Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

The younger girls I know (like the Girls Editorial Board of New Moon in the photo at left) have a finely tuned sense of what's fair and unfair. They don't need to consult a mirror (or anyone else) to know what is fair. They understand justice directly and haven't reached an age when they begin to question the validity of their own perceptions.

Imagine what they will think about the blocked U.S. Senate vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (already passed by the house) to once again make employers responsible for pay discrimination for longer than 180 days after the first discriminatory paycheck is received.

They'll know right away that it's not fair. Younger girls don't hesitate to speak up for fair treatment of themselves and others. They expect to be treated fairly until society teaches them that it's "unrealistic" to expect that.

Many women, on the other hand, have trouble speaking up for our own needs and fair treatment until pushed to or over the brink by unfairness. We often find it easier to empathize with and speak up for others more than for ourselves.

Don't get me wrong - empathy is a valuable and too-rare quality in our world. I'm all for it. Let's just be sure we include ourselves in the list of those who deserve to be treated fairly. That's what Lilly Ledbetter did when she sued Goodyear after finding out she'd been paid less than men in the same job for 19 years.

There's obviously nothing fair about the widespread pay discrimination that women still contend with in great numbers. When women are underpaid for the work we do it hurts us and our entire families. And it has to change.

If the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is not passed by the U.S. Senate, our daughters won't even be able to stand up for their right to equal pay for equal work. Email your senators so they know how you feel about this and speak up for our daughters' futures, as well as your own.

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