The fight for women in their equality in the workplace is perhaps the most popular and top prioritized struggle in feminism. The feminization of labor, as explained by Christine Monnier in “Gender and Globalization” aims to overthrow the patriarchal domination of men in the white collar world. As she points out, women’s numbers have been increasing in global labor. However, this is limited to the informal work force as well as the service work force. I believe that this is not what feminists were exactly aiming for. When I imagine a global workforce with gender equality, I am imagining female CEO’s, politicians, and military leaders. I think it is a global assumption that women naturally take the role in being a housewife or mother.
In the United States, positions in the beauty industry, fitness, maids and waitresses are understood to be feminine labor roles. This is nothing to be ashamed of. However, in an article written for The Guardian, Jim Murphy points out that feminized positions often face low wages and unfair or unsafe working conditions. I feel that is this is perhaps the most obvious problem with gender inequality in global labor, and what feminists are trying hardest to change.
I have two problems with the feminist fight for labor equality. Before I continue, I should clarify that these problems I have are problems with Christine Monnier’s explanation of the feminization of labor as opposed to feminism as a whole. One can never generalize such a broad and complex topic! My first problem is with this seemingly bitter and vengeful attitude towards men in power. We immediately assume that these men, especially if they are from the West or are Caucasian, are heartless, sexist, and downright mean. But in order to overcome this labor inequality, we must change the way we talk about and approach men in power. Coming down like thunder and lightning, with aggression and anger, is not going to seem like an inviting or pleasant conversation men will want to have. In fact, it could create an outcome exactly the opposite of what feminists want. When attacked or threatened, humans become defensive and scared. Women who demand that men step down from power, simply because they are men, will in fact cause men to hold on to their positions and their power with an iron grip. It should not be forgotten that men have worked hard for their jobs as well, and compete amongst each other to provide food and stability for their loved ones. Bringing in yet more competition for jobs that men have worked hard for may not sound so enticing. Women must approach men with the negotiation and fair discussion of wanting to become equal partners with them rather than wanting to overthrow them.
My second issue with the feminist fight for labor equality is the expectancy of the outcome of this fight. The expectancy of being given a glorious, top executive job on a silver platter simply for being a woman is downright absurd, and is an idea that weakens the reputation of the professional female. Women need to display themselves as being the best candidate for the job in question, without playing the gender card. Of course, these same rules of professionalism should be applied to men as well. I agree that many women have been denied jobs simply for being female, an issue in which lengthy lawsuits and strikes have ensued, and rightfully so. My point is that women who display themselves professionally and are good are their job are going to earn respect, a valuable trait that is missing in this fight. Women who come in to a new job with their eyes on the prize and admirable way of self-conduct are going to communicate well with men, and are going to be the few that are receiving these top position promotions.
Radicalistic ideologies cripple any controversial debate. They weaken the main points of the mainstream arguments, and are often the only viewpoints that make headlines. In order to achieve global labor equality, women need to put themselves in men’s shoes, in whatever region they may be in, and use psychology and wit to get what they want. There will always be a small pool of sexist, powerful men, and sometimes there is nothing that can be done to change the way people think. Feminists need to instead focus on reasonable negotiations with reasonable, negotiable men, and with that I believe that fairness and respect in the workplace will begin to emerge.
Jacqueline Koviak was born and raised in Monterey, California. She is currently attending California State University at Monterey Bay for a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies with a concentration in politics. Jacqueline hopes to pursue a career with Homeland Security or the State Department. Her personal interests include camping, target shooting, martial arts, knife throwing, hiking, and a good political debate.