The Center for American Progress partnered with Maria Shriver to put together The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, which chronicles the ways in which the ongoing recession has affected American women. It’s a fascinating collection of everything from photojournalism to first-hand accounts of women workers, increasing numbers of whom are the breadwinners in their families. And it’s also got testimonials from men and women with enormous cultural power, some of whom have been increasingly vocal about their feminism both in their work as advocates, and in their artistic work. I wanted to highlight three of those ideas.
1. From Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, men and women need to be equally invested in pay equality: Knowles-Carter writes in her essay in the report that:
Unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change. Men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters earn more—commensurate with their qualifications and not their gender. Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect.
Humanity requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another. So why are we viewed as less than equal? These old attitudes are drilled into us from the very beginning. We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.
One thing I think she might have added is that we should teach boys and men that it’s in their interests for the women in their lives not to experience pay discrimination. If your wife is paid fairly, your household income goes up, and your family as a whole is less vulnerable if you lose your job. If your sister gets equal pay, she may be more able to contribute to the care of your parents or to help you in a crisis, and less likely to depend on you financially in case of a crippling emergency. If your mother is paid what she ought to be paid, you may not have to worry as much about how she’ll pay for your college education. Making up that 23 percent gap isn’t about redistributing income from men to women. It’s about making sure that everyone is more financially secure.
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