Wage Inequality: More Than Meets The Eye

Wage inequality is evidently still an issue in our society today. In Ontario today, for every $1.00 that a man makes, a women makes 74 cents (Pay Equality Commission, “Gender Wage Gap”). For the most part, wage inequality continues to be somewhat hidden from public view. Unlike other forms of gender inequality that largely occurs in public view, wage inequality occurs on a pay cheque. This makes Randall Carlisle article, “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School”, very interesting. As stated before, wage inequality predominantly is seen behind closed doors and out of the public view, however this bake sale brought wage inequality into the public view. The bake sale charged male buyers $1.00 for a cookie and female buyers 77 cents for the same cookie (Carlisle, “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School”). This was done because women make 77 cents for every one dollar a man makes in the United States (Carlisle, “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School”). In Carlisle’s article he notes that when men were forced to pay more than women, there was a public outcry and people claimed that the bake sale was not equally fair. For wage inequality to be changed it needs to be presented more to the public. People need to see how wage inequality is occurring everywhere around them and how we need to change the systemic oppression that is wage inequality.

Canadian businesses are systemically built to pay women less. This is obviously instilled from the hegemonic belief that men are better than women. This misogynistic belief is quite obviously false, however this belief still occurs systemically in Canada’s wage gap. By changing the systemically oppressive nature of gender inequality, Canada’s work force would strengthen. Countries with the lowest wage gap currently have the highest rate of female participation and equitable sharing of household work (Anderssen, “Pay attention private sector: Public sector wages are higher because the gender gap is much smaller”). By making Canadian wages equal for both men and women then we can also help break down gender binaries in the work place and household.  Equal pay will encourage hegemonic masculinity to be dismantled as women begin to enter roles that men would have previously held. As the workplace changes with women holding more positions, what would also occur is that men would begin to enter roles in the workplace and household that are currently viewed as predominantly for females (Anderssen, “Pay attention private sector: Public sector wages are higher because the gender gap is much smaller”). Gender roles often define what job is for who, however with more women being active in the workforce the notion of gender roles would be dismantled. By changing the wage inequality and making wages for all genders equal, the end to systemic oppression for women in the workplace will be one step closer. As well, the discrimination against men who partake in household roles and jobs typically held by women will also begin to end.

There is an even larger issue with wage inequality when you look at the intersectional wage discrimination of aboriginal women in Canada. In Canada aboriginal women make 46 cents on every dollar that a man makes (Lambert 5). This means that aboriginal women make 28 cents less on each dollar as compared to non-aboriginal women in Canada (Lambert 5). Aboriginal women also have a higher rate of unemployment as compared to non-aboriginal women in Canada (Lambert 6). In fact, the rate of unemployment for aboriginal women is double that of non-aboriginal women in Canada (Lambert 6).  The unemployment rates are 6.4% for non-aboriginal women and 13.5% for aboriginal women in Canada (Lambert 6). This intersectional wage inequality stems from the systemic colonialism of Canada’s past. Colonialism in Canada is well documented and is something that the aboriginal community is still working to rebuild from (“Aboriginal Peoples In Canada: Repairing the Relationship” 184).  Aboriginal people in Canada are working to step away from the demoralizing stereotypes that present aboriginal people as hopeless welfare dependents (“Aboriginal Peoples In Canada: Repairing the Relationship” 184).  To change these stereotypes there needs to be a change in wage equality, especially for the aboriginal women of Canada. By raising the wages of aboriginal women, more women will be capable of supporting themselves. This would then lower the unemployment rate and help break down the demoralizing stereotypes of aboriginals.

Evidently there is an issue with wage equality in Canada. This is something that needs to be changed. However, to change this issue it needs to be brought into public view so that more than just those who are effected can know about this issue. The bake sale in the Utah High School is a great medium to show how wage inequality effects people. More actions like these need to be made in an effort to end wage inequality. Changing wage inequality is not just about paying everyone equally, it is also about breaking down gender roles that cause discrimination to women and men for their role in the work place. It is about ending intersectional oppression and discrimination to the aboriginal women of Canada based on stereotypes of their employment status. Ending wage inequality is about providing equality to all genders and races.

