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Minding The Gap – Choices, Babies And The Irrelevance Of Money

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There’s no polite way of putting this, so I’m not going to bother trying. The Gender Pay Gap does not exist. It’s feminist flim flam. The economic equivalent of a Bunco Booth. No economist – male or female – takes it seriously. Say the words “Gender Pay Gap” to any economist and they’ll get that little twitch in the corner of their eye which results from really wanting to smack someone in the mouth but knowing you’re not allowed to.

Women do not earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Or whatever the latest made up statistic is. And even if they did, it would only be salaried women anyway. Men and women who are paid on the clock get paid the same for doing the same work, and have done for decades.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that women don’t earn less than men on average over their lifetimes. They do. The numbers on that are very clear. But so long as we are mentioning statistics, here’s one for you. Women make 80% of consumer decisions. Which is another way of saying that women spend 80% of the money. Despite, apparently, not earning even half of it. Maybe it’s my hidden mercenary streak coming out,  but quite why feminists are campaigning to change this situation is utterly beyond me.  It would be nice if it was out of a sense of fairness and decency, but I honestly reckon they just haven’t thought it through.

Having said all of this, just because The Gender Pay Gap doesn’t exist does not mean that it isn’t a problem. It’s an idea that inhabits the heads of a great many women. And a fair few men too. The ones that tag along with feminism because it’s the only way they can get laid. Ideas are important and powerful things, so let’s address this one now.

There are many reasons The Gender Pay gap appears to exist. At a high end corporate level, there are not as many women in the board room as men. The main cause of this is that to get into the boardroom and stay there, you have to be an asshole and a bit psychotic. The female population just doesn’t have as many psychotic assholes as the male population. A hard fact to swallow, but there it is.

At a lower corporate level, women just tend to work fewer hours than men and are far more likely to work part time. They tend to choose healthier work/life balances. They tend to choose careers which are more people oriented than thing oriented. Most of these careers pay less. It’s really about choices rather than opportunity or circumstances.

Which brings us to the main choice which women make that leads them to earn less on aggregate. Women choose to have babies. Women like babies. Women want babies.

Men don’t choose to have babies. Men don’t like babies. Men don’t want babies. Men are, in fact, utterly perplexed by babies. They love their children, of course. But their children only really pop up on their radar when they’ve started to develop personalities. Until then, they are just little crying, puking, shitting machines that fall prey to what seem to be life threatening maladies every five minutes. A fact that makes the women in their lives freak the fuck out in a way that can be quite tricky to deal with.

Yes, babies are definitely the culprit here. Female professionals get better degrees and out earn their male counterparts up until they are in their late twenties. But then that baby itch kicks in and this is when it all starts to happen, “Gender Pay Gap” wise.

You can be a feminist as fuck. You can cut your hair as short as you want, dye it as blue or as green as it can go and wear as many pairs of Doc Marten’s as you wish. But the solid fact is that, when a man and a woman have a child, it’s the woman who has to physically bring that child into the world.

In civilized countries, women get at least six months paid maternity leave (Sorry America, I know you think you’re a civilized country. But you’re not. You’re really, really not). In fact, in Great Britain – where I live – you can take up to a year’s maternity leave. Though women do have the choice to go back to work two weeks after giving birth.

Choice. This is the key word. Given the choice between spending time with the freshly minted little person they have just produced and going back to work to spend time with their co-workers, many of whom they find deeply irritating, which option are they going to pick?

Unsurprisingly, most women pick the former option. This can leave them massively out of the loop, career wise. Hell, in some careers a two week vacation can drop you out of the loop, never mind six months or a year.  Clawing your way back up the ladder is bloody hard work. Give it another baby or two and it’s not exactly a shock that women come to the conclusion that the job ain’t worth the candle and decide to do something a bit less challenging to earn a crust so they can spend more time with people they actually like and are emotionally invested in.

So, women have a stark choice. Reap the joy and fulfillment of family life or earn the same as the men.  Simple as that. As long as there’s a roof over my head and food in my belly, I know what I’d do. There are many metrics for measuring how successful you are as a human being. Useful as it is, money has to be the least important one we have.

