Equal Pay Day…How about we women give back the day and politicians ensure our civil rights by working to get us that 23 cents on the dollar we’ve been missing?
Thoughts of the day: Women are not a special interest group. We comprise 51% of the population in this country. That makes us the majority. However, it also makes us a majority without full representative power and I have to fault us a little for allowing it to happen.
- Women comprise just a little more than 16% of the seats in Congress. To put it into better perspective, of the 535 Congressional seats of the 112th Congress, only 90 women hold that elected office; of that 90, only 24 women of color hold a seat in Congress.
- Women consist of just 17% of The United Senate – this is 17 seats out of 100 Senate seats available to election. There are no women of color represented in The United States Senate.
- There are six women governors out of 50 states.
- Women make 73 cents on the dollar for the same work as that of a man and instead of our government and our politicians righting that wrong, women are left attempting to raise awareness. So, an Equal Pay Day is established and we ask each other to wear red to symbolize the inequality of pay.
So, on to the pulpit:
Women are not a special interest group. As 51% of the population in this country, it is a lark that we even allow ourselves to be viewed as such.
The idea that women must ask, solicit and pound on the doors of their politicians’ offices for equal pay for equal work seems absurd to me – absurd. The idea that politicians do not ensure that this is done on our behalf, is outrageous. We are members of this society. We contribute as much, at times more, than our male counterparts to see that our lives, our homes and our country functions.
As women, we must begin to pay attention to the movements that are happening against women’s rights. Access to contraceptives; equal pay; decrease in educational funding for our children…the list is so long it is becoming more difficult to keep track of it all.
But we must speak out and speak up. Doing so may make some of us feel uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable to stand in the face of nonsense and push back. Who likes confrontation? Who would want to be called a slut on a National radio program? Not me. But if this tide is going to change, it starts with us and begins with how we view ourselves and then moves forward with how we speak, write and communicate about what we will accept as women.
Some of us are so busy keeping our heads above water that when we look up and hear of some of the more radical legislation being proposed in State Houses across the country, we think, “That just cannot happen.”
Not only can it happen; if we don’t work to stop it now, it will happen – on our watch.
Some of us think these pieces of legislation or these snide comments thrown out by politicians do not directly impact our lives. But it does. It impacts us in how we feel about ourselves; the power we allow ourselves to engage in our own aspirations in this world; and, most importantly – if we have sons and daughters – it impacts their world view, their view of us and our roles as women; and it affects their relationships with each other.
So, starting today, I do not consider myself a special interest group. I consider myself a woman interested in what my politicians are doing and what yours are up to as well.
If we do not act in our own best interests – by supporting politicians who support us; by finding our voices or dictating our thoughts on the page to share with others – we are allowing someone else to take what was never theirs to begin.
We do not ask for power in this world. We assume what is ours.
This idea makes some extraordinarily uncomfortable. In some circles, I would be called a Feminazi. (First, how offensive to equate a woman working to secure the rights of other women with a government that inhalliated millions of people). Secondly, okay…I’m a feminazi. I’ll wear it in glitter on a T-shirt…in the halls of Congress.
I do not care what ignorance thinks anymore. I do not. I am a working mother. I don’t have the time to toy with it anymore.
What I care about is righting the wrongs. And a woman making less than a man for the same work is a wrong. Don’t let a politician frame it any other way. As a woman, you are entitled to the same pay as your male counterpart. End of story.
Best to all,
Shannon M. Kulik