American women, on average, earn less than American men.
This is by no means news – it has been fact since the first American women were deemed acceptable to work. It is also one of the most contested issues in the United States, causing controversy for numerous decades.
And yet somehow the problem remains.
Every August 26 highlights the plight of women on their National Equality Day and once more it has sparked debates on the inequalities faced on a daily basis, including the persistent pay gap. Led by President Obama, people of note have echoed every argument, every slogan, and every catchphrase to mark this historic day.
Yet all it serves is the habitual reliving of a paralyzed issue.
Legislation to correct this has fallen flat in Congress time and time again regardless of how many speeches the president and First Lady Michelle Obama make to the masses.
Raising your voice alone, unfortunately, will not fix it. This isn’t an unrecognized, unacknowledged topic now needing word of mouth and grass root support to gain traction for legal change. Talking about it will not fix it. Getting Joe Plumber on board will not help the millions of women who are robbed of millions in pay every year. This is one of those situations where the government needs to actually do something.
So the question…
Does the government care about women?
No one wants to say “No…”
We don’t want to admit it but you only have to look at the endless debates over women’s bodies, women’s pay, whether or not raping a woman is even rape, to realize just how horrific women must find living in, by global standards, a liberal nation.
Returning to the pay gap, allow a game of devil’s advocate: the margin in take-home salary has come down quite significantly over the years. And it has taken a long time to get to where we are. Patience will get us there.
To counter: it has taken a long time to get to where we are and still inequality remains.
Currently women make on average anywhere between 77 cents and 96 cents (depending on who you speak to) for every man-earned dollar. And many believe this is not only sufficient, but also fair:
Women make different choices about what kinds of jobs they seek. They make different choices in reaction to marriage and childbirth. They are often times compared with men who are in different jobs. When those things – those factors are taken into consideration studies have indicated that the pay gap all but evaporates.
FOX News Senior Political Analyst Brit Hume is not entirely wrong.
Women do have to make choices men will never be propositioned with, and these knowingly affect their net income. Once more with devil’s advocate, it is difficult from a business perspective to pay those who do not perform as well (or, in the case of many women, not show up on account of birthing a child) an equal sum to those [men] who aren’t sidetracked by such matters.
This is a classic position adopted by the many traditionalists of whom too many still idolize the female-in-the-home fantasy. For when the mother stays home, her children do better.
Children who come from a home with two parents, one of whom is readily available at all times, often do better academically, professionally and socially. Yet, nowhere has it been decided that women are the key to child development. This position could be filled by a live-in grandparent or perhaps a nanny.
Or, dad can stay home with the kids whilst mom goes out to work.
Are women making this choice or is it made for them?
Quite often a maternal instinct can sway the mother’s decision to remain in her nest longer. However some women find the financial benefit where dad earns more as simply the best decision for her family.
Collectively, women do not have a choice of family or profession because their gender decides for them. It isn’t a discussion between couples over who should and shouldn’t go through childbirth. Women can be part of that decision but ultimately it is she who sacrifices either her career or at least part of her compensation.
And what about the women who choose their work? Whilst some do equal their male colleagues, many more do not. Women are punished for being women.
Legislation has appeared but none succeeding in making a difference to the problem. Even with Obama making pay equity a key factor of the year, pushing for minimum wage increases to significantly benefit working mothers, effective challenges to the current status quo have stalled in Congress.
In April of this year all Senate Republicans and Senator Angus King of Maine (Independent) voted against opening the Paycheck Fairness Act for debate on the floor. Whereas some like King believed the bill failed “to address the real causes that are driving the wage gap”, Republicans like John Thune of South Dakota saw the measure as little more than Democrats grabbing headlines:
We see this for what it is, and it’s just another attempt by Democrats to distract from what is a very bad record when it comes to helping women in the economy.
It seems it doesn’t matter which party you support or which issue is currently at hand. One side will work tirelessly to outgun the other at the expense of real people continuing to just get by. And here, women are the pawns on the political chessboard.
“This is not a women’s issue,” Obama said after the vote. “This is a family issue. Women now bring in close to half of all income, and there are a whole lot of families out there where the woman is the primary breadwinner.”
Despite his vocal opposition to the gap, the White House in recent months has come under attack since a study showed female employees were making only 88 cents to the male dollar.
So has Obama simply jumped on the train of social injustice he has promised to tackle throughout his term, or is he, as many in the GOP believe, just gearing up for another political battle for votes and hence control? No matter the answer Americans will be subjected to endless games of political table tennis, pointing fingers at the opposition.
To mother, or not to mother…
Women, in the meantime, are faced with an impossible choice between their career and having a family:
Either stay single, stay childless, go to college, go to work, tirelessly prove anything a man can do she can do better, achieving professional ambitions, and surpassing the elusive male-dollar bracket (that is, until you reach your mid-40s), or have a family while you still biologically can, enjoy the literal fruits of your labor, all the while risking being seen as little more than just another stereotype.
Many in the United States continue to refute this issue even exists, even when it should have been wiped out in the early years of the twentieth century. The truth, then, is very simple:
The “Free World” just doesn’t care.