Mitt Romney was asked a straightforward question in last night’s debate; do you support equal pay for women?
While we honestly didn’t expect a quick yes or no answer from either candidate, most of us did expect a “this is why I do” or “this is why I can’t” explanation eventually. Mitt Romney stunned the questioner and the millions of us watching at home by offering a third possibility – the tale of Good Governor Romney and his Binder Full of Women…
In a time not so long ago in a land not so far away, a great man was chosen to lead his people. When presented with a list of advisers qualified to sit beside him, not a single woman was included. “How can this be?” asked the man who sat beside scores of other men on countless corporate boards. “Surely, they must exist somewhere.”
He commanded his men to search high and low, leaving no stone unturned. Wherever women were found gathered together they were asked “are there any among you capable of serving your new leader?” Low and behold there were and a binder full of women was compiled for the Good Governor to peruse. He chose wisely and received accolades from far and wide for his progressive approach to governance.
It was also the Good Governor’s sincerest hope that his shining example would be followed by all the job creators in the land and the issue of equality would be no more.
Seriously, that was his answer.
Trickle. Down. Equality.
American women don’t require legislation for equal pay because the market will solve all of their problems. All they need is the right patron to get things started…
Romney’s answers throughout the night continually returned to the same patronizing theme. Qualified women had been excluded from achieving equality in both the private and public sectors because they were simply incapable of working past dinnertime. Women were needed at home to prevent their sons from joining gangs and going on killing sprees with AK-47s. Women must wait until after they are married to become pregnant. “If” women worked, they required special accommodations.
President Obama quickly pointed out that these special accommodations included no-cost birth control coverage, access to affordable, preventive healthcare services, and tax relief for childcare expenses. All of these issues are unique to women and prevent them from taking home the same pay as their male counterparts.
President Obama correctly identified all these issues facing working women as family and economic issues that needed to be addressed to level the playing field between women and men in the workplace. Leveling the playing field was the theme of the President’s message on many topics.
The President passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. This act redefined the 180-day statute of limitations to allow women to bring equal-pay lawsuits against their own employers. Prior to this act, the narrowly-defined statute of limitations made it nearly impossible for any woman to personally and legally address the issue of equal pay for equal work. When asked, Mitt Romney’s campaign would not say whether or not he supported the act. Romney certainly did not say that he supported it during last night’s debate…
The President’s Affordable Care Act made it the law of the land that all non-religious employers were required to provide contraceptives to female employees free of cost through a company-provided health insurance plan. Mitt Romney publicly supported the Blunt Amendment that would allow employers to opt out of this mandate due to “moral objections.” In other words, if your boss personally didn’t believe that a woman should be interfering with God’s procreation plan, he didn’t have to pay for any female employee’s contraceptive coverage.
Mitt Romney has stated repeatedly that he wants to defund Planned Parenthood – a major source for free or low cost mammograms and cancer screenings for working women.
Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, proposed a federal budget that lowered the childcare income tax credit and limited funding to other programs designed to assist lower wage-earning women with providing food and healthcare to their children.
Each of these issues affects pay equality for women as they are expenses borne by women that do not apply equally to men.
Mitt Romney does not appear to support any legislation or government program designed to level the playing field for working women. For those voters adamantly opposed to government regulation, this stance can be rationalized like so; what a company pays any employee should be based solely on management’s discretion.
This hard line, anti government intervention stance ensures that discrimination against women remains the de facto law of the land. It reinforces the stereotype that women are required to be caregivers first, dedicated employees second. It will forever be presumed that a woman will need to take time off work for doctor’s exams, to care for sick children, or to solve childcare scheduling conflicts. Women cannot be considered as equal candidates and are therefore not deserving of equal pay. These are women’s choices that run contrary to an employer’s requirements. Case closed.
Anti-choice is pretty much the GOP’s theme when it comes to women’s issues.
Women choose to work. Women choose to have sex. Women choose if and when to have children. Women require different healthcare services. Each of these choices comes with both temporal and eternal consequences, so no law of man should ever seek to counter God’s plan for women. Remember, our Declaration of Independence only states that all men are created equal…
My impression is that Mitt Romney doesn’t have much of an understanding of women’s issues or much respect for women as equal individuals in control of their own destinies.
Without getting into his professed religion’s views on the role of women, it is quite clear that he believes that every woman should have the same opportunity his wife did – marry a man from a wealthy family and raise his kids while he accumulates more wealth. This is his experience and this is what he finds ideal for every woman.
Every individual is entitled to his or her own perception of the world. Mitt Romney’s worldview offers no empathy for the majority of American women.
Why should I care when this issue does not affect me – a middle aged man – personally?
Well, for starters, I have a daughter.
I also have four nieces and as of right now, five great-nieces. One day, I may have a granddaughter or two. I want each of them to have the same opportunities that I had. I want each of them to be treated the same way that my son is.
My daughter has managed to find an employer that pays men and women the exact same pay for the same job. Her employer provides her with paid maternity leave and a position to return to. She doesn’t have to worry about contraceptive costs or access to affordable healthcare. She is valued by her employer. She is a teacher.
It is by no accident that the very same people our society entrusts to deliver equal access to knowledge and opportunity to both males and females also enjoys the greatest equality in the workforce.
Mitt Romney needs to go back to school and learn that all men – and all women – are created equal.
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