Dear Women: Want equal pay? Stop cosseting the men in your life

equal pay

Every time an article like Kevin Myers’ distasteful attack on women’s right to equal pay in the workplace appears, comments sections are rife with men claiming they earn more simply because they deserve to – because they are more capable, work harder, do longer hours and take fewer sick days.

Let’s take a second to smash the idea that women are less capable or less willing to pieces:

When it comes to academics, we’re killing it – and the same can be said for our early careers; employment rates in Ireland for female graduates are higher than those of their male classmates; most young doctors in Ireland are female, and the unemployment rate in March 2017 was 6.9% for men compared with 5.8% for women.

So let’s just dispense with the idea that women are incapable or unwilling to work.

And let’s take a second to really grasp how endemic this problem is; Brian Dobson gets paid tens of thousands more than Sharon Ni Bheolain at RTE for doing exactly the same job, Micheline Sheehy Skeffington was awarded €70,000 after being discriminated against in her role as a senior lecturer at NUIG, with four further cases pending, and women continue to be wildly underrepresented in the Oireachtas and Seanad.

There are a myriad of historical, cultural and socio-economic factors at play. possibly the most significant of which is the arrival of little ones on to the scene. Let’s examine a few of the reasons why women who compete so strongly with men in their teens and early 20s drop off the radar as they get older.

INTRODUCING YOUR INVISIBLE, UNPAID PERSONAL ASSISTANT

Almost from the moment they enter a relationship, men outsource the management of their social lives, travel plans, and familial obligations to the women in their lives (“Did you pick up a birthday present for my Mam? Is there a card to go with it? No, you write it”). Unfortunately I can’t offer any hard evidence in this regard – there’s no data available – but the mountain of anecdotal evidence is undeniable.

As the relationship gets more serious, the list of things women hold primary responsibility for expands; cooking, childcare, groceries, making sure the bills get paid, booking dentist appointments, laundry and housekeeping, to name but a few.

Men can afford to spend those extra few hours in the office because women are picking up the slack in every single other aspect of their lives – as well as working full-time in many cases.

This status quo suits men down to the ground, and they’re not going to change it unless we as women decide to stop doing these things for them.

“I can’t remember the last time I booked a flight” a successful male friend told me recently. “At work the PA does it, and at home my personal PA does it”, he said, with a cheeky wink at his wife, who has a successful career herself.

Another male friend recently asked if I wanted to go to a football match, and when I said yes he replied: “Are there tickets available for it?” He and I have access to the same information online, but the implication was clear; I should take over the organisation and planning. “Google it” I replied to his text, resisting the urge to add “I’m not your secretary.” Even in platonic situations – a meal with friends, a weekend away, the responsibility for organising, planning and booking most often falls to the ladies – and like eejits, we do it.

The much vaunted Irish Mammy must take a certain share of the blame for this, for that’s where the cycle of indulging young men and burdening young women with this type of invisible, unpaid life admin starts.

BUT WOMEN TAKE MORE SICK DAYS THAN MEN…

It is a fact that women take more sick days than men, but the evidence suggests that’s because men take too few rather than because women take too many.

Women are more in touch with their own health than men are, so they take time off when they need to – unlike men who are more likely to ignore health problems, choosing not to take care of their physical and mental health, which can have terrible repercussions, including an epidemic of suicide among young men. Seen in this context, fewer sick days is not necessarily something to be lauded.

In most cases, when a parent has to care for a sick child, they need to take time off work themselves – and in most cases, it’s Mam is left holding the baby while Dad goes into the office as normal. In order for mothers to succeed at work, fathers need to take on more of that burden.

TIME TO MAN UP?

The bottom line is that for women to thrive, men need to take more responsibility – for themselves and for their children.

All that life admin that your wife/ girlfriend/ mother/ female friends are taking care of for you right now adds up and it takes a toll. It adds hours to a woman’s day and impacts her stress levels.

And women, let’s stop underestimating men’s ability to look after themselves and to fully play their part in friendships, relationships and family life.

