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Deborah Coddington

Deborah Coddington is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Deborah Coddington: How about sticking up for yourselves... girls?

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Perhaps Alasdair Thompson could have done with some happy pills. Photo / Doug Sherring
Perhaps Alasdair Thompson could have done with some happy pills. Photo / Doug Sherring

Despite the hysteria and misreporting which emanated from the UK's Million Women Study, hormone replacement therapy is a wonderful development of modern medicine.

A serious doctor can give you the physiological benefits of these 'happy pills'. Tongue firmly in cheek, I say instead of sacking Alasdair Thompson, former head of EMA (Northern), they could have prescribed Estrafem 2mg. It might have made him more 'womanly'.

Then again, maybe not.

One thing we can thank him for, though, is raising the equity debate and bringing some facts into the sunlight. Thompson, remember, was being interviewed about the differences in salaries between men and women, and what might be the cause of that.

Is there a gender pay gap in this country for people doing the same job? It seems so, according to research from the Ministry of Women's Affairs - up to 17 per cent less than men for graduates with equivalent degrees.

But the causes are complex and - women won't want to hear this - it's largely our fault.

To generalise, we just don't care enough. It seems we're not as pushy as men when it comes to negotiating pay rises. We also take years out of our careers to have children and therefore miss out on promotion.

So what do we want? Our cake and eat it too? Green MP Catherine Delahunty's Equal Pay Amendment Bill which she says will remove gender discrimination?

This will force employers to report all employees' personal records - salaries, home address, education - to the Labour Department for statistic keeping and publication. It will also force employers to reveal this information to any employees who demand to see it, or, if confidentiality is an issue, an independent arbitrator. Who pays? Three guesses.

Sisters, this is not feminism. This is patronising. This says women are so feeble they need Big Brother to force bosses' arms up their backs and give women, who mostly are paid less at the moment, equality. What happens when the tables inevitably turn and women are paid more? Will we show ours if they show theirs?

Instead of being scared of being seen as aggressive, females who want the same dollars as male colleagues should just sharpen their pencils. Hold out until they get the price they're worth.

It seems that politicians on the left, so-called champions of equity, are rampant sexists. Weeks ago I ripped into National for treating women shabbily, but after last week's column some men in Labour's caucus made me cringe with their appalling chauvinist reactions.

I'd urged politicians to put aside their differences for the sake of trams and took a two-sentence swipe at Labour's Jacinda Ardern, who's fighting National's Nikki Kaye for Auckland Central.

Grant Robertson, Labour's Wellington Central MP, wrote a long, incensed letter to me on Red Alert, Labour's blog, defending Ardern, something I would have shredded any of my male colleagues for. Two other senior Labour MPs (male) sent me furious texts defending Ardern; the implication being she's too weak to stick up for herself.

Chivalrous? Perhaps. But where were these "mates" when I took an entire column to crucify Darren Hughes? And shouldn't they be fighting an election, not me?

It's tough in Parliament but, man or woman, you fight your own battles. This is the worst sort of sexism.

But there is hope for equity from our youth. Midweek I co-judged, with David Farrar, a debate with the somewhat dodgy moot, 'Politicians are even worse in the boardroom than in the bedroom'. Don Brash was host and I'll say no more on that.

The occasion was launching Youth for Act and listening to the debaters - male and female - was encouraging. They want government out of our bedrooms, for instance, with same-sex marriage, not just civil unions. Racism does exist - Maori youth are busted for drugs, not white middle class, so legalise cannabis. Act, they said, shouldn't just bang on about economic issues.

And here's a good analogy they posited. If liberal parties just want individual freedom, like tax cuts, to enrich themselves, consider this: do you really think Sir Roger Douglas and Heather Roy voted against the banning of Kronic because they want to smoke themselves into a stupor?

- Herald on Sunday

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