According to recent U.S. census data, women are paid 23 percent less than men on average. I would guess if you break down that number and look closely at the details, not every situation involves women getting paid less for doing the same job. Still, you have to figure a pretty good chunk does. I understand that there are plenty of issues where people advocate different approaches based on their political philosophies, conservative versus liberal. I just don’t see how this could be one of them.
My good friend Deanna McCall, Western poet and author, lived and worked for more than twenty years with her husband, Dave, on an outfit in Nevada. Much of that time, they lived off the grid. If you don’t quite understand what I’m saying, that means they lived like Westerners did in the 1800s…no electricity, no running water, no cell phones or computers (oh my!!). Deanna is as good a hand as you could find anywhere. During her lifetime, she has done each and every job a cowboy does, and she’s done them well. In addition to that, she’s a gourmet cook. She’s always posting pictures of her mouth-watering meals on Facebook, which is somewhat annoying because she and Dave live several hours to the south of me and there’s no way I can get there before the food is all gone. Beyond all of the above, she has found the time to set down her experiences in poetry and prose in such a compelling way that when you read her stories, you feel like you are there. Should she get “equal pay?” I would venture to say you could make a case that she should get paid a lot more than all us hairy-legged boys.
From my earliest recollections, my mother was employed outside the home. She was a professional journalist and through her work at the Houston Chronicle when I was a small boy, I got to meet my heroes…Roy & Dale, Gene Autry, Annie Oakley (not the “real” one but she was real to me!). The fact that my mother had a career just seemed normal to me. For a good portion of her life, my sister chose to be a homemaker. She followed that career up with one as a special education teacher. She’s so smart she could pretty much do anything she wanted. My wife is one of the most competent and hard-working individuals I know and she’s had a long and successful career in her chosen field. I have a son and a daughter, of whom I am equally and insanely proud. His career path has been in the scientific/technical area while his sister is pursuing a career in the arts, so they will never compete for the same job and salary. I promise you though, if he found out his sister was receiving less pay for doing the same job as a male, he would be in somebody’s face. My point is that this issue is personal for all of us. If you are a man who loves and respects the women in your life, how could you be against them receiving equal pay for doing equal work?
A few years ago, my buddy Juni Fisher received the Western Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award. In its twenty-five year history, that was the first time the organization had ever given that award to a woman. I don’t understand how that could have happened. Liz Masterson was one of the founding members of the WMA as was Joyce Woodson. How could one or both of them not have won the award at least once? Jean Prescott has been making beautiful music for many years. You would think she would have received the organization’s most prestigious award. You would be wrong.
There are some amazing young performers coming along in the Western music genre. Mary Kaye, Trinity Seely, Kristyn Harris, Mikki Daniel and others whose names I can’t think of right this moment (and I’m sure I’ll pay for THAT!). Take a look at that list…they’re all females. There are certainly some outstanding male performers in the WMA but most of them are getting a bit long in the tooth. I don’t see very many talented young men coming up through the ranks. So here’s a word of advice to all of us hairy-legged boys, myself included. Let’s get behind this “equal pay for equal work” notion as fast as we can. Number one, it’s the right thing to do. Number two, these women are taking over. We’d better get on their good side while the gettin’ is good!