Structural Impediments and Stilettos

Everyone has a view. Everyone has their three pennies, their ‘truth’, their bubble.

Statistics and collective data do not equate to truth. Numbers and calculations do not depict reality. Publications and press releases do not uncover all that is unrevealed.

Sometimes, one has to accept, or at least be open to, the notion that what exists in practice, may not translate when we attempt to capture, or measure it. The gender pay gap is a highly contentious topic, with self-labelled Feminists themselves disassembling the notion, while others fervently scream in its favour.

At its most primary level, the gender pay gap originates from men and women entering different forms of work; namely, full-time vs part-time. In my view, what is crucial about the issue of gender pay-gap, is not a war on salary at the same level; the law, largely, takes care of such discrimination. What is far less visible to the measured eye, is the structural, and yet invisible, impediments that exist.

These impediments are not recorded on balance sheets, company press releases, nor executive reports. These impediments instead permeate our everyday bias, our language and our assumptions, which is far more fear-inflicting and embedded. These impediments infuse themselves in the way we immediately picture a female Personal Assistant, a male Doctor, a female Prostitute or a male Engineer.

When you really dissect these professions, there is nothing factual at an intrinsic level that denotes either sex can be the only one to perform these tasks. And yet, our own biases inculcate an understanding that each gender will siphon themselves off into these roles, snowballing an artificial understanding upon a non-existent foundation.

Herein lies why I contend with the notion that gender and sex are different terms with unique meanings. ‘Sex’ denotes the biological, reproductive organs that you were born with. However ‘gender’ is everything that is prescribed to you after. The colours you wear and like, the way you style and grow your hair, the hours you may wander out alone (if at all), the professions you should be going into (if at all).

In this way, gender does not discriminate upon those who do not fit into the binary categories of ‘men’ and ‘women’. For those on, around or off the spectrum, too, gender biases have a view on where they belong and what they should do; in short, they do not and should not. Gender-biased individuals are confused and afraid of what individuals on the spectrum challenge; they crack through the invisible walls of binarily-exclusive configurations, prying open our eyes to the notion that, yes, it’s possible to not follow the status-quo.

That’s why I’m so happy this movement is uprising and growing louder. From undertones of women being subject to judgement of what shoes they wear to work, to discrimination against mass groups with non-binary gender roles, we can no longer allow ourselves to neglect even the smallest of instances, nor the most politically-injected issues with the largest ramifications. If we don’t start somewhere, we truly will end up nowhere.

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