Lately, I’ve been very Eeyore-ish about women’s lives. There’s plenty of reason for that. Ruth Rosen nicely lays out the backlash against women’s reproductive lives in her article about the current counter-reformation, as she puts it, against women’s bodily autonomy. Of course, any attempt to roll back women’s reproductive rights is an attack on women’s economic independence, since women can only control their educational and financial lives if they can control their fertility. (Did I mention here that a recent new study showed that women with access to the Pill in the 1970s were making 8 percent more in their fifties? That can be the difference between retirement and working the checkout line when you’re 70.) But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s the wage gap, which is closing only because men lost so much more in wages during the recession. There’s the “mancovery” that Heather Boushey delineates, in which men are getting their jobs but women are not. There’s the byline gap, which exists not just in the premier legacy media— The New Yorker, et al.—but also in the cool and groovy new online mags read by millennials—or at least, those that are run by men—as the amazing Amanda Hess reveals over at GOOD.
So every now and then, it’s good for me to be reminded that women have, in fact, won an enormous amount since the 1970s. That’s what happened when I looked at The New York Times’ front page on Saturday and saw this picture, above the fold, featuring two of the most powerful people in the world’s economy today.
Let’s leave aside the underlying policy debate between Germany and the IMF, for a moment. Let’s leave aside the economic stakes. Let’s even leave aside the fact that LaGarde notes that, often, the two of them are the only women in the room. Let’s even leave aside that the article is about how the two are women.
Let’s just take a moment to remember when this picture was not just impossible but unthinkable.
OK, girls! Break’s over. Now back to work winning more equality!