I recently signed a petition to Senator Johanns encouraging him to support the Paycheck Fairness Act.  The PFA aims to reduce the wage gap between men and women, and as a young woman I feel very passionately about this issue.  If you earn 77-cents for every dollar a certain group of your peers make, you probably would, too.

So I was very pleased when I saw that the senator had sent me a prompt — well, as prompt as you’ll get from Congress — reply in the mail.  But after reading his letter, I was very disappointed, frustrated and outraged.  I already knew the Senator had voted against the act on Nov. 17, but his defense baffled me.

I expected Johanns’ usual defenses: it would expand the role of government and cost money. What still flabbergasts me was when he wrote that the bill would “likely lead to a flood of retroactive lawsuits.”

Senator, do you know how that reads to a young woman who’s looking at a future where her male peers will be paid more merely because they posses a Y chromosome?  I doubt you do, so let me explain.

Not supporting a bill because it would lead to a “flood of retroactive lawsuits” is complete bunk. It’s like you’re already saying that these lawsuits should be dismissed.  That’s not your job sir, it’s the COURTS’ (separation of powers, ever heard of it?).  It’s reprehensible that you’d already view these lawsuits as spurious before they’ve even arisen.

And so WHAT if there’s a flood of retroactive lawsuits?  There’s a good chance that some of them will be completely legitimate.  If employers and businesses aren’t discriminating against women, then they should have no fear — the courts will hear their defense.

It’s so offensive to me that politicians would dismiss this bill because it’d be a hassle for businesses.  Guess what: Integration was a hassle for businesses.  Providing access and proper facilities for disabled workers was a challenge.  But they were still the right thing to do.

Stop telling me that I don’t deserve that 23-cents.  Stop telling young women like me that we should just take it because the lawsuits aren’t worth it.  This mentality that women should just take what’s given to them is offensive and degrading.

Women make up a majority of the population.  We make up a majority of the electorate, and we vote in higher numbers than men.  Stop dismissing us, or we’ll dismiss you.