The role and rights of women are under attack through the world, including in the United States.
Unless you are a devotee of the brutal world of professional mixed martial arts (MMA), you probably have never heard of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The attraction of MMA is in its brutality: fighters getting knocked out, tapping out, and getting arms and legs broken. Most would not expect the UFC to be the place to strike a blow for feminism, but on February 28, 2015, it did. For the first time on Pay Per View (PPV) television, a women’s MMA match was the featured attraction. The reason was to watch the undefeated “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. This was the rowdy one in 14 seconds of UFC 186 PPV action against Cat Zingano. Rousey won by applying an arm bar to Zingano. Rousey beat her own record, set in July 2014 against Alexis Davis, of 16 seconds.
Three weeks earlier, this too was Rowdy Ronda Rousey in action, as part of Sports Illustrated (SI) 2015 annual swimsuit edition. Sex sells, even for female MMA fighters, even one who can break your arm in 14 seconds. Or maybe, because of one who can break your arm in 14 seconds.
Ronda Rousey had to gain weight for the SI photo shoot because she was not ‘curvy’ enough. This was all part of the pre-fight promotion for UFC 184, where Rousey had a lot at stake.
In that, according to Bloody Elbow, the California native is slated to make more than $1 million in her bout against Zingano on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Staples Center. Los Angeles Times journalist Lance Pugmire stated (via Twitter) that through pay-per-view points, UFC 184 could mark one of the largest pay days of Rousey’s career…even that, many were surprised at that the challenger’s guaranteed pay of $100,000 for the show and $100,000 for a win as opposed to that of Rousey’s $65,000 for the show and $65,000 for a win. However, (the on-line website) Bloody Elbow reported that the champion could expect to make at least $500,000 if she generated pay-per-view buys of 300,000 or more. Rousey’s contract is reported to include PPV points that are paid on a tiered basis… she can expect to make around half a million dollars, if the show sells 300,000 or more PPVs. Irrespective of her base pay, Rousey will win out tremendously in the end with her pay-per-view points and sponsorship deal with Reebok.
Not bad pay for 14 seconds of work. In UFC 178, Rousey was only paid $9,000 for the show and $9,000 for the win. The rapid increase pay is indicative of Rowdy Ronda Rousey’s popularity in the pugilism business, possibly next to that of boxers Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, who will be in a long awaited PPV fight on May 2. The actual PPV buy rate for Rousey-Zingano is unknown, as of this writing. If the buy rate does reach the 300,000 mark, then expect Rousey to star in more PPV’s. However, that rate is nothing compared to the projected 4-5 million buys for Mayweather-Pacquiao. And while Rousey’s $500,000 is unprecedented for MMA, it pales in comparison to the May 2nd fight.
The initial projection of a purse split of $150 million to the Money Man and $100m to the PacMan has just been upwardly revised by Pacquiao’s promoter….Tickets are expected to be priced from the lowest at $1,250 to upwards of $6,000 for a seat at ringside. Promoter Bob Arum is now predicting a ‘$300m distribution’ to the protagonists – $180m to Mayweather and $120m to Pacquiao under their 60-40 percent agreement. But it is unlikely any tickets at all will go on general sale. Purchases may well be restricted to those holding a $250,000 credit line, or higher, at the MGM group of casinos on the Strip…. Bob Arum has already told a host of A-list celebrities: “No comps this time. The demand is so huge that the only answer is everyone has to pay.” The only free ticket promised by Arum is for female UFC star Ronda Rousey, who he heard was preparing to spend all her career fight winnings thus far on a seat as close to ringside as that amount could buy.
Welcome to the wonderful world of the big entertainment business, Rowdy Ronda Rousey. While entertainment is one field where women have made major inroads, it is not paying women equally to men, as Patricia Arquette’s speech and Meryl Streep’s reaction demonstrate.
In the hacking of Sony Pictures’ computers, e-mails indicate that successful female actresses get paid much less than their male co-stars. Almost worse was co-chairperson Amy Pascal’s justification for the pay inequity.
