By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
Surprising no one, a Republican State Senator has brought the War on Women home to Wisconsin.
Senator Glen Grothman (R-West Bend) has presented Senate Bill 507 before the legislature. This bill is designed “emphasize non-marital parenthood as a contributing factor in child abuse and neglect.” In short, Senator Grothman would like formal recognition that single parents are more abusive and neglectful than biological, married parents. The problem? It simply isn’t true.
What Senator Grothman does not seem to recognize is the fact that the women of Wisconsin are wise to the constant attacks upon their sovereign rights, and they will not stand for it. The bill he has introduced tries to create an undeniable link between single parents and child abuse. Most single parents in the state of Wisconsin are single mothers; therefore this bill can only be seen as a direct attack on women. This objectionable legislation is only the latest in Senator Grothman’s continued attacks on low-income women.
The Senator from West Bend has proposed deep cuts and the outright elimination of successful state-run programs that assist lowincome women around the state. These programs include: need-based housing, food stamps, the Wisconsin Earned Income Credit, Wisconsin Shares, and School Choice. Instead of attempting to assuage the difficulties of living in poverty, Senator Grothman’s proposals would create larger problems for an already problem-riddled community. It is downright neglectful to not consider the fact that cutting such programs would most likely increase occurrences of child abuse and neglect.
Since the 2010 elections when Republicans swept the House and state legislatures, hundreds of bills have been introduced that would lower the quality of life for low-income women around the country. Republicans have continuously opposed the social welfare systems that aim to take care of those who are most vulnerable in our society. Regardless of partisanship, it should be our goals as legislators to ensure that our children will not suffer.
Senator Grothman has also sponsored a bill to repeal the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which passed through the Assembly last week. Since the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women have been able to pursue legal action when not paid equally to their male counterparts. Despite the progress made in the last fifty years, women are still averaging 77 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts. Even in 2012, the Equal Pay Enforcement Act is necessary to ensure women are earning their due wages.
It has been less than 100 years since women were granted the right to vote. It is finally considered acceptable for women to be incensed when being treated as inferior to men. Low-income women, especially minorities, have thrice as many obstacles to overcome: sexism, racism, and classism. In the face of such legislation, women must not be subservient and allow conservative legislators to steamroll over the few rights that we as a gender have fought so hard for.
Senator Grothman’s legislative proposal is downright insulting, not only to women, but to every parent who has not had the luxury of an equal partner. Undoubtedly, every child should have as many positive, adult role models who are willing to nurture them and foster their growth. Single parents, widows and widowers, divorced parents, and single-adoptive parents are all tasked with loving their children and raising them to reach for the best future possible. To insinuate that they are more likely to abuse or neglect their children due to single lack of partner is downright insulting. Women have come far since the United States ’ inception, however we still have far to go. It is time to send a message to Republican legislators that we will not stand down. Senate Bill 507 is a slap in the face to strong women everywhere who work tirelessly to provide for their children and contribute to bettering American society.