I was surprised at the response to Miss Utah’s fumbling the pay equity question during the Miss USA pageant Saturday night. The glee at which the media went after her is another sign to me of the inequitable world in which women live.
I am curious as to how many women can really answer the question about inequity in pay and provide concrete solutions. I mean the every day woman not involved women’s equality or women’s social justice issues.
The media, politicians and pundits have created an atmosphere where any discussion about women’s equality is met with the rallying cry Abortion or Feminism! (Feminism is defined as political, social and economic equality of the sexes – simply). The conversation is killed and few are comfortable pushing against the tide of anti-woman vitriol. These conversation killers limit education about how far reaching is women’s equality or lack thereof. When states have to legislate the time a mother is allowed to stay in the hospital after childbirth to protect the mother, it’s an issue of equality, not just cost. Reproduction is becomes devalued. When cities fail to clear up the backlogs of rape kits or women can’t gain traction with the police or courts to enforce restraining orders, it is an issue of equality and of safety.
The recent study about women led households earners being in the majority of all household earners brought out the old adage that working women are bad for families. “Studies” are sited as being the corroborating evidence neglecting the issue that this is the status quo. Hand wringing is best utilized in trying to understand why women continue to be undervalued as participants in society, the work force, politics and academia.
One simple answer is that it is up to every woman to understand our story. Just a little more than 100 years ago our foremothers fought and suffered to give women the right to vote. We are still fighting for parity, respect, safety. Equality is tender, young and fragile. It must be nurtured, loved and developed.
Women’s equality is not political, it doesn’t belong to one party or one network. Equality does not belong to one group of women but to all women. It has been said that women need to partner with men to achieve equality. I believe that we need to get our house in order first.
So back to the question – how many can really talk about pay equity?