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“The GOP Presidential Primary Is Fraught With Male Anxiety”: A Phase Of The Campaign That Is Turning Positively Comical

As Chris Matthews memorably put it many years ago, Democrats are the “mommy party,” handling things like education and health care, while Republicans are the “daddy party,” concerned with things like crime and foreign threats. It’s an oversimplification, of course, but there’s some truth there, and it helps explain the persistent gender gap, with Democrats usually winning female voters and Republicans usually winning male voters.

But in this year’s presidential primary, we’ve entered a phase of the campaign that is turning positively comical in its expressions of male anxiety.

Just consider some of the things that have happened of late. Yesterday at a Donald Trump rally, a woman in the audience responded to Trump’s criticism of Ted Cruz for being insufficiently enthusiastic about torturing prisoners by shouting, “He’s a pussy!” Almost bursting with glee, Trump pretended to scold the woman, first telling her to repeat it, and then repeating it himself to the explosive delight of the audience.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz is trying to make an issue out of the fact that when his opponents were asked if women should register for the draft since they will now be serving in combat positions, they said Yes. Said Cruz:

“I’m the father of two little girls. I love those girls with all of my heart. They are capable of doing anything in their heart’s desire, but the idea that their government would forcibly put them in a foxhole with a 220-pound psychopath trying to kill them doesn’t make any sense at all.”

What actually doesn’t make sense is why Cruz thinks the military would be putting any soldier, male or female, in a foxhole with another soldier who is a psychopath trying to kill them, but in any case, Cruz is here to stand tall. As the National Review put it in an editorial today, “Men should protect women. They should not shelter behind mothers and daughters.”

This comes after Marco Rubio got ridiculed for wearing fancy boots (“A Vote for Marco Rubio Is a Vote for Men’s High-Heeled Booties,” tweeted a Cruz staffer). And after Donald Trump spent weeks mocking Jeb Bush for being “low energy.”

In other words, this race is sounding like a bunch of elementary-school boys on the playground shouting “You’re a girl! No, you’re a girl! Girly girl! Girly girl!” I’m beginning to think the whole thing should be narrated by David Attenborough, whispering from behind a bush as we watch the candidates in action: “Here, we see the males bellowing and stomping their feet in a classic dominance display, each one more puffed up than the next, until one lucky silverback, his chest heaving with exertion and a rush of testosterone, forces his competitor to slink off in shame, his genes never to be passed on.”

Obviously, much of this festival of male anxiety is driven by Trump, whose entire life at times appears to be an extended attempt to prove he’s a Real Man. But this is an old story in presidential politics; indeed, in almost every election of the last few decades there are times when Republicans have implied or said directly that the Democratic candidate is effeminate and weak, whether it was Ronald Reagan challenging Walter Mondale to arm-wrestle, George H.W. Bush saying Michael Dukakis hailed from the “Harvard Yard’s boutique,” or Republicans mocking John Kerry for supposedly “looking French” (you know what that means).

The message all this is supposed to communicate is that real men vote Republican, and if you vote for the wrong candidate then your own masculinity might be in question. In a primary campaign where all the candidates fetishize “strength” and have equally belligerent foreign policy ideas, distinguishing yourself on this score requires getting increasingly personal.

Looming in the background is the fact that whoever gets the GOP nomination will probably be running against an actual woman, not a man who can be mocked as effeminate. This complicates matters, to say the least. The sexual politics around Hillary Clinton have always been fraught with ideas about proper gender roles; indeed the most common joke late-night writers made about Clinton throughout her career was that she is in fact not a woman at all, but a man (they were particularly fond of jokes about Clinton having balls).

So it wasn’t a surprise that when a reporter for Mic.com tracked down the woman who shouted out at the Trump rally, she was happy to go on an extended riff about the size of the various candidates’ testicles and which fruits they most closely resemble. But the real target here is male voters, the ones who want to make sure nobody calls their own virility into question. To appeal to them, the candidates are turning that attack on each other. Every American male knows from a young age that the worst thing your peers can call you is a girl; some people just never get over it.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, February 9, 2016

February 10, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Gender Gap, GOP Primary Debates | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“So Much Unpaid, Unrewarded Labor”: Why Women Should Get The Rest Of The Year Off

As of October 11, the average American woman who works full time, year-round started working for free.

That’s because she makes just 78 percent of what a man makes. If a man’s pay lasts the whole year long, hers doesn’t even make it to Halloween.

Women of color have been putting in even more time. Black women have been working for free since August 21. Hispanic women have been doing so since July 16.

