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Why Not Equal Pay?
by Sudhama Ranganathan
Email: uconnharassment (nospam) gmail.com
27 Aug 2010
Modified: 09:07:04 AM
Times are hard now economically and we all feel the pressure. All of us in the middle income to lower income brackets are having to work harder and harder either for less or the same incomes ourselves or our parents once earned with a single job each. The wealthy 1% have essentially stayed where they have been or became even wealthier both now and previous to the recession. Infusions of cash into their companies by both the GOP and Democrats during the first stimulus then subsequent ones helped keep their holdings and themselves safe one way or another. The rest of us have not seen the wisdom of President Bush’s TARP or subsequent stimulus efforts translate into anything except cash going out that does not come back in.
Neither party has formulated a solution which has translated into real numbers yet. Heading into this year’s election we need to consider that. Who is working for large corporations and who is working for us? We need to know that. Who is working for the average Joes and Jane’s? What politicians are working towards enrichment of the same companies who have packed up our manufacturing base and sent those dollars overseas except what comes back into their own accounts?
No matter how slick the commercials, no matter how much money is shelled out to say ‘we are such and such mega-corporation and we love you’ will that change the reality of who or what they serve? The proof is in the pudding, and although not much legislation was accomplished over the last year and eight months due to obstinate, spoiled and overindulged lawmakers we can look back throughout history to see who has served the majority of us and who has looked to line the pockets of the top 1% only.
Take women’s rights for example. We hear a lot from both sides about who has done more or less. We hear about current efforts on behalf of women. But, what does that mean? Does it mean a couple of more faces in politics promoted to the nth degree? Is it about legislation aimed at helping women to break that glass ceiling which still exists?
For anyone attempting to claim that ceiling is non-existent the facts speak loudly. An NPR program recently reported, “the ratio right now for women’s wages to men’s is 77 cents to the dollar. It’s a vast improvement over 57 cents to the dollar, a generation ago. But it’s still a yawning gap.” (http://www.onpointradio.org/2010/04/equal-pay-day) There’s no circumventing that fact. For the same jobs women still receive less pay than their equally qualified male counterparts.
That’s important to look at. Women’s Rights have been exploited to a certain degree this year with various and sundry people running around hyping a couple of extra female faces here and there. Representation is important no doubt, but standing up for women’s rights is also important. You cannot go in 8% on such an issue. If your party represents women’s rights there needs to be proof.
For instance, what has your party done to further women’s rights over the last say 12 years? That’s a long stretch encompassing this presidency and the last. There is plenty of time to account for measures implemented to protect the rights of women as equals in the workplace specifically.
Looking at more numbers we find “in all of the 50 states, women had lower earnings than the men. The District of Columbia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey were the only states or equivalents where median earnings for women were greater than $40,000.” (http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/) Those numbers are important as it might help to look at specific states and who during that time was in office politically.
If there is a common thread regarding party affiliation during that time, there is a good chance we can see who awards women with appointments, but more importantly makes sure mom can bring home just as much as dad if she has the same position and is just as qualified. And why shouldn’t she have that right?
The numbers point out, “33(%) of women 25 to 29 (…) had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2007, which exceeded that of men in this age range (26 percent).” (http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/) More and more it’s women getting the college degrees and becoming more and more skilled. In 2010 should our society still be saying, ‘give it time?’
It’s just a lame excuse to maintain the old boy’s club as long as possible. Right now there are prominent political leaders still openly referring to women with gender based epithets. On March 15, 2007 one prominent political leader referred to Hillary Clinton by saying, “she's the stereotypical bitch, you know what I mean?” (http://mediamatters.org/research/200703150011) Is that really a sign of what the party your followers are to be voting for thinks on the matter? That wasn’t someone he’s associated with that was him. And it’s not the only time. (http://mediamatters.org/research/200910060034)
Another prominent political leader said, regarding a potential presidential ticket, "you've got a woman and a black for the first time ever... Ahem. They don't have a prayer." (http://newsbusters.org/blogs/matthew-balan/2008/03/05/cnn-pounces-contro) It doesn’t matter what party you advocate for, there is no excuse especially when claiming you are a party claiming to be advocating for women.
If you truly are a party in support of women’s rights not just using women’s faces to get votes, whenever someone refers to female politician’s looks from your party as if it’s something that has any bearing on job performance or the issues they should be called on the carpet immediately.
When spokesperson for one of the two big tent parties said, “Nancy Pelosi is playing out of her league,” regarding her comments that Gen. Mc Chrystal was going outside the chain of command by talking to the media about Afghanistan it was a clear example. When Def. Sec. Gates said the same thing no one commented on his intelligence. Nancy Pelosi, whether you agree with her political views or not, is obviously articulate and very intelligent. As Contessa Brewer put it, “[why] is it that when men disagree with women they have to demean their intellect?” (http://jezebel.com/5377307/pelosi-strikes-back-at-gops-know-your-place-i)
The same kinds of insults were levied at other prominent women, who were obviously articulate and just as intelligent as their male counterparts. Often they had to do with their looks and age. An article in Women’s News described this behavior on the part of men well.
“The double standard strikes women at the exact point in their lives when they can begin to exert real power, at middle age and beyond. Aside from the occasional supermodel or actress, women in their twenties rarely have much power, just as most young men do not. But as men age, they inherit the cloak of invisibility, or at least acceptability. They can graduate from boy to man with some measure of grace…
“Women are mocked in the media for aging; they are not acceptable unless they have been face-lifted or lipo-suctioned. This is a powerful mechanism for keeping women unseen and unheard at the very time they might exert power. Some societies require women to be covered head to toe to appear in public. We have our own version of the chador: an unwritten rule dictating that if you are a woman, you had better not appear to age.” (http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm?aid=356&context=archive)
It comes down to economics and power and if men can be dried up, overly-bloated, strange-looking, pruny frogs and not have that a barrier to success, who are we to judge women for aging? It’s just another tool to keep the old boy network in place. Untrue? Prove it. Don’t put up five, six or seven faces you’re running to win elections. Show it in the legislation.
What have you done and what will you do? What is your track record of difference? This is not only a barometer for women, but for all people with less power. Those parties who fight for the powerless are those with the track records to prove it and actions ready to go. Lip service when it comes to middle to lower income Americans and all struggling classes does not put bread on the table now, in the past or in the future.
To read more about my experiences at the University of Connecticut click here.
This work is in the public domain