Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Wait, What???? The Eyes of God Are Tracking Your Period . . . And You're Still Not Getting Equal Pay For All the Work You Do

When Women Became No Longer Equal, Part 12: The New Republic of Gilead Wants to Track Your Period . . . And Make Sure You Stay Poor

I'll give you the great news about keeping your poor first, since it's nothing new, and I've posted about it many times over the years. 

The Pew Research Center has just published new data in "The Enduring Grip of the Gender Wage Gap."  If you've been living and working and thinking, this clearly comes as no surprise, but even though there is nothing new, this report is still dispiriting:
The gender pay gap – the difference between the earnings of men and women – has barely closed in the United States in the past two decades. In 2022, American women typically earned 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. That was about the same as in 2002, when they earned 80 cents to the dollar. The slow pace at which the gender pay gap has narrowed this century contrasts sharply with the progress in the preceding two decades: In 1982, women earned just 65 cents to each dollar earned by men.
From the Pew Research Center,
"The Enduring Grip of the Gender Pay Gap"

And, as the Pew Research Center reports, this gap grows over a woman's lifetime:
Women generally begin their careers closer to wage parity with men, but they lose ground as they age and progress through their work lives, a pattern that has remained consistent over time. The pay gap persists even though women today are more likely than men to have graduated from college. In fact, the pay gap between college-educated women and men is not any narrower than the one between women and men who do not have a college degree.
From the Pew Research Center,
"The Enduring Grip of the Gender Pay Gap"

The report is worth a read, of course, particularly for its updated information about the ways race and ethnicity impact pay equity issues for women and for the ways education, motherhood, and marriage, in addition to age, are reflected in the wage gap. But there is really nothing new here--at my age, I feel like I could write these reports without access to any current data at all, so little has changed. And there is nothing hopeful at all in the concluding section, "What's next for the gender pay gap?" (For previous posts on pay equity, click on the label, below.)

And why is the "what's next?" section so useless. Because, as the report makes clear, "There is no single explanation for why progress toward narrowing the pay gap has all but stalled in the 21st century." 

Well, you can continue to analyze data, educational trends, economic factors, the changing workplace, and even the "sticky floors" that are underneath the "glass ceilings," but it's clear by now that those factors don't account for the problem. 

No one seems willing to say what seems most obvious to me: women don't count. Regardless of their age, education, race, ethnicity, marital status, or job, they still are not recognized as full human beings, whose worth is equal to that of men.

Which brings me to my next grim milestone on the path to dehumanizing women. The Eyes of God are watching . . . 

I would like to say I was surprised to learn that the state of Florida was thinking about keeping track of women's menstrual cycles. But I couldn't muster up surprise, much less shock or outrage. After the Dobbs decision, why the hell not take away one more bit of privacy and autonomy. 

To be specific, the Florida High School Athletics Association mandated a requirement for all student athletes--let's be clear, all women athletes--to provide detailed information about their menstrual history:
  • “Have you ever had a menstrual period?”
  • “How old were you when you had your first menstrual period?”
  • “When was your most recent menstrual period?”
  • “How many periods have you had in the past 12 months?”
This information would no longer be submitted on a paper form, turned in to a coach, but would be submitted in a digital form and submitted to school administrators

Clearly this information isn't necessary for knowing whether a young woman is in any condition to kick a soccer ball. Rather, as Sophie Haissen notes, 
As president of the Palm Beach County Democratic Women’s Club, Joan Waitkevicz, told The Palm Beach Post, requiring students to provide records of their menstrual cycle to play sports is “anti-choice and anti-trans politics rolled into one.” Collecting information on student athlete menstruation may seem innocuous or even standard practice in the best interest of their health, but, in the hands of a state government that has made overt attempts to oppress both cis women and trans folks, this data could cost already marginalized people their lives and mental health.
And there is little hope for keeping such data, once submitted, secure. Haissen reminds us that "we’ve already seen in other states how digital data has played a role in criminalizing young people for getting abortions. . . . States including Texas, Oklahoma, and Idaho have abortion bans enforced by citizens. In the process individuals are allowed to access others’ personal data to help argue their case."

