Social movements, especially those whose focus is civil or social rights are rarely, if ever, declared victorious in a short amount of time. Recent American history tell us that that it takes years, if not decades or centuries for these movements to achieve their goals.
Looking back through history, I am amazed and awe inspired on the progress that not just American women, but women in general have made. I am from a generation in which a woman working outside of the home in jobs that are not traditionally “female” is completely normal. Women of my generation, if they marry, are marrying later in life. Our careers and our education is just as important as having a husband and children.
However, there are still battles to be fought. Women still earn less than male colleagues with the same experience and job title. Our ability to access safe and legal abortions is tenuous at best and depends on a number of factors. The chance of being sexually assaulted and/or harassed is still too high for my comfort. In my home state of New York, rape intoxication loophole has yet to be filled.
This generation of feminists stands on the shoulders of brave women who understood that the future is female. We honor and remember the gains they made, but that does not mean that our job is done. Until we have true equality, we must continue on the path that they paved for us starting in 1848.
One of the myths of the United States is that unlike other countries, one is only limited by the scope of their dreams and how hard they can work.
But the reality is that many of us are limited in our potential. This limit is not because we don’t work hard or we don’t dream about what we would like to accomplish. This limit is based on factors such as race and/or sex.
Yesterday, the U.S. women’s soccer team won their fourth World Cup. And yet, their salaries lag well behind the members of the men’s team.
It’s time that these women are paid what they are due. It’s time that all women are paid what we are due. If we have the skills, the experiences and the background to successfully do a job, there is no reason why we should be paid less than our male colleagues who do the same job and have a similar professional background.
Change, both political and cultural, comes when we open our eyes to the reality of our world. This win is not just a win for the team, it is a reminder that there is still a pay disparity between men and women that should finally be addressed once and for all.
Congrats to women’s soccer team. I hope their victory inspires young people (and young women in particular) for generations to come.
Recently, the U.S. Women’s Soccer team broke a World Cup record by defeating Thailand 13-0. But they are still being paid less than their counterparts who play on the Men’s team.
I’m the first to admit that I am not a soccer fan. I have, at best, a rudimentary understanding of how the game is played. But I firmly believe that these women deserve not only all of the accolades, but the salary that comes with the accolades.Without a shadow of a doubt, they deserve and have earned the same salary that their male counterparts earn.
It’s taken multiple generations and the hard work of countless women (and their male allies), but we have accomplished what our fore-mothers could only have dreamed of.
Granted, it goes without saying that the fight for equality is not over. Issues such as equal pay, sexual assault, and the right to make decisions over our own bodies are as much as in the forefront as they were decades ago.
My generation of feminists took the ball that our mothers and grandmothers started rolling and have run with it. We stand on their shoulders so that future generations will be able to finish this fight for good.
In her acceptance speech for best supporting actress, for Boyhood, Patricia Arquette cited the fact that women, despite our incredible advancements, are still paid less than our male counterparts.
While I would not be surprised to hear that there still, even in 2015, are companies that have stone age beliefs about men’s and women’s paychecks, there are other reasons. Many women, especially if they have children, will choose a profession with a lower salary that allows them to be the mother they need to be for their children. It is also a fact that women (due to some might say cultural conditioning), are afraid of asking for a raise or step up to a higher position which will bring more authority and a bigger paycheck. A third factor might be that some high paying industries are slowly beginning to open the doors to women.
The fact is that this disparity of paychecks between men and women hurts all of us. While it does not hurt to have a two income household with two working adults, there are many homes in this country and around the world where one income from one working adult has to be stretched as far as it can go. What business owners sometimes forget is that a paycheck is not just a paycheck. When an employee feels respected financially and professionally, it is a win-win for both sides. The employee is likely to stay at the job and put in a greater effort because they feel that the company appreciates them. This in turn, reduces or prevents the company having the pay for the cost of turnover and training of a new employee.
Equal pay for equal work. It is a very simple concept. But for some businesses, for reasons that I do not understand, it is beyond them.
When I think about how far we have come from where were only two generations ago is amazing.
My grandmother’s generation, like their mothers and grandmothers before them, were solely expected to marry and raise a family. If they were educated, their education was minimal and unimportant compared to their brothers. A career was out of the question.
Thankfully, things have changed. But that change did not come easily. My generation has a lot to be grateful for. Our mother’s and grandmothers have paved the way for us. Without their tireless work, we would be stuck in the same life cycle as our ancestors.
But we have a long way to go. There are still goals that have yet to be reached.
Equal pay for equal work
Stories of women being raped, both here at home and abroad continue to dominate the news.
Teaching our daughters respect for themselves, teaching our sons to respect the women in their lives
Ensuring that all women are guaranteed educational and career opportunities
Providing women, with and without children, a reasonable living wage to care for themselves and their loved ones
The list goes on and on. Our foremothers started on this path generations ago, it’s up to us to continue on this path.
I’m going to end this post with a quote from one of my favorite writers and a true hero in every sense of the word.
“If men could see us as we really are, they would be a little amazed; but the cleverest, the acutest men are often under an illusion about women: they do not read them in a true light: they misapprehend them, both for good and evil: their good woman is a queer thing, half doll, half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiend.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Shirley
This past weekend, I saw Nine To Five. It was in movie theaters 34 years ago and I don’t know why I haven’t seen this movie before, I am glad I did.
The movie, for those who have not seen it, is a buddy workplace revenge comedy about three female employees who take revenge on a hated male boss. Judy Bernly (Jane Fonda) is recently divorced and in the workplace for the first time in her adult life. Violet Newstead (Lilly Tomlin) is the veteran, working at the company for 12 years and watching the men rise in professional status while she is kept in the same position. Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton) is the personal secretary of the boss, Franklin M Hart Jr (Dabney Coleman). He is constantly hitting on her, admiring her looks and spreading a rumor that she is his mistress.
This movie is so incredibly funny, the satire is right on target.
But there is also a truth in this movie. 34 years later, the issues that these characters are dealing with are still relevant today. Equal pay for equal work, having a flexible work schedule or day care for working parents, creating a positive working environment and giving both male and female employees equal opportunities to rise professionally.
This movie still stands the test of time, even after a generation.