Is the Wage Gap Even Real?

Women argue with me every time I suggest that the pervasive statistics on the wage gap are wrong. They cite personal examples and refuse to grant credence to my ideas. But now, thanks to this 5 minute video, I know for a fact that the traditional idea of women making 77 cents to every dollar a man makes is wrong – when other factors are considered, that gap is reduced from 23 cents to about 6 cents.

But that 23 cents didn’t come out of thin air – it’s calculated by dividing the median wages of all women working full time by the median wages of all men working full time. As the video I linked above shows, this doesn’t take into account other important factors, chief among them the often underrated and entirely unpaid choice to birth children. But the primary culprit is job choice. More women are teachers. More men are aerospace engineers. More women are social workers, and more men are investment bankers.

Women tend to choose paths of connection and health, while men chase money and power. And which of these does our society value more?

You don’t need to be a statistician to know that we live in a society valuing competition over connection, infrastructure over mental health, technology over education, and money over connection.

So it’s no surprise that most of the jobs that require intense masculine yang energy are higher paying than those that require soft feminine yin energy.

So, ladies and gents, when you bring up the wage gap, please change your language. Yes, patriarchy is a real thing, but it’s not perpetuated by companies choosing to pay men more than they pay women. It’s far more systemic than that, and reducing it to physical gender misses the point entirely. It’s a preference for masculine energy over feminine, a valuing of intensity over ease, power over empathy.

Let’s keep using that 77 cents on the dollar statistic. But take sex out of the equation and start talking about masculine and feminine. About the fact that our society pays engineers and lawyers and investment bankers hundreds of thousands more than teachers and social workers and counselors. And maybe we’ll start making progress.

Peace, Love, and Namaste –

signature

In Celebration of Women

Aren’t we lucky, getting a whole day to celebrate our sex? Personally, I take it further – it’s become a lifestyle. I grew up resisting it, seeing femininity as a weakness, an excuse to be emotionally unstable and manipulative, a made-up façade under which brains were supposed to atrophy, a body and soul with no purpose past the functional roles of briefly being sexy and then bearing and raising children.

I grew up wearing my older brother’s hand-me-down basketball shorts and t-shirts, running around outside, reading books, and acing timed math tests –

boyish little girl

One Halloween I was a twerk queen…

#TBT halloween twerking little girl

…and the next I was a football player –

little girl halloween football player

While I’ve always loved style and dance, my preferences for intellectual conversations and theological debates followed me throughout adolescence, leading to taunts of lesbianism (at a time when I was fully in denial of existing as a sexual being – straight or otherwise) and honest thoughts of changing my gender. Because men have it easier. They get to be smart and funny and ugly and still respected, considered successful. But women – women only have to be beautiful, women can only be doted on and adored. I decided I was too short to become male and that, for me, it wasn’t worth the process of switching over, and now – well, now I am a woman. And now I absolutely respect and adore that.

let's be feminists beautiful blog woman

But this did not happen overnight. Before I could ever celebrate my femininity, I had to understand it. So I studied, spent years exploring and trying on different forms, trying to understand what this was. And I learned that Western culture has a very limited understanding of it.

Today is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate those who identify as women. Feminism is more than this – it is a celebration of the feminine. Man or woman or gender neutral, every single one of us has feminine energies and qualities. Maybe you don’t like that we use this word, indicative of our society’s binary idea of gender, to describe intuition, sensitivity, beauty, and other lighter energies, but let’s take one step at a time. For now, this is how people understand it, and it makes the most sense to use it.

Feminism got lost when women tried to be men, just like patriarchy became toxic when men denied their feminine qualities. We need balance – all of us. Men focused on brute force and power, and more recently, women have embraced our masculine energies, focusing on gaining access to the boys’ club that was politics and business and science and philosophy and – practically everything. Now men stay at home to raise children and women, too, are finding our way to this balance. We’ve gained access – women are CEOs, we are philosophers, we are engineers, we are mathematicians. We wear pants suits and we cut off all our hair and we are powerful. But let’s not forget our sensitivity, our beauty.

Let’s relish in our ability to wear dresses and lipstick, let’s lean in to our femininity in order to actualize ourselves – societally and personally. And – what  I love most about this – is that it’s inclusive. Everyone has a feminine side, everyone can embrace emotion because we all have it. Everyone can be beautiful, and sensitive, and sweet – these are not weak. It takes strength to feel. It takes courage to be sensitive and kind and caring, bravery to be beautiful and fragile. Men, women, everyone – we are fragile, we are lovely, we are gracious – we are feminine. This is feminism. This is what I celebrate. So today, on this day for women, and on every subsequent day, let’s celebrate the women in our lives and the feminine energies within us. Let’s all be feminists.

feminism is for everyone #internationalwomensday

Love, calm, & care –

signature

[Lemonade] Deconstruction Part I

Everyone drinks lemonade. She did not call this Grape Soda or Jungle Juice or champagne. She called it Lemonade. Pour yourself a tall glass. Share the pitcher with everyone you know. It is delicious.

