By Monica Frede
I’ve heard that there is a “war on women” sweeping across the plains, and the Republican Party is to blame. Conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker have taken it upon themselves to attack women, but in this election year, the liberals have conveniently brought this to the nation’s attention. President Obama loves women. He’s on our side. He understands us.
I do agree that there is a war on women—but with an opaque enemy.
The Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation reintroduced to both houses in April, addresses male-female income disparity in hopes of correcting erroneous discrimination against women in the workplace. The bill would provide easier options for women who are targets of wage discrimination, such as disclosing salary information with co-workers. The bill also requires employers to prove that any wage discrepancies are due to business requirements and job duties of those affected employees.
The bill quantifies a common statistic that for every dollar earned by a man, women earn just 77 cents. President Obama called the Paycheck Fairness Act a “common sense bill.” As common sense as operating the federal government on a budget?
Christina Hof Sommers wrote an article in the New York Times on September 21, 2010 making the argument that this bill contains many holes. She explained that women make different career choices than men, and many women chose careers that provide more flex time and work-lifestyle balances, and also chose work locations closer to home, schools and day care. Working women balance the priority of their family and their work, and oftentimes family trumps career.
She goes on to write:
The problem is that while the debate proceeds, the bill assumes the answer: it would hold employers liable for the “lingering effects of past discrimination” — “pay disparities” that have been “spread and perpetuated through commerce.” Under the bill, it’s not enough for an employer to guard against intentional discrimination; it also has to police potentially discriminatory assumptions behind market-driven wage disparities that have nothing to do with sexism.
I would not want to work for a company that monitors my biological clock. I would not want to have a conversation with my manager during a yearly salary review in which he must justify his choices despite (or because of) my sex. I’d like my work to speak for itself. Just like men, I should be paid for my worth, not the writing on the wall.
You want to close the pay gap? Teach women to be indispensable. Any good employer will chase a woman down the hall if she turns down the offer at the conference table because she knows she can get a better offer somewhere else. Employers are funny like that— they want the best talent working for them. How’s that for empowerment?
But while President Obama touts that the Paycheck Fairness Act can quell gender justice, he ignores the single largest wage disparity against women: unemployment. In April, the unemployment rate hovered at 8.1%. The economy added 115,000 net new jobs, while the labor force shrank by 342,000 people in the workforce.
The Wall Street Journal printed a disturbing chart last week, charting the U.S. civilian labor force participation rate, which has been on a sharp decline in the last 3 years. Currently the civilian labor participation rate is at 63.6%, the lowest it has been since December 1981. The Wall Street Journal explains that some of those 342,000 workers are older workers, struggling to find opportunities that match their experiences and skill set, or second household earners, altering the structure of their household due to a lower income.
How many of those 342,000 workers are women? I don’t know, but I can guess. Let’s say 40% of those workers are women. This means that approximately 137,000 women have given up looking for a job, and they don’t intend to search again until economic conditions improve. Some of those women have master’s degrees. Some of those women are second-income earners for their families. Some of those women make up the twenty-something population that is desperate for independence and thirsty for a successful career.
I’m confident the Huffington Post will report on the tragic story of a single mother who survives off her weekly unemployment check because she has given up looking for a job, or the young female professional who cannot afford to pay for her contraception now that she must compete against hundreds of other graduate students for the one open position at the local law firm.
After all, no greater battle exists for a woman then to be turned down post-interview, and no greater pay gap exists than between the employed and unemployed.
On a recent episode of This Week, George Stephanopoulos painfully agreed with Mitt Romney’s statistic that 92.3 percent of all job losses since President Obama took office have occurred to women. Stephanopoulos spoke to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who called the statistic “a ridiculous way to look at the problem,” but then went on to explain that the statistic is “technically accurate.”
Geithner’s uncomfortableness during that interview would be a slap in the face to females. The political party that has produced Code Pink and the National Organization for Women have remained silent on the unemployed female population. It’s as if the liberals don’t support all women.
