Shannon Kelley

Shannon Kelley
Santa Barbara, California, USA
June 11
Shannon Kelley and her mother Barbara Kelley are both journalists, and have just written a book called "Undecided". Together. (...Right??) This blog is a taste of what you'll find in "Undecided", a book about choice overload, analysis paralysis, grass is greener syndrome, longing for the road not traveled, and how the success of the women’s movement has left women stumped in the face of limitless options — and how to get over it. The book comes out on May 3: if you like what you're reading here, get the book here: And subscribe to our blog here:


Shannon Kelley's Links
Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 16, 2012 2:56PM

Squawking Points: The War on Women Goes Stupid.

Rate: 3 Flag

It’s not so much the right-wingers’ war on women that pisses me off — it’s the fact that they think we’re dumb enough to buy their talking points.

Case in point, a Bloomberg op-ed by Ramesh Ponnuru that attempts to make the case that the gender wage gap is nothing but nonsense: we make less because we choose to work less.  Or chose the wrong majors.

Here’s the truth you won’t hear: The pay gap is exaggerated, discrimination doesn’t drive it and it’s not clear that government can eliminate it — or should even try.

Exaggerated?  Hardly.  Fortunately, over there on Jezebel, Katie J. M. Baker did her homework.  She gleefully called out the “mansplainer”, refuting his thesis by citing some stats from the National Partnership research study.  Here’s just a taste:

  • Women in science, technology, engineering and math are paid 86 percent of what their male counterparts are paid.
  • As soon as one year after graduation, women working full time are paid only 80 percent as much as their male colleagues, even when controlling for field of study and age.
  • Among all workers 25 years of age and older with some high school education, women’s median weekly wages total $388 compared to a total of $486 for men.
  • Women in the service industry are paid only about 75 percent of the mean weekly wages paid to men in equivalent positions. In 2008 the average starting salary of a new female physician was $16,819 less than her male counterpart after controlling for observable characteristics such as specialty type and hours worked. A newly minted female MBA graduate is paid, on average, $4,600 less at her first job than a new male MBA graduate.
  • A 2010 GAO study on women in management found that female managers are paid only 81 percent as much as male managers.
  • Even when childless women and men are compared, full-time working women are paid only 82 percent as much as full-time working men.
  • Women are penalized for caregiving while men are not; the 2003 GAO study found that women with children are paid about 2.5 percent less than women without children, while men with children enjoy an earnings boost of 2.1 percent, compared with men without children.

(Our friends to the north, apparently, are no better.  According to Canadian Lawyer and Law Times, female in-house counsel earn about 16 per cent less than their male counterparts on average. Though men tend to hold higher level positions — which is problematic itself — men are still making more than women in comparable roles and are twice as likely as women to have had a 10 percent raise this past year.)

Anyway.  You can guess why this matters: the Republican’s newly tapped vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, a card-carrying soldier in the war on women, is on the record for voting against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, if that’s any indication of where a Romney-Ryan administration would stand on equal pay.  Stay tuned to hear more of this anti-wage gap rhetoric in the months to come.

The next mansplainer was actually a woman.  Equally annoying was a post on that attempted to make the case that “pitting women against Ryan was a counterproductive sideshow.”  Really?  The writer, Sabrina Shaeffer is executive director of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum.  She says we lefty feminists have got it wrong.  (She also goes out of her way to tag anyone in favor of women’s rights as Left-with-a-captial-L or Liberal Democrats.  As if this were a bad thing…) What women really care about, she writes, is what men care about: it’s the economy, stupid.  The other stuff?  Health care, reproductive rights, the social net that benefits, most of all, families? Nothing but sideshow:

…a message framing experiment conducted for the Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) by Evolving Strategies this summer found that while the “War on Women” narrative might please the most liberal Democrats, it actually hurts them with independents and weak partisans – the very voters who helped put Obama in the White House.

This doesn’t seem to be stopping the Left, however, from trying to position Ryan as antagonistic to women and steering the conversation away from the economy. In particular they seem focused on three issues: Ryan’s views on entitlement reform, workplace regulations, and the HHS contraception mandate. But as women get more information about Ryan’s positions, they are likely to find him even more appealing.