Even if we take into account things like the fact that women tend to go into different industries and occupations, stay in the labor force for less time (often thanks to raising children), and are less likely to be in a union, women should still walk away from work beginning Black Friday and not come back until New Years Day.

The fact that women’s work comes so heavily discounted has inspired unions in Denmark for the last five years to call on Danish women to take the rest of the year off after they reach that point—and they have just a 17 cent pay gap, one of the world’s smallest. “It’s a way to remove the gender pay gap in a split second,” Lise Johansen, who heads the campaign for the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions, told Bloomberg News. “Go to a tropical island for the rest of the year!”

Women aren’t just working for free when they leave their houses, of course. They’re working for free every day of the year when they go home and raise children, cook meals, and clean house. They devote far more time to this than men: they spend a half hour more on child care, housework, cooking, and household management each day compared to men. That’s double the time men spend on child care.

That time may not be rewarded, but it still has a value. Take the effort women put in caring for elderly parents, which they are far more likely to do compared to men. If all the informal elderly caregiving by family and friends were instead replaced by someone paid to do it, the total would be $522 billion a year. That’s a half trillion dollar gift (mostly) women give to society.

So maybe they should get even more time off than just what the gender wage gap allows, since they’re putting in so much unpaid, unrewarded labor. Given that they do seven hours more housework each week, or fifteen extra days a year, and eight hours more child care a week, or seventeen days a year, let’s call it even if they get another month tacked on to their early vacations. Being generous, that means women could have thrown in the towel when we reached the end of October.

What would happen if American women stopped working inside and outside the home for two months out of the year? It’s all obviously relegated to the world of thought experiments. Even in Denmark, where three-quarters of the workforce belongs to a union, women won’t actually heed the mostly joking call to stay away from work, and here in the United States union power is far lower.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and when it comes to the wage gap, these are increasingly desperate times. The gap was closing quickly and steadily between the 1960s and 1990s and continued to shrink in the 2000s, but over the last decade, it’s only budged by 1.7 percentage points. At this rate, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates it won’t close until 2058. While President Obama has issued executive orders related to equal pay and Democrats in Congress have proposed bills like the Paycheck Fairness Act, none of these measures will close the gap on their own. In the meantime, the pay gap contributes to more women living in poverty, relying on government benefits, and facing economic instability in their retirement years.

Maybe what’s needed is for this issue to jump from a talking point to a day of action. Perhaps if the country witnessed what it would be like for half the population to refuse to type a word, ring up a purchase, pick up a wrench, or to wipe a booger or a counter, women’s value would be brought into sharp focus. Then we might see some aggressive action to correct for the discrimination that still suppresses women’s wages. Until then, women should at least slack off as much as they can for the remainder of the year.

 

By: Bryce Covert, The Nation, November 13, 2014

November 16, 2014 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Gender Gap, Wages | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Punish Them At The Polls!”: Paycheck Fairness Act Blocked Again By Senate GOP

Senate Republicans on Monday blocked for the fourth time a bill that would strengthen federal equal pay laws for women.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would ban employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with each other, impose harsher penalties for pay discrimination and require employers to be able to show that wage gaps between men and women are based on factors other than gender.

The bill needed 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster and advance to a final vote on passage, but it fell short Monday by a vote of 52 to 40. Senate Democrats have brought the bill to the floor four times since 2011, and each time Republicans have rejected it.

“The wage gap not only hurts our families, it hurts the economy,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said before the vote. “If it were reversed, I’d be standing here fighting for the men. It’s not right.”

Republicans say they oppose the bill because they believe it would discourage employers from hiring women, out of a fear of lawsuits. The GOP has accused Democrats of staging a “show vote” on the bill in an election year, knowing it won’t pass.

“At a time when the Obama economy is already hurting women so much, this legislation would double down on job loss, all while lining the pockets of trial lawyers,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said before the last vote on the bill in April. “In other words, it’s just another Democratic idea that threatens to hurt the very people that it claims to help.”

Women working full-time in the U.S. earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar men earn, according to the Census Bureau. A small portion of that gap, economists say, is due to employers paying women less than men for the same work.

Republicans are trying to engage women voters ahead of the November midterm elections, but their opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act and other equal pay measures has repeatedly been used against them in campaigns.

 

By: Laura Bassett, The Huffington Post Blog, September 15, 2014

 

 

 

September 16, 2014 Posted by | Gender Gap, Paycheck Fairness Act, Senate | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“RNC Starts A Losing Fight Over Pay Equity”: Which Strategic Genius In Reince Priebus’ Office Came Up With This Idea?

