The Pain of Living in a Post-Feminist World

A number of women students just alerted me to Deborah Copaken Kogan’s “My So-called Post-Feminist Life” which recently appeared in the Nation. (http://www.thenation.com/article/173743/my-so-called-post-feminist-life-arts-and-letters). Kogan reveals decades of subtle and not so subtle sex discrimination, leaving her feeling misunderstood, alienated, and questioning her career as a writer. Although in different form, I too feel similarly discouraged. I was too young to have firsthand experience of the women’s liberation movement but I naively believed that feminists of the 1960 and 1970s had broken through so many barriers to equality, that my own career would be smooth sailing. Yet from the time that I entered law school, I have continually confronted sexism and I quickly learned that I was better off keeping as silent as my conscious would allow. Women have a hall pass to the corridors of male power which can be revoked easily should one actually identify, name, and voice their own discrimination. In this post-feminist world to be a feminist is to be labeled angry, humorless, weak, too sensitive, passé, irrelevant, overall a pain. “This was all taken care of decades ago, stop whining, get with the program.”

We are supposed to imagine that structural and institution sexism and racism are relics of the past, a long ago problem that has since been solved. Remnants of discrimination are understood be isolated and personal problems – a mere failure of communication or civility. In our current world, the personal is decidedly not political. If we look around and see few women colleagues well what does that matter? They had their chance. It is just another indication of women’s personal choice not to join or to stay. Such women have chosen to leave the party early. Yet few see that such decisions often mask exhaustion, frustration, and alienation. Were we ever really invited to the party in the first place? Hillary Clinton did it, why can’t you?

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What Would You Do With A 22% Raise?

(A great post from the Womens Bar Association of Illinois)

EQUAL PAY DAY

APRIL 9, 2013

Wear red to support the cause

April 9, 2013 is Equal Pay Day. This date represents how far into the year 2013 women must work in order to earn as much compensation as their male counterparts did in the year 2012.

It has been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law in 1963. The Equal Pay Act outlawed wage discrimination between men and women in the same establishment for a job requiring substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility under the same working conditions. Despite this legislation, a significant wage disparity still exists in all occupations. The most recent statistics from 2011 illustrate that women earn approximately 77% of their male colleagues’ salaries. This wage gap increases for minority women, with African American women earning approximately 69.5% less, and Latino women earning approximately 60.2% less. Despite significant progress in narrowing this wage gap after the Equal Pay Act was enacted, it has remained essentially stagnant at 77% since 2004. Some economists have concluded that if this wage gap between men and women were eliminated, the poverty rates would be cut in half.

In order to further the progress of the Equal Pay Act, additional legislation is being introduced at the federal level.

Paycheck Fairness Act

· Reintroduced in January 2013 by Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut

· Requires business owners to justify wage discrimination based upon something other than sex

· Prevents retaliation against workers who inquire about wages and disclose their own wages

· Provides for compensatory and punitive damages, back pay and authorizes class action equal pay suits

Fair Pay Act

· Sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia

· Expands the Equal Pay Act to prohibit wage discrimination based upon sex, race and national origin

· Requires employers to provide equal pay for work of equal value whether or not the jobs are the same

· Bans retaliation and requires employers to file wage information annually to the EEOC

We invite you to wear red on April 9, 2013 as a reminder of the women and families forced to live in “the red” due to unequal pay. You can also take action by notifying your senator and representative of your support of equal pay for all genders and races.