Why women have the biggest stake in $15/hour minimum wage
March 8, 2014
Raising the minimum wage is actually a women’s rights issue. This year’s celebration of International Women’s Day would be incomplete without contextualizing it within the ongoing minimum wage battles across the U.S., which have already won victories in many cities, the largest win hopefully to come from Seattle’s fight for $15/hr. Women like Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant have arisen as the pillars of the movement, because as in so many other social justice struggles, women will be the ones with the most to gain.
The gender pay gap in the U.S. is a full-blown crisis. We rank 67th out of 133 countries in pay equity, just below Yemen (World Economic Forum, 2013). Over the course of a lifetime, women will actually need an extra degree in order to earn equal pay to men with a lower degree. This is especially bad news for the 53% of women graduates who are paying a much higher portion of their income towards student loan debt than any typical worker could afford, as opposed to 39% of men in the same situation (American Association of University Women, 2009).
The current wage structure, coupled with racial discrimination, keeps women of color particularly in perpetual poverty, with Black American women earning 64% and Latinas earning 55% of the wages of white men (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012).
The Seattle metropolitan area, where the fight for $15 is strongest, has the worst gender pay gap of any major metropolitan area in the country. Seattle women are paid only 73 cents for each dollar that men earn for full-time work, which translates to a total loss for women of $7.9 billion every year. As a result, 23% of Seattle households where women are primary breadwinners fall below the poverty line (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012).
Women have a major stake in building the $15 minimum wage movement, not least becausewomen make up two-thirds of minimum wage workers (National Women’s Law Center, 2012). Women are also 60% of the primary or co-bread winners in their households (thinkprogress.org) and 70% of the restaurant servers that earn a tipped minimum wage of only $2.13/hr on average (Restaurant Opportunities Center United, 2012). So women especially have an interest in fighting for a minimum wage increase that has no tip penalties or other exemptions. (The Seattle mayor and most the city council are trying to include a tip penalty and multiple exemptions in the minimum wage ordinance, which Socialist Councilmember Sawant strongly disagrees with.)
A higher national minimum wage would significantly shrink the gender wage gap, and would benefit 13.1 million women. 8.9 million of women would receive a direct benefit; the other 4.2 million would benefit from what the Economic Policy Institute (2012) calls a “spillover effect,” where wages across the board are increased as the wage floor is lifted.
Unfortunately the implementation of a higher minimum wage is by no means guaranteed without a real fight, even after progressive legislation is enacted. One example is the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which most people don’t even know exists because equal pay still remains elusive 50 years after its passage. The Paycheck Fairness Act, meant to strengthen the 1963 legislation, has been twice introduced and twice rejected in Congress.
It has become glaringly clear in recent years that Congress is a place where working-class priorities are ignored. That’s why the minimum wage movement needs to be independent of the two corporate parties, and must be willing to demand more than just legislative reforms. This means pushing beyond the realm of what the owners of capital tell us is possible, because as long as the current global wage system continues, women will never see pay parity.
Just look at how public-sector jobs, which are mostly filled by women, were first to be gutted during the economic recession, and continue to disappear despite this “recovery” period. These middle-income jobs have been replaced by low-wage jobs in the private sector, such as in retail and service work, further emaciating the income base of women. This is a big reason why the gender pay gap has actually widened since the start of this so-called “recovery.”
In this crisis-prone system of capitalism, women and people of color will always be the first to suffer when the economy tanks, and jobs, wages, and social services are cut to protect profitability. And they will continue to suffer even after corporate profits have rebounded– unless we join together, organize unions, and demand a living wage through campaigns such as 15Now.org.
At the rate of current efforts to close the gender pay gap, it would be year 2056 before women earned as much as men (Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2012). Now that it is a Congressional election year, Obama and the Democrats are talking about gradually raising the minimum wage to $10.10 over a few years. In Seattle Mayor Murray and most the City Council claim they want to move toward $15, but not until 2017 (with many loopholes and exemptions). Any increase is a step in the right direction, but we need to demand $15 for all workers NOW.
We also need to rethink the viability of an economic structure that cannot provide a decent standard of living for the women that make up half of its population, to say the least. Something different is needed. On this International Women’s Day, women will find that their liberation is inextricably linked not only to the movement for higher wages but also the struggle against the capitalist system of wage-slavery itself.
We need to fundamentally change the structure of our society that allows a corporate elite to super-exploit women and workers of color – a system with a ruling elite that promotes sexism, racism, and homophobia to divide the working class. It is in the interest of women and oppressed groups to unite all workers – women and men, black, brown and white – to fight the capitalist elite who are exploiting and dividing all of us.
