When Ignorance Meets Self-Promotion: Beyonce
Written by Craig Rogers, Posted on , in Section Must Reads
In a continuation of the proud tradition of poorly informed and unintelligent celebrities offering advice and guidance to our society, Beyoncé has recently attracted a significant amount of attention for her short essay about the state of gender equality. In this essay, she offers a take on the state of gender equality that essentially boils down to a claim that the income gap between men and women means that gender equality is a myth. However, upon closer examination of the issue it becomes clear that she merely read some statistics about the income gap that are frequently mentioned in the discussion of gender and then decided to write about how alarming she finds it without any consideration of the reasons behind this disparity.
What Beyoncé Didn't Consider
There are a number of potential explanations for the gap in pay between men and women that don't rely on some vague supposed cultural bias against women. One of the most convincing of these is the argument that women earn a lower average wage because of a tendency to either exit the work force for several years when they have children or drastically reduce the amount of time they spend at work. For many women, this comes at a time that is important in determining the overall trajectory of their career. This may seem unfair to some, but it is important to remember that this is a personal choice. Women who choose not to have children, or simply to continue working full-time after having their children would not experience a slow down in their career. Furthermore, if we want true equality either sex should be free to stay at home with children. If women are particularly career focused they should act like their male counterparts and find a spouse that is more interested in childcare.
In addition to these other factors, one must consider possible evolutionary explanations for the wage gap. An example of this would be the widely held belief that men are inherently more aggressive than women and this lead them to further their careers in situations where women might hesitate. It's certainly possible that any specific difference between the sexes, such as the degree of aggression exhibited, could be the result of cultural influences but few people would go so far as to say that culture is the only reason for differences in mentality between men and women. It's clear that biology plays at least a small part in these differences and it would be foolish to believe that this won't have at least some impact on how our society functions.
Beyoncé's Motivation For Speaking Out Is The Continued Viability Of Her Career
Moving beyond the reasons the content of Beyoncé's essay is ignorant, it is also interesting to consider her motivations for making these kinds of statements about gender equality. Examining this issue, one thing becomes clear. In recent years, she has built much of her popularity around an image of being a crusader for women's power. Most of her songs involve some type of commentary about the state of modern femininity and her attempts to be a strong woman. This niche has allowed her to continue to grow in popularity as she reaches an age when pop stars generally begin to fade from the public consciousness. It seems fairly obvious when viewing the essay she wrote in this light, that much of her stance on gender equality is based on simple self-interest more than any strong beliefs. This would explain the provocative but poorly informed nature of her take on gender equality. While Beyoncé may be ignorant about gender issues, she definitely understands self-promotion.