Of equal pay, cross-dressing and the death of sex differences

Posted: Apr 20, 2005 12:00 AM

April 19 is so-called Equal Pay Day, the day in the new year in which women finally earn the same amount of money as men did for the past year. To mark this auspicious occasion, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), along with Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act. The act would force federal contractors to pay equally, block employers from punishing employees who distribute their salary information, allow women to sue employers under the Equal Pay Act and begin a training program designed to help women negotiate their salaries.

 Meanwhile, some 160 miles away, students at Princeton University were cleaning up after a weekend of cross-dressing fun. On April 16, Princeton played host to the All-Ivy Drag Competition. Competitors were judged based on their performances, costumes, entertainment value and talent. Acts included two drag queens (from Columbia and Penn) stripping to their underwear and revealing their masculinity; Berkeley College male "Tina Broom" lip-synching "Proud Mary"; and two Yale students, king and queen, dancing to Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back." One of the competition judges was Princeton President Shirley Tilghman, who proclaimed after watching the lavishly festooned transvestites cavorting around the stage, "Everyone's a winner. There are no losers."

 Sadly, we now live in a world where differences between the sexes are the object of unrelenting attack, whether from political demagogues or campus deconstructionists. The struggle for "pay equity" is one way of blurring the lines between men and women; "pay equity" advocates state that as long as the pay outcome is unequal, we're doing something wrong. Blaming pay inequity on anything but sexism betrays "insensitivity."

 Of course, pay inequity is almost entirely due to beautiful and important distinctions between the sexes. Warren Farrell, Ph.D., author of "Why Men Earn More," attributes the imbalance in pay to differences in life goals for men and women. According to Farrell, there are "25 differences in men and women's work-life choices. All 25 differences lead to men earning more money, but to women having better lives ? Men's trade-offs include working more hours (women work more at home); taking more hazardous, dirtier, and outdoor jobs (garbage collecting; construction; trucking); relocating and traveling; and training for more technical jobs with less people contact (e.g. engineering). Women's choices balance income with a desire for fulfillment, safety, flexibility, 35-hour weeks and proximity to home. These lifestyle advantages lead to more people competing for those jobs and thus lower pay."

 It's difficult to credibly blame pay inequity on societal sexism, as Farrell points out: "Women who have never been married and never had children earn 117 percent of their male counterparts. Why the reversal? When men have never been married nor had children, they take more fulfilling jobs, work fewer hours, are willing to travel less ? In brief, when men's family responsibilities are similar to women's so are their work decisions, and the men earn even less."

 And yet liberal politicians continue to trumpet the idea of social constructs holding women back. Sen. Clinton's husband created "National Pay Inequality Awareness Day" back in April 1997 to push the idea that women are victims of our sexist society. Never mind the fact that women's salaries had risen from 59 percent of men's salaries in 1970 to 71 percent as of 1997; never mind that any half decent businessman would bend over backward to hire women if they were doing equal work so cheaply. Never mind that men and women are naturally different, and have different job goals. No, this was all due to some horrific scheme by men to keep women down. And Sen. Clinton, victim of sexism that she is, continues to champion that message today.

 The campaign to paint masculinity and femininity as social constructs is in full swing on college campuses. The only difference between Princeton and the Democrats in the Senate is that at Princeton, students and administrators don't have to couch their idiocy in a cloak of quasi-rationality. So instead, the president of Princeton University may sit in open approval of cross-dressing, the Daily Princetonian may refer to men as "she" and women as "he" and drag queen Rachman Blake (Class of '07) may explain that he gets his biggest thrill "when people say, 'You're better off as a woman than as a man.'"

 I used to think social liberals wanted to celebrate diversity. Now it's clear social liberals want to obscure all distinctions between men and women so that all choices, sexual and behavioral, are equal. Just call it the "melting pot of gender." Or the melting down of America.