I simmer and stew over the almost cliched inequity of it. It would be soothing to blame some sort of institutional sexism, to take refuge in that. But the fault is so clearly, evidently, unambiguously my own.
She then goes on to explain why it’s clearly, evidently, unambiguously her own fault that
I also suspect there is something deep in childhood being communicated to most boys that is not communicated to most girls. Do boys grow up steeped in these negotiations, prepped for them? I glance over at my six-year-old on an iPad, busily slaying zombies and creepers on Minecraft, and blasting open treasure chests. Is he somehow absorbing the lesson that you should wrench the gold you need from a largely hostile and bewildering world?
I am also attuned to all the ways niceness is constructed for women, the pressure to smile for photographs, the urge to apologise for breathing, the whole elaborate social construction of female likability; and yet, when it comes to asking for more money, I have a horror of being disliked, or of the particular kind of dislike that sort of assertion provokes.
This strikes me as a very female problem: spending huge amounts of energy warding off the perception that you are somehow entitled, stuck up. There is a strong instinct towards diffusing competition, deflecting envy, towards not having people resent you. All the rampant female self-deprecation, the constant apologising, is part of this same maddening, consuming phenomenon.
One has to wonder where this responsibility to make strangers feel warm and happy comes from. Did women inherit the responsibility to erase all the awkward moments in the world?
Doesn’t it kind of seem like part of what’s keeping her salary down is clearly, evidently, unambiguously sexism? Is it really that soothing to think otherwise? I mean, it’s soothing for me to believe it’s all Katie Roiphe’s fault, because it means I don’t have to change what I’m doing in any way. But why is it soothing for her?