This Week In Women: A Push for Gender Equality, Obama Drops 'Mad Men' Reference
Last week, we promised you there would someday be an installation of this week in women entirely made up of good news. We’re not quite there yet, but
Stanford Rape Judge Gets Ousted (From One Case)
The Stanford rape case was a harrowing reminder that sexual assault happens often, can happen to anyone, and rapists often go unpunished. Although the nation was shocked when Turner was sentenced to a mere six months in jail by Judge Aaron Persky, it’s important to remember that 97% of rapists receive no punishment at all, according to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network.
These discouraging statistics emphasize the importance of fairly prosecuting the few rape cases that do make it to trial—something that didn’t happen with the Stanford case. This Tuesday, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen prevented the possibility of another excessively lenient punishment for a rapist when he filed a preemptory challenge against Judge Persky, which will prevent him from presiding over a recent sexual assault case.
“We are disappointed and puzzled at Judge Persky’s unusual decision to unilaterally dismiss a case before the jury could deliberate,” DA Rosen said in a statement. “After this and the recent turn of events, we lack confidence that Judge Persky can fairly participate in this upcoming hearing in which a male nurse sexually assaulted an anesthetized female patient.”
However, Rosen does not agree with the many petitions that have called for Judge Persky’s removal from office.
“While I strongly disagree with the sentence that Judge Persky issued in the Brock Turner case I do not believe he should be removed from his judgeship,” he said. The Santa Clara County Bar Association agrees with Rosen in their opposition of the recall petitions.
Obama is a Feminist, Watches Mad Men
President Obama is using his last few months in office wisely—he’s spoken out against Islamophobia, advocated for comprehensive gun control legislation, and most recently, addressed the pressing need for gender equality.
He praised the progress our country has made in regards to gender equality since the ‘60s, but acknowledged that there is still much work to be done. He also highlighted the steps his administration has taken to achieve gender equality, including advancing family-leave policies and increasing women and girls’ access to STEM education.
“We have to celebrate it, but we have to remember that progress is not inevitable,” he said. “It’s the result of slow, tireless, often frustrating and unheralded work.” And this work, of course, is often done by women.
Speaking of women doing frustrating and unheralded work, Obama also acknowledged that economic policies have not kept up with changing times. The popular statistic is that women earn 77 cents to a (white) man’s dollar, but the reality is even bleaker than that: African-American women are paid 64 cents to the dollar; Latina women are paid 54 cents on the dollar. In order to fight this rampant inequality, President Obama called for businesses to take the Equal Pay Pledge, which has been signed by companies including American Airlines, L’Oréal, and, fittingly, Glassdoor.
The United States is also the last among all developed countries when it comes to maternity leave—and paternity leave, which would place the responsibility of raising a family on both men and women, is basically nonexistent.
“Households and work arrangement come in all shapes and all combinations and yet our workplace policies still look like they’re straight out of Mad Men.”
Peggy Olson would be proud.
Gender Equality in the Military
Speaking of gender equality in the workplace, the Senate just passed a defense bill with an amendment requiring all women born on or after January 1, 2018 to register for the Selective Service. Draft service is only required of men between the ages of 18 and 26—but the draft hasn’t been used since 1973, during the Vietnam War.
Although the bill overwhelmingly passed, it did face opposition—Ted Cruz called it a “radical change that is attempting to be foisted on the American people,” and said that “The idea that we should forcibly conscript young girls into combat, to my mind, makes little or no sense.” Cruz and another Republican Senator, Mike Lee, co-sponsored an amendment to remove the draft provision from the defense bill.
Senator John McCain was a prominent supporter of the amendment. “I respect the senator from Texas’s view,” McCain said. “Too bad that view is not shared by our military leadership, the ones who have had the experience in combat with women.”
The amendment overturns a 1981 Supreme Court case, Rostker v. Goldberg, in which the Court ruled that requiring only men to register for the draft was constitutional. This is a step toward gender equality in all professions, but let’s hope we don’t need to implement the draft again any time soon.
Stay tuned to Milk for more of This Week in Women, and check out our previous installments here.
Images via ThinkProgress, AMC