Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Don't Take Your Daughters to Work Day

Especially if You Work at WalMart

Today marks 19 years since the first “Take Our Daughters to Work Day.”

In the early ‘80’s the womens’ movement was around 10 years old and many former housewives had entered the workplace. The idea (dreamt up by Ms. Mag) was for moms to show their daughters that they were MORE than just ass-wiping Mom-slaves; that they were also respected members of the business community. At least that was the Kool Aid they were selling to little girls at the time. But in the real world, as well as in Hollywood where I worked, it was still a man’s world, despite the presence of a few extraordinary and lucky women. Back then, Tinseltown still looked like that movie “9 to 5.”

Is it still a man’s world? What has changed? The economy tanked so no one has a good job. They changed the name of the annual event to “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” so it’s no longer a mother-daughter thing. Now its mission is diluted and vague. Now it’s just a workday like all other workdays except nothing gets done.

On the positive side, the best and brightest white women are now making 10 cents more than they made 9 years ago! That’s a big 80 cents to the man’s dollar.  And why am I not dancing a jig over that 10 cent gain? Well. How long should a woman wait for EQUAL FUCKING PAY, forgodsakes! That’s why I’m publishing the following rant from 2002. I’m sorry to say it’s still relevant.

Don’t Even Get Out Of Bed
Karyl Miller

It happens every April, just like death and taxes: Take Our Daughters to Work Day. As a writer on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” I was one of the new “career women,” writing about one of the new career women. While my mother's generation thought being a secretary was a stepping stone to marrying the boss, my generation thought being a secretary was a stepping stone to being the boss; Mary set that standard.

Right after my MTM experience, I won an Emmy for writing on Lily Tomlin’s special. More women won writing Emmys in 1974 than ever before in the history of the Television Academy. With such an auspicious start, could equality have been far behind? Apparently, yes. A recent report released by the Writer’s Guild of America revealed that over the past quarter of a century there have been minimal gains for women writers. The best year for women writers in Hollywood is still 1949 (when most were writing partners with their husbands)! Scary.

Today, a white woman in her peak earning years makes only 70 cents for every dollar earned by a man. I call these “gyno dollars.” So, why would a secretary take her daughter to work? To show her that despite the media spin that tells the girl she can be all she can be, and high faulting’ job titles like “Executive Assistant,” offices are still configured in the missionary position – you know – men on top, women on the bottom.

Maybe we should warn our daughters that someone is always trying to tell us we’ve come a long way, baby. The truth is the national Anti-Affirmative Action Movement is making opportunities for women disappear, and the media calls this “ending preferences.” Isn’t being a (white) man a preference?

Then there’s harassment. Even the word is STILL a mystery to men. Is the accent on the “ha,” or the “ass?” Ever since the Anita Hill Inquisition, we've known our men just don't get it. Now men think if they so much as hold the elevator for us, we'll sue their pants off.

Thirty years ago after feminist author Gloria Steinem remarked, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” millions of women got divorced and started careers where the sky was supposedly the limit. Could she have predicted that today an unmarried woman is five hundred times more likely to die in poverty than a married woman? So, despite our ambitions, maybe our mothers were right: the job of wife is still the best job most women can get. Even Steinem eventually got married.

So, this year on “Take Our Daughters to Work Day,” let's not show up for work at all! Let's not even get out of bed. Maybe it would benefit working women more if we just said no to the gyno dollars and let the whole damn office, movie studio, restaurant, store,
school, hospital or factory fall apart without us.

And after a day spent not taking our daughters to work, let’s get together on our porches and in our back yards and light up our barbecues and hibachis. Once those fires are crackling, let’s forget about making dinner for the family.

Instead, let's re-enact an indelible moment from feminist folklore: let's take off  our tops and toss our thick, petroleum-based, foam-filled push-up bras onto the flames! Let them snap, crackle, and pollute! Let a bonfire of the Wonderbras send out a toxic smoke signal that says, "We're raising a stink because we want the financial equality we were promised years ago and we want it today!"