Happy International Women’s Day

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether the world that my daughter will become a woman in is better or worse than the world where I grew up. It’s sometimes hard to imagine that life is improving for women in the U.S. I think that the pay gap between men and women has closed by something like a nickel an hour in the last ten years, so at this rate, even by the time she’s old enough to work, we’ll still be down at around 85% of what men make. The mommy wars have heated up quite a bit since I was a child, although that is largely due to greater job opportunities for women. Reproductive rights, after going through a major expansion, have been beaten back to a place that is only slightly better now than they were the year that I was born.

There are some significant improvements, of course. Access to child care has improved tremendously, although there’s still quite a ways to go to make quality childcare universal. We’re much more likely to been taken seriously if we report our partners for rape or abuse. The glass ceiling gets expanded a little more every year, as the percentage of women in corporate boardrooms and executive offices crawls into double digits. There are a few more women in elected offices. In some parts of the country, it’s easier to live as an open lesbian.

But it’s not enough progress, for thirty-some-odd years.

Edited to add: Check out Miriam Peskowitz’s excellent post on her own IWD activities. I wish I had been as productive on mine!

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March 8, 2006. politically motivated.

7 Comments

  1. Jennifer replied:

    You may find this ironic, but I think the greatest gains have come for men. I think men today are able to participate in childrearing and the day-to-day maintenance of the household much more than they were in the past. My husband, for example, has got kudos and a bit of envy from both his dad & my dad for the relationship he has with the kids.

    And of course women benefit from their increased involvement.

  2. kdubs replied:

    Oh I’m so with you on this. I really don’t think it’s that much better. LOL. I had to finally stop working because after several day care attempts, in “nice” places, my kiddo came home with welts and unexplained injuries. He was hospitalized twice. Yeah. And I live in the suburbs. I would get a cut in my pay for the time missed to take care of him. It was awful. It was a miserable time and I just think it could better. I think our country still does not really value the working mom, especially the single ones.

    I’ll stop. LOL.

    K

  3. miriam Peskowitz replied:

    Hey–thanks for sending me your link–mostly because I never knew about your wonderful blog–I’ll link to it from mine.

  4. christie replied:

    I agree… people are always saying that I’m so anal about this feminist thing but I feel that our battle is far from over (if ever). I say that I have to be strong and have a stick my ass about it *now* so my daughters won’t have to fight as hard as me.

  5. MetroDad replied:

    Agreed, LM. Nowhere even CLOSE to being enough progress. I think, as we look back at this era many years from now, we’ll wonder what the hell were we thinking? Why weren’t these issues addressed? Hopefully, as my daughter grows older, we’ll all be able to improve the lives of women (both at home and abroad.)

  6. Jim replied:

    I keep a box of clippings from newspapers and magazines, profiles of women who are inspirations, who have trascended the glass ceiling, whether smashing through it or simply rising above. When my girls are a little older, I intend to scrapbook these and share them with my daughters, let them know they can be whatever they want to be.

    Interesting to know today is International Women’s Day – it’s also the birthday of the daughter who appears to be the potential ardent feminist!

  7. Comfort Addict replied:

    Yes, I agree that the lack of progress is appalling and appallingly insensitive. For example, why should women be paid less than men? Do they get special discounts on groceries and housing to go along with that?

    Part of the problem is fear and a real lack of empathy. Especially in these times of economic uncertainty, I think that men are afraid of anyone (including women) who may threaten their economic status because that is how society has told men to assign themselves worth. Men, too, don’t know what it’s like to bear children, balance that with a career and know the fear of rape or attack.

    Here, as in so many other things, awareness, understanding and justice are the keys.

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