By Sabina Mollot
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who has made equal rights for women a focal point of her legislative career, extended that attitude to the much maligned “desnudas” or topless women in body paint who’ve been hitting up tourists for tips in Times Square.
Last Wednesday, which was Women’s Equality Day, Maloney and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, along with a handful of other female elected officials, called for the passage of the Women’s Equality Amendment. At that time, she also told a reporter from the New York Observer she thought the desnudas should be treated the same as male performers like the Naked Cowboy.
That neighborhood is part of Maloney’s district, which covers much of Manhattan’s East Side as well as part of Brooklyn and Queens. Maloney is also now a member of the mayor’s task force that was recently assembled to tackle the issues of legality surrounding the desnudas’ business practices as well as those of the costumed cartoon characters who also pose for pictures with tourists in the neighborhood.
“We have not had our first meeting yet,” she said. For this reason, she declined to share her thoughts on the relatively new practice, other than to say she stood by her sentiment on equal treatment. “The painted women should be treated the same as The Naked Cowboy that apparently runs around half nude,” Maloney said. “They should be treated equally, whatever the requirements are.”
She added that she has never once heard a complaint about the topless women from her constituents. Despite the constant media spotlight on the subject throughout the summer, Maloney said when East Siders approach her, “They complain about bigger things. Economic development, jobs, transit.”
Maloney also offered status updates on various women’s rights related legislation and projects she’s working on.
Her plan to open a museum in Washington devoted to women’s accomplishments was finally passed earlier this year after years of being blocked, despite her commitment to raise the needed funds privately rather than through tax payer dollars. So far $15 million has been raised.
Also passed this year was the creation of a gold coin that will raise money for breast cancer research.
However, another bill that would give women who work for the government two weeks of paid family leave has continued to collect dust.
“I’ve been working on this bill for 15 years and it’s not passed,” said Maloney, who blamed Republicans for blocking it. “Right now you get six weeks of unpaid leave.”
Additionally, she quoted some recent stats that show how badly women are trailing behind men in the workplace. Women only hold five percent of CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies and only 17 percent have board positions. Women also earn approximately 78 percent of what men earn for the same work, costing women $10,800 in lost earnings per year.
On the other hand, noted the Congresswoman, women are working more than ever before.
“Only one fifth of families currently fit the Ozzie and Harriet stereotype of fathers going to work and mothers staying at home,” said Maloney.
She also said for this upcoming presidential election, her support is going to Hillary Clinton, who she also supported during her 2008 run. The two rain into each other twice in just the past week, at two events in the Hamptons. One was a pancake breakfast fundraiser, the other a luncheon for fashion designer Tory Burch.
“She’s asked me to campaign for her in New Hampshire and I’ll be doing that,” Maloney said. “She continues to be the most qualified in the race. She’s served in so many capacities.”
And, Maloney added, “It is refreshing to have a sane candidate.”
She found some kind words for another presidential hopeful, however. On Donald Trump, who’s been successfully hogging the headlines as of late — even in the editorial/letters page of this newspaper — Maloney said, “He’s a New Yorker,” and while chuckling, she added, “He just might be their (Republicans’) nominee. He’s 26 points ahead in the polls.”
Ultimately, she said she’d be asking all the candidates if they support the Equal Rights Amendment.
“When you discriminate against a woman, you discriminate against a family,” said Maloney. “We should find out who’s on our side. (The Equal Rights Amendment) merely says we should have equal rights under the law.”
The amendment, first drafted by Alice Paul in 1923, did finally pass in Congress in 1972, and was sent to the states for ratification. However, by the time the allotted deadline had passed in 1982, the ERA was just three states shy of the 38 ratifications necessary for inclusion in the Constitution. Maloney has introduced the Amendment ten times during her tenure in Congress.