As a recent graduate looking for a job and as a woman, this issue is close to my heart. On average, American women earn 77 cents for every $1 a man makes doing the same work. Now I realize that this figure does not apply to every woman. For example, in my sociology of family class, I learned that unmarried women with no children typically make 95-100% of what a man makes. Not bad. The disparity occurs when women get married or have children. These women are closer to the 77 cent figure than their unmarried, childless counterparts. 

At the ripe old age of 21, getting married and having children are far off my radar, but I still find it absolutely ridiculous that the decisions a woman makes in her personal life impact what she gets paid at work.

Some people, we’ll call them male executives, claim that these decisions do have a bearing on a woman’s career. She’ll want maternity leave, she’ll want us to keep her job open, they say. Women, more than men, are forced to balance work and life demands.

Moreover, women struggle to become leaders at work because they are forced to reconcile traditional feminine traits (such as compassion) with leadership traits (assertiveness). Consequently, female leaders are seen as more abrasive than male leaders because they’re challenging traditional ideas about femininity. Hilary Clinton’s crying during the 2008 presidential campaign is a great example of this challenge women face because although she had showed her eloquence and tact throughout the campaign, the media accused her of being too emotional to handle the difficult job of president. Ridiculous, but I digress. 

Okay, so the United States has passed legislation that is supposed to prevent pay discrimination including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. And yet the disparity still exists. What that says to me is that the laws we have in place are ineffective for whatever reason and that additional legislation needs to be passed to correct this inequality. 

Sounds pretty logical, right? Well, not to New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte (who, let me point out, is a woman). I’m incredibly disappointed that she voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill stipulated that employer’s pay decisions must be rooted in legitimate business reasons to pay one employee more than another. Examples include education, training or experience, rather than something completely arbitrary. It also provides protections for women, like preventing employers from taking action employees who try to discover how their pay compares to their colleagues’. 

By voting nay to this bill, Ayotte is allowing employers to make arbitrary decisions about how women are paid. She is also limiting female employees from finding out about pay discrepancies at work, which further reduces their power. I suppose as a senator she doesn’t think this issue impacts her personally and thus voted against it. That’s the only explanation I have for her decision to deny the 76.2 million working women (http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womencensus1.html) a chance for a better and more equal workplace. 

As a New Hampshire resident, woman and job-seeker, I’m incredibly disappointed at Ayotte’s vote. She is a terrible representative for the United States in general and New Hampshire specifically. I’m embarrassed that she represents my state and I eagerly await the end of her term. Maybe then she’ll have to grapple with this issue herself. Probably not, but I can dream, can’t I?

 

Advertisements

You’ve probably seen this story already, but if you haven’t, check it out. http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/25/19140887-texas-abortion-bill-fails-to-pass-after-epic-filibuster?lite

I’m so happy to see Sen. Wendy Davis and countless Texas residents standing up for such an important issue.

Without Sen. Davis’ hard work, abortion in Texas would be virtually illegal. The new provisions would only allow ambulatory surgery centers within 30 miles of a hospital to perform abortions. In a state as large and rural as Texas, this model would simply not work. Had the bill passed, only 42 clinics could have performed abortions. Texas women would have had to drive hundreds of miles.

This issue reminds me of so many others in that lawmakers sneakily attempted to take away people’s rights. The Republican-majority senate in Texas didn’t flat-out outlaw abortions, but they constructed a bill that would essentially do that. Moreover, this story illustrates how those in power are trying to place barriers to block their constituents from practicing basic rights.

This story was also powerful because Sen. Davis’ filibuster was voted down at 11:45 PM because she strayed from the topic too much. Needing to fill 15 minutes so the bill could not be passed yesterday, abortion rights supporters cheered and shouted to distract the senators from voting.

This is a great example of what can be achieved when people stand up for what they believe in. It’s daunting to stare down senators or big corporations standing in the way of something you want. For that reason, a lot of people simply give up and kowtow to what powerful people want. With enough strength and determination, however, those of us who do not have power can beat the big guys.

I’d like to start out with Wal-Mart. Recently the Walmart corporation has released “The Real Walmart” commercials. These 30-second spots feature real shoppers and employees discussing the merits of the company.

Here are a few clips if you haven’t seen them
Normally I fast forward through commercials, mute them or leave the room when they come on. But the level of deceit Wal-Mart is utilizing in these ads caught my attention.
Let me highlight the issues and reveal the truth.
 
