77%

Last night I went to a Dr. Who Themed bar in my neighborhood called The Way Station. I’ve been there a number of times before but last night it was by far the MOST crowded I have ever seen. It was a promotional event, in honor of the disparity in wages between men and women (women make 77¢ for every $1 a man makes in an equivalent position when adjusted for location/experience etc) and it being 7/7, women only paid 77% of their  bar tabs. A cracker jack PR team ensured the event got plenty of coverage beforehand and I saw at least one satellite truck parked across the street last night to catch up everyone who didn’t hear about it already.

And did I mention it was packed? Shoulder to shoulder for the 2+ hours I was there with some friends and my partner. It was a sweaty, disgusting mess but it was also great. Look at the buying power of women! Isn’t this wage gap thing thing ridiculous?! It is and the promotion was obviously a success, but unfortunately, it missed a huge glaring issue: that number 77% (sometimes rounded down to 75%) actually only applies when we consider white women as compared to white men.

Chalkboard Outside The Way Station last night.
Chalkboard Outside The Way Station last night.

THIS is why intersectional feminism is so important. Yeah, this is a terrible for situation for white women, and as a white woman I’d like it very much if it changed. But it’s an even WORSE situation for women of color, queer women (and men) and disabled women (and men) and as a human being I’d like it very much if it changed.

Thanks to the nature of capitalism, wage inequality significantly holds women back from reaching true equality. Our ability to be independent and autonomous is hindered when we are treated as substandard to men. But if these things are still out of reach, if these issues still exist at 77%, imagine how magnified they are at 64% for black women, or 54% for hispanic women.

What the Way Station did was great, it drew attention to a very real issue. I don’t fault them for only doing 77% instead of breaking it down by race. That can get tricky in any situation ESPECIALLY in a dark and crowded bar and I’d advise against it, especially because it tip toes a little too closely to straight up racism. Also, 77% is the number we hear about the most often in the media. It’s the number pundits throw around. Liberals say we need to close that remaining 23% and conservatives say it doesn’t exist. You know the drill. But lost in the shuffle are the women and families suffering because of this. Struggling to make ends meet at a sharper angle than their white sisters.

We should fight to end wage inequality, but not just for white women.

We cannot forget about these women. We cannot pretend that woman’s struggle is the same regardless of race. We cannot ignore these facts any more.

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