Monday, June 24, 2013

An Update

I <3 road trips. This is pure awesome.

It has been a little while since I have been able to write (I know... I owe you a Part Two!) but soon, very soon! We had a bit of a life update: we moved to Houston! As this followed pretty closely on the heels of a baby being born and a big deal Baptism, my hands have just been full.

Some good news though:

1. I will definitely have a new post up over at GSP soonish. It is written and scheduled for the first week of July sometime. (It is sort of a repeat though.)

2. The Part Two is mostly written, it is just in my head. As soon as I have a few hours to pound it out in the middle of all the fun and exciting details a cross-country move involves, I hope it blows your mind. Or starts conversation. Whatev.

3. I have a couple other posts in draft that I am really excited about. The Cathofeminism community keeps expanding, little by little and that makes me really happy. I saw that I had a few folks on Tumblr share some things like crazy a few weeks ago and that blew my mind since I have no idea what a Tumblr is! Now I want one.

4. Share! What is your favorite post? What kinds of things do you want to be reading more about? What can I do to encourage more of your participation? Shoot me an email, write a comment, join the Facebook community and share, share, share! I love talking about all things Cathofeminism, so tell me what is on your mind. I want to expand the range of topics here, and I need your input!

Friday, June 7, 2013

"Catho-Economics" and Women Part One

One of the things that appealed to me most about Feminist For Life when I was in the middle of my “feminist uprising” was how on point their message is. FFL consistently centers on eliminating the crisis situations that force women to turn to abortion for answers. FFL consistently refuses to argue beyond that message: no position on birth control or other inflammatory issues that are beside the truest point: women deserve better.  I have been thinking about FFL’s message lately, not only because it is so good to be reminded that the feminist movement came from the minds of women that wanted better for themselves AND their families, but because often the conversation today centers on issues that are beside the point. 

As a Catholic feminist writer, I want to see the truest issue resolved in a way that preserves the dignity of all people, female and male alike, from the youngest to the oldest human. I want to see rape culture (and with it the culture of death) dissolved. I also don’t just want to write about how horrible it is that we have allowed ourselves to live this way, but I want to evoke CHANGE so that my children do not grow up believing it is the norm. I want to be a part of the conversation that turns into action and resolve.

In an effort to realize these goals, I am going to start small. I came across this info graphic about a month ago, and I saved it to the desktop.

I open the file from time to time and mull over the statistics it gives us. I think about what this reality is for women in poverty. I think about what this reality is for women in Corporate America, and everywhere in-between. I think about how critical these issues are “Catho-economically” (I make up words now. Tying Catholic social teaching to economics is FASCINATING to me, and I think about it often. This does not present itself often enough in my writing.) I am by no means an expert in either field, but I will start small. Catholic social teaching (as illustrated by my favorite graphic) and Laborem Exercens:

Please keep these things in mind as I refer back to the Economic Insecurity graphic. A few points to note:

  •           Catholic Social Teaching seeks to preserve the dignity and rights of every human person.
  •           Within CST, we are talking about a call to family, the dignity of every human person, the dignity of work and workers, etc.
  •           CST encompasses SO MUCH in this discussion (just wages, family, political responsibility) that there are different ways to interpret what it looks like in practice while still being in line with Church teaching.
  •           The Catholic Church absolutely recognizes the inherent dignity of not just man, but woman. (See Mulieris Dignitatem)
  •           Work is good. The Church is not asking of us to have a “preferential option for the poor so that we have one group that works, and one that takes.*
  •           This post has been written by someone that whole-heartedly believes in limited government interference. (When I take political quizzes, I often end up libertarian.) I do not believe the way to approach equality for women lies in government programs to address the issue, but that it comes from us. It comes from the people that make up small businesses and large corporations. Change comes from within, and my best chance at creating that change is how I raise my children.

Unlivable Wage

According to the graphic, 2/3 of minimum wage workers are women.  When we think about this in terms of family units, 2010 Census data showed that approximately 85% of single parent homes had a female head of household. The vast majority of those that are having the hardest time making ends meet are single mothers. 

