EYEshine a light on some modest truths hidden amongst the shadows and mysterious mythology that maintains feminism’s most enduring X-File.
Let’s be honest, if EYEwas a young woman growing up in 21st century Britain I’d probably end up handing over some of my hard earned money to Oxbridge Art’s graduate chancers like Laura Bates and Laurie Penny so they could tell me all about the many ways that the evil patriarchy is doing me down every single day of my life.
Especially if I believed everything I read in the Guardian, who only this week ran a headline about the continued ‘pay gulf’ between men and women following the news that (as Brietbart put it) Report confirms that mothers earn less as they choose to work fewer hours.
Which is why I have a lot of respect for Scarlett Moffatt’s impassioned and hilarious rant about Equal Pay on Channel Four’s Goggle Box a while back, even if I have very little time for the lazy, misleading and often sensational way that the media monitor the mythical ‘gender pay gap’.
As anyone working in Westfields will tell you, women are the biggest consumer demographic by a very long country mile. Which is just one reason why many economists believe that the gender pay gap is largely based on false equivalencies and despite what some feminists seem to sincerely insist, women don’t (almost) literally work for free for over a month in every twelve.
The truth is out there and it’s that the approximation of any difference between the median earnings of all men and the median earnings of all women (classified as full-time workers) has more to do with the number of hours worked, personal career / life & family choices, experience, work life balance and statistical cherry picking than it has to do with blatant mean minded sex discrimination by mean minded men.
But that’s all more than a bit of a mouthful so it’s no wonder so many woman have such a low estimation of their own market value despite the fact that they actually (on average) now earn more than their males peers until at least well into their thirties.
Which is why I found Gillian Anderson’s recent chat on the Jonathan Ross Show so interesting, not to mention refreshing.
Not only did Gillian graciously give airtime to some of the complexities involved in achieving fair and equitable salaries but it was in the context of discussing how she managed to ward off some seemingly actual blatant mean minded sex discrimination (presumably by mean minded men) when she came to negotiate a return to her most famous role.
According to headlines earlier in the year Gillian Anderson won a huge equal pay victory against Fox when she was discussing terms for her return to the X-Files. Because although Anderson’s agent did eventually negotiate the same remuneration packed as her co-star, FOX initially offered her half of what they had already agreed to pay David Duchovny.
Even if the offer was simply a negotiating starting point, it still comes across as a remarkably insulting offer to someone of Anderson’s stature and it’s understanding that she felt a bit aggrieved, particularly given that it’s not the first time pay had been an issue for her.
Despite sharing similar screen time, Anderson was paid considerably less than Duchovny for the first five seasons of the X-Files. But as she conceded during her chat with Ross it would be unfair and inaccurate to suggest that this was a simple case of sexism.
Anderson was unknown and inexperienced when she secured the prestigious, and comparatively well paid, career changing role. In contrast Duchovny brought some star quality to the original negotiating table and rightly or wrongly appears to have always remained slightly up the pecking order as far as the shows producers were concerned.
Half way through the shows original ten year run the entire production moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles at great expense, reportedly so Duchovny could spend more time with his family. By this stage Anderson’s young family were settled in Canada which meant a long lonesome commute for mum.
The terms of their original deals also meant they were in different cycles when it came to renegotiations. Which meant that although Anderson did eventually secure a considerable pay rise she had to sign on for a longer run than she initially wanted which ultimately meant that Scully spent the last season searching for her missing partner after Duchovney quit over a syndication pay dispute.
Still, she got more money for less screen time than Mulder’s replacement, so swings and round abouts to a certain extent.
EYEcertainly have more sympathy for Anderson’s experience than the one spelt out in Jennifer Lawrence’s letter to Lenny. Even so her tale goes some way to highlighting some of the complexities that so often go ignored when pay gaps hit the headlines.
How else do you explain the fact that Anderson gets paid considerably more than her co-star in the BBC hit The Fall. Because in fairness, not only was it one of the first proper acting roles for breakout star Jamie Dornan but he is well used to getting paid less for like work than women given that he made the shift from a profession with the largest of all gender pay gaps, namely male modelling.
The value society and free markets attach to different professions does certainly complicate matters but even though it was disturbingly commonplace for a woman to get paid less than a man simply for being a woman not all that long ago, the practice has been explicitly outlawed since 1970.
So the truth is that most of us are highly unlikely to find ourselves sitting (or standing) next to someone who is being considerably more for doing exactly the same job, particularly assuming they have been here as long as you have. Which is why only one of the women in the following video comes across as an ill informed conspiracy theorist…