Danielle Crespo, a 36-year-old mother of three who works in building services and housekeeping at Richmond University Medical Center, speaks for millions of women in the United States. Earning a living, caring for her family, hoping to save for the future, and struggling every month just to make ends meet, she dreams of getting ahead, while doing all she can to get by. Her story expresses the day-to-day reality of most families’ lives in our country. Yet voices like hers have been sorely lacking from the heady debates about American women that have received so much attention over the past 18 months.
In that time, high-pitched media debates about “having it all” and “leaning in” launched impassioned conversations about the stalled progress, unequal pay, and caregiving penalties that women face in the workplace. Conservative lawmakers’ efforts to redefine rape and the revelation of widespread, unprosecuted sexual crimes against women in the U.S. military raised painful new questions about women’s safety, privacy, and basic dignity. Political fights over access to birth control and new state laws that impose intrusive medical exams upon women seeking abortions shocked many women into an awareness of just how embattled their bodies remain, four decades after Roe v. Wade. And in the wake of the Great Recession and a government sequester, deep cuts in women-heavy sectors of employment drove home the extreme vulnerability of many female breadwinners and their families.
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