Wisconsin Women Lose Equal Pay Protections

Lest you think that Republicans’ anti-women mentality only covers knocked-up, abortion-loving harlots, here’s the newest gem out of Wisconsin, home of the “single motherhood is child abuse” and “abused women just need to re-learn how to love their abusers” schools of thought:

Last Thursday, Governor Scott Walker repealed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, apparently hoping no one would notice, since he did it just before the deadline and did not announce it until Friday. Unfortunately for him, Wisconsin residents oddly seem to care about silly things like pay equality, and I can only hope that this is yet another nail in his coffin for when his recall petition comes up for debate in June.

It’s hard for me to believe that unequal pay is still such a problem in 2012. According to the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, Wisconsin families miss out on $4,000 a year because of unequal pay. Nationally, women earn 77% of what men earn, but in Wisconsin, that drops to 75%. This isn’t some made-up, exaggerated “War on Caterpillars.” This is a real problem that affects real families struggling to support themselves in a crappy economy.

The Equal Pay Enforcement Act (SB 165) was passed in 2009, and allowed all people (not just women) to plead their discrimination cases in the state circuit court system, as opposed to the more expensive federal courts. Despite opponents’ claims that this law promoted litigiousness and hurt small businesses, “in the two years the law has been in effect, not a single equal-pay lawsuit was filed.” However, Wisconsin did climb from 36th to 24th place in terms of gender parity, and median earnings for women rose three percent. This indicates a distinct lack of “frivolous lawsuits” that the Republicans claimed they were trying to avoid, and demonstrates the effectiveness of the bill in convincing businesses to pay their women fairly in order to avoid litigation.

Since the Equal Pay Act included discrimination based on race, can I really claim that the repealing of this law is an attack on women? Well, thanks to Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), it sure seems that way. You may remember Senator Grothman as the gentleman who introduced a bill emphasizing “nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.” Grothman attempts to justify his vocal support of the repeal by explaining that women’s claims of discrimination are fraudulent, because they deserve to get paid less. Because babies:

“Take a hypothetical husband and wife who are both lawyers,” he says. “But the husband is working 50 or 60 hours a week, going all out, making 200 grand a year. The woman takes time off, raises kids, is not go go go. Now they’re 50 years old. The husband is making 200 grand a year, the woman is making 40 grand a year. It wasn’t discrimination. There was a different sense of urgency in each person.”

I’m not sure if I can really dissect everything that is wrong with that statement without having an embolism. I guess to sum up my biggest problem with it, he’s saying that women deserve to get paid less because they don’t work as hard as men, because they’re off on baby vacations raising their children. I’m sure most single, working mothers would agree that all that “time off” they’re taking to “have children” and “look after their kids” is really spent sitting by the pool sipping lemonade; and that the time they do spend at work, they’re mostly just looking at cute baby pictures and not actually working for their money.

In case you thought this wasn’t enough of a giant foot-in-mouth moment, Grothman continues to dig himself deeper by citing Ann Coulter. Yes, that Ann Coulter.

“What you’ve got to look at, and Ann Coulter has looked at this, is you have to break it down by married and unmarried. Once you break it down by married and unmarried, the differential disappears.”

Do I even need to waste your time pointing out that this is not true? According to the American Association of University Women, women with a college degree earned 80% of what their male counterparts did one year after graduation. Even after accounting for all variables such as major, hours worked, age, etc., there was still a 5% gap in earnings. After 10 years, that gap grew to 12%.

And then he kept talking. After being confronted with the results of the above study and dismissing the Association as “liberal,” he pointed out that the study did not account for “goals in life:”

“You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”

I feel like men should also take offense to this statement. It’s like he stepped off a time machine from the 1950s: men work harder and should earn more because eventually it will be their job to provide for their ladies. Women don’t care about money because they’re going to find a rich husband so they can sit back and take care of all the children, because that’s really their job. There’s no such thing as pay discrimination, that’s just the way things should be!

Maybe Scott Walker’s goal wasn’t to directly harm women (he seems more the type to just hate all working people in general), but Glenn Grothman clearly thinks women don’t deserve to be paid as much as men, and the EPEA stood in the way of his good old-fashioned values. Well now he can rest easy at night, knowing that women probably aren’t going to have the time or money to sue for discriminatory practices in federal court.

Of course the Democrats jumped all over this, wasting no time reminding people that Romney just recently referred to Scott Walker as a “hero” and “man of courage.” Guess we’ll have to wait and see if Romney sides with an influential backer, or the women whose votes he so desperately needs.

One last note, because I couldn’t let this go unmentioned: Walker also signed three other bills on Thursday. One  allows sexual education teachers in Wisconsin to completely ignore the existence of contraception during their lessons and requires them to “stress abstinence.” The other two require that doctors have private consultations with abortion-seeking women to ensure that they are not being forced, and the other does prohibits abortion being covered through health care exchanges. Still don’t think this is about women?

Please go away. Please.

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