Opening lines

IT’S not often myself and Il Papa are singing from the same hymn sheet but this week I’m happy to highfive the Bishop of Rome.

I couldn’t have said it better myself when he blasted as “machismo” the attitude that the crisis in families is down to women exercising their right to work outside the home.

It showed, he said, how men “want to dominate women”, and not in an S&M kinda way.

Where he really got my vote though was when he asked what gazillions of women around the globe ask every day, except that, unlike the Vicar of Christ, Reuters and AP and a gazillion other global news agencies are not hanging off their every word. To paraphrase, he asked why in the name of all that is good and holy are women still not paid the same wage as men for doing the same job?

Specifically, he said: “We should support with decisiveness the right to equal pay for equal work,” and “Why is it a given that women must earn less than men? No! They have the same rights.” I was still whooping and hollering when he rounded off his feminist spiel with “The disparity is scandalous.”

Sisters, I know this old Jesuit has dropped the ball a couple of times. Urging nuns not to be “old maids” and calling parts of Europe “an infertile grandmother” sure as hell ain’t the language of enlightenment. And of course they still won’t let us be priests.

Fine for the altar flowers or providing eucharistic back-up on a busy Sunday — but transubstantiation? C’mon now women — know your limits. That’s way too tricky for anyone other than the lads.

Still, credit where credit is due. If Il Papa supports the right to equal pay, it was nice of him to say so with microphone in hand. Which is more than I can say for a sophisticated liberal I recently broke bread with, to stick with the language of the Church.

There were four of us dining, myself and three men. I know them all in passing but wouldn’t have had a clue what their stance on equality was. The discussion started with THAT Stephanie Roche goal.

The sophisticated liberal didn’t think it much of a job. I offered the opinion, as many have, that had her stage been the Nou Camp and had her goal been beamed into millions of homes, Stephanie would have picked up the Puskás goal of the year award.

From there, the conversation moved to the more general topic of women in sport and the disparity in support, investment and pay compared to sportsmen, before moving finally into the workplace where I was advised to “get over yourself” when I complained about women being paid less than men for doing the same job. “It’s only 16% less,” the sophisticated liberal said, “get over yourself”.

A month later, I’m still getting over myself.

I haven’t quite managed to get over that minus 16%. Or the sophisticated liberal’s additional comments on maternity leave — why did women feel entitled to promotion when they took time out to have children? Why should they earn as much, or be at the same level in an organisation as men? Why indeed? Could it be because when a couple decide they would like to have children only one half of that equation has the biology to oblige?

I’d have happily shared alternate pregnancies with my partner if the good Lord had deemed it could be so. Instead, I feel the weight of my biology lighten my pay packet with each passing year.


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