It's not so much the right-wingers' war on women that pisses me off -- it's the fact that they think we're dumb enough to buy their talking points.
Case in point, a Bloomberg op-ed by Ramesh Ponnuru that attempts to make the case that the gender wage gap is nothing but nonsense: We make less because we choose to work less. Or chose the wrong majors.
Here's the truth you won't hear: The pay gap is exaggerated, discrimination doesn't drive it and it's not clear that government can eliminate it -- or should even try.
Exaggerated? Hardly. Fortunately, over there on Jezebel, Katie J. M. Baker did her homework. She gleefully called out the "mansplainer," refuting his thesis by citing some stats from the National Partnership research study. Here's just a taste:
- Women in science, technology, engineering and math are paid 86 percent of what their male counterparts are paid.
- As soon as one year after graduation, women working full-time are paid only 80 percent as much as their male colleagues, even when controlling for field of study and age.
- Among all workers 25 years of age and older with some high school education, women's median weekly wages total $388 compared to a total of $486 for men.
- Women in the service industry are paid only about 75 percent of the mean weekly wages paid to men in equivalent positions. In 2008 the average starting salary of a new female physician was $16,819 less than her male counterpart after controlling for observable characteristics such as specialty type and hours worked. A newly minted female MBA graduate is paid, on average, $4,600 less at her first job than a new male MBA graduate.
- A 2010 GAO study on women in management found that female managers are paid only 81 percent as much as male managers.
- Even when childless women and men are compared, full-time working women are paid only 82 percent as much as full-time working men.
- Women are penalized for caregiving while men are not; the 2003 GAO study found that women with children are paid about 2.5 percent less than women without children, while men with children enjoy an earnings boost of 2.1 percent, compared with men without children.
(Our friends to the north, apparently, are no better. According to Canadian Lawyer and Law Times, female in-house counsel earn about 16 per cent less than their male counterparts on average. Though men tend to hold higher level positions -- which is problematic itself -- men are still making more than women in comparable roles and are twice as likely as women to have had a 10 percent raise this past year.)
Anyway. You can guess why this matters: The Republican's newly-tapped vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, a card-carrying soldier in the war on women, is on the record for voting against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, if that's any indication of where a Romney-Ryan administration would stand on equal pay. Stay tuned to hear more of this anti-wage gap rhetoric in the months to come.
The next mansplainer was actually a woman. Equally annoying was a post on Forbes.com that attempted to make the case that "pitting women against Ryan was a counterproductive sideshow." Really? The writer, Sabrina Shaeffer, is executive director of the conservative Independent Women's Forum. She says we lefty feminists have got it wrong. (She also goes out of her way to tag anyone in favor of women's rights as Left-with-a-captial-L or Liberal Democrats. As if this were a bad thing...) What women really care about, she writes, is what men care about: it's the economy, stupid. The other stuff? Health care, reproductive rights, the social net that benefits, most of all, families? Nothing but sideshow:
...a message framing experiment conducted for the Independent Women's Voice (IWV) by Evolving Strategies this summer found that while the "War on Women" narrative might please the most liberal Democrats, it actually hurts them with independents and weak partisans -- the very voters who helped put Obama in the White House.
This doesn't seem to be stopping the Left, however, from trying to position Ryan as antagonistic to women and steering the conversation away from the economy. In particular they seem focused on three issues: Ryan's views on entitlement reform, workplace regulations and the HHS contraception mandate. But as women get more information about Ryan's positions, they are likely to find him even more appealing.
Don't think so. All of which leads to the biggest scam of all -- wait for it -- which is sure to crop up before long: The sanctimonious equating of social conservatism with family values. As we've written before with regard to another family values guy:
Maybe prayer in school, opposition to gay marriage, and blowing up the safety net are the kinds of values that made your family strong. But I seriously doubt it. If the health of the American family is what we're after, the values that matter most are more along the lines of equal opportunity, access to good health care and quality education, and above all, an abiding sense of compassion.
I guess I need a mansplainer to spell out for me why, for example, a gay marriage threatens my own? Or why, if the social conservatives are against women terminating a pregnancy -- even to save their own lives -- it makes sense to limit their ability to prevent a pregnancy in the first place. Or, the greatest canard of all, that repealing Obamacare is pro-family, when statistics show, and as we have written time and again, that the main beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act are, you guessed it, women and children. Save the fetus, forget the child?
Now, you may be one of those women whose job -- and health benefits -- is absolutely secure. Maybe child-bearing is in your rear view mirror and, what the hell, you never had daughters anyway. Or you may have a securely-employed spouse who can not only pick up the tab, but the dry cleaning, too.
But then again, maybe you don't. And maybe you are, or someday will be, one of those legions of American women whose family will one day rely on any one of the entitlements, like food stamps or even Pell grants, that got the ax in the Paul Ryan House budget -- which was more about ideology than reality -- that favored lower taxes, higher defense spending, and a bunch of holes -- if not outright shredding -- of our safety net.
Which is to say: How do you like those talking points now?