I have so many current ladies on TV who I look up to professionally, but with women earning an average of only 77 cents to every dollar men earn, I had to wonder: what’s Liz Lemon’s wage gap? Once I answered that question for myself, it then lead me to wonder: Holy crap. Are ALL of my favorite working women on TV underpaid? The answer: yes. Here are my top five. Who are your TV working heroines? Who did I leave off the list? Let me know!
1. Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
The very first person I thought of when I thought about hard-working women in TV was OBVIOUSLY Liz Lemon. Girlfriend works HARD. She works extremely late, keeps crazy hours, and throws her life, heart, and soul into her work – and enjoys every single second of it. Plus, female producers/directors have median weekly earnings of $1,070; while men have median weekly earnings of $1,131. Hers wasn’t the biggest or most shocking gap on my list, but $61 per week translates to $3,172 per year – that’s an awful lot of Cheesy Blasters!
Jon Hamm’s … ahem… manhood has been all over all my RSS feeds as of late. Apparently, the wardrobe people on the set of Mad Men needed to ask Hamm to wear underwear so he isn’t exposed by tight-fitting suits, and he’s been caught at unflattering angles that accentuate certain body parts, shall we say, over others.
As a result, of course, the Internet has gone crazy – multiple Tumblrs have been created in honor of his privates, and article upon article has been written poking fun at the whole situation. Hamm is pretty upset. He told Rolling Stone:
“They're called privates for a reason. I'm wearing pants, for [expletive’s] sake. When people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my [penis], I feel like that wasn't part of the deal."
On Wednesday night, the President’s new Early Learning Initiative got a moment in the spotlight on the Daily Show. Host Jon Stewart, in that way only he knows how, highlighted the importance of investing in children’s early years. My trying to recap the clip will certainly erase all the humor, so I’ll let you watch it for yourself.
Think of life like a marathon (just go with me on this metaphor). Many of America’s most vulnerable children are starting five miles behind everyone else - yet we expect them to finish on par with their peers. Expanding the access these children have to high quality early learning opportunities will be revolutionary. Read more »
My favorite part of last weekend’s Oscar ceremonies – aside from the self-confidence exuded by Quvanzhané Wallis – was Anne Hathaway’s short commentary at the end of her speech. She noted, “Here’s hoping that someday in the not-too-distant future, the misfortunes of Fantine [her character] will only be found in stories and nevermore in real life.” She was referring to Fantine’s life in poverty, where she is forced to sell her hair, and then her body, to support herself and her daughter. Fantine learns that while society values her beauty, it will also exploit her for it.
While I share Anne’s hope that cultural change is not too far off, documentaries like PBS’s Girl Model highlight how much work lies ahead. The film follows Nadya, a 13-year-old Russian modeling hopeful, and Ashley, a recruiter and former model, as Nadya is brought from her small town in Russia to Tokyo with promises of money and modeling opportunities. Nadya faces pressures to be thin and to lie about her age; although she is valued for her youthful looks, she is told to say she is 15 rather than 13. She eventually leaves Tokyo, in debt, her hopes of building a better life for herself and her family shattered.
NWLC’s water-cooler talk this morning was completely dominated by one thing: the Oscars. Program Assistants Amy Tannenbaum and Becka Wall were particularly fired up by a few things – namely, the sexism, racism, and general objectification of women that was prevalent throughout and decided to hash it out via blog post, below:
Amy: Watching the Oscars last night was such a roller coaster. There were some great moments – but overall I felt like women lost, in more ways than one.
Becka: Agreed. First of all, with the exception of Best Supporting and Best Actress, there was a serious dearth of women nominated – a notable snub was that of Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, an intense movie that captured not only the 12-year manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, but also the depth of human emotion that came with it.
Amy: Can we talk about the boob song, with Seth MacFarlane highlighting the times that actresses have appeared topless in film? It was like sexual harassment in front of an audience of millions. Charlize Theron and Naomi Watts looked disgusted and uncomfortable. Women in Hollywood are already judged too heavily on their looks. This song further moved emphasis away from what the Oscars is supposed to be about – celebrating talent and film – and turned it into a kind of sexual harassment. Plus, it wasn’t even funny! Read more »
Haven’t been watching the Suits gender discrimination story arc? Catch up on the first two episodes here and here.