I read Sarah Palin’s biography, Going Rogue, after her Vice Presidential run in 2009. She wrote honestly and transparently, leaving no details of her high school and early political career out. She played basketball in high school, hunted, raised five children, and took on the Republican establishment that had controlled Alaska’s government for generations—and she won. She changed diapers in the governor’s mansion between meetings. As a candidate in her first political race, she drove across the state, going door-to-door and introducing herself to voters, all the while her youngest children slept in the back seat of the family car. This is a strong woman. Mama grizzly never sounded so cool, and hockey moms were never so boss.
But shortly after Sarah hit the national scene, the liberal media went apoplectic. She’s incompetent, she’s stupid, she has an illegitimate child, she buys expensive clothes, she wrote a few sentences on her hand prior to taking the stage at a 2008 Tea Party convention. The media collectively gasped at what she wrote: “Energy…tax cuts…lift American spirit.”
Liberal women everywhere were outraged at the thought of Mrs. Palin as President of the United States. Helen Thomas, former Whitehouse Correspondent, wrote that it would be a “tragedy” if Palin ran for President. Noeme Emery wrote a Weekly Standard article in 2008 detailing some of the feminist’s outrage against Palin:
“Can someone please tell me what the hell happened?” pled Michelle Cottle of the New Republic, as Sarah made landfall…”A slap in the face to all women,” Cottle called it, especially to “any woman who seriously supported Hillary in this race.” Much more was coming, in much the same tone. “I find it insulting to women, to the Republican Party, and to the country,” said Sally Quinn in a Newsweek/Washington Post blog. In the Baltimore Sun, Susan Reimer found Palin’s selection “insulting on so many levels” that she barely could name them. Ruth Marcus, reading from the same cue cards, sputtered in the Washington Post: “I found Palin’s selection…insulting.” Google the phrase “Palin’s pick is insulting to women,” and you come up with 943,000 entries.
Yes, the horror of it all: witnessing a woman, lacking blue blood, political connections or Sandra Fluke-like organizational sponsorships, rising to the heights of American politics on assiduousness and gusto. Thank goodness feminists fight diligently against such females. We wouldn’t want young girls receiving mixed messages—you can grow up to be anything you want, except a conservative woman.
Instead, our young girls are told they should emulate Sandra Fluke. Ms. Fluke spoke before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on February 23, 2012. Her testimony lamented on the egregious economic burden placed on female law students at Georgetown Law who must pay for their own contraception. Here are a few of her comments:
“Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. 40% of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggle financially as a result of this policy.
“One told us about how embarrassed and just powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter and learned for the first time that contraception was not covered on her insurance and she had to turn and walk away because she couldn’t afford that prescription. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception.”
A woman has no choice? She is forced to “go” without contraception? I’m sorry, I think I just stepped into 1851.
Sojourner Truth, a woman born into slavery in 1797 but gained her freedom in 1827, became a well-known anti-slavery speaker. She gave a speech at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, later titled “Aint I a Woman?” The attendees at the convention did not want her to speak. Rumblings erupted in the crowd as she took the stage. “Don’t let her speak…it will ruin us. Every newspaper in the land will have our cause mixed up with abolition…and we shall be utterly denounced.”
Despite her critics, Truth’s speech proved powerful— leaving the female audience stunned and speechless. Here is an excerpt from her speech:
“Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble. I can’t read, but I can hear. I have heard the bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again….And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part? But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them. But the man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard.”
At a time in our country when women’s suffrage began to gain traction, Sojourner Truth looked beyond the disparateness of society to the core of every woman—she has the potential to fix the world. Whether in the board room, in the governor’s mansion, or at home with her children, women succeed on the merits of their ability, not on the accommodation or patronage of her government or her employer.
We don’t need acts of congress to create our futures. We don’t need biased media telling us what women we should support and which we should despise. We don’t need handouts in order to avoid responsibility. Women are smart, and we will fight for our liberties.
Liberty produces all kinds of women — especially the kind that win the war.