Works Cited

Anderssen, Erin. “Pay Attention Private Sector: Public Sector Wages Are Higher Because the Gender Gap Is Much Smaller.” The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail, 26 Mar. 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc., 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Fleras, Augie. Unequal Relations : An Introduction to Race, Ethnic, and Aboriginal Dynamics in Canada / Augie Fleras. 6th ed. Vol. 1. Toronto: Pearson Canada, 2010. 425. Print.

“Gender Wage Gap.” Pay Equity Commission. The Government of Ontario, Canada, 18 Sept. 2012. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.

Lambert, Lisa. “Gendered Wage Gap Even More Pronounced for Aboriginal Women.” Native Counselling Services of Alberta, 2010. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.


Cultural Appropriation: Aboriginals

After reading “An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses” what becomes clear is that cultural appropriation is a real issue (Âpihtawikosisân, An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses). A large portion of this issue is that cultural appropriation is sparsely understood resulting in individuals acting offensively without the ability to recognize that their actions are offensive. To combat this we must define cultural appropriation to understand what is offensive and what is not. Cultural Appropriation is the act of “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission” (GNDS Lecture, March 9 2015). This usually occurs after a long period of time where a dominant culture’s actions are greatly oppressive towards a non-dominant culture inhibiting that culture to act as it normally would. This provides an environment for dominant cultures to feel entitled to the cultural appropriation of what would be a non-dominant culture.

When looking to the culture of Canada and the United States, we can see many examples of cultural appropriation towards native Canadians and Americans. One of the most notable examples are some professional sports teams’ names and logos. In the National Football League there is a team by the name of the “Washington Redskins” (Care, Washington Redskins controversy: 3 things you need to know). The logo of this team presents a profile view of a Native American man with red tinted skin wearing a cultural feather head piece. What is obvious from this logo is that the term “Redskins” is in reference to the colonialist belief that Native Americans have red skin. The cultural appropriation of this is that the founder of this team, George Preston Marshall, took the image of a Native American wearing a cultural head piece for his own financial gain.

 Some may say that the cultural appropriation of team names such as the “Redskins” is fine and causes no issue. However this argument stems from the belief that in our culture all races are viewed as equal by one another and that colonialism is no longer present; this sadly is not true. The systemic colonialism in Canada results in the dehumanization of the Native Canadian population. According to the paper “Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview”, as published by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in 2011 Native Canadian women made up 4.3% of the total number of women in Canada (“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women” 7). Of the total number of women murdered in 2011, aboriginal women make up 16% of all female murders in Canada (“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women” 9). Aboriginal females also suffer in regards to the rate in which these crimes are solved. Murdered aboriginal women who work in the sex trade have a homicide solve rate of 60%, however the non-aboriginal solve rate for women in the sex trade is 65% (“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women” 16). The average homicide case solve time for aboriginal women is 224 days and for non-aboriginal women the homicide case solve time is 205 days (“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women” 16). From an intersectional perspective it is greatly apparent that the aboriginal women of Canada are being far more affected than the rest of the female population. This also speaks to the systemic colonialism that is still occurring in the Canadian legal system. There are more aboriginal women being murdered than non-aboriginal. The Canadian legal system is also statistically less likely to solve certain murders as well as have a slower murder solve time if the individual is an aboriginal female (“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women” 16). As it stands now, what is obvious about the Canadian legal structure is that is does not favour aboriginal women. There is a lack of structural features in the Canadian police system to help prevent these violent crimes.

The cultural appropriation of Native Canadians is very disturbing due to the history of settler colonialism. The colonialism of the settlers coming to Canada seeking to conquer and dominate Native Canadians is stapled into our country’s history. With the past and present oppression that Native Canadians have experienced, what ultimately becomes deeply disturbing is the cultural appropriation that Native Canadians now face. It is odd that the same culture who once tried to abolish the aboriginal’s culture is now exploiting it for their own benefit (Hunter, Fashion Exploiting Native Wear Is Racist Read).

There is nothing wrong with appreciating aboriginal culture, in fact appreciating it is a very positive thing to do. What is not alright to do is appropriate it, take from the culture and use it in a manner that is not respectful to the aboriginal culture.  Just as Âpihtawikosisân states, if you choose to pull from aboriginal culture then you should educate yourself about the culture first (Âpihtawikosisân, An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses).  Cornell West states “justice is what love looks like in public”. If we can provide an end to the cultural appropriation of Native Canadians and bring in the appreciation of their culture, then the love for their culture will be publicly seen.

