Break the Cycle, Topple the Patriarchy

One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is Anna Faris is Unqualified. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it. Anna has on these Hollywood type guests, and together they attempt answer relationship and life questions from people who call in. A few weeks ago, I was listening to an episode with Allison Janney on it, and they received a question from a woman regarding her career. To give some background, this woman shared a story of how she went on a horrible date with this guy who got so upset she wasn’t going to sleep with him, he made her walk several miles home alone. Then, a day or two later, she went in for an interview for this dream internship she wanted. When she walked in, the same guy from horrible date was sitting there to interview her. He instantly offered her the position. Her question to Anna and Allison was whether or not she should take the internship (which is a position that people fight for and is a great career move for her) or tell the guy to shove it. After a long discussion, they all agreed she should take the position, but be careful and document everything. Anna reiterated that this woman shouldn’t have her career ruined by one shitty guy.

This story has stuck with me a lot since I heard it, and along with seeing it as a modern-day Working Girl adaption, I think it pertains a lot to women in today’s work environment.

Last Tuesday, April 4, was Equal Pay Day — which was started by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 to highlight the gap between men and women’s wages. Data from a 2016 study illustrates that while white, non-Hispanic women make 83 centers for every dollar, Black women make 66 cents, and Hispanic women make 60 cents. I shared a photo on Instagram from the movie 9 to 5. I shared it because I seriously can’t believe that movie is still so relevant to us today (since it came out in 1980). It delves into sexual assault and equal pay, two issues that are still so dominant in women’s lives in the work place. And it’s not even 9 to 5. There have been countless movies, books, stories, news segments, SNL skits, etc. regarding these issues, and nevertheless women persist and carry on. We take the jobs with the creepy bosses. We take the pay cuts and the lack of health coverage. We take these things on, sometimes even with a smile, but geezus we shouldn’t have to. We should have equal pay by this point. For whatever god you believe in’s sake, we’re doing the same work as men. Why is this still in question? As Violet says in 9 to 5, “I am your employee and as such I expect to be treated equally with a little dignity and a little respect!” I am so frustrated with the pay gap and the sexual assault in the work place. Having had to deal with both of these issues far too many times than I’d care to share, and knowing I’m not alone in that, I am writing all this out to vent, but also to keep the conversations going and see what else we can do together to make some much needed changes.

A couple things I’d like to share for now:

  1. Regarding equal pay, the NCPE offers some great suggestions on what you can do to get involved on their website: “Individuals can contact your House Representative and Senators to tell them how important fair pay is to you! Also, ask them to co-sponsor the current bills in Congress that would help to achieve fair pay.”
  2. For sexual harassment, it’s worth checking out the newly released campaign #ThatsHarassment — a film series directed by Sigal Avin and launched by David Schwimmer.

And for inspiration, I recommend keeping the following dialogue from Working Girl in mind:

Tess McGill: [pretending to be her boss] I know what I’m doing.

Cynthia: Yeah, screwing up your life.
Tess McGill:

No, I’m trying to make it better! I’m not gonna spend the rest of my life working my ass off and getting nowhere because I followed rules that I had nothing to do with setting up, OK?

We all deserve equality and to be treated with respect. These rules were created before we had any say in them. Let’s take all of this into account, start making our own rules, and break the cycle that’s been holding us back for so long.


Originally published at www.christinedrewbenjamin.com.