Off the beat: The feminist conundrum

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While walking on Sproul last week, I was met with one of Cal’s famously spirited protests. The men circled in front of the student store chanting their overwhelming distaste for the brutal “War on Women,” and though I didn’t have time to stop and speak with them about their ideologies, the encounter did remind me of one of the glaring hypocrisies of our day: new-age feminism.

For the sake of conciseness, I’ll summarize feminism’s roots in one brief sentence: Feminism began as a means to an end of women receiving equal status in the eyes of the law and, consequently, equal status in the eyes of society as a whole. It stemmed from the denial of women’s rights to vote and work for equal pay, and, from an unbiased standpoint on humanity, it made perfect sense and was a long time coming. Today’s so-called “feminism,” though, is another beast entirely.

Women today march around kicking and screaming in a stubborn refusal to be “subjected to men’s will” any longer. They demand insurance-covered contraceptives, cite statistics of inequality in wages of the genders and claim that putting on heels and earrings for a night out is giving in to our subjugation by men.

Quite frankly, this is all a load of crap. Instead of reflecting our feminist foremothers’ passion around being seen as humans rather than being defined by gender, these displays of animosity toward males do nothing more than destroy the credibility of the equality argument altogether. Feminism has become a clever disguise for the idea that we women, not men, “run this shit.”

Take, for instance, the outrage over the wage gap. My feminist friends will not relent when it comes to the fact that women’s salaries — depending on their age groups — are between 75 and 85 percent of men’s. This statistic, however, is sadly misleading. First of all, women comprise almost 60 percent of the population in both undergraduate tracks and graduate schools. And though I typically hear the argument that this should lead to higher women’s salaries, my fine-feathered friends neglect that the more time spent in school, the less time spent slaving year after year for the same company (and slowly climbing the payscale ladder). Education is definitely a wise investment, but every extra year of school can delay the job search. And though having more degrees may lead to faster, more lucrative promotions, you’ll initially earn less than colleagues of the same age who began working at the company sooner.

Secondly, we women possess the miraculous gift of giving birth to our world’s future generations. It’s somewhat difficult for a company to continually promote an employee who can take three- to four-month (and typically longer, by choice) lapses from the job at really any time. Women can’t expect to take up to 10 years off from their careers and still come back and earn as much as male counterparts of similar ages.

Those who cry complete unfairness in the wage gap seem to forget that men and women lead completely different lives. The natural deviation between the genders’ lives is bound to lead to discrepancies between salaries, which don’t necessarily point to inequality. Though yes, the world isn’t perfect, and yes, various forms of inequality do exist almost everywhere we look, we need to stop placing every issue into gender-versus-gender terms and see that we can be equal without being exactly the same.

The only true feminist in mainstream media anymore is Nicki Minaj. Yes, I said it. Nicki, in all her wig-clad glory, is the prime example of seeing oneself not as a man or woman but as a person. She herself has said, “I’m trying to entertain, and entertaining is more than exuding sex appeal … I’m trying to just show my true personality, and I think that means more than anything else. I think when personality is at the forefront, it’s not about male or female.” Nicki — who also refers to herself as a king and runs in the heavily male-dominated rap industry — is solely out to prove her own worth, not her worth in comparison to a man’s. She represents everything genuine about traditional feminism — in a nontraditional way, that is. We ladies could learn something from her.

So, the next time you’re looking to rail against the “War on Women” and complain about how oppressed we’ve been for far too long, ask yourself: “Am I a real feminist?” Because if you are, you’ll feel no need to worry and whine about everything you’re missing out on that men might have. You’ll simply pursue whatever it is you want to do, expect nothing to be handed to you freely and avoid constantly comparing your situation to someone else’s. You are powerful, and you are equal. And so am I. And so are men.

Contact Claire Chiara at [email protected]