On Monday morning, I missed class so I could attend Sen. Jake Corman’s town hall. Corman took questions on cards and gave answers.
Long before he started explaining women’s health care to a room at least half-filled with women, he fielded a question about how he would protect pay equity for women. He started with a joke: women are paid less, but there were trade-offs — on the Titanic, women were rescued before men.
To me, his joke suggested that pay inequity is a tax women carry for being privileged. The privilege of literally being alive; which would be one thing, if it were true. But in a world of glass ceilings, restrictions on our behavior and appearance, and the fact that 1 in 5 women are raped in her lifetime … that privilege is fictional. Black and brown women who experience even greater pay gaps are at greater risks of violence. Not to speak of trans women. This privilege we’re paying for doesn’t look like much.
Corman explained in theatrically gory detail late-term abortion in response to questions of why he passed a bill restricting abortion without public hearings or input from the medical community. In my view, every woman in the room heard “your rights are privileges I don’t understand the need for.” How can Corman make decisions that uphold the rights of 50 percent of his constituency if he doesn’t understand the structural oppression we experience?
I’m not asking him to change his words. I’m asking him to see privilege.
Maria Cramer, State College