Equal pay for women just took a beating in some backwoods state of the USA on March 31, 2012 in a very quiet way. My apologies to followers of ours who live in Wisconsin (I know there are a few) but for goodness sake, how the hell did this happen? I don’t often stray from the primary focus of this site and even less often comment on happenings in the USA, however I smell danger here for woman in any western society if this is not stopped and stopped now. I am a woman and I have three daughters, several nieces, two grand-nieces and a sister. I care what happens.
When I was alerted to this today I thought it had to be a somewhat belated April Fool’s Day joke, but it seems not. There is a word in the Great Seal to the right: Forward. Really? Seems not.
On Thursday, with little fanfare, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a bill repealing the state’s 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which allowed victims of workplace discrimination to seek damages in state courts. In doing so, he demonstrated that our political battles over women’s rights aren’t just about sex and reproduction—they extend to every aspect of women’s lives.
Now, I’m no American constitutional lawyer, but I had to ask is it only women at risk here, or does the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act cover other groups as well?
The Equal Pay law wasn’t just about women—it also offered protection from discrimination based on race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors. But it was enacted largely in response to a large gap between men and women’s compensation, one that was worse than average in Wisconsin—in 2009 the state ranked 36th in the country in terms of workplace gender parity.
Well, that answers that question. Not just about women, so we had better keep our wits about us.
“You could argue that money is more important for men,” he told Goldberg.
I am sure that Goldberg will have no problem, then, in increasing the amounts fathers’ pay in child support when marriages fail and the mother, with custody of the children, can not afford to feed the kids because “money is more important for men”. Is this just white men, just for the record?
Where are the women of Wisconsin? I checked a Milwaukee on-line media outlet to see if I could find out. No mention of the eradication of protection of equal pay, however the number of women-owned firms are on the increase in Wisconsin. I’m sure that is comforting for female employees everywhere.
Wisconsin ranked 40th in the nation in the number of women-owned businesses, according to the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report by American Express OPEN. The number of women-owned businesses in Wisconsin has spiked 33.5% since 1997, but it’s still below the national average of 54%.
According to the Huffington Post:
“We are finally starting to see progress here in Wisconsin, yet like their counterparts across the country, Legislative Republicans want to turn back the clock on women’s rights in the workplace,” said Hansen.
Women earn 77 cents for every dollar that men make. In Wisconsin, it’s 75 cents, according to the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH), which also estimates that families in the state “lose more than $4,000 per year due to unequal pay.”
Australian women: DO NOT think this couldn’t happen here. Minority groups everywhere: DO NOT think this can’t happen to other groups in society.
Maybe the right to vote isn’t really important to women either, you think? I am wondering when the witch hunts in Salem will be started up again. Perhaps we are heading for another Spanish Inquisition? How far back are we going to go?
Maybe I am concerned because I am old enough to remember some of the fight. I personally fought for my female staff to be able to wear trousers to work in the 1980s. I know when I started work, city councils still expected women who got married to LEAVE WORK.
What are your views? Why aren’t American women up in arms over this? Is this the thin edge of the wedge? Should other states in the USA be worried? Should Australian women and minority groups be worried? What can we do to stop this insanity before it goes any further? Please share your thoughts. #KeepEqualPay
Edit June 16, 2012: Michigan hit the headlines when a woman was barred from debate in for using the word “vagina”. The topic of the debate was abortion.
- Cancer starts with one cell: it spreads (teamoyeniyi.com)
- Wisconsin Docks Equal-Pay Rights (thedailybeast.com)
- DNC chair slams Wis. gov. Walker for ‘Equal Pay’ repeal (news.yahoo.com)