The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act has been throwing daggers into right wing sides, once again. It is the first law President Obama signed into effect when he took office in January of 2009, only three days into his term.
Lilly Ledbetter sued Goodyear for pay discrimination. She took her case to the Supreme Court and lost. The ruling was based on a time statute issue. According to the Court, she had 180 days to file her discrimination claim after she discovered she was being discriminated against. Ms. Ledbetter filed after six years. President Obama lifted the 180 rule for pay discrimination.
With Mitt Romney in the Republican Party spotlight, the issue has become active once again. The Republicans want to reverse and reinstate the 180 day rule. The Executive Director of the New Hampshire Republicans called the law “a ‘handout’ (note party slogan) to trial lawyers.” The “handout” goes to businesses, on the backs of women. With women without children earning $.90, women with children earning $.73, and single mothers earning $.60 to every man dollar, there is a definite issue. Are the conservatives oblivious to women’s issues or are they just egotistically imperious? The roles and responsibilities of women are complex and should be appreciated and respected, not diminished and regulated.
Every working mother knows how to juggle work with home and children. Even in dual parenting families the mother takes responsibility for the children. She is in charge of baths, homework, doctor appointments, bedtimes, parent-teacher conferences, daycare, illness, nurturing, and values. Some fathers have stepped up to the plate, but the majority of women still handle all the affairs with the children.
For single mothers the stress is much higher. Many single mothers don’t have the advantage of having a father at home to absorb even the slightest responsibility. They must work to provide, even with state assistance. All the responsibility falls on the single mothers. While at work, the single mom stresses about her children at home. She worries about their needs and how she can provide. While at home, she worries about her job and how she can excel and make more money. She worries about instilling values in her children. She becomes both the mother and the father. She doesn’t have to play time, relaxation time or even stress free time, and if she gets a night out she feels guilty.
Society usually looks down on single mothers. Neighbors comment, “Look at that woman across the street with those three kids. She doesn’t have a husband.” Single fathers don’t have that same label. For them it becomes: “Look at that poor man trying to raise those three kids by himself.” It should be the poor woman, because financially, she can’t compete with that “poor” man.
For decades, men have complained about paying child support. They complain that their ex had her nails done with his money. They forget that she paid all the bills, missed work because the children were sick, stayed up all night cleaning vomit, bought clothes, shoes, and tended to every other childcare need. The importance becomes the $12.00 manicure. She is a bad mom.
The father, sometimes totally absent, can gamble, sit in bars and drink away his paycheck, go on vacations, purchase new vehicles, and shirk his parenting responsibilities. He chooses to alienate his children. Yes, he may be arrested for not paying his child support, but that doesn’t go very far. He is usually released from jail by just giving the court what he has in his pockets. If a woman took her paycheck and did the same, she would be brought up on child neglect charges. Why is Dad allowed to neglect his children? Why isn’t nonpayment of child support a neglect issue?
It’s because of these reasons that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is imperative to the growth of women. Women depend on their jobs and are sometimes afraid to make waves. They can’t afford to take a chance and lose their jobs by filing suit against their boss or company. They need time to build the strength to face the financial demons. The pre Ledbetter law didn’t allow for that time. The conservatives disagree.
When women fill both roles they should be honored, not shamed and degraded. With 13.7 million single parents, 85 percent of whom are single mothers, they deserve a break. They work hard and they carry a burden most men will never understand. So, with the conservatives trying to cast sanctions on women, like birth control, abortions, and unequal pay, think about a woman’s real role in society: motherhood. She is responsible for nurturing the children. The children of single mothers, too, are the children of our future.