Day 312: Money and the Women Who Deserve It (not necessarily us)

by Lara,

Confession #1: I, Lara Vogel, was a sorority girl. This always takes the form of a confession because most people (myself included) continue to operate with minds fixed on standard sorority stereotypes: insufferably shallow, boy-crazy, extremely rich, and image obsessed women with little else on their minds besides the gym and Britney Spears’ new haircut. I am certainly guilty of applying these standards reflexively to other girls who have come out of their sorority armoires; but then I have to remind myself that I too was a member of such an organization, and perhaps, just perhaps, I should rethink that snap first impression. Because by such stereotypes, I must have been deeply committed to the dark side as a proud alumna of Kappa Kappa Gamma, also known infamously as Visa Visa Mastercard elsewhere than my alma mater. This is because they have houses like this: (compliments of Oklahoma University)

At Stanford, particularly my year, we were the sorority for jocks and tomboys, who slacked off without a Sorority House or anything else to call homebase.

Why such an unprompted confession? It is some blog form of AA? Hardly. Basically I appealed to my former sisters for funding for Claire and my Kenyan Marathon Project (I appeal to you, too...look right!), told Claire about it, and was sure I would be mocked publicly had I not brought it up first.

But this whole idea of appealing to my former organization for donations came from a much more innocent and helpful thought than we sorority girls are supposed to have: I was thinking about women’s organizations and whether they are necessary and what sort of impact they should be having. After my blog last night, I got to reading this article called the Motherhood Manifesto that was published in The Nation last year. It is about mothers, the economics of being one, and the very little the US is doing to support this crucial demographic. Here are some upsetting statistics from this article that you should read:

--almost three-quarters of the US’ mothers have jobs outside their homes.

--In America, mothers work for less than men, and for less than women who are not currently mothers.

--The wage gap between mothers and nonmothers is already greater than between nonmothers and men, and it is growing. “One study found that nonmothers with an average age of 30 made 90 cents to a man's dollar, while moms made only 73 cents to the dollar, and single moms made 56 to 66 cents to a man's dollar.”

-- The US is the ONLY industrialized country that DOES NOT offer paid leave to recent mothers. Besides Australia. But Australia at least offers a full year of unpaid leave, while the US only offers twelve weeks IF the woman happens to work for a company with more than fifty employees.

--“Even after controlling for differences in characteristics such as education and work experience, researchers typically find a family penalty of 10-15 percent for women with children as compared to women without children."

--America has admirable equal pay and equal opportunity laws, but the support for mothers through things like maternity leave and childcare is dramatically harming the wage gap.

-- 163 countries give women paid leave with the birth of a child; but NOT THE US

I was scandalized by these facts, and feel you should be too. I also felt sadly validated from my previous post, as it turns out that it really is fairly impossible to be both a mother and an employee.


We spent more than the majority of people thought we did when we asked about it a few days ago. Forty percent guessed we had spent 9,000, when in actuality it was 12,000, which 32% of you guessed (though I was part of that group).

The confession element of this was that Claire and I felt so shamed by everyone’s confidence in our thrift that we contemplated lying. But we don’t do that. So we didn’t.


The Sumer Alvarez Foundation said...

Lara can be a very cute girl and she did a fabulous job of cleaning up and looking sorority like when the need arose in college. However, there are times when traveling with Lara where I overcome by what a true sorority girl she really is. Like when she has a shaved head and not showered in 8 days.

That's my little visa visa mastercard....


Alexa said...

I am in no way advocating any sort of 'mothers deserve less etc." argument- but in respect to them getting paid less I think some mothers just want to go to work for the day- I heard a poem recently that I can't find the name of- but it was about what mother's really want and it had a line that went something like 'mothers want to work for the day and not to bring home a briefcase full of important papers and a list of people to call after dinner" (though, you know, with meter and rhyme). I think the idea behind it is true however, sometimes moms just want to contribute with a extra spending money, not necessarily a career and a huge salary...but I don't know, because I'm not a mother :-)

sarah mac said...

i have a friend (actually my old boss) who even as a mother of three girls, all under the age of 6, could never EVER manage to be a stay-at-home mom and she admits this wholeheartedly to anyone who will listen. she's even considering having a fourth child, but would never give up her career working in non-profits to stay home with the kids.

she is a good example of a woman who is having it all. she is a work horse from 8 to 6pm (she works 4 ten hour days a week and takes fridays off to be with her kids) but when she goes home, she doesn't take the job with her. she also never volunteers to change her schedule if it means the time with her family will be comprimised.

while there were times that i was annoyed at how inflexible she could be, i later realized that it was a problem I had, not her. i was the one who was saying 'yes' to breaking my back and working 60 hours, even when i didn't want to.

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