Is it Time to talk about a Backlash against Women?

1561_A4_Email_Poster.inddNew Orleans    What is going on these days?  Seems like everywhere we turn there are attacks on women in what seems a backlash against the self-satisfied progress we had hoped we were making.

            The International Labor Organization finds that there is no country where women have achieved pay equity with men.  This includes even the Scandinavian countries, which start out pretty equal, but go the other way once women have children.

            Masked in the employment statistics for more women working are numbers like the fact that 40% of women in the United Kingdom are working part-time compared to only 12% of the men.  Furthermore in 2013 the wage gap for part-time women compared to part-time men was a whopping 36%.

            It almost seems to be a part of the standard features of our polarized political discourse in the US for there to be comments about female politicians that virtually rise to the level of human rights violations.   Needless to say part of this is the deeply held view of many conservatives that they, rather than women, should be regulating women’s reproductive choices and options.  Wendy Davis from Texas, Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri, and of course Hillary Clinton are all grist for the mill, and the fact that women’s organizations have turned the attacks into contributions, including a record $25 million this election cycle for Emily’s List, is frankly no comfort. 

            And, if you believe this toxicity doesn’t leech into the very bedrock of American political opinion then ignore the recent survey data that a majority of both men and women still believe men should be President and that men should be in charge of the 500 largest American corporations.  That’s not a glass ceiling.  That’s solid iron and steel welded firmly in place after all of these decades of social change.

            There are some fixes here, universal daycare being a major one, and more flexible work schedules being another one, but both run into difficulties in being tagged as “women’s options” rather than critical social programs for families and children, benefiting men as well.  Frequent studies find that ambition is equivalent in men and women, but simple changes in human relations departments are too often simply window dressing without real targets, according to KPMG and its recent reports.

            And, nothing disguises the flat out hate and opposition from an increasingly dug in set of men and some women who are waging what we might have hoped was a Custer’s Last Stand for a traditional role for women, but we are increasingly finding is more like an unending civil, guerrilla war, we still have not rooted out and won.

 

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