Don’t think so.  All of which leads to the biggest scam of all — wait for it — which is sure to crop up before long: the sanctimonious equating of social conservatism with family values.  As we’ve written before, with regard to another family values guy:

Maybe prayer in school, opposition to gay marriage, and blowing up the safety net are the kinds of values that made your family strong.  But I seriously doubt it.  If the health of the American family is what we’re after, the values that matter most are more along the lines of equal opportunity, access to good health care and quality education, and above all, an abiding sense of compassion.

I guess I need a mansplainer to spell out for me why, for example, a gay marriage threatens my own?  Or why, if the social conservatives are against women terminating a pregnancy — even to save their own lives — it makes sense to limit their ability to prevent a pregnancy in the first place.  Or, the greatest canard of all, that repealing Obamacare is pro-family, when statistics show, and as we have written time and again, that the main beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act are, you guessed it, women and children.  Save the fetus, forget the child?

Now, you may be one of those women whose job — and health benefits — is absolutely secure.  Maybe child-bearing is in your rear view mirror and, what the hell, you never had daughters anyway. Or you may have a securely-employed spouse who can not only pick up the tab, but the dry cleaning, too.

But then again, maybe you don’t.  And maybe you are, or someday will be, one of those legions of American women whose family will one day rely on any one of the entitlements, like food stamps or even Pell grants, that got the ax in the Paul Ryan House budget — which was more about ideology than reality –  that favored lower taxes, higher defense spending, and a bunch of holes — if not outright shredding — of our safety net.

Which is to say: How do you like those talking points now?

Tagged: Affordable Care Act, Canadian Lawyer and Law Times, equal pay, family values, feminism,, Gay Marriage, gender wage gap, health care reform, jezebel, Katie J.M. Baker, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, Ramesh Ponnuru, Rep. Paul Ryan, reproductive rights, Sabrina Shaeffer, safety net, war on women

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
socialism might help, worker owned enterprises would be likely to publicly discuss pay, and award for performance.

i can't see any other solution. if you force employers to pay women as much, regardless of performance, some will just phone it in. capitalism just doesn't work.
I agree with all your points, and I can't believe that there are still women credulous enough to buy into the crap. The earnings disparity pretty much reflects my experience, even within my family. My company went to the trouble of declaring that tech writers ranked equal to programmers, then proceeded to pay the tech writers a whole lot less. I don't have to explain that tech writers tend to be women, though programmers are less gender-defined. A programmer ranked the same as me made at least $30k more. My husband is a tech writer. He makes $35k more than I did when I worked ( I'd probably be at a higher salary level now, though not equal to his), and I was damn near perfect at the job, which he would never claim. He himself says that managers talk directly to him when he is in a group of writers of equal rank. The only reason that he can discern is that the other writers are women.

Not sure what al said, but I gather that he means that women would stop working hard if they were guaranteed to earn as much as men for the same job. I guess the men would bust their butts for promotions and raises and the women would let them do all the work, secure in the knowledge that their own salaries would go up automatically the harder the men worked. Something like that. Al, that's all wrong. In a just system, I would be paid more because I'm more decorative than my husband. Makes about as much sense as whatever you said.
Katie J.M. Baker (KJMB) says “a 2003 GAO study concluded that even after accounting for … work patterns and education, women are paid an average of 80 cents for every dollar paid to men.” Sounds convincing, don’t it? Can she put in the actual quote? Because the PDF I’m looking at ( says that it’s actually only 7 cents. Also, not to nitpick, this was a study limited to the Federal government.

And hey, guess what – women have other characteristics too such as weight, height, attractiveness, religion and race. Why do people like you and KJMB only see yourself as female when you are that, and a lot of other things which people might also choose to discriminate against?

And go back and look at that line, again. “a 2003 GAO study concluded that even after accounting for … work patterns and education” She only lists two factors. Are those the only two? What about if you account for risk? You do know that most people who die at work are men, right? Over 90% of work-related deaths are male. ( (That same slide also shows that men work more hours than women but, really, I don’t need to score extra points here. I’m right, duh!) So, if we account for work patterns, education AND risk (just to throw a single variable in there, wouldn’t want lil’ Katie’s head to pop) does that gap get bigger or smaller?

