Sometimes, when I watch the news, I ask myself: What year is it again? 1950 or 2013? In terms of pay equality it becomes hard to tell the difference between now and 60 years ago. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act it is recognized that we still have a long way to go in terms of closing the gender wage gap. And a horrific display of an all-male Fox News panel takes that sentiment to an entirely new level. I am sure, by now, most of you have witnessed Lou Dobbs’s all-male panel on working women. Dobbs expressed that the increasing amount of women breadwinners in this country is both “concerning and troubling”.
Juan Williams, a political analyst for Fox News and a guest on Dobbs’s panel, attributes female breadwinners in America as “disintegrating marriage… You’re seeing men who were hard hit by the economic recession in ways that women weren’t. But you’re seeing, I think, systemically — larger than the political stories that we follow everyday — something going terribly wrong in American society,” referring to women becoming economically independent, “and it’s hurting our children. And it’s gonna have impact for generations to come.” Yes Juan, it is. Closing the gender wage gap will have significant positive impact on American society as it has been proven — and you would think it a well-known fact by now — that when women are economically independent, their families, communities and entire economies flourish.
Erick Erickson, Fox News Contributor and panelist on Dobb’s show, tried to use biology and referred to the “natural world” to tear down women breadwinners. He claims that “the male is typically the dominant role and the female — it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role. We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complementary relations and it’s tearing us apart.” The only thing tearing us apart is backwards thinking and a refusal to see women as equal players in the workforce.
So, what’s the good news? The American public is no longer standing by and allowing sexist comments from public figures to merely slide by unnoticed and unchallenged. We saw an overwhelming amount of public outcry when political candidates such as Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock made outlandish victim-blaming comments against women rape victims and survivors, and we continue to see that momentum in response to this blatant form of sexism against working women. Women are standing up and saying NO MORE. In so many ways, women are shaping the systematic structure into one of equality, and they are moving away from archaic patriarchal norms that perpetuate dangerous gender stereotypes.
After Lou Dobbs hosted his misogynist panel, women responded almost immediately. Ms. Foundation issued a Stop Fox’s Sexist, Anti-Woman Commentary, urging that Fox News cancel the Lou Dobbs Tonight show entirely. And you know Jezebel wasn’t going to stand for any of that nonsense. But I’d like to especially thank Megyn Kelly of Fox News. She stood up to her male colleagues pointing out that “there is plenty of data to suggest that children of working moms, as opposed to stay at home moms, wind up just as healthy and able to thrive in society as the children of stay-at-home mothers.” Kelly also successfully linked the sham arguments of the Dobb’s panel to the ridiculousness of the old argument that it was once thought that children of interracial couples were inferior. She pointed out that people, at the time, used “science” and “facts” to justify that argument too. Standing up to sexist co-workers on LIVE television is not easy. In this instance, Megyn Kelly is a prime example of a woman who is taking the lead and saying NO MORE.
There are entire organizations dedicated to ending sexism against women in the media, including the Women’s Media Center and Miss Representation’s #NotBuyingIt campaign that calls on all media, including Facebook, to end the perpetuation of rape culture and objectification of women as sex objects. Take The Lead realizes that all of these issues — pay equality, increasing women’s leadership in all sectors, ending violence against women, you name it — are all interconnected. We will not see a significant change until we address gender equality as a whole, and that means, women becoming the decision-makers and leaders within society. We have moved far beyond mere women’s inclusion in the conversation and are now facing a time when women are leading the discussion. This is how real change is made.
If a woman chooses to stay at home or serve as full-time volunteer (in both instances not receiving any monetary compensation for her work) that is her choice to make (keyword: choice). But if we want to see the true mindset shift that Take The Lead is advocating, we, as women, must continue to break through that seemingly impenetrable glass ceiling and “ask, expect, demand, intend, insist upon equal pay,” even though some Americans may choose to remain in 1950’s. Sorry boys, we won’t be joining you!