Mitt Romney continued his track record for awkward gender discussions during the second presidential debate this week. At one point in the town hall, a young woman asked each candidate about the pay disparity between men and women, and Obama answered the question while addressing contraception and family issues. Romney, on the other hand, managed to walk himself into another gender faux pas, writes Colorlines‘ Akiba Solomon. Instead of answering the question, the Republican candidate not only dropped the now infamous boast about obtaining “binders full of women” but also advocated another point that troubled Solomon.
By emphasizing the recruitment of women, straight-up ignoring the issue of equal pay, and classifying a standard end of the workday as a perk, Romney is actually advocating for cheaper labor along gender lines!
Romney presented a perfect opportunity for a discussion about how race and ethnicity compounds gendered pay inequity. According to the American Association of University Women, full-time women workers overall make 77 cents for every dollar men make. Compared to white men, Latinas make only 60 cents on the dollar and black women make 70 cents. Gay and transgender people — particularly transwomen — are also paid less than heterosexual men for the same work. Predictably, race matters here as well.
I’m not naive enough to expect President Obama to discuss persistent and racialized police brutality, racial profiling or the prison industrial complex he’s helped to expand due to his immigration policies. But damn, pay equity was an ideal entry point for normalizing what is obvious. Much in the same way he’s incorporated the feminist idea that contraception is an economic issue for women and families, and that pay equity is a family issue, the president should be able to expand his rhetoric to encompass the facts of race and gender identity.
Read Akiba Solomon’s entire piece at Colorlines.
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