In order to guarantee equal pay for equal work and dignified work and pay for all, we need to take the top 500 corporations into public ownership. We need to establish a democratically planned socialist economy where corporations are run by councils of representatives who are paid the same as the average skilled worker – representatives who are elected by the workers and the wider public and subject to recall.
Why do guys always drive?
Even though more U.S. women have driver’s licenses, they’re far more likely to ride shotgun when a man is in the car. What gives?
Someone please drive me around
I’ll drive if we’re visiting somewhere that I’m more familiar with. Otherwise… driving seriously makes me stressed and angry and it’s better if I avoid it.
Is Gov. Nathan Deal asshole of the day for trying to deny poor people emergency room access after he denied them Medicaid?
Gov. Nathan Deal has often called on Congress to reconsider the Affordable Care Act. But on Monday evening, he pushed his former Washington colleagues to revisit a…
Well. This does not make me sad I moved away.
Also good for the kids. They encourage having slow readers read to the family pets. A dog will listen to a kid read a whole book one damn sssyl-la——-ble at a time, and it will never get frustrated, or correct their pronunciation, or start playing Angry Bird because it can’t stand listening to the slowness any more. The dog will look at the kid approvingly, because, human. Human is talking. Human is interacting.
So this is a great win-win.
i am a 26 year old man and this almost made me cry
As a feminist and a programmer, I follow quite a few of my kind on Twitter. There’s been a lot of shit going down recently involving Code of Conducts, the Github Meritocracy Rug, the seemingly constant stream of death/rape threats toward tech activists, etc. Most of it is patriarchal bullshit, but I’m wondering if we’re getting angry in the wrong way. I know women are often told to not be so angry and calm down, so I don’t want to seem to be doing that. I’m just starting to get concerned that constantly talking about how women are being assaulted when they go to conferences and events is actually scaring away more women than it is getting any sort of good result. I was thinking about going to RailsConf this year, but, after reading all of this on Twitter, I’m questioning whether I really want to go to a conference where the community is apparently constantly being rude/assaulting women. The sad thing is that I bet 90% of the people who go are great and welcoming and I would probably have a great time. But now the 10% of people who are awful are now at the forefront of my mind and I don’t really want to go alone.
There must be a balance between bringing these events to light and not scaring away the people we are trying to help. I like my job and I’m going to keep being a programmer, but all of this is making me second guess wanting to be a part of the actual community.
Oh, I know I have it better than a lot of would-be comics buyers, and that’s what worries me. I’ve had it with the self-appointed gatekeepers in comics.
I hate going into the gaming stores alone. Ugh.
I will continously write this reply until I feel it sticks. Do you want to know why many male nerds are so defensive and harsh about this?
Okey, I can with confidence tell you that the majority of us started this out as a form of escapism. I mean, look at all the tumblr posts about “I love fiction, it’s my way to handle reality” etc etc. It was the same for us. suddenly.. about, idk, 4-5 years ago, feminists started to tell us that we are in the wrong for BUYING things. Instead of going to the writers, we’re the bad guys. Comics I grew up with are being torn to pieces by people who don’t read them anyway. They’re causalized because instead of catering to us, they’re catering to people who don’t really care. I know that the majority of you will go “oh, grow up!”, but you know what? Fuck you, comics were one of the things I had growing up, I emotionally connected to the Hulk, it made me feel that maybe it wasn’t so bad to be a freak.
secondly, I don’t know why women expect to get help with everything and just give up when they don’t get help. When I started out, do you really think anyone would even care about a fat, acne-cursed kid? I did ask, once, they just looked at me and told me to just read the damn comics. So I did. I got into the middle of a story, If I liked it, I tried to hunt down the first one, or the one after. Rinse and repeat. not hard. But now! NOW! You have google, I’m not even kidding, it will take you 30 secs to find ALL information you want. I don’t know why everyone think that being a nerd is “share and share alike!”, it’s socially outcast people who have been wrecked emotionally and socially by other people. You really think that they’re gonna help you without a reason?
I know, it’s really “in” to be a nerd these days, but you’re not a nerd until you know your shit. Don’t believe me?
Being a nerd isn’t something that you flaunt, you’re not gonna get help getting into it, you’re not gonna get praise for trying to. read, then read some more, then read even more. Then doublecheck that info. Not because you’re gonna be “safe” when trying to have people acknowledge your “nerd-cred”, but because you LOVE IT! It’s not a social thing, it has never been. It’s not about sitting around a table and going “OMG! I’m such a nerd! I read a couple of books!”.