Why do you pay any respect to a person who is so clearly not willing to look at this problem with an open mind? Maybe because you admire her close-mindedness? (I’ve been accused of being a troll before and I imagine it’s stuff like this that draws the accusations but, really, do I have any hope of opening your mind or do you and KJMB simply NEED for this myth to be true in order to make sense of your life?)

What always baffles me about the people who believe in this myth is this – who is discriminating? Is it the women in HR (because HR is almost entirely women?) Is it their bosses and if so, why can’t they sue? Why don’t women-owned businesses do as well as male-owned businesses? No one to blame there but the person in charge, who is less likely to delegate work and probably started her business in order to have more free time instead of for a good reason like making lots and lots and lots of money. Mmmm….money.

Another thing that irks me…what’s the wage gap between never-married men and married men? You don’t know, because you’re too busy defining yourself by yer bewbs. Look it up and see how it’s MUCH larger than the mythological wage gap. Because how much you get paid says a lot about your personal choices and, in America a man in his forties who was never married is a textbook loser. While a woman in her forties who was never married is a “go getter” now and she makes MORE than a comparable male. Oh, but you don’t bother to post that. And neither does KJMB. Because you’re not honest or objective – you’re women with an advantage to press.

What’s the next area “pioneering” douche-bags like you and KJJMB are going to explore? next. “Look at how men won’t buy from women-owned businesses! We should lobby the government for some set-aside work.”

Oh…right, I forgot, that’s actually been done – there are millions of dollars to be made if you are a women and own a business and you only have to compete with the other women because only a women-owned business can win the work.

Our society discriminates IN FAVOR of you, allowing you to have way more than you’ve earned, and yet you still complain.

Just like … a douchebag.

If I can pay a laborer $1, or $0.81 cents, I am a FOOL to pay $1. That’s the part that really shows this is a myth – we all know corporate America is greedy. They’re not going to overpay for labor. So, if there is a wage gap it exists because of the way are looking at the data, not because some evil Man is up there going “I’mma keep the woman down today!” But that’s just what the gender baiters want. Like their race-baiting dopplegangers (Jesse Jackson) they have authority and power because of a perceived problem. If that problem is ever solved, they lose themselves. That’s why we, as a society, have to rise up and fight against them with our words, so that the younger generations can see that only “certain people” believe in this myth. Whether the myth is “Society hates black people” or “Despite being a mostly-female country, America hates women.”

God … just think of how twisted this really is – Affirmative Action helps blacks, who are 17% of society, and women who are 51%. I mean, kudos for your political-fu there. You’ve got all society convinced you need as much help as a race of people who were kidnapped and enslaved.

Readers – I don’t think I can change Shannon Kelley’s mind but maybe this book will change yours. It’s called “Why men earn more” by William Farrell. I recommend reading it. The author used to be president of the National Organization for Women (NOW). He bought into the myth a long time ago but he had the same moment of clarity as me – “why pay more for the same thing…unless there really is a work-relevant cultural difference between being a male in America and being a Female?”
Feminism is an internal growth. It is parasitic on the patriarchal economy which funds it, and on the patriarchal culture which tolerates it. It survives and steadily strengthens itself by taking mostly covert control of key positions (such as the universities; the media, the publishers and law; the more humdrum but female-dominated professions like social services, teaching and nursing), and by appointing more and more of its convinced adherents to places within or alongside these captured positions. So it is that feminism feeds secretly, and much in the manner of a tumour, cell by cell, on the host that it affects to despise and which it hopes in the end to kill. It may also metastasise — making a sudden leap to (let’s say) the armed forces or the churches.
Allways nice to read the other side. Thanks for giving me the opportunity.
"A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury." - Alexander Fraser Tytler

That's where we are - the majority (women) are voting themselves more money.
According to Ann Coulter, who appears on Fox News regularly, women want government to be their husbands. All we ladies strive for is equality. But yet there still are many that believe a woman's place is barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen cooking a man some food.