Let’s pretend it’s 2016.
The scene: my husband is sitting in a comfy chair eating pretzels and watching CNN as I bustle through the room cleaning everything that doesn’t require the noisy vacuum cleaner.
This is not as traditional a scene as it may appear. I just can’t tolerate sitting in front of the blah-blah-blah from CNN and I’m on a Fit Bit step-counting regimen and I thought it an effective if not gimmicky beginning to a vignette on (then, 2016) current events. Husband sitting, wife bustling. Let me assure you there was no roast in the oven. Hubby is responsible for reheating his own leftover calzone and I’m having salad.
I pause as words begin to emerge from the blah: glass ceiling, feminists, millennial feminists, Hillary. I know I should jot down who was speaking when but I’m wearing cartoon yellow rubber gloves AKA 1950 in my Clorox attack on a newly discovered mouse infestation so I can’t. I think it was three CNN guys and that bright brunette who I usually don’t like. Maybe no brunette. I can’t remember, I’ve been in and out of the room so many times. I don’t like any of them which is another reason I’m not sitting down. I cannot watch this slo-mo comedy of destruction and deconstruction while sitting on my ass. Easier on my feet registering Fit Bit steps armed with a lethal disinfectant. As if I’m in training for the end of the world.
(2017.) Little did I know.
I lean on the arm of the underutilized treadmill as one of them explains that millennial women are actually exercising what they consider a newer, truer brand of feminism because they have the luxury of not having to vote for a woman since gender is not an issue anymore. Maybe CNN flashes to an older black woman who reminds us why women her (my) age are (were) voting for Hillary. She talks like I do about the longview. I don’t think she mentions qualifications or credentials. I think her point is to challenge the new, true feminism, but again, I’ve just breezed in on a cloud of chlorine so I’m not sure of the narrative arc when
April 12 just happened. Equal Pay Day. The day a quarter of the way through the year when progressive cafes will only charge women 79% of the cost of a latte. They will prove a point. Why doesn’t CNN tell the millennial feminists about the 79%? That it takes this number of days to catch up?
My point is that it is (was) 2016 and I’m still screaming. Gently, cautiously, my husband asks me to shh because he’s trying to listen.
Timely bookmark. A professional article on pay inequality which I only had time to read (in 2016) after my clinical documentation as a psychiatric nurse practitioner with a huge case load was temporarily caught up and before the rodent invasion: Nurses Speak Out About Gender Pay Gap.
Author Lisette Hilton cites a recent poll on wages in my profession, my female dominated profession, reminding us of the continued inequality in pay by gender, and I quote: “This phenomenon is referred to as the glass escalator, according to a May 21, 2012, article on Forbes.com. Women climb the ladder in a female-dominated profession, like nursing, while men glide to the top on an invisible escalator.”
As a nurse practitioner I’m used to bringing in less income than my MD counterparts, male or female. And I’m used to billing for only 85% reimbursement from insurers for doing the same exact job, and I’m having a very hard time listening to suggestions from the CNN panel that we are all equal. Where are the mothers of these millennial feminists CNN is talking about? What am I talking about? My own 25 year-old-daughter has succumbed to Sander’s evangelism even though I took her to meet Hillary when she was three and somewhere I have a photo of that moment. The italics mean that I am screaming. (To her credit, in November she pivoted nicely and took on the Bernie-or-Busters with a vengeance.)
Nothing in the article by Hilton despite stats from the Labor Bureau and quotes from nursing associations and Forbes and JAMA, nothing can begin to explain why the guy in the office down the hall in the same clinic with exactly the same credentials may be making more than I am outside of a difference in facial hair and genitalia. Or that Bernie Sander’s campaign gets to malign Hillary Clinton for being too aggressive and ambitious while he rolls his eyes and gesticulates and makes immature grimaces and insists on talking over her and no one on CNN ever describes him as bossy and histrionic because those are not words we use for men. And the fact that I am still repeating myself for sixty-odd-years makes me consider throwing the bleach and kicking a roundhouse through the TV screen to drown out these pundits who benefit handsomely from having these smug conversations on a nightly basis. (The word ‘handsomely’–while awkward–is intentional.)
Munching now on his calzone, my husband kindly reminds me there is no reality, no substance, it’s all about fear and hate and greed and they are all full of shit. I think he is still talking.
I’ll be 66 years old in a matter of weeks.
Make that 67.
Do not ask me to stop screaming.
Nina Gaby is a writer, visual artist, and psychiatric nurse practitioner living in central Vermont and specializes in addictions. She has contributed to numerous anthologies and periodicals, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as prose poetry and articles. Her first book, “Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women,” was published in 2015 by She Writes Press.