“We heard several bills last week about women’s issues and I kept thinking to myself, these bills are putting us backwards in time. We are losing the respect that we so dearly want in the workplace by bringing up all these special bills for women and almost making us look like whiners.”
That’s state Rep. Andrea Kieffer, of my home state, objecting to an omnibus bill intended to address the barriers to economic progress for Minnesotan women. The legislation would raise the minimum wage to $9.50, enhance protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence, expand access to paid sick leave and childcare, and protect women from discrimination and unfair pay.
Like Kieffer, I too wish we didn’t still need to demand these policies. I wish we lived in a post-feminist sci-fi novel. But we live in our current reality. And it that reality, as Minnesota House Majority Leader Erin Murphy explains, “women [in Minnesota] earn 80 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts.” Kieffer is free to willfully deny that reality if she wants — God knows that willful ignorance is a time-honored Republican tradition — but it’s not the policies designed to rectify it that created this reality. These bills aren’t “putting us backwards in time” — this is simply where we are. I hate to be the one to break it to you, Kieffer, I really do. Because I know it totally sucks — almost makes you want to “whine” about it, doesn’t it?
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing, which means she’s basically a professional whiner.