Check out the fair pay flash mob on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial:
Arkansas State Senator Paul Van Dalsem got a roaring laugh in 1963 at the then all-male Optimist Club when he railed at women from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) who were lobbying to improve educational opportunities. He said his home county’s solution would be to get an uppity woman an extra milk cow. “And if that’s not enough, we get her pregnant and keep her barefoot.”
Sounds quaint, doesn’t it? Not so much, though.
Fast forward please to April 11, 2011—the day designated as Equal Pay Day by the National committee on Pay Equity to call attention to the pay gap between men and women. Women currently make about 20% less than men even when the numbers are controlled for education and experience. In other words, the pay disparity does not stem from childbearing as is often assumed, but rather from deeper systemic biases that are reflected in women’s own lack of skills and confidence in negotiating for their pay and promotions.
“I am feeling so disempowered,” the woman prefaced her question to me at a “Passion to Action” conference in Grass Vally, CA, sponsored by the See Jane Do organization. But her face telegraphed very powerful emotions: anger, frustration, fear. It was a look we’ve seen on the faces of teabaggers as they shouted wild allegations and disrupted town halls across the nation.
This woman was no teabagger. She was a progressive Democratic woman, a key member of Obama’s base. The impassioned ones who swept him into office on a frothy wave of belief in the change he promised; the ones now feeling somewhere between skeptical and cynical.
“I want real health reform. What happened to that and what can I do about it?” The questioner lobbed this at me after my speech encouraging women to use our power as activists. If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, then it would be very important to listen to what women like her had to say about Obama’s State of the Union address.
John McCain’s vice presidential running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, delivered an engaging speech last night at the Republican National Convention. Her roaring crowd voraciously devoured every morsel of the copious red meat she served up with a fierceness that …