This letter is in response to the November 18th letter to the editor from Wyatt Pilkenton regarding women athletes and women being paid fairly. I don’t know Mr. Pilkenton personally but I’m sure he’s a very fine young man. I say young man even though I don’t know him because of the way the letter itself is written as well as some of the ideas within the letter.

Truly I mean this with all due respect: Mr. Pilkenton, I think I can speak for all women when I say please get off our side. You state repeatedly throughout your letter that it’s not women’s fault that they’re paid less or that women’s sports are viewed less. Have you ever wondered why?

Perhaps if the male dominated sports and television/cable worlds promoted and aired more women’s sports, just maybe women’s sports would be more popular. Trust me Wyatt, women know it’s not their fault, we just need you men to get on board.

I don’t want to be too harsh on you because it seems you are very young but I have to take definite exception to the second paragraph of your letter where you give an odd and out of place analogy about the workplace and a salesman (maybe if we could drop the man and go with sales person , maybe, just maybe we’d all get used to women earning as much and being seen on television as much as men, hey a girl can dream right?) You state that a salesman who sells $500K in paper products at his company gets paid $80K for his efforts while a “coworker” presumably a woman to follow your reasoning, “only made the company $90,000 a year.” You then ask whether that “coworker” (substitute woman as you seem to be implying) should receive the same payment? To answer your question: YES! Because that coworker/salesperson may well bring in over a million dollars next year while the sales man has an off year and brings in just $25K. It’s called a salary.

If women were given equal opportunities in the workplace as well as in the sports world women would and should earn as much as men. Wyatt, I really wish you would stop saying things about how it isn’t women’s fault that they’re underrepresented in sports and media, it’s not women’s fault that they’re viewed less on television/cable and that it’s not women’s fault they’re paid less.

Your bias is clear when you sum up by saying that women shouldn’t be paid as much as their counterparts because they “simply don’t rake in enough money in the first place.” The reason this is true is because of the barriers placed before women everyday in every aspect of society.

Ever heard of the glass ceiling? It’s real Wyatt, ask just about any woman, athlete or otherwise.

Ask women about the harassment, degrading comments, insufficient resources, etc. in the workplace. And women in sports? Just ask any female athlete, reporter or commentator. If women were treated the same as men, if women were given the same amount of air time in sports and the same opportunities as male counterparts in the workplace the pay inequality would still remain because we live in a patriarchal society. And your repeated assertions that “it’s not women’s fault’ is misogynistic in its own way and does nothing to help.

Put your money where your mouth is Wyatt. Start attending women’s sports, contact ESPN and demand that they air more women’s sports, be a champion of all that women do in the workplace and elsewhere. If you really are as young as you sound in your letter those are the only things we women can count on if we’re to have any hope of equal opportunity/equal pay at any point in the future. Think about the reasons why things are the way they are and you’ll see it’s not because of any inferiority on the part of women but because of the patriarchal society men have such a hard time letting go of. And that, for sure, is not any woman’s fault.

Lisa Whelan

Grand Rapids


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