– Mark E. Smith

Denise Balkissoon profiles five sets of lesbian moms, or their children, in the Globe. That’s already feminist enough, don’t you think? But then she goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid (emphasis added):

Considering… the fact that women on average earn lower salaries, one might assume that kids raised by lesbian couples would have tougher lives. And yet it seems it is not so.

Lower than whom? Lesbians earn, on average, more than straight women. Lesbian couples do not earn more than heterosexual couples where the husband works. In fact, nobody earns more than those couples, an effect of the so-called marriage premium.

Balkissoon’s throwaway statement seemed like a reiteration of the tired myth that wymmyn earn only seven cents for every dime that men do. (The insinuation is that men and women are hired for the same jobs yet women are intentionally paid 70% of men’s salaries.) In fact, if you match for age, experience, hours worked, and education, and also match for time spent away raising children (the biggest single factor), the wage penalty disappears or decreases to about 25%. That means there still is an average wage penalty for being female, but the conventional wisdom overestimates it by a factor of at least three. I want Toronto’s national newspaper to refrain from blithely repeating conventional wisdom.

At any rate, I mailed Balkissoon asking her to tell me what exactly she was talking about (again: Lower than whom?) but got no response. I also asked why she focussed on lesbian moms and not gay dads. Obviously, as she notes, there is more data available on lesbians. But I was working from the assumption that lesbian moms are always acceptable while gay dads are viewed as kind of icky, as all male contact with children now is. (If a mother raising a child is a societal triumph, just think what two mothers raising a child might be.) She didn’t answer that question either, so I did not, in turn, get to explain what I meant and receive a comment on that.

I view these distinctions as important because Balkissoon’s entire piece was predicated on research showing how well lesbian moms and their children fare. I expected the same adherence to attested fact everywhere else in her article and didn’t get it.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2011.11.16 14:04. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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