke. So based on his argument, since these women are bigger than he is then they aren’t females and should probably earn more than the average person with the ability to create life within their womb. Funny enough, here I am a five foot nine woman that weighs about one twenty who, under the thought process of MEP of Poland, doesn’t deserve an equal paycheck as my male colleagues. Charming.
Last but not least, “less intelligent”. Joan of Ark, Marie Curie, Indira Gandhi? I wonder if any of those names ring a bell for Korwin-Mikke. There is a difference between lack of intelligence and constantly being suppressed by society, and eventually history, and being forced into a category that was most convenient to men, the housewife stereotype. Let me remind those who think like Korwin-Mikke that not too long ago women were not allowed to read and/or write because they were thought to be inferior beings but some found the strength within, learned how to communicate well, and ended up writing articles for famous newspapers under various surnames.
One may argue that his point of view is solely based on the society he grew up in and doesn’t realize how much the world has changed. I don’t personally know the MEP of Poland but if he is in the European Parliament representing a country then his sexist and misogynist thought process should be kept to himself. Korwin-Mikke is representing a country that one can only hope doesn’t agree with his crude remarks.
LatinAmerican Post | Susana Cicchetto