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Drowning in the Basement

I’m generation X, lost somewhere in between the Boomers and Millennials. I have seen the feminist movement change the rules around me. Girls stopped taking typing in high school. Yes, people used to use typewriters, not computers. They could sign up for shop class to work on cars. I didn’t take shop. But I felt better about my dismal performance in home economics.

Women became business leaders, scientists, and soldiers. Kathryn Graham shattered the glass ceiling in 1972 as the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Many woman have followed her. The 2020 Nobel prizes, are examples with awards going to Andrea Ghez for physics, Jennifer A. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier both for chemistry, and Louise Glück for literature.

These woman have become role models and visual representations of the heights women can achieve.

Now it’s time to turn our eyes from the glass ceiling to those of us drowning in the basement.

The feminist movement of the past focused on a woman’s ability to compete in a man’s world. Perhaps it’s time to realize that we need a woman’s world.

Even the analogy of shattering the glass ceiling is violent. We have tolerated a system that rewards people for competition. Instead of focusing on the gap between the number of female CEOs and male CEOs focus on the gap between those at the top of those companies and everyone else. According to salary. com the average Chief Executive Officer salary in Minnesota is $802,733 as of January 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $606,518 and $1,034,357. Whereas the average a registered nurse is 65,000 to 95,000. The average pay of a school teacher in Minnesota according to salary.com is 49,000 to 84,000.

Perhaps, you think that the CEO is more educated or works longer hours. Let’s look at the facts. Warren Buffet earned a MS in Economics at Colombia. According to facethefactsusa.org, 52 percent of the nation’s 3.3 million public school teachers have a masters’ degree or better. Forbes has an article entitled One In Four Teachers Works 60-Plus Hours A Week. As a school based occupational therapist, I know most teachers work from 7 to 5 daily with meetings scheduled during their lunch hours and weekends spent planning lessons and purchasing materials with their own money.

I’m willing to concede that a CEO’s level of responsibility should exceed that of the educators of our future generation. But the feminist movement lost ground by agreeing to the significant difference in the pay and working conditions of those groups. We gave up too much when we allowed the selling of stuff to be so much more important than the people buying the stuff.

Our world needs more compassion not a faster cell phone. We need to fight for cooperation so we can figure out a way to address the pandemic and share limited resources. In short, we have outgrown the masculine need to conquer.

We will know we have succeed not when people in power are women, but when we are able to align our values with the needs of the future. Dominance and consumption are dated. The new feminist movement needs to value cooperation and conservation.


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