As with most fractious issues — when it comes to the gender pay gap, somewhere between whining and hostility, the facts speak volumes about reality. Feminism in its most earnest form is and was about being paid equally for performing equal tasks. The mutation we face today is more representative of identity politics and the American left’s obsession with victimhood. The result has given us more bitterness, more stratification, but not more money. Women are told that they must embrace their inner astronaut/waitress/fireman if they are to fulfill the call of duty to their gender. Being a wife and a mother is a right, not a gift or a vocation worthy of full-time dedication. The expectation seems to be that a subservient husband and 1.7 achieving children will be issued to any woman with a passing interest in accumulating them, but no corresponding responsibility exists.
The schism was most recently and starkly evident when certain liberal women not only decried Laura Bush’s award by the Sewall-Belmont House, but insisted Michelle Obama was equally unworthy of the award. Citing the First Lady’s law degree, followed by a pejorative stab at her ‘gardening book’, it was surmised that someone just wasn’t paying their dues. This schizophrenic approach to life and the pursuit of happiness is deliciously, yet tragically Democratic. Is Sonia Pressman Fuentes positing that if an advanced degree is issued to a woman, she’s now indentured to the cause? (Is Fuentes aware that Laura Bush also earned grad school cred with her Library Science degree? Perhaps the former First Lady’s outreach in Africa was similarly off-track. Color within the lines, now, dames… don’t go being a distraction.) Michelle Obama and Laura Bush are both mothers of two daughters ~ what could possibly have more lioness pride attached to it? But no. Only the ilk of Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda have done it correctly, with their repressed, antiseptic, no-risk approach to life and love.
The conversation about third-wave feminism may be relevant and necessary, but let’s not get too emotional and defensive, ladies. Don’t be such stereotypical chicks. You’re embarrassing the rest of us. We who gratefully choose the work we do, whether we seek a paycheck for it, or collaborate with a husband who provides for our material needs, don’t need your data-skewing tantrums. It’s all about choices. A central sadness in the ripple effects of modern feminism is that weak and unprincipled men are too often let off the hook. While good men remain heroic in quiet service to their family, our culture lines up to ogle morons and pretend that being tied up equals liberation.
A leading solution to the gender pay gap is, certainly, that women learn to negotiate initial salary offers more like a man would, but another is that women embrace the unique feminine genius granted by their Creator. Intact families are the bedrock of American greatness, and the interdependence fostered by strong and sacrificial men — who attract strong, self-giving women — is the salve to our gaping spiritual and economic wounds. If all this sounds too esoteric and utopian, perhaps Erica Jong can prod along the skeptics: ”Take responsibility for your own actions, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.”
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