Except, of course, it’s not as simple as that is it? Nothing ever is. This has got me thinking one thing : “What if I were a woman?”. I don’t mean in the way I think it on a Bank Holiday weekend, where I call myself Peaches LaTour and put on a cocktail dress for the amusement of my friends and family. No, I mean “What if I were an actual woman”? One with a functional womb who could actually make babies, rather than just belting out show tunes from “Cabaret”. How would I counter the arguments I’ve just made?

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Well, gather around the campfire and I’ll tell you. I’m almost certainly going to get kicked out of The Man Club for doing this, but I’m going to do it anyway. In fact, fuck it. For the purposes of this exercise, I’m going to pretend to be all women. Here goes :

Dear Men,

It’s us. Women. Entertaining as this has been, we feel we need to raise a few points. Yes, we know The Gender Pay Gap doesn’t exist. Like so many of our disagreements, it’s not actually about what it’s about. You must have figured that one out by now, surely? You’re not all that fucking dumb.

And okay, we do spend 80% of the money. But have you ever asked yourself who we actually spend it on? You, mainly, once we settle down. (Though to be fair, before that point a lot of our cash does go towards clothes, make-up, shoes and Prosecco).

Also, can’t argue with the baby thing. We choose to have babies. We like babies. We want babies. Fucking good job, too. We like the end result, but it’s not like being pregnant is all rainbows and unicorns. Have you any idea what can happen to us? No? Well, buckle up buttercup and allow me enlighten you.

Morning sickness. Remember when you and your best bud did too many Jaegermeisters and you were puking your ring up all the following day? Well, imagine that repeated Groundhog Day style for up to nine months if you’re unlucky. And that’s just for starters.

There’s also pissing like a racehorse. Drooling like Donald Trump at a titty bar. Gums bleeding like a crystal meth addict. Varicose veins. Haemorrhoids. Water retention. Crippling back pain etc etc.

Bearing in mind, this is all just before the main event. Contractions? Try agonizing internal cramp you can’t just walk off like a charlie horse. Shitting yourself. That’s always a hoot. Being ripped from arsehole to breakfast time if you push at the wrong moment. My, how we laughed.

Oh and an outside chance – slim as it might be – of actually dying.

We want bullet money, godammit!

And even if you think we don’t deserve that bullet money – which we fucking well do, by the way- we have one more point.

As long as we are talking cold, hard facts then let’s take the gloves off. We might want to have the babies, but society – which you lot still largely run – needs us to have the babies. Without that, humankind grinds to a halt. You may be fit as a fiddle now, but who is going to look after you when you are old and infirm and dribbling creamed corn into your incontinence pants? That’s right! The babies we are having now. And predominantly the female ones.

So, individually we do have a choice about the baby thing. But collectively? No choice at all. In conclusion – and in the words of Ray Liotta in Goodfellas : “Fuck you, pay me!”

Lots Of Love

Women xxx

I’m guessing that impersonation of Womankind was no more convincing than my rendition of Liza Minnelli singing “Mein Herr”. Real women would probably not have put in so many references to boxing and gangster movies. But  if you are a woman and for some bizarre reason you wish to use this argument, it might be best to put it more politely. Just not very much.

Copyright Michael Grimes 2018

 

 

 

 

 

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Cultural Misappropriation – Dreadlocks, The Bible And Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure

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I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m not going to ease myself back in gently. I’m going to ask myself a difficult and controversial question. “Should white people be allowed to wear dreadlocks?” No, they shouldn’t. Because, with very few exceptions, white people look really fucking stupid with dreadlocks. That’s just a fact. Okay, it’s a fashion fact rather than a political one, but it’s still a fact. Ermmm… it would seem that this question wasn’t quite as knotty as I thought it would be. Goodbye.

Up until recently, that is exactly how this piece would have ended. However, I have now been introduced to a concept I had never heard of before. Cultural Appropriation. It’s the dumbest concept I’ve ever heard of. And I’m including some of the concepts I’ve come up with in my previous blog posts. Though it’s not as stupid as the 1970s concept for advertising Cadbury’s Flake bars. “Only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate tastes like chocolate never tasted before”. Trying to sell people your chocolate by telling them, in effect, that it doesn’t actually taste like chocolate? I’ve never really understood that.