When msnbc’s Chris Jansing asked Republican National Committee Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski in April what policies her party would support to improve pay equity, Kukowski couldn’t think of anything. It was right around this time that the Texas Republican Party blamed women for the pay gap, saying women in the workforce would be better compensated if they became “better negotiators.”

It’s incidents like these that lead to discouraging results for the GOP: “A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups – including one backed by Karl Rove – paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as ‘intolerant,’ ‘lacking in compassion’ and ‘stuck in the past.”

But that was last week. This week, as Laura Clawson noted, the RNC has a new message.

Remember the one about the man who killed his parents, then asked for mercy because he’s an orphan? Well, chutzpah has a new definition. On Labor Day, the Republican National Committee tweeted the following claim: “This #LaborDay, the White House & Democrats believe paying women less than men is an acceptable practice.” […]

Staggering. Stunstonishing. Mind-blowing. I mean, if tweeting that graphic means that the RNC is ready to line up every Republican in or running for Congress and seriously press them to talk about equal pay, great. Because so far what we’ve got does not seem to support this statement even a little bit.

It’s hard to even know where to start with a claim this audacious. Does one focus on Republican opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act? Or how about the GOP killing the Paycheck Fairness Act?

Do you highlight the prominent Republican officials who worry about what pay-equity measures might mean for men? Or focus on the prominent Republican officials who see the debate over wage discrimination as “nonsense”? Or maybe remind folks about the prominent Republican officials who are convinced that “most of the barriers” women face in the workplace have already “been lowered”?

But perhaps the toughest question to answer today is, why in the world would the RNC pick this fight today?

It’s easy to assume the Republican National Committee is just poking Democrats with a stick for the sake of getting attention – the party, in other words, is just trolling – but this is the kind of move that undermines the RNC’s own interests.

After all, this election season, Democrats would be absolutely thrilled to have a big, post-Labor Day fight over which party is more committed to pay equity.

Now the RNC wants to start this fight on purpose? Which strategic genius in Reince Priebus’ office came up with this idea?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 2, 2014

September 4, 2014 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Gender Gap, Republican National Committee | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Women Deserve Better”: Discrimination Is The Best Explanation For The Difference In Pay

Just two days ago President Obama made news in Pittsburgh by stating that equal pay for equal work not only benefits women, but also benefits families. In April, he signed an executive order that allows federal workers to share salary information and requires federal contractors to disclose more information about what their employees earn. On June 23, the Obama Administration will host a summit in Washington D.C. that focuses on creating a 21st century workplace, which includes equal pay for equal work.

The fact that this is still a topic that is making headlines in 2014 is alarming.

Almost half of the American workforce is female. In more and more situations, women are the primary breadwinners in their families. Pay disparity doesn’t just hurt women. It hurts their kids and their families. It hurts all Americans.

Opponents of equal pay have tried many times to explain away the wage gap. The most common argument they offer is that it simply does not exist. Opponents say that pay disparity based on gender is not based on sexism or discrimination, but rather on the choices that women make in terms of education, hours, and children. They argue that it is the biological and social forces that lead to a pay gap and therefore there is no point in pushing through legislation that could not possibly combat these realities. Opponents claim that discrimination isn’t the cause of the pay gap and that laws combating discrimination are not the solution.

Thankfully, the modern workplace has advanced beyond Mad Men-style sexism. However, this does not mean that discrimination is no longer a factor.

Senior advisers at the Department of Labor agree, “Discrimination is the best explanation of the remaining difference in pay.” Economists across the political spectrum attribute at least 40 percent of the pay gap to discrimination, not differences between workers or their jobs.

Sexual discrimination and the pay gap it causes are real problems and must be addressed.

Women earn an average 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, less if they are also a minority. In some professions, this gap is smaller. In others it’s wider. But no matter what the profession, even if it’s ‘only‘ a loss of 10 cents on the dollar, the gap is there, and it is solely related to the gender of the worker.

The solution is to elect representatives who recognize that equal work deserves equal pay, and that family wages are more important than corporate earnings. Just look at who voted for the Lily Ledbetter Act of 2009. If your representative voted ‘Nay‘, they believe that women should be paid less than men. Let’s get these ‘Mad Men’ out of office and allow common sense to prevail.

We are a nation founded on equality, built and sustained by women as well as men. Gender discrimination is completely and categorically unacceptable. Not only have women earned equal pay, they deserve it.

 

By: Jason Ritchie, The Huffington Post Blog, June 19, 2014

June 23, 2014 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Gender Gap, Women | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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