Agree or disagree? Leave me a comment.

 

“I Mean, You Can’t Even Have Morning Sex”

I have a confession to make everyone.

I strongly recommend that family members close the page now. [Don’t say I didn’t warn you]. Al-right, hold on to your hats, here I go.

I have pubic hair.

Phew! I am so glad I got that off my chest. Are you done retching or reeling in shock? I know that shock announcement falls somewhere between “I pick my nose and eat it” and “I lost my virginity to my cousin” on the disgust-ometer.

Whilst having tea with some lovely lady friends the other day, the topic came up as one of our number was off to have her vagina waxed. Apparently these days it’s necessary.  Necessary. It’s not something I’ve ever felt the need to do. Surprising as it may be, I have never felt the need to hand over any of my hard-earned cash to have a stranger spread sticky stuff over my nether regions and wax my pubes off strip by strip. It’s painful. And they make you go on all-fours to do your ass crack. Crazy as I very may well be, it just doesn’t sound like a whole pile of fun.

But somehow, it has become necessary. Why? Because if you just shave [and in a moment we’ll move on to why even that is necessary] “you can’t even have morning sex”. Really ladies? Is one nights worth of regrowth such a horrendous thing that you couldn’t let your other half near you? Apparently so.

The thing is, if and when I eventually have a baby, I’d like Daddy to be there for the birth. Now he’s going to have to deal with a lot in that situation; dilation, an umbilical cord, possible even involuntary pooping. If he can’t deal with the idea that a woman might have some pubic hair, I’m just not sure he’s going to be able for all of that. I need a man made of sterner stuff.

The idea that women should be bare is a relatively recent phenomenon. I’m blaming porn for giving men the idea that only a vagina with less hair than a 14 year old can be considered attractive. The pictures dotted around this post are from 1970s issues of Playboy and Penthouse and I for one think they’re pretty sexy. Don’t you?

Some would argue it’s more hygienic to wax or shave and I’m not going to argue with that. I’m not opposed to a bit of “maintenance” as you might put it, you certainly don’t need to consider me an advocate of Keith Lemon’s Jackson 5 theory! I’m merely throwing it out there that in a world without taboos, we accept that women were given pubic hair by evolution or by God depending on what you believe in, and it’s not necessary to get rid of it.

Your thoughts?

Making the Most of your ‘Erotic Capital’

Would I have a job by now if my hem line was a little higher or my top was a little lower?

According to Samantha Brick in today’s Daily Mail I would be several rungs further up the career ladder by now. Here she is, the saucy minx.

She claims that if you look after your appearance and flirt just the right amount with your male superiors – without actually going as far as sleeping your way to the top – you’ll zoom past your colleagues who simply show up and focus on doing their jobs.

Brick claims that not only did her investment in her looks and ‘erotic capital’ advance her career, it has also led to a huge amount of flattering attention from men in all walks of life. Downsides? Her first marriage failed because her husband ‘couldn’t deal with her success’… or possibly because he didn’t like it how his wife openly flirted with any man in sight for the sake of a promotion or a bottle of champagne.

Brick, 41, has also lost many friends over the years due to their ‘jealousy’ of her looks, but it seems more than possible that it’s also something to do with her smug superiority complex.

Twitter is abuzz with people making fun of her. Many are simply rolling their eyes at the thoughts of all this fuss over an article in the Daily Mail. So is there anything to it?

Simply put, yes.

I’ve been wrestling with this all morning (one of the rare luxuries of being unemployed), but despite the fact that every feminist bone in my body is screaming ‘NO’, the more I think about it the more obvious it seems.

We judge people by how they look all the time. Low cut top and a short skirt? Slut. Pastel coloured skirt-suit? Classy. Blonde? Dumb/Have more fun. Short hair? Lesbian. We make a million judgement calls a day about people based on nothing more than a cursory glance.

Is it right? Hell no! But it is a fact of life.

