Sarah Silverman's claims of discrimination finds opposition

Published: Apr 13, 2015 10:11am EDT
By Lance Rinker, Managing Editor for Konsume Politics

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 13, 2015 @ 10:11am EDT


Sarah Silverman has been one of comedies darling’s for more than 20 years now, but she has also made it a point to speak out on feminist causes in recent years. Now, a statement Silverman made to further her cause on equal pay for women has turned out to be inaccurate, if not an outright lie.

In a video published for Ask For More and Levo League, Silverman made it a point to expose a former comedy club owner for paying her $10 for a show while he paid Todd Barry, a male comic, $60. The accused is Al Martin, former owner of New York Comedy Club who sold the club in 2014, and this reportedly took place 16 years ago.

“He just got $60 and I just got $10,” Silverman said in the video. “We did the exact same time back-to-back on the same show. It’s pretty shitty.” Silverman continued, “If you work a job and a man is working the same job, you should be getting paid the same. I don’t think anyone’s asking for more than what’s fair.”

Unfortunately, Silverman left out in the video that Barry was paid for a booked spot while she actually asked to perform. Al Martin responded to Silverman by slamming her for false accusations and said she was never booked to perform that night.

“The truth was that you were not booked on that show in question on that evening,” Martin said in his video. “It’s not a gender gap, although I think it’s a noble cause, but at the time it was a talent gap. You were not on that show that night, but Todd Barry was.”

In the video, Martin went on to say he would be furious if his wife was working the same hours, same job for a company and paid her less because she’s a woman.

Just how Silverman handles the fallout from being caught in something between an outright lie and misleading people about her own personal experiences being discriminated against for being a woman remains to be seen.

To Silverman’s credit, she did highlight the fact there are many different variables that can influence the difference in pay between men and women. It is widely believed that women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns doing the same exact work. What is often not taken into consideration is, much like Silverman alluded to, is how much unpaid time off is taken at a company between a man and a woman in the same position. How much overtime is worked needs to be taken into consideration along with a litany of other things.

While there is a wage gap between men and women, with women earning less than men on average for largely the same work, that gap isn’t quite as large as some claim. That 23-cent pay gap is simply a very elementary approach of averaging out the pay for full time female workers compared to that of full time male workers. It does not take into consideration type of occupation or position, hours worked, or even amount of time off taken by one person or another. It’s simply the average using total amount earned and gender.

The United States Department of Labor commissioned a study that concluded there are observable differences between men and women that account for most of the wage gap. According to the statistical analysis performed in the study, those variables produced results that can account for between 65.1 percent and 76.4 percent of a raw gender wage gap of 20.4 percent.

What that means is the raw gender wage gap, when you take into consideration amount of money earned by women and compare it to that of men is about 20 cents. Therefore, currently women on average make 80 cents for every dollar a man does. However, the study continued to state when taking into consideration hours worked, positions, occupations, and so forth the adjusted gender wage gap is between 4.8 percent and 7.1 percent.

Currently it is unknown how much of that gender wage gap is due to discrimination or other attributes, but the cause Silverman has taken up and become a part of is certainly worthwhile seeing how there is still a wage gap between women and men. However, it’s likely not going to help the cause if one of the people telling stories about her experiences with discrimination either lied about her experiences or exaggerated for the camera.

“Equal pay for women is a great cause, but don’t make me your doormat for it,” Martin said.


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Lance Rinker
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