The price of the Gender Tax at home


Since the news broke about the college admissions bribery sting by the FBI, I’ve had a lot of thoughts. And so has everybody else, it seems. (If you have not looked at media in the last 1.5 days, here’s the LA Times page that collects the many articles they’ve already assembled about it.)

This story is a singularity of problems in higher education in the United States, a convergence of drama into a single high-gravity point. There are so many lenses: elitism, standardized testing, equity and inclusion of minoritized groups, accommodations for disabilities, grade inflation, corruption of NCAA, philanthropic giving, entitled students, and so on. I don’t have the time or motivation to write a book about this. But if you’re looking for my very brief warm takes, here are the two relevant points I made, on twitter: Here’s the first, and here’s the second.

There is a sliver of this scandal I’d like to bring highlight, to illustrate a larger point: two of the famous people implicated in this scheme were Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy, who were (allegedly) doing dirty deeds on behalf of their daughters. But the mom got arrested, and the dad did not get arrested.

What’s up with that? According to the FBI filings, it’s clear that both Huffman and Macy were aware of the scheme. Huffman was a named party, while Macy appears in transcribed as an unnamed and unindicted party, clearly involved in the conspiracy.

It’s pretty clear what happened: The dad was so uninvolved in this college application process that he didn’t do enough to incriminate himself. He just let the college application stuff be his wife’s thing.

When the dad leaves the bulk of the parental work and housework for the mom, that’s a form of Gender Tax.

So, William H. Macy’s lack of involvement in the lives of his own children actually allowed him to avoid criminal charges! What an injustice piled upon an injustice.

Fellow men, I recommend against joining a criminal conspiracy to get your kids into a prestigious college. But if you do go this route, you better do your share so that your own ass gets arrested along with your spouse.

Let’s imagine an alternative universe, where it’s illegal to get your kid braces, or arrange for them to go to summer camp, or to pick them up after soccer practice, or to be involved in their girl scout troop, or to go to parent-teacher conferences. Ask yourself, would your spouse be more likely to get arrested than you would be?

Leave a Reply