Gender Equality is the Tip of the Iceberg


We have been fighting the gender pay gap for decades, we have tried everything,” Ms. Traustadóttir says. She says the most important principle behind the new law is to ensure equal pay for work of equal value.




The pay equity gap has resisted change for forty years – along with other even more serious consequences of discrimination – everywhere you care to look. Sexism is blamed again and again, but the problem seems impossible to resolve. The saying, ” Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results isn’t rational, ” comes to mind. What also comes to mind is that isms – you know, ageism, sexism, racism … – have been accepted as causes of unfair practices and attitudes.


Is this habit of categorizing blocking information? What could be missing? Many are targeted with pre-judgment – sweeping generalizations about groups of people without regard for facts or consideration for human rights. I also notice that each group has long fought to gain parity with those who’s rights are better respected  – but still haven’t reached the goal. The labeling and blame go on and on. People are reduced to objects of contempt, one way or another with each “side” taking turns. 


Narcissistic viewpoint regards other people as property, belongings. Keep it if you like it. Dump it or trash it if you don’t. Similarity and agreement are highly valued and more likely to be rewarded – and jealously controlled. Those viewed as being different or in disagreement are discounted, used, rejected, abandoned or driven off or attacked.


We’re born stuck in our own context – and as we grow up we learn that other people count as much as we do. We’re taught about human rights, rules, and various civic laws intended to protect us all from unfair and inequitable treatment. But some narcissistic habits manage to hang on. And some of these habits are so common they still seem acceptable to large majorities.


As people learn beyond society’s habits, the discriminatory discrepancies are recognized as interference with rights. The ones who catch on manage to show others, but can’t get across to everyone. Part of the reason for this could simply be mistaking the symptoms for the cause. But until the real cause is identified correctly, continued tough going can be expected. Punishment won’t eliminate it. No matter how stiff the band-aid applied to the symptoms, a full cure won’t be easily discover-able or reachable.


I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be penalties for breaking human rights and employment laws. But for effective – and permanent – solutions, the real cause has to be dealt with and the education caught up. The voluntary measures should have worked and clearly haven’t – and not just in Iceland. And it’s sure not just about pay equity for women. Discrimination never seems to sleep, and the reverse reaction to it is too often as biased – and even narcissistic – as the prejudice that triggered it.


Iceland’s latest attempt starts top down – and only takes one group into account. But for the rest of us, there are opportunities to contribute. It doesn’t really matter the category when hanging out in the locker-room, the back-room, or the board room. If the talk is narcissistic, it’s time for a change. Rights and fair treatment are for everyone. Shift to this view-point, rather than holding tight to ineffective, categorized groups and labels. No one deserves to be discriminated against. Every single voice counts equally in the need to make upholding the laws typical – and resorting to punishment as a control a thing of the past. One unanimous very well-informed group could be just the solution we’re searching for. Get the superficial patching up out of the way. Better answers are waiting just below the surface.


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