For those women who flexed their liberated muscles by opposing Hillary Clinton (because after all, what did they have to lose?), two stories from this week stand out:
“GOP Lawmaker Asks Why Men Should Pay for Prenatal Care”
“Judge resigns over rape trial comment: ‘Why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?’”
Hillary Clinton in her campaign noted that it isn’t just “attitude” or “culture” that propagates bias, but systemic reinforcement in the economy, the tax code, the courts, the law, and most especially health care and reproductive rights, that, more than anything else for all practical purposes keep women down and lacking power.
After the Women’s March on Washington and across the U.S. and the world, I proposed that women should strike to demonstrate how essential to the economy women were.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, there was just such a strike, “A Day Without Women.”
But as the big day approached, I realized it had to fail because women predominate in jobs that are life and death — nurses, teachers, home healthcare and daycare providers, legal services (the list goes on and on and on).
Consequently, the full impact of women on the economy, and in society — that women comprise half of the paid labor force for the first time in history, mothers are nearly 50 percent of all primary breadwinners and women drive 70 to 80 percent of consumer purchases — went unnoticed, and women as a political force were pretty much told to sit down and shut up, as Sen. McConnell told Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
But, as ever, Warren expressed best why “women’s issues are economic issues” and how the system is rigged against them:
“Women are the main breadwinners or joint breadwinners, in two-thirds of the families in America,” but having a child is the single best predictor that a woman will end up in financial collapse; single moms are more likely than any other group to file for bankruptcy and more likely than people living in poor neighborhoods; and single moms who have been to college are 60 percent more likely to end up bankrupt than those with just a high school diploma.
“The deck has been stacked against working women and moms for years. And with the Republicans in charge, it’s getting worse — a lot worse.” Warren noted:
Women struggle under the burden of student loan debt, child care costs that equal college tuition, make 78 cents to the dollar of her male colleague and can be fired just for asking what the guy down the hall makes (Republicans are blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act).
Mothers are 10 times more likely than fathers to take time off when their kids are sick, and 60 percent are not paid for that time off.
Too many women fear losing their jobs because they are stuck having to choose between work or caring for someone they love. (Republicans won’t even let us have a vote on paid sick time and family leave, and Trump rolled back Obama’s executive orders on parental leave and overtime pay).
Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women but the minimum wage hasn’t gotten a federal raise in seven years, and mothers of very young children disproportionately work low-wage jobs (Trump rolled back Obama’s executive order and Republicans have blocked every effort to raise it.).
Because women make less than men throughout their lifetimes, they receive an average $4,000 less a year than men in Social Security benefits (not to mention smaller pensions).
This really hurts because women are less likely to have other assets, so rely more heavily on Social Security to keep them out of poverty.
Republicans are pushing to cut Social Security for women and families and raise the retirement age, while their health care plan would also increase the cost of having health care and likely toss off millions of women and children from any health care at all.
“Donald Trump was right about one thing: the game is rigged. It’s rigged for rich guys like Donald Trump. The system works great for those who can hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists, but it leaves women and families behind. A system in which Republicans work tirelessly to rip away health care from millions of women and defund Planned Parenthood health clinics, while giving away billions of dollars in subsidies to Big Oil. A system that cuts Head Start programs and NIH medical research, but protects tax breaks for billionaires and giant corporations,” Warren stated.
And no where is this “rigged system” more apparent than in the Trump/Ryan plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a plan that will strip health insurance from millions, raise the cost for women, for older people, for the poor and sick, in order to give the 400 richest Americans — who averaged incomes of $318 million in 2014 — a tax cut of about $7 million a year, a windfall that they will happily reinvest in buying the election of candidates who will do their bidding.
Clearly, there should be a different sort of strike, one that would not require women to relinquish their work responsibilities: they should strike sex. Women are considered mere vessels to incubate an embryo (an elected official actually said that), a lesser person with fewer legal and political rights than a zygote. Because sex in Trump’s misogynistic, right-wing America has come to mean enslavement.