On the first track, “Pray You Catch Me,” she’s praying to be caught, to end the dishonesty. We all know how painful lying is. The betrayal of feeling slighted, deceived – disrespected. “Maybe it’s a cause for concern / that I’m not at ease.” Trust yourself. And, in the beautifully shot visual album, she jumps off a building into water. He didn’t catch her.

Beyoncé reads poems between the songs, all by the poet Warsan Shire, In the poem after this song, she grieves how when men hurt us, we attempt to reduce ourselves. If we weren’t enough for them…then what?

Then she opens the floodgates, in the most amazing dress I’ve ever dreamed of owning, and is enough for herself, singing “Hold Up / They don’t love you like I love you.” This is the freedom, the power that comes with realizing your agency. If you’re Beyoncé, this manifests in smashing car windows and fire hydrants with a baseball bat, smiling and twirling and owning every inch of your fine self. It is glorious. She’s showing off how incredible she knows herself to be, graciously showing him how stupid he was to step out on her. Everyone watching this is thinking, “Jay-Z, what the hell is wrong with you? You’re married to BEYONCE.” And she knows it. She won’t reduce herself for him.

She labels the phases of enduring trauma, beginning with Anger. This album is a how-to guide of sorts, a method for feeling and accepting and gracefully processing the emotions that surface in hard times. She’s mad, asking, “Why can’t you see me? Everyone else can.” Maybe they don’t. But she sees herself clearly. She knows who she is, and love can only come from someone else who sees her this way. She put Jay’s ass in check. But she did it kindly on “Don’t Hurt Yourself” – “When you love me / you love yourself.” This is good for both of us. Do better. You don’t want to lose this, Jay. She is too much for you. Be the man Beyoncé deserves.

She intersperses the power of “Don’t Hurt Yourself” with a quote from Malcolm X, speaking about the struggles black women go through. And the worst part is that much of America has no idea. Well let Beyoncé inform you. She gets crazy in this song, and it’s beautiful – she is free, and she is speaking truth. But she knows what’s what – when referencing God, she flashes “GOD IS GOD AND I AM NOT” across the screen. Fans of anyone, please remember this. People are not gods. Beyoncé is a powerful woman with a good message, but she is not a deity. She’s just out here doin some good.

Next phase: Apathy. She proclaims her greatness as taken for granted and rocks it out on “Sorry.” Because she isn’t. She didn’t do anything wrong. And this touches on a common problem among girls and women – an epidemic of over-apologizing. Sorry for taking up space. Sorry for being a person. Sorry for having an opinion. Please, ladies, let’s put a stop to this. Personally, I caught myself doing this a few years ago and consciously made an effort to stop. It is possible. Now I say “excuse me” when I walk through people in a crowded room.

She ends the song with, “You better call Becky with the good hair.” Please don’t interpret this as Beyoncé calling out someone named Becky. This is a common slur for, typically, a slutty white girl or simply someone who gives head freely. “Good hair” – I refer to Chris Rock’s documentary; it’s traditionally seen as straight, smooth, tame.

Beyoncé continues to celebrate the power of wild women. “6 Inch” is anything but tame. It’s an anthem, an anthem that celebrates another woman slaying the game, lauding the work that she puts in. As women, we should be each other’s ultimate supporters. I notice women glaring at me when I walk into a room confidently. Let me be great. It doesn’t detract from your greatness. In fact, celebrating another woman makes you look better, if that’s what you’re worried about. There’s no need for pettiness – think of the greater cause. If you want women to make strides in society, start by supporting your sisters in the club. We are all beautiful. And when I say sisters, I mean all women. A term for black women has been “sisters.” During my time at Howard, I realized that that’s how they see each other. They do have it rough, and they support each other. Fashion was a thing, but never in a competitive sense. I learned how to support other women by being friends with black women. But all women should exercise this – why not empower ourselves? We’re playing for the same team.

Sisters. In Costa Rica.

Sisters. In Costa Rica.

It’s interesting that she puts the phase of Loss in the midst of “6 Inch” and ends the song with the repeated plea, “Come back.” Even at her strongest, she knows that she can accomplish the most as part of a team.

The next phase is Accountability. “Did he bend your reflection? / Did he make you forget your own name?” [Warsan Shire] Women in my family have been abused. Not my immediate family – farther up – but the marks are evident. And that makes you tough. That’s “Daddy’s Lesson.” You learn strength when women in your life have been wronged. You learn it for their sake. In this song she uses her father as someone she learned from both directly and indirectly, citing his mistakes as reasons for her toughness and his words as reasons for her strength. Women can have male role models. My dad was one of the people I respected the most.

Reformation. “Why do you consider yourself undeserving? / Why are you afraid of love?” [Warsan Shire] Love yourself first. Maybe that’s scary. Change happens when you go through some shit. It can be scary, because it’s a loss – parts of you die. But the most beautiful life can come from death. Daisies grow on graves.

To be continued.

042215_0356_Psychopaths1.jpg