I also don’t quite understand how it has taken me so long to stumble across the thorny subject of Cultural Appropriation, given the amount of hilarious Social Justice Warrior clips I watch on YouTube. It has taken this long though, and that is also a fact.

I was introduced to Cultural Appropriation by this video popping up on my YouTube “recommended” list :

I have a few things to say about this video. For a start, it’s very obviously staged. I have no idea what the white guy with the dreadlocks’ major is, but if it’s Drama he really needs to switch courses. Pronto. And the black girl is waaaay too playful to be an actual SJW. In fact, observing the body language and the way she gently rags him around, I reckon she’s probably his girlfriend. Or if she isn’t, she’ definitely be more than willing to seriously entertain the idea. She his clearly pulling his pigtails. Almost literally. Because, let’s be honest, he doesn’t actually have dreadlocks. Not really. What he has is a collection of random and unruly pigtails. Personally, I’m more interested that the guy in the background appears to be a time traveller from the early 1990s. But maybe that’s just me.

Another thing that may be just me is the observation of the irony that this altercation is being conducted in English. The most culturally appropriated language on the face of the planet. English isn’t so much a language as a swag bag stuffed to the neck with Latin, French, occasionally a bit of Norse and very occasionally, words from the language it used to be back in the day. Plus bits and pieces from pretty much every culture on Earth. If English were a place rather than a means of communication, it would be and active crime scene being investigated by “CSI The Rest Of The World”.

At the end of the day, I am not writing this in Celtic Runes. I am writing it using the Roman Alphabet. Which we nicked from The Romans. Who, in turn, nicked it from The Greeks. Hence the word “Alphabet.

Now, I’m not saying that Cultural Appropriation doesn’t exist. It does. Spend an afternoon wandering around The British Museum and you’ll see the evidence right before your eyes. Take a notebook with you and jot down how many of the exhibits are of British origin. You won’t need a very thick notebook. “British Museum” is a bit of a misnomer. As is the word “exhibits”. The words “plunder” or “loot” would probably be more appropriate. Back in Britain’s imperial past, we “culturally appropriated” shedloads of stuff. By which I mean we physically stole it.

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I’m not saying this was a good thing. My imperial forbears were thieving bastards of the very first order. They stole art and architecture and every type cultural treasure they could lay their hands on. It was a fucking appalling way to behave. There’s certainly a hell of a lot of massive diamonds that India would probably quite like back when we’re finished coronating our monarchs with fancy hats studded with the things. We stole quite a few of India’s words as well, of course. “Pukka”, “Pajamas”, “Juggernaut”, “Bungalow” etc.

The point is, we actually stole the architecture and the artwork and the diamonds. We merely copied the words because we thought they were cool. And that is the type of cultural appropriation the dreadlocks video is about. And perhaps it’s just me being a bit thick, but I entirely fail to see how copying an aspect of a culture because you think it is awesome is in any way an attack on that culture. Or indeed anything other than a compliment.

For the sake of argument, though, let’s pretend I am entirely and utterly wrong about this. That the type of Cultural Appropriation represented by a white man on a university campus deciding on wearing dreadlocks is actually a real problem. Where do we draw the line? How far do we go with this idea?

I am, as I’m sure you have already inferred, British. English to be precise. And I know this is a bit of a stereotype, but I am quite partial to a nice big plate of Fish and Chips every now and then. But Fish and Chips were brought over to England by Portuguese Jewish immigrants in the 19th Century. So am I, as an Englishman of Irish heritage, allowed to eat Fish and Chips or not?

And what about you? Got a bank account? Italians invented those, I’m afraid. So unless you have Italian heritage, that’s a no go.

Do ballpoint pens come in handy for you? Hungarian invention, I’m afraid. Lazlo Biro came up with that.

Find chocolate a bit tasty? Well, chocolate was a holy sacrament to the Aztecs, so unless you are a Mexican with Aztec ancestry, chocolate is off the table for you my friend.

Yes, these are flippant examples. But point is that, no matter what your heritage, virtually everything in your life is culturally appropriated from somewhere else. The language you speak, the words you write, the everyday objects you use in your life. Everything.

