OPINION: Are there people oppressing others on the basis of their sex? Absolutely.

Are there actually people out there deliberately oppressing people on the basis of their sex? Absolutely – and dismissing the valid concerns of those who want to close things like the gender pay gap only adds weight to that oppression.

It all comes down to the dirty ‘f word’ – feminism but it is difficult to see how advocating for equal rights for more than half the world’s population can be perceived as a phenomenon threatening “to divide the sexes.” To suggest today’s feminists should focus on “real women’s issues, like domestic violence” demonstrates a misunderstanding of what feminism, at heart, is. But first, domestic violence is not a ‘woman’s issue’ it an issue for everyone in society, because the victims of domestic violence are not just women. While perpetrators of the crime are disproportionately men the rhetoric surrounding the issue should still be that domestic violence is an issue for anyone who seems to think it is an acceptable form of behaviour.

But if the crux of the feminists’ hysterical cause is the “so-called gender pay gap” let’s take a look at the actual facts.  Government statistics in 2016 list the gender pay gap at 17.3 per cent, comparing the full time, average weekly earnings of men and women. The only thing “so-called” about the gender pay gap, is that is indeed what it is called.

Those dismissing concerns as buying into media-driven agenda conveniently fail to note the fact women do the world’s majority of unpaid labour.

Housework, cooking, child rearing are culturally more likely to be something women are burdened with – even when two people in a relationship are working full time. The Australian Institute of Family Studies even found stay-at-home fathers do only a little more housework than working mothers tackling a 35-hour week.

As ABC journalist Leigh Sales put it “CEOs, here's what a lot of women think when offered a promotion: CEO - ‘Jane, lean in and take this big, demanding, senior job.’ Jane - "And make this ludicrous juggle even harder on myself than it already is? No thanks." To suggest those choices come on the back of a cultural bias against women doesn’t advocate the idea females are powerless to make those choices – it advocates the idea that society’s culture needs to enter the 21st century. The state’s women are indeed wondering what all the fuss is about – because in 2017 it is ludicrous this is even still an issue. - Hannah Higgins

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