Sounds harsh? yeah, it is. But, if you love it, it won’t matter. Cuz you will still have the time of your life. And really.. no one promised to help you. want help? help yourself.
*preparing to get unfollowed by everyone*
btw, I’m not saying that no one can like the same things as me/nerds/others. I’m saying “you’re not special for doing that” and “LOVE IT MORE! If you can’t find basic facts without being spoonfed, do you really LOVE it?”
Okay, you pedantic asshole, listen here.
You read a comic by a woman who reads, cares about, and EARNS A PAYCHECK from comics, that has been reblogged LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF TIMES by other women/minorities who read, care about, and earn paychecks from comics, and you have to gall to say that comics are “catering to people who don’t really care”?
Because you were picked last at kickball and now YOU want to be the bully. Because someone told you you weren’t worthy of something, now you want to be the one to tell other people that they’re not worthy of something.
First you say “this is escapism for us men” and then you say “no one HELPED me get into it” as if having a medium LITERALLY CONSTRUCTED AROUND PEOPLE WHO ARE EXACTLY LIKE YOU isn’t the biggest spoonfeeding you could possibly get.
And now there’s a whole lot of people who don’t fit YOUR very narrow definition of what a “true nerd” can be who are FIGHTING UPHILL to be a part of this thing they love that doesn’t love them back and you have the nerve to say they don’t CARE about it enough and they’re expecting special treatment. As if it’s special treatment to BE SAFE FROM HARASSMENT, SEXUALIZATION, AND CONDESCENSION IN A PUBLIC SPACE.
No one’s taking comics away from straight white men. But I certainly wouldn’t mind taking it out of the hands of men like you, that’s for sure. You’re dinosaurs. And you’re not a REAL nerd.
Flying Solo: This 92-Year-Old Transgender Widow Is Fighting To Be Treated Like Any Other Widow
After serving as a pilot during WWII, Robina Asti transitioned to living as a woman in the 1970s.
Now 92 years old, she fondly remembers spending time over the Pacific during World War II. She was only 21 at the time.
Getting her pilot’s license at just 18, Robina became a commercial pilot and flight instructor.
In 1976, she decided to begin living as a woman “in body, soul, and mind.” The prejudice against her at that time was extraordinary.
Working as a vice president of a mutual fund, she would go to work in men’s clothing and then change in the evenings.
“It was quite burdensome, and I knew it would never be accepted then. So I quit and decided I had to live and work as a woman.”
She legally changed the sex on her pilot’s license, her driver’s license, and obtained a U.S. passport as a woman. For Robina, it was a complete rebirth.
She soon met Norwood Patton, the man who would one day become her husband.
When things became serious, Robina knew she would have to tell Norwood about her transition.
Less than a week later, Norwood came back.
Every month, Norwood would ask for her hand in marriage. Every month, she would refuse.
Finally in 2004, Robina married her longtime sweetheart in a small ceremony in an airplane hangar in Orange County, N.Y.
“It was, without a doubt, the finest time in my life.”
Eight years later, Norwood passed away at the age of 97.
After his passing, Robina applied for survivor benefits with the SSA. She was denied after it was determined she was “legally male” at the time of their marriage — despite all the legal documents she had in her possession.
“I am so insulted that the Social Security Administration refused to recognize me as a woman and treated my marriage to Norwood in such a disrespectful way.”
In June 2013, Lambda Legal filed a request for reconsideration on Robina’s behalf. After more than six months, there is still no word from the Social Security Administration.
She hopes that her case is a success, not for the money, but for “the act of humanity which is necessary here.”
Lambda Legal created this video to share Robina’s story:
That video made me cry, y’all.
Melissa McEwan, Rape Culture 101
I think I read the original article before, but I cam across this quote while reading Buzzfeed’s (yes that Buzzfeed) “What Is Rape Culture?”. It’s a great compilation of a ton of resources and articles, but this particular quote really sinks in for me. I got a dog partly because I was worried about someone breaking into my apartment. I almost never wear jewelry and used to carry just keys, credit card, and id in my pockets, to reduce the chance that someone would want to rob me. I’ve always been careful about what I drink and almost always gone out with friends. I walk around with what I can only describe as a “death glare” to reduce the chance that someone will want to harass or even talk to me. I pretty much always wear shoes I can run in. I get a car to take me home if it’s after dark, even if it’s somewhere that I walked to earlier in the day. When I was training for a marathon, our coaches told us not to run with headphones so we could hear if someone was coming up behind us to reduce the risk of us (mostly women) being attacked. My husband and my male friends do none of these things. Right now, being a woman means having to live in fear every time you are by yourself. How is this the case in any “civilized” society?