When we go for job interviews we shower, do our hair nicely, wear our best clothes and make ourselves up. Why? Because we want to put the best possible image of ourselves forward. Because we understand if we go in jeans and a t-shirt we will not be taken seriously.

And what Samantha Brick is talking about is keeping that level of effort up even after you have the job, so that you will continue to be seen in the best possible light and you will get promotions and people will like you.

I recently left a job where it was suggested that I was chastised for not wearing high heels, and I term that misogynistic bullshit, but I still went in there every day with freshly washed and styled hair, make-up and nice clothes because I was in sales and I understand that no one wants to buy from someone who looks shabby!

More controversially, Brick talks about spending time and effort flirting with her male superiors. When you put it like that, she sounds like a silly bitch – but she’s writing in the Daily Mail, she’s being paid to be antagonistic!

What she’s really talking about is a game we play with our bosses all the time to be looked on favourably. We pretend to care about their kids, their holiday in the south of France or their stamp collection; we compliment their new haircut or outfit no matter how awful they are and no matter how unfunny or inappropriate they are we laugh at their jokes!

This storm in a teacup is happening because what Samantha Brick calls flirting, most of us would simply call sucking up.

Brick seems like an idiot to me, she’s not half as good looking as she thinks she is, nor as successful. But all she has actually done is create a bit of controversy with the language in which she made two points which are in fact truisms

  • If you want to be successful in your industry, look the part and you’ll get promoted
  • Get on well with your boss, take an interest in their lives and do whatever you can to get them to like you and you’ll get promoted

So ladies – are you making the most of your erotic capital? And men, do you allow yourselves to be manipulated by those that are?

Beauty of Being a Woman: Blogfest 2012

Blogger August McLoughlin is inspiring women to celebrate their beauty this week. That’s a tricky one for me.

One thing I never had to worry about growing up was my weight. Crooked teeth, big lips, dodgy hairdos and being overly loud and opinionated yes, but never my weight.

Until I went to college I was a perfect size 8 (that’s size 2 in American). It was quite comforting really, not to have to worry about something that bothered so may of my peers. To slip into my jeans after Christmas and have them slide on as perfectly as they did before. And yes, I was one of those bitches who ate whatever I wanted and never exercised. Emphasis on the “was” in the previous sentence.

Don't you just hate me? I know I'm well jealous of 18 year old me!

Then I went to college, discovered pizza, chinese food, beer, vodka and daytime television. A good time was had by all, well by me anyway, at the expense of my waistline.

Presumably, my mother noticed after some time that I was carrying a bit of a food baby, but unfortunately she thought it was a real baby [I had also found my first serious boyfriend]. Over the next few years as I consistently put on weight, my mother asked me if I was pregnant so many times that it became a running joke with my friends.

But there really are only so many times you can say, through gritted teeth “No, Mam, I’m just getting fat” before it starts to grate.

Since then, my weight has been up and down – more up than down if truth be told! I’ve found out what it feels like to be called fat.

It is the one aspect of my looks that I get hung up on. And it has to stop. Not only because I have undeniably allowed my own confidence to be eroded by this one aspect of my looks, but because I realise I have a responsibility to other girls.

This was brought home to me during my second year as a teacher, when my six year old student Fatima burst into tears one day because she considers herself fat.

One of the most beautiful kids I have had the pleasure of teaching, inside and out.

Something is wrong in a world where a beautiful, clever little girl like this is even thinking about her body image like this.

And outside of her own family, I was probably Fatima’s primary female role model while I was her teacher. You walk a difficult line when you’re trying to instil confidence and self-belief in little girls in the Middle East, but I always did my best to make sure they knew how strong and intelligent and beautiful they were.

It broke my heart that she saw herself as fat. I did my best to show her how beautiful she was.

But though of course I never discussed my insecurities with my grade one class, I wasn’t setting Fatima or any of my other little girls a great example, was I?

And anyway

I’m not that fat.

I’m only a little bit fat.

Me with another student, Norhan, in December

I’m not fat.

I don’t really believe that.

I’m trying to.

