Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gender on the Agenda Again

The President proclaims Equal Pay Day "to recognize the full value of women's skills and...acknowledge the injustice of wage discrimination."

Rupert Murdoch isn't buying it, as the Wall Street Journal insists "There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap" and that the day is "dedicated to manufactured feminist grievances."

That tortured argument has all the logic of the claim that tax cuts for the richest Americans are good for the economy but, as I write this, my eyes light on a framed scroll on the wall for efforts to pass the "Equal Rights Amendment" to the Constitution in 1979.

It failed, of course, and women's equality today is glibly asserted by citing numbers in the President's Cabinet and on the Supreme Court. But as always, political sound-bites cover up the reality of people's lives.

From years of editing women's magazines and co-writing a book on divorce, a different picture emerges, particularly among millions of single mothers struggling to survive on what the legal system provides for them.

The one area of American life in which women achieved "equality" was new no-fault divorce laws, which leave middle-aged women with children in poverty while former husbands thrive.

Ironically, TV screens are showing HBO's bloated remake of "Mildred Pierce," about the trials of such women in the bad old days of the last century, with about as much resemblance to the original movie as a tract on whaling to "Moby Dick."

The heroine is victimized by everyone but redeemed by baking pies and serving food. As a vintage weeper, it may make viewers feel good that their lives are so different now, but in the light of Equal Pay Day, are they really?

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