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Leveling the playing field

Letters to the Portland Phoenix Editor, May 20, 2011


A few observations on Dena Riegel's "Striking Back: Turning Feminist Theory Into a Visceral Rape Deterrent" (April 29).

First, I'm not going to talk about the Rape-aXe, and just say more power to any means necessary to prevent rape.

But I must take issue with Riegel's assertion that, in the US anyway, women lack respect and equality in a male-dominated world, exemplified by that old, outmoded adage that women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man doing the same job. It's an antiquated, apples-and-oranges stat based on career earnings, and has no relevance to "equal pay for equal work."

Teachers, municipal workers, nurses, journalists, police — in the vast majority of cases, a woman today is paid the same as a male counterpart for doing the same job. If there are (rare) inequities, yes, sue the pants off 'em, but equal pay for equal work is here, and arguments about a huge cohort of victims are just red-herrings and straw men. I mean, according to the "77 cents" rule, most female schoolteachers make far less than the guy teaching in the next room? I don't believe it.

And lest I be castigated as a chauvinist pig, here are my bona fides: My wife and I didn't want to do day-care, so I was a stay-at-home dad for 14 years — my wife had more education (and drive) while I have enjoyed a part-time (nights) job, so it was all good. Now here's the kicker: The full-time female editors/journalists at my work make the same rate of hourly pay as me, but will have higher yearly and career earnings than me. In fact, at year's end, I'll have earned — gasp! — 77 cents, or less, for every dollar they've earned. WTF! I'm a victim! No — I made a choice to hang out with the kids and take a fiscal hit for the team. And I'd do the same thing again.

As for inequality and respect: I asked my daughter, a high school senior heading to Georgia Tech to study industrial design, if her gender had ever been used — by teachers, peers, or whomever — to quash her ambitions. She looked at me like I was from another planet, suffering from old-school delusions that were no longer in play.

Lastly, today's college campuses have more women than men, and more women than men earn advanced degrees. I dunno, the playing field might be bumpy, but it looks pretty darned level to me.

Roger McCord

EDITOR'S NOTEThe 77 cents for every dollar comparison is based on year-round full-time workers, and is published in the US Census Bureau's "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009" report.


Thank you for your careful and thoughtful story (see "Free Our Food!" by Deirdre Fulton, May 6). Many of the articles so far have simplified the story into a farmers-versus-Department of Agriculture debate. It was encouraging to me to see your story, in which you didn't present it this way, but instead presented the greater complexity that neither we nor the DoA care to be at odds with the other. The greater issue is that we've lost control of our food system in our communities under corporate pressure using governmental agencies to carry out these rules.

I appreciate your considerate interview and careful attention and writing you gave to our story.

Heather Retberg
Quill's End Farm, Penobscot

Related: Portland Student Survival Guide 2010: The List of Lists, Digging into school nutrition, Context: What teachers are for, More more >
  Topics: Letters , Education, Civil Rights, sexual assault,  More more >
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