I had a great conversation with some really smart women last night. Mostly, we laughed. We talked about some serious things too.
Every one of us is concerned about the public discourse lately regarding women. Certainly, the Presidential candidates have our attention. Some of the things we’re hearing from them terrify me. It scares me to think there is support for the notion that taking rights and healthcare from women is not only ok, but necessary.
Interestingly, when I’ve mentioned this to most of the men I know, they blow it off as nothing. “He’s not electable,” they say, as if that supposed to make me feel better. They are right that some of these people have no hope of winning the Presidency.
Here’s the problem: they don’t have to win to be dangerous! All they have to do is carve out a space in the marketplace of ideas that looks legitimate for more people to join their merry little band.
Consider the following:
- Women still make 78 cents on the dollar to men, even when you adjust for education and time in the workforce.
- The more education a woman has, the bigger the disparity. That means women in professional positions make 72 cents on the dollar, compared with her male counterparts.
- Women work longer to get promoted, sometimes up to three years longer.
- Barely half of US employers offer any compensation during maternity leave for women.
- Women earn less than men in 99% of occupations.
So when someone with a national platform talks about reverse discrimination against men or how reducing health care coverage for women in child-bearing years is the best way to save money when we are behind the rest of the industrialized world on these topics, forgive me if my head almost explodes. You know why I don’t think my male friends are freaking out? No one’s talking about making their already challenging task even harder.
Just when I thought I couldn’t take one more unfortunate statistic, NPR reminded me there is yet hope, even in my less than progressive corner of the world. On this day, 80 years ago, Arkansas elected the first woman to the US Senate.
So here’s to Hattie Caraway! May she remind us all what we can achieve. We just have keep working to be sure the lunatics to who want to take us back in time are not taken seriously by anyone.