Friday, February 15, 2013

Susan B. Anthony & Me

Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15th, 1820, 165 years before I was born. I have always had a deep admiration for Susan B. Anthony, one that goes beyond the simple coincidence of sharing a birthday. Even as a stubborn pre-adolescent girl with tangled hair, I understood the huge debt I owed to the early women’s rights crusaders. The fact that I vote, possess an advanced degree, and have the luxury of controlling my reproductive decisions is all a direct result of the women’s rights movement. I take these rights for granted and yet they were hard-won victories. 

Susan B. Anthony’s primary crusade was to obtain the right for women to vote. She never saw this dream come to fruition, dying before the 19th Amendment passed. Susan B. Anthony also fought for equality of pay, a battle that we have not yet won. Even today, women are paid only 77% of what men earn. Over the course of a lifetime, this inequity can mean the difference between financial security or insecurity.

On the Stephen Colbert report, Lilly Ledbetter made the following observation about pay inequity:

I was making 40% less than the three white males doing the exact same job that I was. That was a devastating hit for me because that meant my overtime pay was incorrect, what I had legally earned under the law. And it also meant that my retirement would not be correct. […]

This goes on for the rest of your life. It’s not just my pay, my overtime pay, that my children and my family had to do without. This also goes into my retirement now. [..] Now, when my retirement checks go into the bank, I get 40% less than what I should.” 

Pay inequity is not an issue reserved solely for academics or activists; pay inequity is an issue that cuts into family security. Within this country, there are millions of households that depend on a woman’s paycheck. There are millions of children that are able to eat because of their mother’s salary. If a woman is only making 77% of her male counterparts, then this is an inequity that filters down to the home.

On January 15th, Elaine Dalton, who is responsible for overseeing all Mormon girls between the ages of 12 and 18, made the following statement in a BYU devotional

"Young women, you will be the ones who will provide the example of virtuous womanhood and motherhood. You will continue to be virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy and of good report. You will also be the ones to provide an example of family life in a time when families are under attack, being redefined and disintegrating. You will understand your roles and your responsibilities and thus will see no need to lobby for rights." 

Elaine Dalton is one of the few visible female leaders in a religion that has been designed to keep all authority out of the hands of women. Every decision that a woman leader makes within the Mormon Church can ultimately be over-turned by the male leaders in charge. This is a skewed and unhealthy dynamic – and yet, the impetus for change is nowhere to be found. There is simply a refusal to admit the problems. Utah is the worst state for pay inequity: the average working woman only makes 55 cents for every dollar the average working man does. This is a statistic that cuts into the well-being of children and families: every household that depends on a woman's salary has to make do with 45% less.

I don’t believe in fighting simply for the sake of fighting. However, I do believe in being realistic. There are still a lot of battles remaining before we can call ourselves an egalitarian society. To deny this reality – and to actively discourage young women from aspiring for a better reality – is oppressive at best, dangerous at worst. What about when these young women grow up and have families? What if they never marry? What if their marriages crumble or their spouses leave or they find themselves in an abusive situation? What if they end up being the sole breadwinners for their family? What will happen then? By empowering women to be the architects of their own lives, we empower all of society, families included.

I wonder what Susan B. Anthony would have to say on the matter.


  1. Happy Birthday to another groundbreaking feminist like Susan B. Anthony!

  2. Happy birthday! Ms. Anthony has been muse for me at times....

    Teddy came home from primary with a placard quoting the proclamation: all humans -male and female- are created after a loving heavenly father.... or something like that.
    I just love how "all humans" needed that male/female qualifier, because maybe the term human isn't specific enough.

    women have one tiny space to fill, and the church places a magnifier on it with holy rhetoric to keep them satisfied, along with condemning the modern woman, because, you know, she can't be nearly as fulfilled as you are...

    1. Thanks Dolly! The rhetoric surrounding women is pretty bothersome - it's easy to say nice things about respecting women but there needs to be more than that!

