That’s if there really is such a thing as a gender wage gap because Stacey Dash doesn’t quite know if that’s true.
Living up to the “Clueless” role we know her for, the 48-year-old actress appeared on the “Meredith Vieira Show” discussing her opposition to women like Rita Wilson speaking out for equal pay in a segment she was anything but prepared for. Echoing the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” sentiment most Republicans are known for, the mother, who has a daughter of her own that will likely enter the gender discriminatory workforce one day, called such ramblings nothing more than ”an excuse.” In fact, her oversimplified rebuttal to women’s lower pay rate was: “If there are opportunities, seize them and be prepared for them and be the best if that’s what it takes. If you have to be extraordinary, be extraordinary.”
This, from a woman whose entry, peak, and demise within the entertainment industry all revolved around one role in 1995. The conversation only got worse when Vieira laid out the fact that women make 78 cents to every dollar a man does, saying “At the rate we’re going, my daughter, who’s 22, will be 65 when there’s finally pay equality.” Dash, of course, doesn’t know if she believes that because Vieira has seemingly beaten the odds. As if to say, if you’re successful you have no right to complain that you’re still not making as much money as the next man. To that I say, no m’am. If a man in my same position is making $500,000 and my wage is $390,000, somebody better run me my coins. All of them.
Now of course It would be easy to ignore Dash’s place in this conversation altogether and dismiss her as a talking head who’ll say anything contrary to gain attention. Because that’s essentially what she is. But we can’t negate her contribution to the discussion because her comments give us insight into the mentality that keeps the wage gap raging on. Dash’s stance is no different from what Black people as a whole are told about our place in society. “No one’s going to give you anything for free.” “If you want something, go out there and get it.” The problem here is no one is asking for anything and women are doing the work. Where the contract falls flat is the “getting it” part — as in a fair wage.
Dash was almost right when she started to say complaining about not being paid fairly isn’t going to change anything – I’m not a fan of anger without action either — but her “work harder for it” mentality trips her up again. There are more than enough career manuals that advise women to demand a wage that’s commiserate with their experience and skills, and while we may still have some work to do in that area, it’s not 22 cents worth of work. We cannot deny that there are systemic factors at play that keep women from earning what’s due to them and we certainly can’t rely on the fact that there’s a law that says we must be paid equally (like Dash tried) because, as Vieira pointed out, “we don’t.” I’d advise Dash to look around at some of the other crimes playing out in the media right this very moment and acknowledge that we also have laws against those horrendous actions as well and yet the behavior continues.
Women aren’t complaining. We’re speaking out. We’re reminding society that we’re on to you and when all is said and done we won’t stand for being paid less than our male counterparts, particularly at a time when women are more likely than men to complete college and attend graduate school, and make up nearly half of the country’s total workforce. To quote Iyanla Vanzant, I think every woman looks at those facts in stark contrast to the 78 cents we’re earning per dollar and says, “Not on my watch.” It’s cool Stacey. You don’t have to join the fight. Just don’t try to reap the benefits when the rest of us earn the fair wage owed us and chalk it up to you being extraordinary.