You Cannot Legislate Sexism

The president gave women one paragraph in tonight’s State of the Union: “Today, women make up about half our workforce.  But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.  That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work.  She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job.  A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too.  It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.  This year, let’s all come together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves.  Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds.” Interestingly, the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, and the very first piece of legislation that President Obama signed when he became president was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. However, neither is enforced, as is evidenced by the 77 cent statistic. The government cannot legislate sexism. You cannot placate me with one paragraph of empty rhetoric, Mr. President. Stand behind your words, and enforce the legislation that is already in place. I am so tired of this fight–which is exactly what the patriarchy is counting on. Yet I will not stop raising my voice to fight for what is right. Not ever.

Diane DeBella

As a writer, teacher, and speaker Diane has spent over twenty years examining women’s issues. She is the author of the collective memoir *I Am Subject: Sharing Our Truths to Reclaim Our Selves*, and editor of the anthology *I Am Subject Stories: Women Awakening*. As a long-time faculty member at the University of Colorado, she received the CU Women Who Make a Difference Award and the CU-LEAD Alliance Faculty Appreciation Award. Through her organization I Am Subject, Diane helps us understand how we—as women—are impacted by the society in which we live. By claiming ourselves as subjects of our own lives, we become empowered and also provide strong role models for other women and girls. In healing ourselves we help others—a beautiful way for women to create nurturing, supportive communities.

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