Category Archives: Discrimination

It’s Equal Pay Day. Hard to Believe We Still Need an Equal Pay Day.

Women earn less than 78 cents for every dollar men earn. Weren’t we supposed to be past this by now?

Women earn more degrees. Time Magazine says we are soon to be the “richer sex.” There is no plausible argument that our work is less valuable than men’s. And yet, here we are.

Plausible or not, some people still believe that men should earn more money because they should support their families while their wives care for their children. Setting aside the back-handed insult to women who don’t have children (suggesting that we are not fulfilling our primary duty or purpose in life), this is also a ludicrously anachronistic perspective in an age when most mothers work outside the home and more men than ever are children’s primary caretakers, and when many families are headed by single moms and therefore at higher risk for poverty.

For more depressing statistics and information, visit the National Committee on Pay Equity’s site.

Let’s work towards the time when Equal Pay Day is relegated to the history books because equal pay has become a reality.

 

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Newcastle Beer Censors “Unattractive” Women

As far as beer commercials are concerned, women might as well be blow-up sex dolls — as long as they’re pretty dolls. But in what looks (at first) like a win for feminism, Newcastle Brown Ale is running a TV commercial featuring a female brewmaster. The commercial goes on and on about her skilled hands, showing them sifting through barley and such. But wait for the punchline:

“Why do we focus so much on our brewmaster’s hands? Because she’s not an attractive woman.”

Yes, beer companies aren’t known for subtlety, but come on. It almost makes me nostalgic for the days when they just showed pretty women but didn’t come out and say “we won’t even look at any female who doesn’t make us pitch a tent.”

I may be giving the fraternity of beer and advertising executives too much credit here, but maybe they are feeling threatened by the growing number of successful female professionals (there is one in their midst: they employ a female brewmaster) and are lashing out with a reminder that however successful, talented, or smart we are, to them we are still no more than sex dolls.

I call for a truce in the war on Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers just long enough to require Newcastle to advertise only on his show. They deserve each other. Currently, and inexplicably, the commercial is running on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.” To give them a shout-out about the ad, call The Daily Show at 212.468.1700. (They suggested I call Comedy Central Viewer Services at 212.767.8642, but that number got me to a full voicemail box.)

Then take a moment to let Newcastle (owned by Heineken) know how you feel. I called customer service at 1.877.522.4577. You can also email the company at newcastlebrownale@qualitycustomercare.com.

UPDATE: Heineken’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications, Tara Carraro, contacted me after reading this post on BlogHer.com. She said that Newcastle’s intent was to call out the “BS” in “typical beer ads that only show attractive women.” The company thought it clear that the hands of the actor playing the brewmaster in the commercial were male, and therefore clear that the comment about the brewmaster not being “an attractive woman” was tongue-in-cheek.

The problem with this explanation is that, as Ms. Carraro confirmed, the script refers to the brewmaster as “she.” The line “she’s not an attractive woman” makes no sense if the brewmaster is male. It does make sense that the unattractive woman has mannish hands like those in the ad.

I applaud the company’s prompt response to my post and the message Ms. Carraro says Newcastle meant to send. But they didn’t send that message. Changing one pronoun in the narration would make a world of difference; otherwise, the commercial should be pulled. As it stands it is not a wry commentary on beer commercials’ blatant sexism but an example of it.

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The Gender Pay Gap Got Smaller – and That’s A Bad Thing

The pay gap between women and men shrank by 1% in 2011 – that’s the good news. The bad news: it’s not because women’s pay increased – it dropped. But men’s pay dropped more. Lowering everyone’s earning power to close the gender gap echoes the story of Midas, who wished for wealth and wound up turning everything he touched (like, say, food, or his daughter) into gold. The price for his wish was too high. Women’s wish is pay equality, but not at the price of lower incomes for everyone.

Actually, everyone should wish for pay equality. TIME Magazine’s latest cover story, “The Richer Sex,” announces that “by the next generation, more families will be supported by women than by men.” Put that together with the pay gap and you find more families getting by on less income than before. It behooves men and children, as well as women, for employers to pay women what they pay men.

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