Now the state of Florida's move was not a complete surprise--women had been warned that this was coming after the Dobbs decision, and American women were advised by many pro-choice groups to delete their period-tracking apps. Even the White House  told women to be cautious about storing this information on their electronic devices, warning them that such data could be used against them. In fact, after the June decision, the Organization for the Review of Care and Health Apps reviewed the privacy policies of period trackers and found that 24 of the 25 apps examined shared data:
84% of the [24]  apps allowed the sharing of personal and sensitive health data beyond the developer’s system, with third parties. At 68%, the majority did so for marketing, 40% for research and 40% for improving developer services of the app itself.
So I breathed a sigh of relief when I read that the FHSAA voted to remove the questions about a female athlete's medical forms--and then I nearly choked, because the association decided to require students to provide the biological sex they were assigned at birth, replacing the earlier question simply asking the athlete's sex. Because, you know, Florida. 

Now, not to be outdone, Virginia decided to get in on the act. In February 2023, Virginia State Senator Barbara Favola introduced Senate Bill 852; if enacted the law would have ensured women's privacy and bodily autonomy, shielding their stored menstrual date from law enforcement search warrants. 

These guys won't be satisfied until
we're all in Gilead
Photo: Calla Kessler for The Washington Post, via Artsy

It should come as no surprise that Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) opposed the bill and helped to defeat it. Senate Bill 852 passed in the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 31-9. Half of the Senate's 18 Republican senators supported the bill. But once it reached the Virginia House, dominated by Republicans, a subcommittee voted 5 to 3 to table the bill. For many in Virginia, this is a "harbinger of plans to prosecute" those who seek abortions.

And let me remind you: in 2019, before the Dobbs decision, Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, testified that his office, using state medical records, had created a spreadsheet tracking the periods of women who visited Planned Parenthood. 

And while the Trump Administration couldn't manage to keep track of the migrant children separated from their parents, they were quite focused on tracking the menstrual cycles of migrant girls who were in custody, carefully preserving all the details of their periods.

So, with four years of history, these precedents, and courts packed with Federalist Society judges, a single one of whom can make yet another decision to deny all women the ability to control their own bodies, what's next

Update, just hours after posting: Looks like I was right about what's next. In his speech to CPAC, Trump promises that, if he is re-elected, "We will support baby bonuses, for a new baby boom! Oh, you men out there are so lucky. You are so lucky, men." This is some real Handmaid shit. Keep them struggling for fair pay, track their periods, deny them control of their reproductive systems, and "boom"! Life will be good, guys--handmaids everywhere! 

If you've got the stomach for it, you can listen to it here.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Time to Cover Up, Ladies . . .

When Women Became No Longer Equal, Part 11: It's Time to Cover Up, Ladies

I usually write quite a bit when I'm launching into a good rant. But, for once, I'm just gonna put this out here, in case you missed it:
The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives used its session’s opening day Wednesday to tighten the dress code for female legislators, while leaving the men’s dress code alone.
Women need to wear a jacket over their dress or with their skirt and pants. Cover up those bare arms, you hussies! 
The Missouri House, where women "hold less than a third of the seats,"
and where this bit of legislation will undoubtedly encourage more 
women to run to become a state representative . . . 

To be honest, I'm sorta shocked women are "allowed" to wear pants. But I notice that the dress code does not say a woman needs to wear a blouse, sweater, or other top under her jacket . . . Hmmmm. 

Love this tweet, from Democratic member Peter Merideth: 

(It is also fun to note that the Republican woman spearheading this drive to ensure her female colleagues were dressed "professionally" was wearing sequins and velvet on the House floor. Yeah. Wonder what kind of job she thought she was going to . . . )

Here's a great line from The Riverfront Times: "Missouri Republicans aren't done telling women what to do with their bodies."

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Women and the 118th U. S. Congress

 Women and the 118th U. S. Congress (convenes 3 January 2023)

There will be a record number of women in the 118th U. S. Congress--149 women, a grand total of two (TWO!!!) more than in the 117th Congress. 

Of this total, 124 women will serve in the House of Representatives (91 of them Democrats). And 25 of the 100 U. S. Senators are women (16 of them Democrats). 

From Center for American Women and Politics

But before you party too hard, this number represents only 27.9% of the total seats in Congress (535). As Beth Daley notes for The Conversation: "At this rate, it will take 118 more years – until 2140 – for there to be an equal number of male and female lawmakers in Congress."

And in the broader picture? Again, here's Daley: "While women are underrepresented in governments around the globe, it is a particularly significant problem in the United States. Currently, the U.S. ranks 73rd in the world when it comes to female representation in government."

Another revealing graphic, this one from CNN