Beki Grinter

Women, Like Men, Only Cheaper

In women on January 17, 2013 at 9:21 am

(Written some time ago).

Women, like men, only cheaper was a slogan in the last British general election. Yesterday, it was also a question that a lady asked the two Presidential Candidates during the debate—what would they do to raise the wages of women in the workplace.

I want to point out two other things that happened during the debate that I think get at other more sutble issues about discrimination in the workplace. First, lets take the Obama v. Romney crisis, yes, I mean the fact that Michelle and Ann wore the same colour dress. Apparently that’s a no-no, and it certainly consumed some discussion. “Who wore it better?”

But the two people who were actually on-stage for the 1:30hr wore the same colour suits and the same colour shirts, accessorised with the same flag pin. No commentary about that. Why not? Why is it fair game to discuss what two spouses of participants were wearing and not their husbands? Thought experiment, what would have happened if Ann and Michelle had showed up to debate the Presidential candidacy and their spouses had showed up wearing the same suit colour. (Um, nothing).

Women, their bodies–form and decoration, are available for public discussion in the ways that mens bodies seem to remain private. Until that changes, how can we establish equity?

Second, there was excitement about the fact that the debate was being moderated by a woman. Candy Crowley from CNN. Since the history of Presidential debates that’s the fourth woman to moderate any debate, and only one woman has moderated more than one debate (Barbara Walters). The fact that there are no women participating in the Presidential debates is one thing, the fact that there are very few women picked to moderate them is a depressing indictment of the industry around politics. That we get excited when a woman appears only amplifies the depressing nature of this situation. We can hope that no-one felt that the woman moderator box had some how been checked for the next decade.

Women are under-represented in the process of governance and the political establishment. They are also under-represented in the businesses that surround them, and that are frequently in the situation of framing the very ways in which governance is defined.

Women are like men, but currently cheaper, but addressing pay is not enough. Until women are afforded the public privacy of men and until they have increased representation in our political processes, well I think we are not done.

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