When our second child was born, I remember my mother offering some encouraging words since we had hoped for a daughter but instead got a second son. She said, "It's a man's world anyway." I imagine she got to say that fairly often since she had seven grandsons and no granddaughters.
Recently, I've been remembering those words with some articles I've been reading in the news lately:
--The British Household Panel Study, which followed the same 5,000 families for more than 15 years reported that the tendency of women to carry a greater burden of the domestic chores is a major reason for the gender pay gap in that country. While single men do only four or five hours of household work a week, single women put seven hours into cleaning and maintaining the home, the study said. And wives and live-in girlfriends do more than 12 hours of domestic work every week, with destructive results for their careers.
--Last month, a study by University of Michigan (my fav school!) showed that having a husband creates an extra seven hours a week of housework for women. Meanwhile, men save an hour a week of housework by having a wife.
--An Indian newspaper in an article titled "Deleting Girls" reports on the practice in India of aborting female fetuses: "(son-preference) roots lie deep in tradition, and are entwined in inheritance laws and in women’s status. Modernity and economic progress have not made a dent in this arena. On the contrary, they seem to have further entrenched the desire for sons to ensure that wealth remains within the family. Prosperity and sex-selection seem to go hand in hand in this country."
Tough being a woman anywhere. It's nothing new though. Here's something I ran across quite by accident. I was listening to a CD of the legendary Carnegie Hall concert performed by the Benny Goodman orchestra in 1939. This was a unique event in that it was the first time jazz was ever performed at that noble venue.
The concert had sold out long before the event itself and the crowd was very appreciative of the music from beginning to end. However, after one artist took the stage to perform, the audience cheers reverberated long and loud, so much so that after the performance, Goodman had to apologize that they did not rehearse an encore with this performer.
It wasn't Goodman, nor Harry James, Lionel Hampton, Gene Krupa, Count Basie who got the strongest ovation at this unique event. It was Martha Tilton, the band's female vocalist who really brought down the house. Yet her name is not even among the eight performers listed on the CD cover.
At Martha's website, her biographer explains, "Unfortunately, performers like Martha who sang with a popular big band got little recognition. While she lent her beautiful voice to a recording (and without her voice, a song may not have been nearly as popular), Benny Goodman got the credit."
Maybe that's what my mother meant when she said, "It's a man's world." I think Hillary's finding that out too.