I owe it to myself. I owe it to Fatima, and Norhan, and all the other little girls I have had the privilege of teaching. And I’m regularly told I look better now than I did in those size 8 days.

Happy Beauty of a Woman Blogfest ladies – you are beautiful!

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” —Maya Angelou

10 things I’ve learned from having a vagina

katie-harrington-ireland

Note – May 2017: I wrote this post in November 2011, when I was 23. Looking back now, it seems hopelessly immature and nowhere near as funny or provocative as I presumably imagined! My views have evolved pretty dramatically since then, but I’m leaving the post below in its initial form because as you can tell it’s intended as tongue-in-cheek.

So I was browsing www.tenthingsivelearned.com a while back when I noticed a post called ’10 things I’ve learned from having a penis’

I decided to reply on behalf of the entire female race, and here is that reply:

http://tenthingsivelearned.com/2011/11/21/guestpost-75-katie-harrington-ten-things-ive-learned-from-having-a-vagina/

Check it out! Josh on 10things…. has a lot of funny stuff going on over there!

  1. If you’re going to ask your middle-aged, male Indian cleaner to change your bedsheets, try to remember to remove your rampant rabbit from under the pillow first.
  2. Sometimes people who dislike asking for directions should be given them anyway. Don’t take offence boys – listen and learn!
  3. Giving birth is undoubtedly unbearably painful [or so I’ve heard], but if you’re lucky you won’t have to give birth as many times as a guy will get kicked in the balls over the course of a lifetime.
  4. You can never, ever be carrying too many tampons. Ever. Hide them in your pockets. Your handbags. Your tree house. The day will come when you will be thankful for diligently squirelling them away.
  5. Ass hair has a purpose, and when you shave it the regrowth is seriously uncomfortable. Just don’t do it.
  6. You will never get laid on the one day per month your underwear is sexy and matches.
  7. You will always get laid on the day you haven’t shaved your legs in a fortnight.
  8. Women’s ‘needs’ are just as strong as men’s, we’re just better at hiding it.
  9. Vagina is the funniest word in the English language, especially if you’re the kind of person who derives humor from other people’s discomfort.
  10. You should treat your vagina like an exclusive club: unless you’re a VIP you better be willing to put a lot of effort in to get in.

Isn’t it awfully nice to have a penis?

Watch this 48 second long Monty Python clip on youtube. It’ll make you laugh. Not at work though, it’s all about penis.

Really though, I think it would be nice to have a penis. It’s not that I have a huge desire to have a dangly thing between my legs.  And not in a weird “I was born into the wrong body and now take testosterone injections” kind of way. More in a “life would be so much easier if I was a man” kind of way.

I mean there’s your obvious stuff – more pay for the same job, no periods or pregnancy, dominating board rooms all over the world and, of course, getting served your dinner first by Mammy. But I’ve been noticing more lately.

  • You get to use really stupid/ridiculous pick-up lines on women that by the law of averages are bound to work if you do it often enough. Example: Last week I was drinking in a bar with two girlfriends when a guy came up and asked one if that was creme de menthe she was drinking [it was a tall, blue cocktai]. Now presmably at some point, he or some other guy has actually gotten laid off a line that lame. Now picture a girl going up to a group of men and saying something like ‘So, is that a beer you’re drinking?’ She would be laughed away in no time for clearly being a big desperado!
  • You can do stuff on your own. Now I’m a big fan of doing stuff on my own, but it’s harder without a shhlong [isn’t shhlong a great word?]. I went to Sri Lanka alone last year and absolutely loved it, but I got ripped off everywhere I went and I couldn’t help but feel it was because I was a single white female. People wouldn’t f*** with me like that if I was a man, ’cause clearly I’d be well hardcore. Going back to the previous story about yer man, he was sitting in that bar alone and fair play to him, but a woman sitting on her own in that bar would have been presumed to be a prostitute- it’s just not fair!
  • No make-up, hair straighteners, curlers, high heels, shaving every hair on your body from the neck down, nail polish and here’s the one I’m most jealous of- you don’t have to wear a bra [I just realised I’m at home now and I can take my bra off – yay!]  All Irish men have to do is put on a shirt and non-running shoes to be considered scrubbed up well!