The Sony hack that leaked executives’ emails in November revealed significant pay gaps between male and female actors working on the same movies together. But at an event on Thursday evening, outgoing Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal defended the pay disparities. “I run a business. People want to work for less money, I’ll pay them less money. I don’t call them up and go, can I give you some more?” she said at a Women in the World event. She laid the blame on the women themselves for not refusing to work for less pay. “They have to walk away. People shouldn’t be so grateful for jobs.” The email hack revealed that for the movie “American Hustle,” male actors Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and director David O. Russell all got 9 percent of back-end profits. Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, on the other hand, each got 7 percent. In fact, Lawrence was originally going to get just 5 percent before her pay was raised. Adams had been nominated for four Academy Awards, more than Renner and Cooper combined, and Lawrence had starred in “The Hunger Games,” which grossed nearly $729 million worldwide. In an exchange that brought up the unequal pay levels with Pascal, she admitted, “there is truth there.” At Thursday’s event, Pascal said of Lawrence, “I’ve made her a lot more money since then.”
Pascal’s statements were very ironic because the hacked e-mails revealed that Pascal was being paid $1 million less than her male co-chairman, Michael De Luca. Also underpaid by $1M was the other female co-chairman, Hannah Minghella.
Pascal’s defense assumes that the female actors who were paid less knew about it. But many women who endure wage gaps have no idea. It was only after the leaked emails that Charlize Theron took action to correct a $10 million pay gap between her and “The Huntsman” co-star Chris Hemsworth.
However, what Jennifer Lawrence and Charlize Theron earn are far from average. The median earnings for women were $36,931 compared to $47,715 for men. This not only hurts women, but it greatly hurts their families.
In 2010, in nearly two-thirds of families (63.9 percent), a mother was either the breadwinner—either a single working mother or bringing home as much or more than her husband—or a co-breadwinner—bringing home at least a quarter of the family’s earnings.
The pay inequality gets worse if you are an Asian, Black or Latino female worker. Asian-American women are paid 87% of white males salaries. Latinas are paid just 69.1% . Black women are paid 58.7%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2012. In 2010, on average, women earned 77% percent of what their male counterparts earned. In 2013, the pay gaps were not closing.
One woman who has fought back for what she perceived was monetary discrimination is Taylor Swift. She made the decision to pull all her music from the on-line music service, Spotify.
Why did you leave Spotify? I’m in an office of people who are upset they can’t stream your music. Well, they can still listen to my music if they get it on iTunes. I’m always up for trying something. And I tried it and I didn’t like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify. Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things. They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales. With Beats Music and Rhapsody you have to pay for a premium package in order to access my albums. And that places a perception of value on what I’ve created. On Spotify, they don’t have any settings, or any kind of qualifications for who gets what music. I think that people should feel that there is a value to what musicians have created, and that’s that. I wrote about this in July, I wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. This shouldn’t be news right now. It should have been news in July when I went out and stood up and said I’m against it. And so this is really kind of an old story.
The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the first piece of legislation signed by President Barack Obama has not helped change the pay disparities. The Notorious RBG, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a scathing dissent about the case that led to the legislation: LILLY M. LEDBETTER, PETITIONER v. THE GOOD- YEAR TIRE & RUBBER COMPANY, INC. About an all too familiar 5-4 ruling, Justice Ginsburg wrote:
The Court’s insistence on immediate contest overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination. Pay disparities often occur, as they did in Ledbetter’s case, in small increments; cause to suspect that discrimination is at work develops only over time. Comparative pay information, moreover, is often hidden from the employee’s view. Employers may keep under wraps the pay differentials maintained among supervisors, no less the reasons for those differentials. Small initial discrepancies may not be seen as meet for a federal case, particularly when the employee, trying to succeed in a nontraditional environment, is averse to making waves. Pay disparities are thus significantly different from adverse actions “such as termination, failure to promote, … or refusal to hire,” all involving fully communicated discrete acts, “easy to identify” as discriminatory. See National Railroad Passenger Corporation v. Morgan, 536 U. S. 101, 114 (2002) . It is only when the disparity becomes apparent and sizable, e.g., through future raises calculated as a percentage of current salaries, that an employee in Ledbetter’s situation is likely to comprehend her plight and, therefore, to complain. Her initial readiness to give her employer the benefit of the doubt should not preclude her from later challenging the then current and continuing payment of a wage depressed on account of her sex.
