Protest at the US Chamber of Commerce | Photo via SEIU/William Melton on Flickr

The US Chamber of Commerce has apparently spent too much time watching Mad Men: in a blog post this morning, Chamber blogger Brad Peck called women’s fight for pay equity to be nothing more than a “fetish for money,” and said women complaining about their pay should focus instead on “choosing the right partner at home.” The Chamber’s Peck also approvingly quoted a post that asked, “Should government force gym-man to share his beautiful babes with couch-potato man?”

This is all in a post on the Chamber’s blog called: “Equality, Suffrage, and a Fetish for Money.” You can’t make it up.

The Chamber’s Peck first decided to put the terms “full equality” and “pay gap” in scare quotes, which should be enough for one to tell that the Chamber isn’t serious about rights at work for women. But Peck was just getting started. He goes on to inform women that their desires for “pay and promotions” isn’t a big deal, because there are many other “values” to consider for working women.

…I believe that the overall tone is one of those cultural changes we need to make — the idea that giving up “pay and promotions” is a “terribly steep price” to pay for time away from work. These are only two of the many things that people value and depending on the weight that you assign to each of your values giving up a little might gain you a lot. Equality is a matter of ensuring equal access to opportunity, not ensuring identical outcomes in some areas depending on which opportunities you choose to take.

Everyone knows that “pay and promotions” are just a small part of why you work. I mean, really, Peck is right: women just work between other “opportunities you choose to take.” Indeed: Peck even says that by fighting for equal pay, you’re actually rolling back the 19th Amendment. Yes, he said this on the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment passing.

A different battle indeed, one that also centers on choice. Suffragettes were fighting to give women equality of choice; those fighting for “full equality” are trying to actually legislate away choice.

What’s behind women’s apparently insane desire for equal pay? Why, according to Peck, it’s nothing more than a “Scrooge-like fetish for money.” The phrase was included in an op-ed cited by the Chamber, but not only did the Chamber’s Peck pull out the quote, reference it in the text, and then include it in the title, the Chamber defended it in a tweet. In an original tweet, the Chamber specifies:

Fixating on pay as the only thing of value shows a fetish for money.

Let’s forget about how mind-blowing it is the Chamber to tell women that it’s a “fetish” to fixate on pay. Let’s look for real solutions to the problem of women fighting for equal pay. Chamber of Commerce, take it away:

It is true that culturally speaking women are more likely to have to make the tough choices about work-life balance. But as we all seek to fit our values into a dynamic 24/7 economy, let’s not overlook the obvious, immediate, power-of-the-individual solution: choosing the right place to work and choosing the right partner at home.

Shorter Chamber to women: get back in the kitchen, honey.

UPDATE: In case you were wondering if this was a one-off incident, rest assured: the US Chamber of Commerce really hates women.

  • 1977: US Chamber opposes amendment to Civil Rights Act that would ban discrimination against pregnant women.
  • 1978: US Chamber says pregnancy is a “voluntary” condition in its opposition to Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
  • 1987: Family Medical Leave Act “sets a dangerous precedent,” according to the US Chamber.
  • 1998: US Chamber opposes Equal Pay Act because “work experience does tend to create greater wage gaps.”
  • 2007: US Chamber opposes Lilly Ledbetter’s court case for equal pay because “tear-stained testimony” prejudices against a defendant. Opposed the bill in Congress to right the wrongs against Ledbetter in 2008 and 2009 as well.
  • 2007: Chamber official pledges “all out war” against Family Medical Leave Act, and in 2010 made it a “priority” to fight in Congress.
  • Monday: US Chamber again cites pregnancy as a “voluntary choice.”

Brad Peck isn’t just speaking out of his ass here. He’s continuing a decades-long tradition at the US Chamber of Commerce of hating women and opposing any effort to gain equal ground.

Michael Whitney

Michael Whitney

My name is Michael Whitney. I'm a progressive online organizer working with FDL Action. Rush Limbaugh called me "clueless" once. He went into rehab two days later.