Equal Pay Day: Or, Stop Saying Women Make 77 cents on the dollar.


It’s a great day to be a woman, amiright? We got the vote. We got the jobs. We got access to college. We got… crushing debt and angry men who complain about being “friendzoned” if we don’t sleep with them.

It’s so great!

But it seems like some of us aren’t happy. It seems like some women (you know the ones) are upset that they aren’t making as much as their male counterparts for the same jobs. As if, just because you are equally educated, equally experienced, and hold an equal job title, you should be paid the same?

We’re so greedy.

I’m all for supporting equal pay. In fact, pay me more. I have to spend a LOT more on shoes. And tampons. Actually. Let’s talk about that. Do you EVEN understand how much money I spend on tampons?? It’s insane! I tried the menstrual cup! I did! And for reasons I won’t mention here (the cup runeth over), I switched back to tampons and NOW I am POOR. Pay me more.

But this whole “women make 77 cents on the dollar” thing is such bullshit. And no, I’ve not made a Fox News turn where I think Obama is grossly exaggerating the figures. I’ve seen some articles harp about Obama’s exaggeration and claim that women actually make 83 cents on the dollar and yes, I will take that extra six cents, but really? You fact checked an article to say my compensation is still unequal. Come back to me when you’re ready to tell me childbirth is still painful and rape is still a thing. You’re the greatest.

The real problem with the 77 cent claim is that it’s only part of the story.

When the media reports that women make 77 cents (I’ve been hearing 78 cents as well, but I like playing the victim so I’m low balling the numbers) on the dollar, they are only referring to white women. Black women make 62 cents on the dollar. Hispanic women, a measly 54. And do you know how hard it was to find out that information? I searched for an hour to find those other two statistics! To be fair, I also watched a lot of videos on facebook. There’s this one where a dolphin starts laughing at a girl doing cart wheels and it’s so cute until you realize the dolphin is locked in a tank as some animal park and will probably never meet its family.

So what’s the deal with the shitty statistics and the less than fair media coverage?

Maybe black and hispanic women are just not as educated, talented, or experienced, right? I can almost hear you wanting to say it. I’m going to say that we definitely have a gap in our eligibility for equal paying jobs (thanks to rising education costs, lack of quality and equal educational opportunities for kids as young as two, socioeconomic and environmental problems) that may negatively affect women of color more so than white women. (This is outside of the different factors that might contribute to any woman making less money than her male peers, things republicans like to group as the “family factor.” I would like to say that a “family” can also mean “daddy has kids and it doesn’t have to affect his pay,” so maybe lay off that for a little bit, okay? The problem there is with unpaid maternity leave and poor family planning resources with employers.)

But regardless of the problems with opportunity, when we talk about wage inconsistencies we are talking about people with the same experience, education, and title.

But why is it that the only statistic we talk about is the one affecting white women?

Because, unfortunately, if it’s not “mainstream” (and, of course, by that I mean white), then it isn’t really important yet. Issues aren’t issues until they affect those with power. If 200 white, European girls had gone missing a year ago, we would definitely still be hearing about it on the news. Instead, the anniversary of the missing Nigerian school girls passed yesterday and all we have to show for it is a hashtag.

It’s always the same.

And for anyone who is one those “white women have problems too, why can’t we all be equal, why we gotta pick sides?” kind of arguers, well… there are sides. By refusing to admit that there is still privilege within a group that is discriminated against, you are picking a side. The wrong one.

Why you gotta be so defensive all the time, too? Why is acknowledging someone else’s struggle somehow an attack on yours? Take a deep breath and calm the fuck down because you’re making it worse when you demand equality for white people, okay? Stop with your #whitegirlsrock rhetoric in response to the #blackgirlsrock movement. Black girls DO rock. Saying so doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to be alive and be white or something. We aren’t attacking white women when we validate the struggles of everyone else. We are validating all women.

Welcome to intersectionality in feminism. It’s not enough to demand equal pay up from 77 cents on the dollar.  We have to demand it from 54 cents. We have to demand it for everyone.

Actually I won’t be happy until prostitution is legal. When women working the streets have fair wages, then I’ll know we’ve officially accomplished some real equality.

Also I’m serious about that tampon thing.

And free the dolphins.

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