  3. WHY??!?!?! Why does every one believe that obvious lie?

    When you cont stay at home moms earning $0.00 form an 'employer' of course its going to throw of your stats.

    Women do not earn less than men, fact is in many fields women earn MORE than men.

    How long is it going to take this f*cking retarded lie to finally die?

    1. If you look at the link, you will see that these statistics are in regards to women that are working full time. As with Lilly Ledbetter, who was comparing her salary to the salary of men that were doing the exact same job as her, with the same amount of experience.

    2. I'll post regarding the 77% link in a few hours
      As to the Utah link - it SLT linked to Slate and according to Slate

      Methodology: The maps show the ratio between the median income of women and the median income of men, among men and women employed in 2010, for each state or county, as estimated in the Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey five-year estimates.

      Meaning the lumped everyone together from the corner office exec to the person working an AVON business and selling to her freinds.

      Hardly a fair comparison

    3. Regarding pay equity .org. Full time = 37+ hrs a week. They make no attempt to differentiate between people working 37 even and people working 60.

      Again not a fair comparision. If I were to show you a female nureosurgen working 75 hrs a week and a male podiatrist working 42, call them both doctors and then claim that the reason the guy was making less money was nothing but pure unadulterated sexism would you take that claim seriously?

      My guess is you would not. So why do you when the sexes in the example above are reversed?

    4. If you want a more realistic breakdown of the wage gap and the shoddy methods used, in my opinion on purpose, to reach the 77% conclusion read this

      Diana Furchtgott-Roth testimony to congress on the pay gap. Testimony the summarily ignored because it didnt fit the narrative they were trying to spin

      Its only 15 pages long, including the tables and charts

  4. Exactly. What's also disturbing is how people of color are also underpaid in much the same way. So, think of how crappy the situation is and how much more fighting for equality needs to be done for women of color!

    Extremely grateful for folks like Susan B. Anthony :)

  5. So, no reply on the slipshod methodology that fails to take into account any factors beyond sex?

    1. Ok, how about the fact that men make up over 90% of workplace fatalities?

      77% * 1.3 = 100

      No even though the 77% number is demonstrably false, for the sake of this one argument lets assume it is true.

      Men are 9 times more likely than women to die in the performance of their job, is the fact that they are paid 1.3 times as much that horrible given the risk of death 7 times higher than the rate of remuneration for that risk?

      Again the 77% number is a flat out LIE, but for the sake of that argument is was assumed true

    2. Also to be fair, I've never bothered to look into the numbers regarding death rates as closely as I have the 'wage gap'. They might be wrong, but even the fringe, man hating, genocidal, feminists dont dispute the fatality numbers so Ive never felt the need to look at them

  6. "Young women, you will be the ones who will provide the example of virtuous womanhood and motherhood. You will continue to be virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy and of good report. You will also be the ones to provide an example of family life in a time when families are under attack, being redefined and disintegrating. You will understand your roles and your responsibilities and thus will see no need to lobby for rights."

    Seriously? Elaine Dalton needs to update. As long as this is what Mormon young women are hearing we'll continue to see women who don't make their own choices. It's fantastic that in our day and time, because of women like Susan B. Anthony, we have a choice and staying home is one of them. But please, please, please do it because it's your choice and not 'your role'.

    And btw... Happy belated birthday

    1. Thank you Jill. In answer to one of your earlier comments, I find I have to wait to talk about these events so that I can get control of my emotions - I have a feeling you can relate, as these bring up pretty painful memories.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting - it sounds like you too have stories of your own. :)

    2. Yes, I can relate to your emotion; I live in that place too. I'm looking forward to reading many more posts from you. Not trying to promote my blog, but if you're interested you're welcome. My blog is just for yammering on about whatever happens to be on my mind.

    3. I did see your blog - it looks good. I will probably check it out a little more once I have a little more time. :)


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