I spent this week deep in red country, and listened to a lot of Christian radio (what. It was either that or Justin Bieber, and I just couldn’t). It made me think a lot about spin, and how the language that each side uses affects the credibility as well as the emotions that any particular issue raises. My dad talked about how with radio, there was broadcasting, but the Internet has turned it into narrowcasting, with everybody only listening to/reading what they already believe. My goal is to have a more fair and balanced (GET IT?) look at the news, and try to understand all sides before jumping to conclusions.
“Republicans have a war on women!” Democrats shout. “Democrats are socialists!” Republicans shoot back. Democrats love killing babies! Republicans hate minorities! It never ends, even when looking at the same issue.
So when I heard about yesterday’s Democrat-led legislation to close the wage gap, and the fact that the GOP filibustered it, I thought, “I need to look at this more closely.” Surely my people are spinning it and the other side has an explanation. And they do! I will say, right here and now, that the war on women is a myth.
There cannot be a war if the attacking side does not register the enemy. There cannot even be a stealth attack if the other side does not register the enemy. The Republicans aren’t lying when they say there is no war on women, because they actually believe that women deserve to be treated differently, and worse, than men. It’s not that they hate women. It’s that they think women are cute little itty bitty people, almost human-like in their actions, who are so endearing when they are angry! Look at their sweet widdle fists in the air.
The bill: “The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., would require employers to prove that differences in pay are based on qualifications, education and other ‘bona fides’ not related to gender. It also would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who ask about, discuss or disclose wages in response to a complaint or investigation. And it would make employers who violate sex discrimination laws liable for compensatory or punitive damages. Under the bill, the federal government would be exempt from punitive damages.”
Here’s what I found when I looked for the Republicans’ side of things.
First up: this is such a burden. “We already have on the books the Equal Pay Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which I did support,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told a few reporters in the Capitol. “And I believe that they provide adequate protections. I think this bill would result in excessive litigation that would impose a real burden, particularly on small businesses. So I think existing laws are adequate.”
Thanks, Susan (and please get a different name. I don’t like sharing it with you). What you mean when you say “adequate protections” is that the $.77 on the dollar that women make is a-okay. 77% is equal enough! OH WAIT THAT’S NOT WHAT EQUAL MEANS. Okay, fine. Some people say $.91 on the dollar if you control for life choices, and I even heard on Marketplace that there are figures as high as $.95. THAT IS STILL NOT WHAT EQUAL MEANS. So no, Susan, that’s not adequate. And the bill might indeed place a burden on small businesses, but only the ones who are paying women less money simply because they are women. This is a very, very clear issue of right and wrong. And you don’t side with the person who is in the wrong just because you think they are burdened.
Next: this is not a real issue. It’s just the Democrats trying to get the woman vote. “It’s pure election-year politics,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). “This bill reads more to me like some sort of a welfare plan for trial lawyers.”
It’s pure election-year politics, that’s right. If you’re not one of the 40% of wives who are the primary breadwinner, or the 31 million households with women as their heads. Screw you, Marco. No, seriously. Screw you. My household is run by a woman, and while I’m sure everybody would be happy if we would focus on jobs instead of the fact that we are 23% poorer than similar households with men as breadwinners, no, we wouldn’t be happy. This is what I mean about there being no war on women: to so many people, it’s just a non-issue. How can this be a non-issue?
To continue on that line of thinking: “We don’t think America suffers from a lack of litigation,” [Mitch] McConnell said. “We have a jobless problem. We have a debt problem. We have a deficit problem. We got a lot of problems. Not enough lawsuits is not one of them.” And “On the heels of last week’s dismal jobs report, the last thing we should be doing is putting more job-killing burdens on small businesses and employers,” [Scott Brown] said.
Fine. You can believe that we have a lot of problems. But this is a problem. This is a problem. This is a problem that I deal with directly, that my daughter will deal with directly, and that matters. It’s not just a silly woman thing.
There can be no war on women by the Republicans when Republicans fail to notice that women even exist.
And finally, what made me lose my shit: “The pay gap is troubling if it is attributable to discrimination,” said Collins, a moderate Republican. “In other cases it may be due to personal decisions that women make to leave the workforce to raise children for a number of years and then to return to the workforce, for example. So I don’t think you can assume discrimination.”
Nothing that I have found, no matter how you slice it, says that women are receiving equal pay. None. Control for whatever factor you want. So, Susan. Figure out how studies work and stop making assumptions.
But even if she were right, this kind of thinking is awful. I didn’t choose to be the only person in my family who was biologically capable of carrying a child. I didn’t choose to put my life on hold for 9 months and have to scramble to get my dissertation research figured out on a vastly different timeline than originally intended because it seemed noble. I didn’t choose to get ripped open from one hole to the next and take several weeks to recover to the point where I could even sit down because my womanly sensibilities thought it would be awesome. The GOP party line says, actually, that choices are not possible, that pregnancy results in childbirth 100% of the time, and last I checked, nobody was writing bestsellers pressuring dads to stay at home. There is no such thing as the “daddy wars.”
The United States needs the next generation as human capital, and women are making the majority of the sacrifices for that to happen. We treat motherhood like it is something that lazy jerks do who don’t want to come to work, and say things like “motherhood is a personal decision” that should result in lower pay for the same job. No. Motherhood is a sacrifice, one that is incredibly important to the future of this country, and to justify the discrimination against women because they raise the next generation is nothing short of disgusting.
I was hoping that what I would find, when I went looking for justification for blocking this bill, was something that would make sense. That the bill would maybe include some technicalities that were not discussed by the Democrats, that there was actually something terrible in there. What I found, instead, was that the GOP lawmakers think that it would burden companies (who discriminate against women), that the laws on the books are adequate (even though equality is not reached), that things are just fine the way they are. Which brings me back to the war on women. It’s not a war. It’s a dismissal. The fact that Republican lawmakers seriously do not see it as an attack on women is, ironically enough, proof that it’s actually much worse.