Politics & Policy

The-Wages-of-Sin Gap

Going all the way for equal pay.

My, but where does the time go. Here it is Equal Pay Day already and I still haven’t even taken down my decorations from last year’s Take Your Daughter To Work Day (warning, that sneaks up on you soon, too, again). That tears it: I’m going to have to start having Imelda (or whatever her name is) come in twice a week.

Anyway, I know this is Equal Pay Week because Senator Hillary Clinton has gotten behind the fake, made-up issue of the “wage gap” with a vengeance. If you haven’t had the pleasure, the “equal-pay” movement seeks to upend basic economic theory by attempting to “equalize” the pay of men and woman across the board regardless of occupation, work record, time in the work force, and many other factors. When, in reality, it’s generally women’s choices (in terms of choosing an occupation, choosing to work part-time, choosing to enter and leave the workforce, and so on) that account for the earnings differential. In other words, there wouldn’t be such a gap if so many women didn’t work at places like The Gap.

Numerous studies have proven that women who never have children enjoy lifetime earnings virtually identical to men. Plus they’re never plagued by the scourge of having bicycles clogging up the driveway when they get home from work as so many men, working for the same pay, are. Women tend to choose–there’s that word again–lower-paying professions, choose to take extended absences from work, and choose to work part-time more often than men do–usually to have and raise children, a laudable goal which comes with its own rewards. Even in high-paying professions such as medicine women tend to cluster in the lower-paying specialties (such as family practice and pediatrics) for the same reasons. As a rule, female orthopedic surgeons make as much money as male ones; there just aren’t as many of the former; meanwhile, all those female dental hygienists tend to drag down the average lifetime earnings of women. A woman at the Center for Policy Analysis uses Department of Labor statistics to show that women who work between 1 and 39 hours per week make as much or more than their male counterparts. Which, even if she did the math herself without having a guy help her with it, is still pretty good.

But it’s not as if we as a society have achieved total pay equity. There is currently a gender-based wage gap of scandalous proportions in a multibillion-dollar industry, which (considering who she’s married to) one might think Hillary Clinton would be more aware of. I refer here, of course, to the well-documented earnings differential between male and female members of the adult-film industry who, in many cases, perform identical, uh…jobs.

The dirty little secret of the adult-film industry–one of them, anyway–is that male actors earn far less than their female counterparts for, in many cases and depending on the director, considerably more work. One male star, whose stature in the industry is such that he’s had as many as five women working under him, reported earning just half of his costar’s take for a recent feature that required him to portray a pizza-delivery man, a pool boy, and an errant traffic cop. Another male star, whose name and address were withheld at his request, says he typically earns between one quarter and one half of his female coworkers. (As if that weren’t bad enough, the guy also claims that his employer forced him to work in a sexually charged, hostile atmosphere.) Where’s the outrage over this particular glass ceiling, even if it looks more like a mirrored one? It’s all well and good for Hillary Clinton to pay lip service to pay equity in traditional professions. But if she thinks the hard-working men in the adult-film industry are going to take this lying down she’s got another thought coming.

Like it or not, erotica is a $9-billion-a-year industry in this country and there’s no telling how big it might get. As someone who never met a demographic she couldn’t pander to, Senator Clinton ignores this growing, highly motivated voting bloc at her own peril. The men who do most of the grunt work in the erotic-film industry are only asking for a level playing field on which to practice their craft. A federal Equal Pay for Male Porn Stars Act, sponsored by Senator Clinton, would be a good place to start.

This humor piece was written by Ned Rice, a staff writer on the new and improved CBS talk show The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Rice is also an NRO contributor.


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