Thursday, January 29, 2009

Women in Red

Surrounded by women in red (from scarlet to crimson, I'm not kidding!) and men in black (ok, some wore navy too), President Obama signed his first piece of legislation today. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act purportedly aims to prevent discrimination against women. Except the Paycheck Fairness Act actually does that. The Lilly Ledbetter just changes the statute of limitations so that you can wake up after 19 years and demand back wages instead of negotiating your contract when you should have.

Doesn't 19 years of silence imply an acceptance of your salary? Isn't this a perfect example of when statute of limitations should apply? If you raped someone or burglarized their house, I don't care if its 2 years or 5 years later, you still hurt them. Nobody's going to say that you must have accepted the rape or burglary as fair. But we have a statute of limitations for those cases. Here, when we speak of a negotiated and clearly accepted salary offer, we are erasing the statute of limitations.

Btw, I'm not saying the Act is a bad idea. I'm just saying that maybe its not something to grandly brag about passing. This is the kind of thing that you might pass because you see you need it given the prevailing problems, not because you're proud of it.

The starkly uneven dress code at the signing was either meant to make it clear who the bill is supposed to help, or reveal the not-so-subtle undertones of a feminism so radical it doesn't even sound like radical feminism. Either way, equality is what it did not imply.

Michelle Obama took the opportunity to follow Oprah's lead in calling every random person under the sun "one of my favorite people". Lilly Ledbetter, for saving her salary discrimination lawsuit until she was ready to retire (presumably so she wouldn't have to fear reprisals from her employer), fighting it all the way to the Supreme Court - and losing - and still fighting till she got a new law passed, is one of Michelle Obama's favorite people.

Random Fact: The most popular time for the Internet seems to be about 4:00PM EST.

No comments: