When It Comes to the Workplace, Have Women Won?
It’s a promising moment to be a working woman in America
This weekend, from a perch no less exalted than the New York Times, Bryce Covert announced that the culture war is over and the women, specifically mothers, have won.
Working mothers, take note: You have won the culture war. Now you are making advances in the policy battle. This presidential race has become, at least in part, a debate over how best to help you balance work and home, not whether you should be working at all. …
It’s worth repeating: The Republican nominee for president has proposed a new government program to help working mothers.
Covert describes the program as follows:
He would guarantee six weeks, run through the existing unemployment insurance program, and he would pay for it by eliminating fraud in that system. The plan is deeply flawed — and, because it focuses only on mothers and offers nothing to fathers, could end up hurting working women. But it is significant that he decided to offer it at all.
Flawed or not as policy, Trump’s proposal makes him the first prominent Republican to acknowledge that America is grossly, even uniquely, unfair to working moms, and that injustice requires remedy.
At last, the candidates both political parties agree that paid leave is necessary, and the only question that remains is how to make it a reality. That’s progress! And momentum is going towards equality in other areas as well. As we mentioned, the pay gap is narrowing, bit by bit. And sexist behavior in the office is increasingly called out and ridiculed in various multimedia formats.
And Exhibit C, which is from a few years ago but has recently resurfaced and is having another go-around on social media.
Even Fox News finally decided that rampant sexual harassment within its walls was unacceptable and toppled titan Roger Ailes. As Eddie Izzard might put it, After a couple of decades, we won’t stand for that, will we?
And, of course, Hillary Clinton is running as the Democratic Party’s candidate for President. No one is asking her, or the wives of male candidates, about baking cookies anymore.
On the other hand.
As Refinery 29 points out, Trump’s child care proposal is a) his daughter’s, and b) almost the only feminist thing about him.
“’Daddy, daddy we have to do this!’” Trump said, impersonating 34-year-old Ivanka, herself a mother of three and an executive at the Trump Organization. Later he added, “She’s the one who’s been pushing so hard for it.” …
when left to his own devices, without Ivanka as a babysitter, he reverts to his true misogynistic inclinations — like the time he said women who have abortions should be punished; or when he said that if Ivanka were sexually harassed at the workplace, he’d hope she’d get a new career; or the fact that Roger Ailes, who was ousted from Fox News over sexual harassment claims, is an adviser; or the fact that he can’t name another woman he’d put in his Cabinet other than Ivanka. (Not even his other daughter, poor Tiffany.)
If you click through to the YouTube page for that Kristen Bell video, you’ll notice that a supermajority of the reactions and comments are negative. Many deny the very existence of the problems she enumerates.
The Olympics put an array of spectacular female athletes through an equally spectacular array of sexist nonsense.
Comedian Leslie Jones has been targeted, abused, and harassed all year despite being manifestly awesome.
A NYT piece about sexism in the advertising industry this year found that Madison Avenue is still a mad, mad, “Mad Men”-type world full of “rapey talk” and “grabby hands.”
Yet a NYT poll from this past weekend found that most men are clueless about what women go through.
Asked to name the most important problem facing women today, women cited issues related to gender inequality in the workplace, primarily pay, more than any other. Gender divisions were particularly pronounced on issues related to the workplace. Three-quarters of women said women in the United States are paid less than men doing similar work, while 55 percent of men held the same opinion.
This finding stabbed at my heart: “Women rate success at work as much more important than their appearance in determining how they feel about themselves, but significantly more think that society places a higher emphasis on looks than on their success at work.”
The truth is that our society remains schizophrenic on the subject of women. Yes, there has been progress. Yes, it is notable and impressive that Cosmo published a relatively hard-hitting interview with Ivanka Trump, one that left her flustered and defensive. But when, today, I was reading a Cosmo article, this pop up interrupted me with a reminder that what’s really important isn’t my mind, it’s my body.
We’ve still got a long way to go, baby.
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