Conservative publication smears woman who asked debate question about equal pay

By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 19:39 EDT
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The conservative publication Free Beacon on Wednesday published an article smearing the 24-year-old woman who asked about equal pay for women at the presidential debate.

The article, published anonymously, alleged that Katherine Fenton’s Twitter account “reveals that purple Joose is her choice to get blackout drunk and she has a history of getting wet at happy hour.” The article also highlights sexually suggestive messages Fenton allegedly sent from her Twitter account.

The Twitter account cited in the article no longer exists.

During the second presidential debate at Hofstra University, the 24-year-old pre-kindergarten teacher asked, “In what new ways do you intend to rectify inequalities in the workplace? Specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn.”

Fenton told Salon that she was an undecided voter. While she supported President Barack Obama’s signature health care law because it allowed her to stay on her parent’s insurance plan, she was also highly concerned with the nation’s rise debt problem. Fenton said she was “absolutely not” a feminist, though she was “protective of my reproductive rights” and believed in “women’s equality in the workforce.”

The liberal watchdog Media Matters noted a number of conservatives had criticized Fenton’s question.

Although women are increasingly responsible for the economic security of their families, they still earn significantly less than men. An annual report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) found that full-time working women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to full-time working men. In median weekly earnings, women earn only $684 per week, compared with $832 per week for men.

“These gender wage gaps are not about women choosing to work less than men — the analysis is comparing apples to apples, men and women who all work full time — and we see that across these 40 common occupations, men nearly always earn more than women,” Ariane Hegewisch, a Study Director at IWPR, said in April.

“Discrimination law cases provide us with some insights on the reasons that the wage gap persists: women are less likely to be hired into the most lucrative jobs, and — when they work side by side with men — they may get hired at a lower rate, and receive lower pay increases over the years,” Hegewisch explained. “Discrimination in who gets hired for the best jobs hits all women but particularly black and Hispanic women.”

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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