Let’s try a less light and frothy example. Are you a Christian? Well, that’s most of The Bible out of the running for you. The Old Testament is definitely a Jewish thing. Mind you, that might not be such a bad idea, come to think of it. The old Testament is chock full of hate, but the New Testament can pretty much be summed up by the words of Abraham Lincoln in the closing minutes of “Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. “Be excellent to one another….and….party on dudes!”

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Jesus liked a party. He was forever hanging about with prostitutes and publicans. It’s no coincidence that his first miracle was turning water into wine. No wonder he was greeted with such hysteria when he did his famous donkey ride into Jerusalem. He didn’t bring any free hooch that time though, so the crowd turned on him pretty quick.

One of the great passions of my life is Martial Arts. One of the Martial Arts I practice is Eskrima. This is Filipino in origin. It’s beautiful and graceful and definitely one of the coolest thing I do. As one of the most physically uncoordinated human beings in history, it allows me to do a thing that, when people see it, they are genuinely impressed. It has brought a great deal of joy to my life.

The man who founded the style of Eskrima I do does not think we are somehow raiding his culture. He is fucking delighted that we are showing such an interest. So delighted, in fact, that every so often he flies from the Phillippines for a month or so to share all he can of his culture and his art. And he does this for no more reward than the cost of his flight, room and board and the chance to encourage us. Not for glory, not for profit, just for the love of the thing.

There is another martial art I do. Irish Stick Fighting. If I were to follow the “Cultural Appropriation” doctrine, then this is a thing I am definitely allowed to do. Names don’t get much more Irish than Michael Grimes. (Except of course, that Michael is a Hebrew name. Quite how the Irish got around to adopting that, history is unclear on). If I followed the doctrine, I should guard this art jealously and be horrified by the idea of anyone of non Irish heritage learning it. This is not the case though, of course. I’m not yet qualified to teach it, but when I am, I will gladly teach it to anyone of any race, creed or colour who is interested in that culture. As long as they are over eighteen and not an obvious nutcase, because culturally rich as it is, Irish Stick Fighting is very, very violent.

And why is it that I would be willing to share this knowledge? With people who are seeking to “appropriate” my ancestral culture? Because I’m not a childish dick, that’s why.

At  the beginning of this post, I stated that “with very few exceptions, white people look really fucking stupid with dreadlocks”. But there are exceptions. Dreadlocks are not an exclusively African thing. Ancient Celts had dreadlocks. Viking warriors had dreadlocks. In fact, if you go back far enough, any society which hadn’t yet invented the comb had dreadlocks. It’s just what human hair does when you don’t cut and comb it.

After a day thinking about this subject, I have come up with what I think are two immutable facts. If you are white, unless you are a seven foot tall Viking warrior, you are almost certainly going to look very foolish putting your hair into dreadlocks. But you are not going to look anywhere near as foolish as somebody who insists that you are not allowed to style your own hair however the fuck you like on the basis of some trumped up charge of stealing a culture they probably know no more about than you do.

Copyright Michael Grimes 2018

 

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So, it’s Father’s Day once again. That’s a photo of me and my dad back in the day. Yeah, yeah, I know. He’s smoking a cigarette right next to me. You have to bear in mind that this photo was taken in 1977. Only vegans and yoga teachers gave a fuck about that sort of thing back then. He did look after me, I promise. Read More…

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Back in 1983, when I was 14, I started practising martial arts. Like many people who become martial artists, I started off with karate. Shotokan karate, to be precise. And like many people who start fight training, I became absolutely obsessed with it. Here is a photo of me taken at Christmas that year: Read More…

I’m With Stupid – Who’s More Annoying, Clever People Or Stupid People?

 

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There is an old saying which goes: “There’s nothing more annoying than a sober man when you are drunk or a drunk man when you are sober.” On similar lines, clever people hate stupid people and stupid people hate clever people. That is just a simple and incontrovertible fact of life. Read More…

There Can Be Only One – Soulmates, Dragons And Unicorn Sandwiches

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The Internet. It’s not all amusing cats, sex and Facebook. Well, okay, it’s about 96 percent those things but there’s other stuff on there too. Motivational memes are pretty popular. Happiness is a subject that crops up a great deal. Lots of unhappy people on the internet, apparently. As anyone who has spent more than five minutes interacting on Twitter can tell you. Read More…