Like most kids my daughter cares about fairness more than just about anything else she talks about. It's not fair. That's not fair. Like most dads, I suppose, I figure it's part of growing up to discover that the world really isn't a fair place at all, and, worse, can't be made fair. But it can be made more free, and it can be made more honest.
So last night as she was watching the Oscars and cooing over the dresses and hairstyles of her favorite actresses she was jarred by Patricia Arquette's insertion of politics into the gala. What, my daughter asked me, was this talk about equal rights being denied? What was Arquette talking about? And how does this unequal pay thing work anyhow?
I don't directly answer questions like these. I don't want automatons for kids, and as a result we have some fantastic debates, often with me in the minority, but all challenging and good. In last night's case I instead told my daughter about the 14th Amendment, and so she read it. Equal protection for each PERSON. How then could that mean women have fewer rights then men? Women in America don't, and an article in HuffPo my daughter then read proved the point, though it was intended to prove how women had it so bad. The article went on and on about how women go to space, get elected to office, run major corporations, and so on, and then said how dire the unequal rights situation really was. Reality escaped that author.
But what about this "income gap" my daughter asked me. So I asked her, instead, to think of a reason why a company would hire a man to perform the same job as a woman if the woman was going to earn just 77 cents on the dollar, as our gloriously dishonest president has repeatedly said. The economic lights came on. And it led us to talk about just why women do earn 77% of what men earn in this country. And it has NOTHING to do with being paid less for doing the same job.
Who knew the Oscars could provide so much to talk about?
But then my daughter did something, something that an innocent mind would think is perfectly normal and right. She wrote on social media that she didn't agree with Patricia Arquette about women having fewer rights than men in America. Her school "friends", some of them, pounced, with one going so far as to "announce" to the world that my daughter hates women. This is particularly painful for me as I know the girl who did it, coached her for years in soccer, and would do anything I could to help her. But, alas, her parents are community college teachers, very liberal, and so it stands to reason that she would emulate them and their ideology.
Most kids, despite what we like to say when we are kids, end up very similar to their parents. And so it's not really my daughter's friend who is to blame, but rather her liberal parents. People, btw, who I have always had a very pleasant relationship with and am glad to know. But I have to conclude they may not want their daughter to think much, and instead want for her to know much. Because when my daughter explained what had happened--she was demanded, as often happens here as well, to provide sources (as if logic itself isn't a source to be reckoned with), and she did--the reply was that the Constitution, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, or the economic logic of employer self-interest, were invalid sources to defend such heresy on her part.
Women, as my daughter was to quickly be told, are victims of a patriarchy which is so sinister that it even corrupts the very words in the Constitution which deny it. The same patriarchy which voted to give women the right to vote!!! Dammit! Wait a minute...gave women the right to vote? But I thought it hated women.
I hated to see my innocent child grow up a little bit more last night. I hated to have to explain that some people deeply desire to be victims. They cherish it. Cultivate it. Fertilize it...don't get any on you. But it also gave me the opportunity to ask my daughter to read David Mamet's "Why I am no longer a 'brain-dead liberal'" article in The Village Voice. A half hour later she smiled again.