My mind has been on women’s issues more and more lately and I’m not sure why. I suspect it is because over the last few years the reality of being a single parent has really hit me, particularly in the pocketbook, and that reality through the prism of being female just makes societal offenses that much more noticeable. With that context in mind, you can imagine how I reacted to the story that women pay $151 billion more than men for services, products….well, just about everything!
I knew that there were some things that were unfair but this shows everything…even our mortgages and car loans. That just blew my mind. So the next time a man bitches about how poor he is because he has to pay child support, I’m going to say “just shut up”. Because there is no way in hell what the average man pays in child support (not alimony, but child support) covers the actual cost of what he would have spent on that child if had he stayed married. And it has been proven, time and time again, that after a divorce a man’s income increases on average 43% and a woman’s decreases about 38%. Now we find out that not only will she make less, she’ll have to pay more for everything AND she is more likely to have the kids the majority of the time (although the custody time thing is slowly changing).
So that story just primed the pump, as it were and really prepared me to hear the misogyny and financial patriarchy loud and clear in other stories. For instance, if you watched, listened or read about the State of the Union speech, you would know that the President made a pledge to expand preschool to every child in the nation.
No sooner were the words out of his mouth before conservative bloggers, TV pundits and anonymous commenters just about everywhere online were screaming “Soshulism!” and telling us how preschool doesn’t even work so why do it. Except, it does work. In fact, a now famous longitudinal study found that the effect of preschool versus those who did not experience it were profound. Kids who attended preschool were less likely to be arrested, less likely to have been on welfare, earned significantly more money, and were more likely to graduate from high school and to own a home than those children who had not attended preschool. Other studies have found similar good results….but hey, let’s just leave those poor kids in the projects to fend for themselves, because that ALWAYS turns out well and we NEVER have to pay any taxes to take care of them later, right?!
To add insult to injury, the preschool proposal was cast by some conservatives as some kind of giveaway and some really emphasized that it was a special gift to women. As if we’re the only ones with a stake in having kids under the age of 5 ready for school and safe. It’s a gift to the entire nation if we can reduce the number of kids who end up in prison and increase the number of healthy workers who pay taxes and participate in our Democracy. Sounds like a damn fine investment to me. But wait, I know they don’t like to invest in “other people’s” children. If that’s the case they need to go live on a deserted island because there isn’t a single civilized society on the planet that doesn’t insist that people actually give a shit about “other people’s” kids. That’s why it’s called a society.
Okay, so that all really irked me and then I read this little gem of a story. The conservative tea party Super-Pac and advocacy group, Freedom Works, seems to have a blind spot when it comes to treating women respectfully–big surprise, right? If you don’t believe me, check out this article about a sex tape with Hilary Clinton and a panda that Freedom Works president, Matt Kibbe, took the time out of his busy schedule to make. Family values, my ass…..
How about society-wide family values that understands that it matter if we invest in some basic preparation and skill set to start out in life with for everyone’s kids. Because in truth the rich and upper middle classes can afford this kind of thing. The rest of the nation can’t. And it isn’t doing us any good in the increasingly competitive global marketplace.
Furthermore, there is more proof that the effects of poverty and wealth last more than just one generation. According to Jason Long of Wheaton College and Joseph Ferrie of Northwestern University,
An analysis of three generations shows that in both America and Britain the effect of high (or low) incomes in one generation lasts for at least two more.
I’ve harped on this several times before….what happens to my financial status will affect my grandchildren. Now apply this to what happened to the freed slaves in America. Think of the millions of people who dropped out of the Middle Class or who are now barely clinging to their Middle Class status as the result of the recent Recession. The rich, who were predominately not affected by the Recession and of whom many actually increased their wealth, are thinking this kind of thing doesn’t matter, they are sorely mistaken. The gap between the 1% and the rest of us has been growing and if that gap is not decreased and if the Middle Class doesn’t recover, this Democracy is going to fall. It’s as simple as that.
So, yeah, I’m an example of a much, much larger trend. The trend that shows us that the patriarchy, particularly the financial disadvantages of women and minorities and minority women and therefore their children, has some very negative and long lasting consequences. I can see the big picture here. Can you? Can the conservatives? No, I suspect they aren’t looking any further than my vagina because I heard today that Indiana is now considering not one but two forced transvaginal probes for women who have the nerve to get an abortion. Conservatives need to stop worrying about our vaginas and start worrying about how this nation is slowly getting destroyed by bigotry, ignorance, the predatory rich and their greedy corporations.