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Equal Treatment

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During the men’s semifinals at Wimbledon, an incident took place on this forum when one member expressed his disagreement with the idea of equal pay. While perhaps he could have been more elegant on his selection of how to phrase his idea that women do not deserve the same financial rewards as men, his opinion is not only personal and valid, it is one shared by many (although not openly in this forum).
However, this piece is not expected to settle such a complex issue. What brings me forth to write about this event is the way the community here responded to his postings. He was immediately labeled a “Troll” and an “a**hole”. While I understand that the issue carries intrinsic sensitivities, if the subject is to be discussed not by reasoning and by looking at the issue in a logical, objective fashion, but by rather clothing it in a fiat of “this is the way it should be because it is the way it should be”, then we have to accept that we ourselves have created our own bubble. Liberal, progressive, avant-garde but still a bubble. And bubbles, of any kind, are not a sign of progress.
I propose here some manners in which to look at the issues.
Regarding equal pay, my first idea is that some of the mantras given by both sides are not consistent. When the proposers that men should earn more than women point out that men would beat women if they were on the same court, the proposers of equal money claim that they are “two completely different sports”. Two issues come from this:
1. If they are two completely different sports, why do you call for equal money? Basketball players earn differently than baseball players, who earn differently than football players, and differently than soccer players, and many a sport is played basically without pay. If they are indeed different sports, why call for equality per se?
2. And the puzzling fact: no, they are not two COMPLETELY different sports. In fact, they are identical. Same balls, rules, rackets, courts, scoring system and venues. The difference is who plays it, turning the argument into a tautology. Therefore the argument does not hold.
On the other side of the coin, the argument that men play best of five sets (at Grand Slams) and women play best of three is also dubious, at best. If payment were based on time spent on court, payment at the end of the tournament should be doled by the hours played. Different length of time, different paychecks, even for the men themselves. Two losing quarterfinalists would be paid differently if one spent more time on court than the other, a situation that would be almost inevitable. That argument, also, does not hold.

Equal Pay is a convenient and catchy phrase that in reality is not useful. What is expected, what is desired, is EQUAL TREATMENT. Equal pay has been achieved at all Slams but equal treatment sometimes is suspect. Women and commentators talk about differences in court assignments and preferential treatment for the men. Be them real or a slight, there is no atmosphere that equal treatment is completely here.
Other factors continue to mar the subject. One example is the profitability of some tournaments that are mixed. When an accountant/General Director points out that the women draw less public and attention than men, and therefore, produce less profit, it is a verifiable statement and one that is not trivial. If women’s matches are played on half empty stadia, it has to be addressed and accepted as a fact. However, if some men’s matches also suffer from the same, then the issue is defeated. If in a few years the WTA is playing in packed arenas and men’s matches are played in stadia filled only with silence, would equal pay for the men be worthy? Acceptable?
The whole point is that what is needed is equality and fairness for ALL. A recent example can be given by the situation of Serena Williams’ return to the circuit after motherhood. Many people have stated that she should have been seeded at Roland Garros and higher in Wimbledon. She made the point mute but the underlying issue is the same: equal treatment. With equal decency. The fact that this was an issue affecting ONLY the women makes it an interesting debate.

But this is a long diatribe about equal treatment when the initial point was about treatment of our own members. After the women’s final the same member “LOL’ed” about the fact that the match lasted 65 minutes (it seems his sole argument is based on length of time on court). He was invited to leave the forum, and in reality he surfaces very little.
And I find myself at odds because on the one hand, I want to hear other opinions and I want to see more diversity in our views. But I am also very much against all modern “ISMS” that affect our society: racism, sexism, ageism and other cultural discriminatory positions (xenophobia). And although I believe that the debate on equal pay is open to discussion (how would we feel if, professionally, a person clearly not as good as we are gets paid the same as us, a base for the argument presented by Giles Simon, vilified in the forum on a routine basis), debates on sexism or racism are not.
Still, those two social maladies are not defeated yet and I suspect, in a very personal opinion, that they linger and sicken us precisely because no proper debate is presented. There are NO LOGICAL JUSTIFICATIONS FOR EITHER, yet the illogicality of them is seldom pointed out.
And if our distinguished member (he certainly sticks out from the rest) returns for the USO with more comments about length of time, I would like to believe that his arguments can be defeated, not by inviting him out the door, but by the power of our reasoning.
We are good at that. We could do it.

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