Friday, June 15, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My open letter to the GOP on their choice to block an up or down vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Dear Senate Republicans,
It's 2012. I'm getting older, and I've seen some stuff.
I grew up a pretty sheltered, middle-class kid in the burbs...but when I was coming of age, I had to battle with the authority of old white guys who repeatedly told me I couldn't play the same sports, or work at the same jobs, sometimes even take the same classes as the kid next to me, because he had a penis and I did not.
I'm in my 50's now, and I've worked my whole life in 'male-dominated' industries, and until I hit my 30's,  I earned a only a portion of what my male co-workers did.
Republicans, dear Republicans, please tell me, why is this acceptable?
I got my first part-time job when I was in high-school.
It was 1973, and I wanted that job more than anything in the world. Speaker Boehner, we've all heard you get choked-up about sweeping the floor for your family business, so bear with me here.
It was a small ice-cream shop, owned by a cranky 60-something, who refused to give me an application when I first asked, telling me,
"I don't want to hire a girl, they're too much trouble."
I told him all the reasons why I would be a good employee, gave him a list of personal references, told him I would work nights, weekends, report immediately after school was out, etc. etc, which evidently worked, because I got the job.
As I put on the white apron, and prepared to become the best soda jerk on the face of the earth, he growled something else. "Minimum wage is $1.65. I'm going to pay you $1.50- because you're a girl."
I didn't think that was fair, but was so grateful that a second-class, penis-free citizen like me was getting the job at all, I said nothing.
Then he went on. " I don't want any grab-ass going on with the boys here."
When I solemnly explained I wouldn't be grabbing any one's ass, he scowled at me and snapped, "That's not what I mean. I know what those guys do, I don't want that going on here."
I was confused. Not only was I being treated unfairly because I didn't have a penis, now I was being held responsible for the penis-holder's potential bad behavior. Because... I had a grab-worthy 17-year old girl ass, it was my fault if one of the males in his employ couldn't keep their hands to themselves.
Could you imagine why he wouldn't have had that conversation with the young men in his employ?
I'm guessing it was the boys will be boys thing, because we heard that a lot back then. I wasn't alone. This was pretty much the standard of how those of us without the 'equipment' got treated.
This whole soda-jerk-job issue came on the heels of being told I couldn't use the high school track with another female member of my AAU track team, because we might present a 'distraction' to the high school track team members who were working out. There was no girl's track team back then. This was prior to Title IX going to effect, (one year from June 23, 1972) and the boy's athletic budget for the year was 12,000. The girl's was 600- so there was no funding for a track team. There wasn't much funding for any girls' sports. Not only was there inequity in opportunity, due to gender- there was a great deal of hostility coming from those in authority- maybe because there was change coming.
Instead of embracing that change, the Principal and coaches threw every obstacle they could find in our way. Because a couple of us found an AAU team to join, we were mocked rather than encouraged. A stellar way to teach character, isn't it? It reminds me of your Republican party.
That was 39 years ago. Yesterday, you and your fellow Republicans took the low road together. You wouldn't even stand up and say, "Yes, it's OK to treat women as less than." You refused to allow an up or down vote, and didn't have the guts to say it to our faces.
I fought these battles already, when I was a kid. I'm not going back, and don't think I should have to explain to future generations why they have to.  What makes much more sense to me is to organize, talk, get others fired up, and vote anyone with an R next to their name out of office.
Can one of you, any of you please- explain why, as a woman, I should not?
Talk to me like I'm still 17, and being told it's fine that I'm going to be paid less than the kid next to me...because that sounds to me like what you're advocating.
My story is hardly unique. Ask any woman my age, they'll have similar memories. Here's the thing...we learned along the way, and maybe the fight has just begun.
Anyone out there feel like dropping a note or picking up the phone?
Here ya go...
Speaker Boehner: 202-225-6205   http://www.speaker.gov/contact
Eric Cantor: 202-225-2815   http://cantor.house.gov/contact
Jim DeMint:202-224-6121  http://www.demint.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactInformation