7 Billboards You’ll (probably) Never See. Day Four: See The Problem
I meet a lot of young women in my profession who are, in one form or another, what would generally be referred to as professional sex workers. The relationship starts from a logical business situation: they need pictures to promote their work. I’ve no issue taking those pictures because, in most cases, they understand the form and artistry of the human body and are able to hold more difficult poses. Over the years, not only have these young women been some of my best art models, but they’ve also become some of my best and most enduring friends. While each has their own reasons for entering that industry, I’ve found the greater majority to be intelligent, hard working, entrepreneurial, creative, inventive, and dynamic young women. Their biggest problems are not drugs, alcohol, or promiscuity. Rather, their most difficult battle is against a male-dominated society that is slow to accept them as the strong young women they are.
The slogan on today’s billboard comes from a real situation. A very attractive, and very tall, young woman began working in the clubs while she was in college to help pay for medical bills. She finished her bachelors degree and even went on to complete the masters program in mathematics. She had done what people around her had always told her to do: get a good education. She was ready to go out and get a “real” job in her field. There was just one tiny problem. Despite the salary that might be posted with a job opening, she was routinely offered less than what was posted. So much less that leaving her job at the club was completely impractical. She made twice as much on stage as she would in the best corporate job she was offered.
American society makes a big deal about how much we love our wives and daughters, how much we want to give them every opportunity possible, but yet we hobble them right out of the gate with inferior wages, inferior working conditions, and unreasonable expectations. One young woman with an advanced science degree described working in a male-dominated atmosphere where, despite being the senior member on her team, she was still expected to make coffee, clean around the office, and handle all the administrative work because she was the woman. She now tends bar, makes more money, and is happier.
Public decency laws prevent a billboard such as this one from ever actually being erected, though, with a little modification to the pose it could be done. I’m sure it would garner significant objection because of the opinion that stripping is “demeaning to women.” Yet, what could possibly be more demeaning than looking at a highly educated, motivated, intelligent young woman and tell her she’s only worth 73.8 cents for every dollar a similarly qualified man makes? Is it more morally reprehensible to take off one’s clothes for a living, or to deny young women a living wage?
See the problem? For more information on what can be done to solve the wage gap for all women, please visit the National Women’s Law Center (nwlc.org).