Cover Story: Women's Issue 2007

Equal in Name Only

May 9, 2007 at 2:06 pm
Casey Riordan Millard

"Separate but equal" didn't pass the smell test with the U.S. Supreme Court when it came to racial segregation, and the same stink wafts around gender separation.

Title IX directs educational institutions with male athletic programs to create, offer and fund women's athletic programs. Insurance companies paying for Viagra must also pay for birth control. A woman can't be fired for becoming pregnant while on the job, and she isn't supposed to be eliminated from hiring decisions if she already is.

In the real world, women know that laws aren't always followed and that proving it is damn near impossible. On the rare occasions when evidence is found to prove unequal treatment without a shadow of doubt, the victim is the "evildoer" — not the person, organization or company breaking the law — and branded a bitch, femi-Nazi or anti-American for challenging the status quo.

Regardless, we still want to hold up Mom and her apple pie as a paragon of what's important in this life and to scream in righteous indignation when our daughters, sisters and grandmas are victimized. What is the measuring stick for female value that supports those perspectives but not equal pay?

When a young woman decided to enter the Woman's Studies program at the college of her choice, her boyfriend's exasperated response was, "What more do you want?"

The answer isn't a secret: We want true equality, not this flawed facsimile that only fools the "haves" into thinking the inequities of the "have-nots" no longer exist.

This isn't rocket science, but until the people who don't "get it" figure out what equality is, we're going to keep explaining it. It's that important.