Forty-one years after the inception of Title IX legislation, one would think that the playing field would be “leveled” between men and women. Although there has been a great deal of progress, as both a woman in the “working world” and a mother, I continue to be enraged at the lack of dedication to true equity we have in our society. Last weekend I read an article about public media’s portrayal of Senator Hilary Clinton throughout the years. Rather than laud her achievements as one of the highest ranking women in political history, the media published information about her hair, her wrinkles, and her actions as a parent. This week the media is filled with details surrounding the “benching” of one of the Baltimore Raven cheerleaders for gaining 1.8 lbs.
Flipping through the pages of USA Today this morning, one can find articles about the Duchess of Cambridge’s maternity dress, Fashion Trends, and Beauty of the Week. The ONE article that prominently features a woman as a contributor to society rather than an object is about the historical actions of Rosa Parks. Really??? Even in the New York Times there is an article about women finally being allowed to serve in combat for our military but have to first meet the same physical testing requirements as their male counterparts. Ok, so why is that news? Paraphrasing from the article, a grenade needing to be thrown 15 feet will explode the same way no matter who has thrown it.
How is a mother supposed to be able to point to significant women in the world as role models for her daughter when there are none featured? Of course it goes without saying that the best role model is what she sees at home. My quest for equity has been a passion for years. In our home my children share responsibilities. The one with their shoes on takes out the trash, the kids (one boy, one girl) take turns setting the table, they both handle laundry, and both clean. There is no task that is relegated to one or the other based on their gender.
That is all fine, but how do I explain to my daughter that she will STILL, 41 years later have to work harder, be smarter, and make better choices than he male counterpart to achieve equal pay as an adult? Think I’m joking? Do the research. Women, on average, no matter their education level, are paid 77% of the salary paid to males doing the same work.
Wanting to raise my daughter to be able to deal with anything life will throw at her, I simply am unable to explain nor help her understand how this issue continues to persist. Ladies, when will we simply say enough is enough? When will we start supporting each other rather than bowing to that which society has defined as reality? When will we insist on being featured as important contributors to society rather than objectified in the news?
Ladies, this is your call to action. I love my son with all of my heart, but want him to have to work just as hard as his sister to achieve in life. It is 2013, it is time to change.