President Obama’s creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls is an extraordinary and symbolic move.
Similar to many other civil rights causes, our populace seems to think the Women’s Movement was a static period in history that came, saw, conquered and left to safely reside in history books. People often cite the number of women who graduate from college to support their claims that nothing more needs to be done to address the issue of women’s rights. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Without economic equality and independence, suffrage and the right to go braless means little. As even opponents of women’s rights will concede, women simply make less money. But why?
In a conversation with a friend last weekend about “Revolutionary Road,” the issue of the “Lady Macbeth effect” came up, and we agreed that the Shakespearean stereotype still haunts many a loving marriage (ironically Michelle Obama has been compared to Lady Macbeth recently too, both by her supporters and detractors). Our conversation turned to the state of our respective marriages (from my perspective as a wife, and his as a husband) and those of our same-age friends. The issues of economic inequality, or lack thereof, were impossible to ignore. We could not pinpoint males and females who worked the same job and earned different pay, but we did notice many male and female peers in the same industry, in similar “level” positions, and wondered whether their pay was actually equal, or at least equitable, regardless of their gender. Through a Google search, I found this interesting aggregation of various statistics and data, that might present a somewhat balanced view of the matter. It also defines the different and useful ways salary inequalities can be analyzed.
Salary isn’t the only issue. And with tabloid news swirling around Rihanna and Chris Brown, it is time more now than ever to ensure that our children are explicitly taught the importance of gender equality. Might is not right.
An executive order is not enough. I like Sarah Granger’s perspective at the Huffington Post. A council is a good start, but to make change we need an action plan. What issues will the Council take on, and how will it take action on these issues?
Here’s to a good start.