By the time most of you read this, working women across America will just be starting to earn their wages for 2012 because until Tuesday, April 17, we were working hard to catch up to what men earned in 2011.
Did you catch that?
Women who work outside of the home had to work 15.5 months to earn what men earned in 12. That is bad math, my friends. And it makes me tired.
Part of my working-for-pay-mom weariness is that during the past few weeks another wave of the Mommy Wars erupted over comments made by and responses to comments made by a politician’s wife, pitting women against women – those who work for pay outside of the home and those who don’t, a.k.a stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs).
Some want to argue this as a cultural and moral issue – whether or not women, and specifically mothers, working outside of the home, are “good” for children and society as a whole.
Others want to keep this to a policy issue – whether or not the government should be mandating or even guaranteeing rights and privileges.
And then those of us who fall under the broad banner of “Christian” may hold to varying degrees of how the Bible looks at all of this.
It leaves me tired. And sad. And angry. It’s not one thing or another. It’s not simple, even if you really, really, really want it to be simple because whether or not a woman (a mother or not) is working outside of the home, or whether or not you believe she should even be working outside of the home, she still needs to work longer and harder to earn the same average amount as a man.
And “she” isn’t just someone out there. “She” is the one typing this post and also many readers of this post.
It reminds me a bit of what my parents and grandmother used to say to me when I was younger.
“KyoungAh (my real name), you have to work harder and do better than they do (Americans=White people) so they know you are the same as they are, even though you are better.”
This was while I learned in my Korean immigrant experience that as a Korean girl I had to work harder than the boys because no one would want a stupid, lazy, ugly daughter-in-law who didn’t go to a good college and learn how to peel fruit and serve tea.
And that was before I knew about unEqual Pay Day, which spans all degrees of melanin and should serve to remind all of us that the system is broken for all of us – men and women. As a Christ-follower, I continue to wrestle with what the Apostle Paul wrote:
“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” I Cor. 12:26 TNIV
Last week I was grateful to gather at a table of leaders in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship to talk about how leadership is impacted by both gender and ethnicity. These leaders, who all happened to be women, listened and shared about the complexity of growing in leadership being fully present as women of color. I realize that not all would include Asian Americans within the circle of women of color, but in this conversation we were. We all understood that even as we discuss “women’s issues” there is an additional layer, nuancing and gift of experience we bring.
We tried, if for only an hour, to listen, to suffer, to honor and to rejoice with one another.
So I’ll acknowledge my weariness, take a nap, and get back to it. And I invite all of my brothers and sister of all races and ethnicities to share in one another’s burdens and to imagine and perhaps share some thoughts, stories, ideas of what it looks like to carry this burden with one another.