SOTU 2013 Reactions: Independent Women's Forum Wrongly Claims Obama "Misled" Women

A Wednesday press release by the conservative organization, Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) attests that President Obama’s State of the Union address purposely mislead women, making them out to be "victims" in need of gender equality measures pushed forward by the administration. 

Needless to say, I disagree. While the IWF has made its position against the president known, that does not mean that it ought to relegate their convictions when it comes down to the cold, hard facts. Obama is not misleading women — he is assisting them in a struggle against a form of discrimination, which does play a partial role in pay differences. To deny otherwise is ludicrous.

“Once again President Obama uses the State of the Union to try to mislead women about their prospects in the workforce and to try to expand government in ways that will make jobs even more scarce,” executive director Sabrina Schaeffer says in the release.

“The President uses a statistic that every honest analyst knows is misleading to attempt to convince women that our workplace is inherently sexist and that women are all victims.  This isn't good for women, and it's certainly not appropriate for a serious policy debate,”she continues.

How would Obama’s proposed measures make jobs scarce? Is Schaeffer suggesting that companies would be less likely to hire women under the impact of assured equality to all? Are all the analysts who have released study after study after study citing inequality dishonest in their findings? Every time? That is quite stretch mixed with wishful thinking.

Nowhere in Obama’s speech did he suggest workplaces foster inherent sexism nor that women are all victims. His exact words instead alluded to bringing forth transparency into the work place for both employers and their employees.

The president wants to make the dialogue on pay open enough so that in the case a discrepancy is discovered between two people working the same job, an employee can comfortably ask, “Why is my coworker being paid more than I am?” The answer on the employer’s end would then have to strictly reference some sort of aspect of the employee’s job performance as reason for the disparity. In this system, everything is left out in the open and injustices have a chance to be corrected when confronted.

Schaeffer goes on to argue that the Obama administration has essentially failed women and will continue to fail women in providing opportunities for women to find jobs that “match their interests and talents.”

Again, what does this phrasing mean exactly? Is there some grand flaw in the vast field of occupations available to us currently that can’t match a woman’s interest and talent? I can’t help but be reminded of Mitt Romney during his presidential debate (“binders full of women”) with Obama where he noted that only women required flexible work hours to basically go home and cater to their families disregarding the male factor out of the equation.

FactCheck.org, affiliated with the Anneberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, once labeled an IWF ad on breast cancer “a false appeal to women’s fears” that uses outdated statistics combined with “faulty logic and false insinuations.” The same notions can be applied to Schaeffer’s press release, which goes against everything a feminist organization would and should support in benefit of societal advancement.

As a woman, you would think Schaeffer would understand as much. 

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Zainab Akande

Born and raised in New York City, Zainab is a University of Delaware alum, currently working on obtaining her M.A. in journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York. http://zainabakande.com/

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