How can this be resolved? I am not certain that a living wage or further raising the minimum wage would correct this long term. In the short term, these families would see relief, but as the overall economy adjusted to wage increases, these women and their families would end up in the same situation down the road. What does this mean for workers making money above minimum wage, but not living “comfortably?” What does this mean for small businesses and job creation?  From where I sit, it makes more sense to begin by tackling the absorbent costs of healthcare and childcare, though not through government programs, but creating real change in how those fields operate, and how we can make them more efficient.**

Unequal Pay

There are multiple factors contributing to the wage gap between men and women. Some of these factors are indeed related to stereotyping (successful women are bitchy, women with husbands that work do not need more money, women are not as qualified for certain jobs, etc.) but here are a few things to consider:

  •           Studies have indicated that men are more likely to ask for more money.
  •           This is merely an observation handed down to me, but it has stuck: women have the tendency to qualify their statements and thoughts more than men. A former employer mentioned this to me, and it was something that I could not un-hear. On a daily basis, I began to hear women show their uncertainty when contributing in meetings in ways men did not. I see it every day in the blogosphere: “This might sound stupid but…” “ I don’t know if this makes sense because I am tired, but…” whereas men are more likely to stand by their thoughts and work in a more ‘matter of fact’ kind of way. (Stereotype? Nature of women/men? I do not know. Just an observation and certainly it is up for discussion.)
  •           Women that work outside the home end up taking time off for pregnancy/giving birth. How does this factor into merit-based or experienced-based compensation? How can we change best business practices to reflect a diverse workforce? 

That last point leads into my next post that will tackle the right-hand side of the info graphic. I hope to have it up the beginning of next week, but life happens. Until then, what are your thoughts? Criticisms? Fresh ideas or perspective?

*One of my favorite sayings (attributed to Reagan usually, though I cannot seem to verify he said it) is “The best economic plan, is a job.” Our end goal should be self-sufficiency, and helping those in need achieve that self-sufficiency.

**This article essentially shows the efficiency of no-insurance versus insurance in the medical field. (look past the rhetoric and into the cost differences, if you will!) You can also look into the efficiency of Mayo Clinic over other healthcare organizations. The costs are drastically different. We are living in a time where more and more businesses are taking the lean theory approach. We must ask ourselves why healthcare is not doing the same. Are government subsidies giving them cause to avoid efficient/wallet-friendly policies?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

So What?

Quite some time ago, this photo was making the rounds on the Internet:

While definitely humorous, it also serves as a fantastic conversation piece. What if male superheroes did pose like the female superheroes? What if male models and female models posed the same? 

(Warning. That link is a bit racy. Funny that it is supposed to be selling clothes, hmm?)

We are seeing the blatant differences in how men and women are treated in advertising on a daily basis. Last month’s Abercombie stir seems to pale in comparison to the objectification going on over at American Apparel.

So what?

Someone points out the disturbing double standard, the media runs with it, bloggers take sides and rip it apart, memes are created and everyone is up in a frenzy over the injustice or hurriedly trying to defend it. Then what? What happens next?

Sometimes, I really, truly love a good excuse to rant. It feels empowering to get revved up and write up a great post about something infuriating as this, but what good does the outrage do if it is not followed with action?

Boycotts are popular, because money talks. The truth is though, that if sex didn’t sell, these companies would not be making money hand over fist. We have started selling the images of women as sexual objects to our children. It starts young and it is a powerful, omnipresent message. In the past, I have written about the lengths I go to in order to avoid certain styles of clothing for my children and I have had to do this basically since birth. I have seen baby announcements that tell the world to “Lock up their daughters!” I have had to sort through piles of infant clothing that wanted my son to be a Casanova and my daughter to wear a string bikini. When I pulled out the summer clothing and spent some time getting the correct sizes out for everyone a few weeks ago, I noticed that the 2T shorts my son wore had double the inseam of the 2T shorts marketed to girls. Seriously? These are kids that play and jump and run and like to move.

As puberty sets in, things only get worse. Advertising, magazines and the general theme that there is only one way to be pretty, makes it more difficult to find comfortable and fashionable clothing. How does a parent’s voice win out in a sea of sex appeal?

There are companies out there that do better. There are campaigns and strong voices that speak out against the objectification of women.  As parents and as women, we must be thorough in our approach. It is not just a matter of talking to our daughters, but our sons as well. Our children must be thoroughly convinced that they are people of value that exceeds any momentary sex appeal an item of clothing does or does not give them. Our daughters must be aware of all that makes them amazing, and our sons must be aware of what makes them amazing as well. Rape culture, the over-sexualization of our girls, and the violence and dominance thrust onto our boys can be overcome but it must be tackled from multiple angles. An end to rape culture must be fought for at home. We must teach our children how to fight against it by respecting one another.  (It must be fought for in the legal system as well, so that this does not continue to happen.)

When you create a culture that treats any group of people as second class citizens, you have ethical dilemmas and injustice such as the Texas decision. When sex is a commodity, and women are there for the sexual pleasure of men and BLAMED FOR THEIR OWN RAPE, rape culture is winning. You no longer can pretend that it does not exist.

So what now?