Women have been told that their happiness will come, as it comes to all of us, when their shackles have been broken. The question of where the shackles have come from, and just what the shackles are made of, is a tricky question indeed. One of the first writers on this subject, Simone de Beauvoir, painted a grim picture for those of the fairer sex: women are bound and led by men, dictated to by male tyrants, their sex is defined only in relation to the male, and that men have fashioned them as the primordial ‘Other’. Women need, she claimed, to reject any definition of the female that involves comparison with the male.
It seems that de Beauvoir would not so much have us accept her ideas, but reject those ideas which would contradict hers. Women’s breasts should be interpreted in total isolation of any other facts, specifically those facts which show how they work conspicuously well for child-rearing. Women’s vaginas should be interpreted in total isolation of any other facts, specifically those facts which show how they work conspicuously well with penises. We should disregard any notion of nature or design that had seen fit to make women and men two parts of a greater whole. It’s all wrong, and any evidence to show how it’s right is wrong, too. I would call this a head-in-the-sand approach.
Although de Beauvoir was not keen to call herself a feminist, later feminists assimilated and propagated her faith, mostly as a concentrated sales pitch to have women reject traditional lifestyles in favor of a feminist one. Marriage stifles women’s individuality and drives them to adultery; never mind that for every married woman there must also be a married man. Women are defined only in accord with their usefulness in childbearing and rearing; never mind that men are defined only in accord with their ability to provide for and defend a family. It’s the same sand and the same submerged heads.
So where is the exit button? Where is the fire escape? What is the favorite solution of de Beauvoir and the ranks of grumpy feminists who followed her? Women should escape manmade definitions of womanhood, we are told in all seriousness, by becoming more like men—walking like men, working like men, and thinking like men. Women should eschew family for career, like men. Women should cut their hair short, like men. Women should smoke, drink, and curse, like men. Women should let their body hair grow naturally, like men. Women should reject cosmetics, like men. Women should show more initiative and aggression, like men. In short, women should be everything they are not by becoming men.
De Beauvoir wrote, “Men and women must, among other things and beyond their natural differentiations, unequivocally affirm their brotherhood.”
Maybe along with better wages women should also get a better sense of irony.
The flaws in the feminist approach are too numerous to be fully dealt with here. The needle of the compass is spinning wildly; de Beauvoir and the feminists are marching backward because they have convinced themselves that backward is forward. Women were living in Shambhala and now, with trumpets and self-congratulation, they are marching straight to Siberia. The first and most glaring flaw feminists make is to assume that being a man is desirable.
Where do these total misapprehensions come from? Most men have had to fight and scrimp and save for all that they have earned in life; it is hard work.
Fewer men than women enter universities each year despite the fact that males perform better than females on standardized tests. If the situation were reversed, we would hear about it every night on the 6 o’clock news: EDUCATION MAYHEM — OUR GIRLS LEFT BEHIND! Men are more likely to do additional jail time for the same crimes as women. PRISON INDECISION — WOMEN TREATED LIKE CONVICTS! Men have much higher suicide rates than women. SUICIDE BLUES — WOMEN AT RECORD RATES OF SELF-HARM! Men are much more likely to be killed or maimed on the job. WORKPLACE SHAME — BAD BOSSES BREAKING WOMENS’ BONES. By now you get the idea. Where is the league of professional victimhood when you need them? Sorry boys, they play for the other team.
The second flaw is to assume that being something other than what she is could make a woman happy. Squirrels are not known to get happy when you throw them into the sea; but put them in a tree and they get giddy. The tree is right in line with the squirrel’s nature; the water is better left for surfers and the sharks that eat them. Sharks do not want to be squirrels and squirrels do not want to be sharks, so what in a woman’s nature would make her happy to be less like a woman and more like a man?
Add to this nonsensical impulse of our age to make women more like men, yet another impulse to keep women somehow distinct from the men who they are told they should become. With ideas like these whistling around the head of the modern woman, is it any wonder that she is no less miserable than she was before her supposed liberation? She is stressed from work and she feels quietly the absence of children in her life but she is supposed to be grateful for it because she is tending the mill like a man. She is anxious from barking orders all day even as her heart tells her to soften up. She speaks of a blank-slate, of how gender is beat into us by an overbearing society, even as she weeps over second-rate melodramas on television that no self-respecting man would watch, much less cry about them. She assures us in smug overtures that she does not need makeup or dainty clothes as she uploads to Facebook the latest photo of herself all decked out for a night on the town.