Works Cited

“An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses.” Pihtawikosisn. 10 Feb. 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Care, Tony. “Washington Redskins Controversy: 3 Things You Need to Know – CBC Sports – Football – NFL.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 1 Oct. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Hunter, Karlene. “Fashion Exploiting Native Wear Is Racist.” Indian Country Today Media Network.com. Indian Country Today Media Network, 5 Mar. 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

“Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview.” RCMP National Operational Overview. Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Film Review: “Regarding Susan Sontag”

This film, as directed by Nancy Kates, provides in depth recall on Susan Sontag’s life. The film follows Sontag’s life and registers her personal life events on a timeline as defined by one of Sontag’s professional accolades. This film touches upon much more than just what she had achieved professionally. In fact, “Regarding Susan Sontag” sheds light more on her intricate personal life, which was occurring parallel to her professional life.

To say that this film is a film made to highlight Susan Sontag’s professional achievements would be false. Nancy Kates focuses the film much more on Sontag’s life events and merely uses her academic achievements as a bookmarker on the timeline that is her life. With that being said, Nancy Kates does divulge somewhat into Sontag’s literary career. Kates does so by giving insight into Sontag’s work with the use of interviews from friends, family and academic piers. However, Kates often does so with heavy focus and reference to Sontag’s closeted bisexuality.

It becomes immediately apparent that Nancy Kates was more interested in Susan Sontag as an influential personality and political figure as opposed to a writer. Kates’ focus on Sontag’s sexuality is very interesting given sexual binaries of her era. The sexual scripts of her era, especially when she was first attending Berkeley University, frowned upon sexual promiscuity with the same sex. That being said, Kates is perfectly able to show that despite these scripts and binaries Sontag was still able to pursue personal and professional achievements.

As the film progresses Kates brings to light how Sontag refused to come out of the closet, despite being pressured to by the gay community to do so.  Kates even mentions in the film a quote from Sontag in which Sontag confesses that she feels guilty for being queer (Kates, “Regarding Susan Sontag”). Kates seems to have used this quote to indirectly describe the compulsory heterosexuality that Sontag may have been experiencing both professionally and personally.

The narrative that is really presented throughout this film is that Sontag ran against binary thinking and conventional power structures. She did this to live a life that she wanted to live as well as achieve what she wanted to achieve.

To present this movie Nancy Kates embedded the use of interview footage of Susan Sontag. This footage is placed to follow accordingly with recorded interview footage of Sontag’s friends, family and piers. Each point on the timeline is connected by a narrator that often reads quotes from Sontag that usher in the new point on the timeline.

A scene that greatly stood out to me is where Sontag is quoted as saying “I am just becoming aware, of how guilty I feel being gay” (Kates, “Regarding Susan Sontag”). This stood out to me because it deals greatly with what we have discussed in class and our tutorials. Specifically the oppression constructed by cultural hegemony that is faced by those that do not abide by traditional sexual orientation. As touched upon in class the compulsory heterosexuality of society can really negatively affect those that are not heterosexual and cause individuals to not be happy with who they are. Nancy Kates presents Sontag as a strong individual who seems very comfortable with who she is. This speaks to how powerful oppression is on an individual’s mental state. This only reaffirms the fact that as a society we must break down the cultural hegemonic binary thinking that continues to instill oppression.

Attending this film seemed no different to me than when I view blockbuster films. The crowd seemed excited and no different than a crowd that views any other movie on any other day. While this may not seem like much, I believe that this is very uplifting. Typically in blockbuster movies there is a plethora of sexist undertones, intersectional interactions, racially stereotypical reinforcements and plenty of other underlying oppressive conduct. However, the films in this festival are made without these oppressive undertones and without them the audience acted no different. This proves that films do not need oppressive undertones to provide ticket sales. Films are a large part of popular culture. I believe that by eliminating sexist undertones, intersectional interactions, racially stereotypical reinforcements as well as other forms of oppressive conduct, we could greatly reduce the oppressive ideologies taught by popular culture.

Works Cited

Regarding Susan Sontag. Perf. Noël Burch, Lucinda Childs, Patricia Clarkson, Mark Danner, Nadine Gordimer. HBO Documentary Films, 2014. Film.