Last Thursday night, the dramatic Suits gender discrimination storyline came to an end, as the Pearson Hardman attorneys discovered an email from the head of Folsom Foods explicating his reason for failing to promote qualified women. It came down to pregnancy: he did not want to give women with powerful positions within his company time off for pregnancy, childbirth, and taking care of their children. In fact, one of the few women who was in such a position had undergone a hysterectomy months before her promotion. Our friends at Pearson Hardman won the day and the defendant company had to pay for a hefty settlement to make up for the discrimination over the years. Hooray!
From calling women “aggressive” and “difficult” in performance reviews to justify their non-promotions, to assuming that women employees would be mothers first and workers second, the head of Folsom Foods relied on some of the oldest stereotypes in the book. These stereotypes are part of the reason why the wage gap has remained stuck, with the typical woman earning 77 cents to the typical man’s dollar, for the past decade. Read more »
Suits is really going in on this gender discrimination storyline – are you as obsessed with it as I am? Last night, the drama escalated: in addition to litigating a class action against Folsom Foods, Pearson Hardman has the table turned on itself as an old partner from the firm names Jessica Pearson herself in a gender discrimination suit.
Here’s where it gets interesting: Daniel Hardman, the scheming lawyer leading the charge, relies on the same sexist stereotypes about women to make his case against Jessica. He accuses her of being jealous of the younger associate and of thinking less of female employees who choose to have children. Women in the workplace often get caught in this double-bind: either thought to be un-ladylike due their ambition, or accused of being not committed enough when they have children. Hardman’s argument also relies on an equally tired story about women managers discriminating against women in the workplace. Read more »
Anybody who has ever met me can agree on one important point: I am a pop culture addict, with a list of favorite TV shows and movies a mile long. Some of my all-time heroes are fictional ones – which is why, when I think about women and girls in sports, my first thought goes to my favorite fictional female athletes – so here is my top five list:
5. Emily Fields, Pretty Little Liars
My number one TV guilty pleasure is the ABC Family show Pretty Little Liars – the scandal! The romance! The outfits! – and the series’ Emily Fields makes my list of not only one of my favorite fictional athletes, but one of my favorite characters on TV today. Read more »
I’ve been a longtime fan of the USA network TV show Suits – it’s set at a (fictional) law firm in New York, Pearson Hardman, and focuses on the exploits of a witty college dropout who has never been to law school and the firm partner who had the audacity to hire him as an associate. Last Thursday night’s episode featured Pearson Hardman taking on a class action lawsuit accusing a fictional company, Folsom Foods, of gender discrimination: they failed to promote qualified women. One of the lawyers on the case noticed that when women were denied for promotions, the company used the following descriptors to justify the choice: “high-strung,” “sensitive,” “aggressive,” and “abrasive.” These women were being passed over for promotions for reasons unrelated to their performance or their ability to fulfill their job responsibilities – but rather due to stereotypes about women in the workplace. Read more »
Given the fact that the anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was yesterday, it seems only fitting that this past week’s episode of NBC’s Parks & Recreation focused on gender equality in the workplace.
For those unfamiliar with the show, Parks & Recreation (or Parks & Rec, as it is known lovingly among its fan base) is about Leslie Knope, a mid-level government employee in a small town in Indiana. She is dedicated to her job and the town she grew up in, and many feminists and TV fans have lauded the show as an example of a great feminist character. And for good reason – Leslie is dedicated, passionate, and very human (she has an absolutely adorable relationship with her fiancée, Ben, and a deep love of waffles and whipped cream that I can 100% relate to). Leslie has grown from simply a government employee to a City Council Member, and she aspires to climb the ranks all the way to President. Plus, the show is just absolutely hilarious.
This week, the episode opened with the ladies of the Pawnee, Indiana Parks Department in a meeting with the first female city councilmember. She lamented about the fact that her male counterparts used to keep a calendar of her menstrual cycles – something that sounds beefed up for the sake of comedy, but actually hits closer to hope than you might think: In October, CNN posted (and quickly took down) a story saying that hormones can make female voters vote more liberally because it makes them “feel sexier.” Read more »