Now let’s consider all of those dirty jobs that men hate not because they are jobs, but because they are dirty. Why would a career in air-traffic control make a woman happy when it has made most men miserable? Why should the idea of dying on the beaches of a modern-day Normandy make women courageous when it has made most men terrified? It is the height of folly to assume that jobs which bring men misery will somehow make women happy since by working these jobs they are being more like men. Imagine if feminists decided to bridge the suicide gap by urging women to commit suicide more often, since by being more like men, it would help women to narrow the gender gap. That is, in essence, what is being encouraged when women are told to work the same miserable jobs as men and that for doing so they should smile as wide as they can. Yes, women, you should dance! Revel in your shortened life spans, your anguish and stress, your childless deaths and welcome your liberation.
Now let’s consider the ways in which men and women work differently. In a study by a Boston-based firm called Bain & Company about women in the workplace, they discovered that the further women work their way up the corporate ladder, the more likely their ambitions are to taper off.
There are two conclusions that can be drawn from this data. The swiftest conclusion is the one that feminists have, in every circumstance, always drawn the swiftest: that men are at fault. The study tells us that women are struggling to maintain their ambitions because men higher up the totem-pole are not encouraging women enough. The study decides to completely ignore how men actually start their careers with more modest ambitions than women. Why are there no prescriptions for cheerleaders and empowerment workshops for those meager men? Why is it sexist to assume that women cannot compete with men and yet not sexist to assume that they need kind and encouraging words more than men to keep them in a state of equilibrium? What tangled webs we weave.
Realistically, the study calls into focus the clear differences between how women and men think. I come to a conclusion quite different than what the study’s authors had concluded — but what do I know? I am just a soon-to-be dead, white male. The study truly highlights the lower satiation and satisfaction levels of the female psyche: women want comfort more than glory. They want security and peace of mind; not tickertape parades and a statue carved in their likeness. Like men, they long for status and wealth but, unlike some men, only to the point that they need not worry about deprivation. This is not to say that all men are virulently ambitious; that is not true. The majority of men, like the majority of women, just want to keep their heads above water. They just want food in the fridge and new shows on Netflix. The key point to be made is that men have more outliers and oddballs: the rare breed of person who does so dearly long for the tickertape, the statues, and the honorary plaques just so happen to be men.
Undoubtedly, there are genetic reasons to explain why men are more likely to fall on the extreme ends of the bell curve. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes perfect sense. Once a woman has met her bare levels of material satisfaction why should she keep slaving away when having a baby would make much better use of her body? Once you have driven your car to the store you do not leave it running just because you can. The job is done, now it’s time to do what you intended to do: it is time to shop. Or, in the case of women, it is time to shop for a good man with which to raise a family. Even if, rationally speaking, a woman is past her natural childbearing years, the instinct to be content with just being content is much more likely to remain; instincts are not always rational in every circumstance.
Not only are women as a whole more willing to work part-time when compared with men, most white women in particular really do not want to be saddled with the responsibilities that come from leadership. As shocking as it may be for some, maybe the wage gap exists precisely because women are pursuing their happiness — and their happiness is not to be found in their work.
For most women, comfort is what they find to be most comfortable. In the mind of this not-so-humble author, I have proposed a perfectly reasonable alternative explanation for the findings of Bain & Company; and certainly it is a much better explanation than the claim that men are not encouraging women enough. That explanation is so royally bad that I think extraterrestrial abduction of women with high confidence levels would have been a better explanation than it.
How could the authors, people supposedly endowed with sane minds, not see the two most blatantly sexist assumptions in their conclusion? First, their conclusion assumes that women need more encouragement to do the same job that men can do with less encouragement offered to them. This does not bode well at all for women. Second, their assumption overlooks the previously mentioned men who start off with lower confidence than their female counterparts. This tells us men that our doubts are not as legitimate as those of women.
We can only congratulate Bain & Company for cooking up a conclusion so half-baked that it could bring both feminists and men’s rights advocates into agreement on just how stupid of a conclusion it is.
Yet, this sort of lunacy only brings us back to the beginning. The conclusion of Bain & Company is no more oblivious to reality than de Beauvoir’s conclusion that women should free themselves from men by becoming men themselves. If these are the proposed solutions I will gladly keep the original, more dependable problems. If burning down the house is the only solution, I will gladly accept a mouse or two in the walls. If sinking the whole boat is the only solution, I will gladly endure a hole or two in the sails.
To ensure that things run smoothly we must embrace some contradictions, or at the very least, we must embrace ideas that seem contradictory to modern minds. We should set aside the misty uncertainty of idealism, cast off the calls for equality, and let the tried and trusted machinery work as it has always worked: let’s let women be women and men be men and call it a day.