What Wal-Mart Says
Shopper: “I find what I need at a great price and the money I save goes to important things”
What is True
·         Behind those low prices are under compensated employees and small businesses being run out of business
See: Wal-Mart- The High Cost of Low Price http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jazb24Q2s94
What This Means
Wal-Mart is able to offer their low prices because they’re big corporate bullies
 
 
What Wal-Mart Says
Nathanial: “I am the next American success story…there’s opportunity here” and Voice-over: “Opportunity, that’s the real Wal-Mart”
What is True
·         Social mobility in America is a myth.
·         Social mobility in the United States is about the same as in Britain and Italy, Europe’s least mobile countries
See:
What This Means
Nathaniel will probably stay at Wal-Mart as an hourly associate while the Waltons keep raking in the billions
 
 
What Wal-Mart Says
Nathaniel: “I can use Walmart’s education benefits to get a degree” and Voice- over: “Living better, that’s the real Wal-Mart”
What is True
·         Wal-Mart employees barely make enough money to afford food, rent and health care, let alone pursue higher education
See:
What This Means
Nathaniel (and other hourly workers) will probably stay at Wal-Mart as hourly associates while the Waltons keep raking in the billions
 
 
What Wal-Mart Says
Nathaniel: “Maybe…be an engineer, helping Wal-Mart conserve energy”
What is True
·         Wal-Mart is pressuring manufacturers to lower their prices, which has resulted in poor-quality products, which leads to people needing to buy more stuff, which means more goods ending up in landfills and more energy expended making products
·         Wal-Mart pretty much builds stores wherever they want, with little regard for the environmental impact
·         Wal-Mart has a 25% share of the country’s grocery store market, which has led to agricultural consolidation and industrialization, which harms the environment
·         Wal-Mart supports conservative candidates and foundations who are anti-environment e.g  $2.6 million to George W. Bush.
See:
What This Means
Wal-Mart is employing a green washing scheme to convince Americans that it cares about the environment, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
So you see, in only a minute, Wal-Mart has spewed a bunch of lies. But they’ll keep getting away with paying poor wages, ruining the environment and widening the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”  if consumers keep watching ads passively and failing to question the truth. Pay attention, don’t mindlessly watch advertisements and always seek out the truth.

I’m 21. I just graduated college. Now what? Sound familiar? Of course it does. It’s the existential crisis that not only a recent graduate, but anyone who finishes one part of their lives, has when deciding where to go next.

 This is the first time in my life that I’ve really had to evaluate what I want now, what I want in the near future and ultimately what I’d like to accomplish long-term. Sure, I’ve asked myself similar questions from the age of 5, but until now, I had summer camp, reading lists, pre-season sports training, SAT studying and summer research to occupy my time. With all of these obligations removed, I realized that I’m pretty aimless.

 I know that I want to attend graduate school and that I want a career that matters, but with so many interests, I don’t feel like I can choose one right now and be happy. So, I’m trying them all and seeing what happens. At the risk of sounding like a personals advertisement, I enjoy reading, writing, running, cooking, learning new languages, traveling and watching documentaries. It’s that last one that inspired this blog.

 This past weekend I watched The Revisionaries (http://www.therevisionariesmovie.com/about.html). The film describes how conservative ideologies have infiltrated the Texas School Board and how these viewpoints have negatively impacted  the science and social studies curricula in Texas.

 I also watched This Film is Not Yet Rated (http://kirbydick.com/thisfilmisnotyetrated.html). It examines the inadequacies, secrets and inconsistencies in the Motion Picture Association of America’s film rating system.

 Like many documentaries, both films made me frightened of modern America. Through watching these, and other films like Sicko, The Education of Shelby Knox, Food Inc., Gasland and For the Bible Tells Me So,  I’ve come to see just how bad things are here. And I’m angry about it.

 Throughout school I was taught that America is the best country in the world (so-called American exceptionalism). But in the past three years, I’ve witnessed millions of my countrymen/women denied health care, I’ve seen rich old men argue about the availability of  birth control and abortions, I’ve learned that I’ll never learn what is in most of our food, that making money is more important than protecting the only environment we have, and finally, that religious dogma can be used to deny so many people their basic civil right to marry.

 I’ve spent enough time reading about and watching these travesties unfold. Now, I want to do something about it. Maybe a first attempt at blogging won’t spur on all of the changes I’d like to see in this country, but it’s worth a shot.