So there you’se have it. I reckon life would be a lot handier with a willy. I mean obviously there would be pressures that come with that too [Is it big enough? Wide enough? Does it work when you want it to? Will it stay asleep when you have to stand up and give a presentation in front of your boss] so I don’t have a definitive answer.

What do ye think?

Urban Tiger, Hidden Erection

Urban Tiger

A sneaky visit to a strip club

During my recent trip to England, we found cause for celebration when one of the group got some good career news. Us ladies got dressed up in maxi’s and dolled ourselves up, and the boys spruced themselves up nicely too.

Off we went for a very classy meal on a boat, with stunning views all around. Beautiful food, a bottle of rosé sparkling wine and a few cocktails later we found an Irish bar we had been told about and had a few more beverages. So far, so good – keeping it classy!

The place closed a bit early so we went on our way looking for a club. After walking for about 25 minutes [approximately 23.5 minutes too long for D and I] and not finding a club, we decided to venture into ‘Urban Tiger’, a gentleman’s club.

Ground rules at the door “no touching the ladies, obviously, and no using mobile phones, you can come outside to use them” and £5 later, in we went.

The ground floor was quite small, just a bar and a few booths and about nine semi-naked ladies ambling around to cater for the four or five customers that had been in there prior to us [it was a Monday night after all].

On a pole in the corner, they took turns every 15 minutes or so to “display their talents”, and they danced too. They were shit hot. Beautiful bodies, in spite of their itty bitty titties and boy were they able to climb that pole.

Easy to know it was my first time as I gasped when the first one took off her top and continued to dance in just a tiny black thong. That’s what happens in a gentleman’s club? My word.

We had just managed to get the round in when two dancers popped up for a chat, a dark skinned girl in her early twenties whose name I didn’t catch and an older white girl called Jess.

Five minutes later, a couple of the boys disappeared behind the mysterious curtain – one who needed little encouragement, the other we peer-pressured into it. They returned within five minutes looking like two very satisfied customers, and of course, my curiosity was piqued.

#myfirstlapdance

When one of the first dancers came back for another little “chat”, I was easily persuaded to go for a dance, and one of the previous satisfied customers joined me.

I was nervous going in; what exactly was going to happen? Where was I supposed to look? What was I supposed to do? Not to worry, Jess was happy to take the lead. We had had a bit of a chat outside and I knew that she was 30 and had been dancing for 6 years. We exchanged ideas about tattoos. Having made friends with her a little bit the next part was weird.

Jess grinded all over me, rubbed her very soft boobies in my face and all over me, crawled sexily on the floor in front of me and gave me a view of her behind that most of us haven’t displayed so readily since we were in pampers. I’m not gonna lie, I was seriously turned on.

I am 100% straight, I love me some two-backed beast action, but she was so sexy, so overt in her sexuality and so good at what she did I was enthralled. I think I had a smile as big as the boys did on my face coming back.

Not once in the club did I get the sense that these girls were being exploited. They were British, they seemed to be having a good time and they were definitely making good money. I was also totally impressed by the athleticism required to dance up on that pole. Overall, we had a good time and it was quite the experience.

Strippers are real people

Leaving the club we saw one of the dancers in gym clothes going to get a kebab. It was very strange. You just don’t imagine the girls in club as being quite real. I imagine that’s part of the point. I was left with some lingering questions.

-Do these girls mother’s know what they do?

-Do they have boyfriends? What do they think?

-As mentioned, Jess is 30 – surely that’s nearly retirement age for a lap dancer – where does she go from here?

-Do they have pension plans?

Would you go to a strip club with your other half?

We had a couple amongst out group, the male half of which spent the night studiously looking at the bar instead of at the pole. A wise man he was. But I think if I went in with a guy I was seeing I would get a couple’s dance for us.

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