On Election Day two weeks ago, San Francisco joined Seattle to become the second city in the United States with a $15-per-hour minimum wage. 

As a registered member of the Democratic Party, this was a mere Band-Aid for my gaping LePage/McConnell wound. But as a current pseudo-communist, future social democrat and devout feminist (go ahead, NSA, put me on your list!), my heart fluttered.

Seattle and San Francisco have more than doubled the federally-mandated minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Twenty-six states and Washington, D.C., have minimum hourly wages above $7.25, but some of them, including Maine’s, stand at $7.50. 

Put simply, the paltry minimum wage in this country means that a person can work full time and still live below the poverty line. If this isn’t a blow to the myth of the meritocratic American Dream, I don’t know what is.

But raising the minimum wage is not just an economic issue; it is a feminist issue. At Bowdoin, we constantly hear about the wage gap between men and women who do the same jobs: for every dollar a man makes, a woman on average makes 77 cents. That’s unjust. 

I’ll be the first to say that a male doctor should not make $200,000 a year when his female colleague makes $154,000, but there is another pay gap that has to do with the types of jobs men and women work. According to the National Women’s Law Center, about two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women.

The push for $15 per hour has its origins in the fast food labor movement. The fast food industry, like most industries that employ minimum wage workers, is composed disproportionately of women. Of these women, many are women of color and many are parents, so it almost goes without saying that the Republican myth of the minimum wage worker being a teenager earning movie money is bullshit. 

Not only does it incorrectly assume the age of many laborers, it relies on a dated idea of the nuclear family. She may very well be a teenager earning baby formula money.
Feminist discourse pays a lot of attention to the ceiling. I’m excited to have a woman president (you can see on my Twitter that I follow Ready for Hillary) and I’ve started referring to Bowdoin’s next president as she. 

But check out the floor. Why are there so many women at the bottom, and why is the bottom so dismally low? 

Maybe it feels more appropriate for Bowdoin students to crack the ceiling because our career trajectories are likely to collide with it. But feminism is an ideology of equality. What good is it to claim the label if you don’t interpret it expansively?

Fifteen dollars an hour sounds like an opportunity to me. Let’s fight for a higher minimum wage—a radically higher minimum wage—in the name of justice, in the name of dignity and in the name of feminism.