When Women Succeed

This morning, I got a dispatch from the White House Office of the Press Secretary titled: "FACT SHEET: Expanding Opportunity for All: Ensuring Equal Pay for Women and Promoting the Women's Economic Agenda." It details some of the things the President is doing in order to address the wage gap:
[T]he President is taking two new executive actions to help combat pay discrimination and strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws:

The President is signing an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation. The Executive Order does not compel workers to discuss pay, nor does it require employers to publish or otherwise disseminate pay data – but it does provide a critical tool to encourage pay transparency, so workers have a potential way of discovering violations of equal pay laws and are able to seek appropriate remedies.

In addition, the President is signing a Presidential Memorandum instructing the Secretary of Labor to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by sex and race. The Department of Labor will use the data to encourage compliance with equal pay laws and to target enforcement more effectively by focusing efforts where there are discrepancies and reducing burdens on other employers.
Good news for women who work for federal contractors. As for all the women who work for other employers, well, that will depend on the good will of the US Senate:
This week, the Senate is considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, which the President believes Congress must pass to ensure the standards put forward by the executive order he will sign are applied to all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The President is using the power of his pen to act where he can on this issue, and will continue to urge Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure all employers are held to the same high standard working women deserve.
Get it done, Senate.

Now, I know I am the brokenest of all broken records, but I need to mention that that the Fact Sheet opens thus: "When women succeed, our families succeed and America succeeds. President Obama believes that ensuring that women earn equal pay for equal work is essential to improving the economic security of our families and the growth of our middle class and our economy."

There's that frustrating "our" again. "Our families, our middle class, and our economy" is an improvement on "our wives, mothers, and daughters," in that at least it doesn't define women by our relationships to other people, but it still suggests that Obama is speaking to The Men of America about their country. About their women.

Which is, of course, the very point. Because there is no other reason to open this fact sheet with a concession to the profoundly misogynist idea that addressing the pay gap needs to have some sort of reason beyond "because it is the right thing to do to not treat women like second-class citizens," unless you're speaking to someone you believe needs convincing.

The whole objective of this opening salvo is to persuade people who don't benefit directly from equal pay that they'll still get something out of it.

Because "when women succeed, it's good for women" isn't enough for misogynists.

And I am just exhausted to my very bones of the President indulging that frame by positioning statements ostensibly in support of women's equality to appeal to the men who resist it.

To concede their frames is to empower them. And that will just never be good for women.

I don't get what's so difficult to understand about that.

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