Hope dies in Jersey first.
Under the titled “OUR SUPER POPULAR WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT SERIES IS BACK!” on SJMag, the magazine of South Jersey, I read about the “2017 Women’s Empowerment Series.” What could the panels be like, at such an event? Twitter user Yashar Ali had the details:
You know what? I write about the strangeness of our world a lot. But I see now that it’s okay. It’s all okay. Everything is fine all the time, in all places. Yes, why not? Why not have Women’s in Business: A man’s point of view? Ha, ha, ha. Indeed, why shouldn’t we have Sal, the Doctor, Mr. Miller, and Majority Leader Greenwald on the same panel? It all makes such perfect sense, the way that leaning over a precipice or driving a fork into your own eye rings true in the right circumstances.
Why not? Because satire is dead and the South Jersey Mag, America’s leading researcher in the field of whether your local neighborhood contains the adequate amount of made men, has decided to have a discussion about women being in business from the man’s perspective. The magazine’s About page simply says: “To put it simply: We’re the heart and soul of South Jersey.”
Ha-ha, well said, friends! There is nothing so important as discussing the perspective of feminism from the penis-having POV, and by all the unspeakable gods of Jersey, this is a discussion worth having … since we never hear from the man’s perspective on anything. It’s not like we have a President and Congress dedicated to stripping women’s rights. It’s not as if our entire economic system was built on the backs of exploiting female labor, particularly the labor of marginalized women of color.
It’s not as if the first female Presidential candidate for office asked an anti-abortion, Hyde-Amendment-supporting politician to be her Vice President to balance the ticket. After all, this is the same nation where the Republicans are shutting down women’s reproductive rights clinics wherever they can find them—so, of fucking course, this is exactly the right moment to hear the Very Masculine Perspective, since God knows it doesn’t exist anywhere else in our system.
Yes, why not? Two months ago, Marketplace published an article with the cheerful news that a rough equality would sort of, kind of exist between the sexes in, oh, twenty years, when your grandchildren will have just arrived on the scene. They added this sterling note of progress:
Earlier this year, the Economic Policy Institute released a report that found that Asian women get paid 88 cents and white non-Hispanic women earn 81 cents for every dollar that non-Hispanic white men get paid. Meanwhile, black women get paid 65 cents and Hispanic women get paid 59 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. The report was released in time for this year’s International Women’s Day when women across the U.S. gathered to call for equal pay.
Remember, this was published as a note of optimism. And this was from a story about the capitalists themselves—female owners, not workers. This dismal twenty-year lag is the best-case scenario for the people who already possess the means of production. Business Insider was less optimistic, noting that
Today, on average, a woman earns 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, and women’s median annual earnings are $10,800 less than men’s, according to a report released by the Senate Joint Economic Committee Democratic Staff last April. While progress has been made towards pay parity between the sexes, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that it will not be reached until 2059.
This is the business world that SJMag is giving us the man’s perspective on. The man’s perspective! Think of treating the man’s perspective like an endangered condor, as if it was a rare dinosaur egg you had to guard with jackknives.
Now, perhaps it seems odd to comment on the effect of one panel in one series. But like an oncologist, I’m of the opinion that small matters matter, and that the whole future can be guessed from a single biopsy. When I consider the mountains of golden profit gained by fortune tellers, palm-readers, and stockbrokers every day, it makes me throw away my petty inhibitions—it makes me want to get a hold of the future however I can. We are therefore obliged to look deeper into SJMag’s panel discussion—which occurred yesterday and for some reason I was not invited to, since I am also ready to give a man’s perspective in what the hell is going on here.
Let me say this so all the people from the front to the back nod: business, as it is currently constructed, is literally the man’s perspective. Business is not a neutral field, where the man’s perspective needs to be heart. The field itself is the masculine perspective. Business, in all its formulations, is a concrete, legally recognized realization of masculine privilege. It’s like a panel titled: “The Army—The Military Perspective.” We already know what men in business think.
All objections to hearing marginalized voices—whether it’s white dudes shouting down diversity initiatives, or men complaining that women have preferential treatment—is based on the premise that the world is already just and fair. It is not. Its institutions do not reflect fairness, its practices do not reflect fairness, its day-to-day life does not care about fairness. The dream of equitable treatment is talked about, sure. Talking’s easy. But it’s not realized in any tangible, solid way.
Many conservatives who object to equitable treatment do so because they are middle-class, and hear middle-class people, just like them, share the belief that women and men should be equal. Because these are widely-shared values, they assume women and men are already equal, and that women are agitating for more than their fair share. But this is fantasy. Just because the people around you agree that fairness should reign, it does not follow that society has followed through. Look at how money and power are distributed, and then tell me with a straight face there is equality in the land. Opinion is useless unless it is written into the institutional fabric of the law. It doesn’t matter how much mouth-music is made about sharing the wealth: call me when we actually tax the one percent.
The very existence of the man’s-perspective-panel breaks new ground, though nobody realizes it.
Many of you reading this are old enough to recall a time when satire did not yet coat reality like ads covering a NASCAR. Nowadays, farce is layered over everything, like Pompeii sleeping under a layer of volcanic ash. I remember when there were some parts of the world that existed outside of mockery. Parts of human life could be melodramatic—even tragic. Those days seem long ago, like the prime of Smashmouth.
Satire only works when certain parts of human existence are taken seriously. Satire is a watchful bird of prey, and mocks seriousness by being double serious on whatever subject it seeks to ridicule. But how do you do satire in world where even the dry, business-owning class is beyond satire? In what way is satire possible? Archimedes famously said in his pre-death days that if you gave him a place to stand and a lever, he could move the world. A sober story, and no doubt true. The world has changed its position multiple times, if science is to be believed.
But what do you do when there’s not even a place to stand? What do we do when reality impoverishes the concepts of farce? What in the name of God and all his Counterstrike missions do we do with the Man’s Perspective of Women in Business?
Every atom of matter in our world is beyond the dream of farce. There is no aspect of the world that we can point to, and scream calmly, “Ah, the sober port in the storm.” Satire rules all, satire is king. When satire rules, there satire ends: there can be no satire where every single feature of the globe is ecumenically ridiculous.
Satire has been annihilated in one final, white-hot, nuclear-blast, Whitney Houston-level performance of America is Beyond Parody. In the first year of President Sex Predator, in the autumn of Weinstein, we have, I swear to god, the Man’s Perspective on Women in Business. And now, in South Jersey, where several parts of Hoffa may be buried, and nine out of ten highways terminate in the manta-ray-breeding depths of the Atlanta, the shambling corpse of modern business feminism is being laid to rest, too.
Ring all the broken bells, send out the messengers by land and sea, call in the horses and gather the ambassadors of every nation; tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon, this is how all human comedy ends. South Jersey has done the deed, and deep down, we always knew it would.
UPDATE: After initially defending their decision to run this man panel, SJ Magazine cancelled it in a bout of rationality.