Obama’s Council on Women and Girls

June 8th, 2009 by Pelle Billing

US President Barack Obama recently said these words:

But at the same time, when women still earn just 78 cents for every dollar men make, when one in four women still experiences domestic violence in their lifetimes, when women are more than half of our population but just 17% of our Congress, when women are 49% of the workforce but only 3% of our fortune 500 CEOs, when these inequalities stubbornly persist in this country in this century then I think we need to ask ourselves some hard questions and we need to take a hard look at where were falling short and who were leaving out and what that means for the prosperity and the vitality of our nation.

These are the standard statistics that feminists like to cite. Does that make Obama a feminist? I don’t know, but it is troubling that he uses the wage gap statistic that is profoundly misleading, and that he puts forward domestic violence as a woman’s issue instead of a human issue.

Obama’s words above were spoken as he was announcing the creation of the first ever White House Council on Women and Girls, to be headed by Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett made the following comment:

The council is going to examine all the programs at the federal level that touch on women and girls and we’re going to work to coordinate and make sure that each of those programs is doing everything that it could do to help support women and girls,

The US has a bunch of programs and organizations that support women and/or feminism, and now there’s a high profile council in place to coordinate all of them. As you probably know I’m not a big fan of feminism, but I have nothing against programs for women, who help women deal with female health issues or problems that are specific to the female gender role.

However,  what doesn’t get addressed in the media is the acute lack of programs for men, and funding for the few programs that exist. Men have several health issues and gender roles issues that could use some federal level funding (eg. prostate cancer, male disposability, male shelters for victims of domestic violence, homelessness, boys performing worse than girls in school).

So while it’s great that Obama wants to help girls and women, where is the Council on Men and Boys? Do men have to lose for women to win? I don’t believe that is the case, and I do hope that Obama discovers that men’s issues need attention too, and that supporting men is good for women – just like men benefit from the support women get.

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