On April 10, the United States will celebrate Equal Pay Day. Held annually in April since 1996, the day is meant to symbolize how far into the year women must work to earn what their male counterparts did in the previous year. Across the country, businesses are using the day as an opportunity to offer symbolic discounts, such as a 20 percent discount to signify the 20 percent pay gap between men and women, or a 13.51 percent discount to signify the “pink tax” levied on women’s products like clothing and toiletries. However, in the year of the #metoo movement, Equal Pay Day is just one of the many pressing women’s issues that legislators have been faced with solving. Congress was engulfed in a flurry of scandal late last year when numerous congressmen were accused not only of sexual harassment, but of using taxpayer money to silence their victims. As the public demands legislative action, it becomes clear that the best curators of change are often not the ones hoping to take credit for it.
The rise of women’s movements such as #metoo and the Women’s March has sparked national conversation on a scale not seen since the 1960s. While many politicians are using this as an opportunity to gain momentum among female voters, very few are taking the necessary steps to actually enact change. Two of the most prevalent examples of this are Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. While both of these women have built their brands around advocating for women’s rights, their actions have demonstrated that their priorities lie elsewhere.
Clinton was complicit in covering up and discrediting the sexual crimes committed by her husband, willing to put the safety of her own political future ahead of justice for her husband’s victims. She has a long history of defending sexual predators: in 1975 she defended an accused child rapist, and then was taped laughing to a reporter about his lenient sentencing. More recently, Clinton’s 2008 campaign faith adviser was accused of sexually harassing another staffer, which promptly resulting in the victim being moved to a different job. Despite this history of blatant disregard for women, Clinton has cultivated a political persona as a “champion of women’s rights”. However, some voters argued that her opponent, Bernie Sanders, was actually more pro-women than Clinton.
Elizabeth Warren, a rising star in the Democratic party and a current U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, has also built a name for herself as a vocal advocate of the Women’s March, the #metoo movement, and women’s health issues. Despite giving a speech in favor of Equal Pay Day in 2016 and pledging to “continue the fight” for equal pay, it was later discovered that women on Warren’s own staff made 71 percent less than their male counterparts.In a further disregard for women’s rights, Elizabeth Warren accepted $10,000 in donations from a donor accused of sexual assault, and ignored requests by fellow MA legislators that she return the donation.
Elizabeth Warren, much like Hillary Clinton, loves to publicly align herself with feminist culture and deliver inspiring speeches about overcoming male oppression. But when it comes to aligning her actions with her rhetoric, she is much more likely to lend women a helping hand during an election year and with the cameras rolling.
In this new political climate, it may seem easy to conclude that women’s rights are more in jeopardy than ever. Luckily, small but powerful changes are being made to ensure this is not the case. On February 6, the House of Representatives voted to enact Congressional Accountability Act Reform Measures intended to make it easier for staffers to report sexual assault, to hold offending members responsible for these actions, and prevent taxpayer dollars from being used in settlements. The bipartisan bill demonstrates that women’s rights span across the aisle, and similar work is being done on a local level across the country. In Massachusetts, State Representative Geoff Diehl, Warren’s current opponent in the race for U.S. Senate, passed a bipartisan-supported amendment to the harassment-free workplace bill requiring that legislators be financially responsible for any sexual harassment lawsuits successfully waged against them. In a statement later that day, Diehl echoed sentiments heard previously in the U.S. House of Representatives, saying “Members need to be accountable for their actions. By making them pay for these settlements we will greatly discourage this bad behavior.” While it is unfortunate to live in a world where financial consequence is a main deterrent for assault, these actions by national and local legislators prove that the most effective and genuine advocates are not always the loudest.
Rachel Tripp writes about liberty from Washington, DC
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.