Equal Pay and Protests

Chapter 9 of Media and Social Justice is on one of my favorite topics – feminism. Margaret Gallagher’s “Feminism and Social Justice: Challenging  the Media Rhetoric” begins with the following quote from a magazine interview with a man named Sir Stuart Rose:

Girls [sic] today have never had it so good, right? Apart from the fact that you’ve got more equality than you can ever deal with, the fact of the matter is the you’ve got real democracy and there really are no glass ceilings, despite the fact that some of you moan about it all the time … I mean what else do you want? Women astronauts. Women miners. Women dentists. Women doctors. Women managing directors. What is it you haven’t got?

Before I looked him up, I could just tell from this quote that he was probably an upper-class, middle-aged white man. And look! I was right!

Sir Stuart Rose

Photo by: NHS Confederation, “Sir Stuart Rose,” (CC BY 2.0) via flickr

After a quick Google search, I learned that Sir Stuart Rose is the ex-CEO of Marks & Spencer, a large British retailer, and a conservative businessman. While this kind of thought and rhetoric is more often than not found mostly in men like Rose, it has also recently been found in the minds of women.

I know I keep coming back to the Women’s Marches, but so many aspects about the marches and the backlash that followed them have been relevant and are relatable to what we’ve been reading in class. After the marches, I saw many women posting on social media, specifically on Facebook, about how they felt that the rallying wasn’t needed and why they felt that they, as a woman, didn’t need it because they’re being paid enough or have access birth control or were able to vote in our presidential election. They were sharing open letters about why they didn’t march for their daughters and why these kinds of issues are the least of our concerns. To put it into Rose’s words, they are the women that feel like we have “got more equality than [we] can ever deal with.”

This kind of rhetoric, however, is exactly why we marched. We marched because we still are being paid less than men for the same job. We marched because the glass ceiling does exist. As Gallagher points out, even though there are women astronauts and miners and dentists and doctors and managing directors, women in the UK, as of the book’s 2010 publishing, make up “less than 20 percent of members of parliament,” “earn 17 percent less per hour than men,” and only make up “4 percent of executive directors of the country’s top 100 companies” (132). So no, we’re not going to stop “moaning about it.”

Rose’s quote also made me think about social movements to boycott certain companies for their actions and beliefs. The fact that the ex-CEO of Marks and Spencer perpetuates sexism and clearly has beliefs that are so different than mine would make me not want to give my business to that company. However, Marks and Spencer is a huge retailer in England. You’re pretty much never more than a 5 minute walk away from an M&S in London; it’s hard to avoid.

Recently, there has been a lot of backlash against Uber for some of their actions. The hashtag #deleteuber, from what I saw, at least, started the day that Trump signed his first Muslim ban when mass protests erupted at airports across the country. As CNN explains in this article, while “the New York City Taxi Worker’s Alliance called for a complete stop to pickups from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at JFK airport” where visa-holders were being detained and many people were protesting, “Uber said that it was suspending surge pricing from JFK – effectively lowering the cost of a ride,” essentially “crossing the picket line.” The hashtag quickly spread across all forms of social media.

Sometime within the next day, Lyft, Uber’s top competition, sent out an email that included this:

lyft

Photo by: Sara Nicotra

I used both Lyft and Uber pretty regularly when I was going to school in Long Beach, California, whether it was for a ride to the airport or for a ride to In-N-Out. I liked Uber SO much better. After transferring to Kutztown, I would talk about how much I loved and missed Uber, sometimes so much that I thought that they should be paying me. I feel guilty for liking Uber better than a company that does the same thing that has pledged to donate $1,000,000 to the ACLU.

I don’t use Uber at all in rural Pennsylvania, but I still could not bring myself to delete the app despite the implied racism, sexism, and Trump-supporting of the company. And to be honest, I’m ashamed of it. It’s all around me (well, maybe not in the middle of Pennsylvania) and it’s just so convenient. It would be hard to get around in some cities as a tourist or a citizen without Uber, just like it would be hard to stop shopping at Marks and Spencer in England. I wish it weren’t true, but it’s way too easy to sacrifice your beliefs for convenience in a capitalist society; it’s so easy to look the other way.

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