Women and girls are half of the world's population, do two-thirds of the world's work hours, receive a tenth of the world's income and own less than a hundredth of the world's property. With that in mind why would a Republican governor and legislature in Wisconsin decide to discriminate even more against women ?
Why would Republicans restrict access to health care in the event of rape or incest or screening for cervical and breast cancer and why would they vote to make it more difficult for women to receive the same amount of pay for equal work with men? Perhaps Representative Krug and Governor Walker can explain why they think that denying women access to health care is appropriate and providing women easier access to receiving equal pay for equal work through state courts is a bad idea.
Maybe they all agree with Rush Limbaugh that young women like the Georgetown University law student who want birth control coverage are "sluts". Perhaps they agree with Sen. Glenn Grothman who said in his usual stroke of brilliance that money is more important to men. And the Republicans in the Legislature follow right along like lemmings over the cliff taking away the right to sue in state courts and forcing women to go to federal court to obtain economic justice. Grothman opined that pay discrimination is a "myth," and he thinks the main reason women are paid less than men is because they put a high priority on raising children and homemaking. But when confronted by a woman legislator to debate the issue he chickened out. A real man. Maybe he could play tennis against Billie Jean King.
These Republicans don't seem to care that in two-thirds of American households the mother is the primary or co-bread winner. They don't care that the quickest way for women who draw Grothman's biggest wrath -- single mothers -- to lift themselves out of poverty and dependency on welfare are through higher-paying jobs.
I remember as a young teacher when school districts had a "Head of Household" provision in their contracts in which male teachers received higher pay than a woman teacher. I remember one of my employers telling me that I was not allowed to tell fellow employees my pay scale or face dismissal. Why would they do that? Perhaps because there was rank discrimination from one employee to the next? I remember a local employer who made women punch in and work and then when the firm was not busy they had to check out but wait around until they got busy again, check back in and perhaps be on premises 10 or 12 hours but receive only eight hours pay. That ended when I sent the then Department of Industry, Labor, and Human Relations to pay them a visit.
Women are most assuredly more economically vulnerable than men which is why they need the protection of the law. Women earn less than men. Women are more likely to be in poverty, need the safety net and they live longer than men.
Wisconsin has been a proud champion of women's rights and was the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment granting women national suffrage in 1919. It appears that this 2011 Legislature would not only not approve the Equal Rights Amendment but even oppose giving women the 19th Amendment if people like Glenn Grothman and his cronies have their way.
And apparently it's not just on the state level. U.S. Senate Republicans voted unanimously in 2010 to block the Paycheck Fairness Act that would have updated the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Apparently it has now become a platform of the party -- gender pay inequality is acceptable.
Perhaps if the governor and Legislature would stop listening to their puppet masters who call the shots they could return Wisconsin to its progressive traditions, but that is not likely to happen.
For a party that espouses "Family Values" as though Democrats have none, they certainly have a strange way of showing it. They may send mom flowers on Mother's Day, but when it comes to giving their mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts, and wives equal opportunity, they are found wanting.
Marlin Schneider is a Grand Rapids resident and former state lawmaker who represented Wisconsin's 72nd Assembly District.
Information in the first paragraph came from a paraphrase of statements from Barber Conable, the former president of the World Bank.