tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

Ranting, not just for Wednesdays!

Somebody sent me this this morning.

It's a BusinessInsider thingy that shows 18 countries where women have it way better than in America*. It's pretty simplistic, loosely based on the Global Gender Gap Report. They've used four measures - economic opportunities, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. I can kind of see how they'd measure the first three, and apparently they used the number of women in political office to measure the fourth.

Apparently, anyway.

New Zealand sits at number 5 on that list. According to this report, kiwi women are 3% worse off economically, tied in education, 1% worse off in health, and a whopping 104% more politically empowered than our US sisters.

I find myself wondering why all this political empowerment isn't leading to better economic and health outcomes. Anyone care to fill me in?

Also, I wonder what figures they used. In US-centred forums the concept of women earning 77c on the male dollar is tossed around a lot. Here, according to this recent article, women earn 89.5% of what men do. I realise these figures are statistics and thus easily diddled, but our pay gap has been in the low teens percent wise since they started measuring it. So, I am curious as to what they used to measure 'economic opportunity' if not economic return.

Anyway, while it's interesting to line a bunch of countries up side by side like that, I'm gonna take the figures with a grain of salt because I don't really know how they came about. Also, they list South Africa as a place where women have it way better - and maybe in the categories they chose, it's true. But they must have pointedly left rape statistics out of the 'health' section for that to work out. *cough* Anyway, I'd like to share some observations about the article.

First, it's at BusinessInsider.com. Now, if you're from a country outside the US, you're probably accustomed to a suffix of .com meaning "This is probably an American website" yeah? But I really wish they'd call it USBusinessInsider.com, because that's essentially what it is. Almost all of the articles are relevant only to the US. I mean, I can't imagine anyone here giving a crap about whether baseball players get equity instead of salary, who Obama is meeting with this afternoon, or the 10 cars that American insurance companies don't like (according to American statistics). The site, by its title, makes itself out to be Not Just America. And yet, for the most part it is Just America.

Case in point - the article. The US is centred by making every single comparison be about the US. How we rate by comparison with the US is clearly the most important thing. Except for the women in those 19 other countries, who are probably more interested in how they rate compared with a) their neighbours, b) countries of similar demographics, c) the top-ranking country. But you know, what they are doing is comparing 'other countries' with 'us'. This, of course, assumes that 'us' is people in the US, and everyone else who visits that site is 'other'. BusinessInsider.co.us, anyone?

And the last thing I noticed is that the pictures accompanying the stats for each country all depict women who are supposedly representative of their nation - except the New Zealand one**. The New Zealand one has a very typical touristy type shot of a gender-neutral (can't tell, face not in it, asexually dressed) person, alone in the wilderness by a lake with snowy mountains.

Every other country has people! We have mountains!

I'm not sure exactly why this pisses me off, except that in my surfing last night I encountered approximately 20 instances of "Oh I must visit New Zealand! It's so beautiful! Mountains!"

(you know, we aren't the only country in the world with mountains)

We are also not a damn hobbit/mountain theme park for everyone to check off their "Oh yes I visited there *insert something about beauty and grandeur, something insensitive about maori culture, something about how kiwis are friendly but the women are all unfeminine etc etc etc* list. Yeah, I'm being bitchy. I realise that many people really love New Zealand as a place - hell, my folks loved it enough to ship their whole family and make a life here. I also realise that the tourist trade creates jobs and brings money into the country. But when the vast majority of people Out There *waves arms* know Sweet Fuck All about our country yet have it at number two on their list of Things To Do Before I Die because MOUNTAINS! I roll my eyes and go "Great. So you saw Lord of the Rings and now you have some romantic fantasy about NZ that makes you feel an affinity even though you've never been here and don't even know where it is. Awesome."

So in the interests of not letting my parochial insular grumpiness run away with me and turn me into one of Those People, if you have "Visit New Zealand" on your bucket list, please tell me honestly how it got there. And if you've visited New Zealand, it'd be really neat to hear something from you about what misconceptions you had that were busted, and also what part of your experience most says 'New Zealand' to you. And then could you point it out on a map for your friends who think it's part of Australia? Cheers.

Yes, we know we have mountains. We also know it's beautiful. So is every other country (even those that don't have mountains and weren't featured in LOTR). Thanks.

Proof, for those sick of reading my rantings:






South Africa.


The United States.

Get the picture? Get it? Picture? Haw haw, I kill me.

Anyway, back to the rant...

And the site is pretty damn sexist too. Their article "Let's be real about the lack of women in tech" tries really hard and almost makes it - lack of role models, etc etc blah blah - but by the time I had read "Women are by nature *insert X limiting thing here*" for the 6th or 7th time I had stopped paying any attention to what they said, and mostly just wanted to get a big bat labelled with BY NATURE and clue them up a bit.

* WARNING: DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS. Unless you get off on rightwing sexist patriotic American chestbeating, in which case, knock yourself out.

** It's entirely possible that they couldn't figure out what 'a typical New Zealand woman' looks like. Personally, I'd have liked to see Bernice Mene or Beatrice Faumuina there.

OK done now. It's Friday, and Labour weekend. Three days off yay! Sadly, Monday is the day Dr Wheel flies out. I plan to monopolise him somewhat this weekend. Hope you don't mind.
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