Three strong women. 22, 28, and in two weeks, 82 years old. Three different professions: mixed martial arts, entertainment and the law. Three fighters for equal pay for women, in their own different ways. Don’t mess with Taylor Bader Rousey, especially in the wallet. Pay inequality is just one part of the War Against Women. Reproductive rights, education and professional advancement are on-going battles. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was not ratified, so the legal protections the ERA would provide are not applied equally throughout the 50 states. It is part of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) play book to pass legislation restricting women’s ability to have abortions. ALEC’s attacks against Planned Parenthood’s existence go against the “pro-life” values the ALEC members are supposedly for, as the numbers show:
Planned Parenthood provides sexual and reproductive health care, education, information, and outreach to more than 5,000,000 women, men, and adolescents worldwide each year. 2.7 million women and men in the United States annually visit Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers for trusted health care services and information Planned Parenthood health centers focus on prevention: 80 percent of our clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy. Planned Parenthood services help prevent approximately 516,000 unintended pregnancies each year.
Planned Parenthood provides nearly 400,000 Pap tests and nearly 500,000 breast exams each year, critical services in detecting cancer. Planned Parenthood provides nearly 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including 700,000 HIV tests. Three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services. Planned Parenthood affiliates provide educational programs and outreach to 1.5 million young people and adults each year. 1 in every 5 women has visited a Planned Parenthood facility at least once in her life.
That means at least 64 million women have received quality medical care because of the work of Planned Parenthood. The United States House Of Representatives on January 9th introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. The six pieces of legislation introduced would also shut down abortion providers and ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The War On Women is on in the United States. The War On Women is on throughout the world, as part of the Battle for Modernity. Groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-Shabab in Somalia , Ahrar al-Sham in Syria. Al-Houthis in Yemen, Al-Nusra in Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) treat women as chattel and personal property.
These radical Islamic groups are recruiting men and women throughout the world and through social media to take part in the fight against the West. Boko Haram kidnapped 276 young women from their school in Chibok. 219 still remain, some as young as 10 years old. They were raped and sexually mutilated. Some were sold off to become sex slaves. Others became pregnant brides to Boko Haram soldiers. Some have been sent as suicide bombers.
Ironically, one of the first fighters against ISIL’s attempt to establish a caliphate throughout the Middle East was a woman: Major Mariam Al Mansouri of the Air Force of the United Arab Emirates. Religion, energy, education, economics and women’s rights are central components of this great war. It took the bravery of one little girl in Pakistan to awaken the world to this fight. More about the Battle For Modernity to come. Watch this space.
UPDATE: February 8, 2015 While Ronda Rousey is tough physically, there are many other ways to be tough. The Mercy Corps has provided profiles of 8 of the toughest women in the world. These women fight daily for their survival, the survival of their families and the survival of their neighbors. They live in Uganda, Jordan, Niger, Central African Republic, Nepal, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Niger; many of the most troubled and dangerous spots in the world. Your donation to the Mercy Corps will help strong and brave women (and their families and neighbors) throughout the world. To donate to the Mercy Corps, please visit: https://www.mercycorps.org/donate
UPDATE: February 9, 2015 – From Newsweek Magazine: Heymann highlights some gains in legal protections for women: 95 percent of the 56 new national constitutions adopted in the 20 years since Beijing include language that supports women’s rights or prohibits gender discrimination. The two exceptions are the constitutions of Saudi Arabia and the Holy See.
She said there are three areas where inequality persists or has gotten worse for women and girls since 1995.
Child marriage binds 15 million girls under the age of 18 every year, and has disastrous consequences on their health and education prospects. In 61 countries, or a third of the world’s nations, girls are legally allowed to be married younger than boys with parental consent. One out of three girls living in South Asia is already married or in union, according to the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (Unicef).
Copyright © February 2015, Michael A. Maynard, Stow, Massachusetts.
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