A new variation on the old standby symbolizes the pointlessness of a certain type of feminism.
In talking with feminists, I’ve noticed two types.
Stereotypes? No! Types. (Please read what I’m actually writing.)
First, the giving sort. This feminist spends her time helping women escape unjust and (often horrifyingly) abusive situations, from exclusion in education and employment to domestic violence, forced marriages, prostitution, and female genital mutilation. She’ll risk her reputation, her friends, her job, and sometimes even her life for females she doesn’t know. Even when I don’t share her politics, I admire her greatly.
Second, the silly sort. This feminist lectures the nice man at the station who only asked if she needed help with her suitcase; demands that a pointless statue of a girl be erected in front of an even more pointless statue of a bull; and sits round a boardroom table, in a fancy office, in a first-world country, eating all the cookies, and exclaiming loudly, “You know what feminism today really needs?” — at which point her male colleagues all slump in their chairs. “It needs Ms. Monopoly! The first game where women make more than men!”
Oh, perfect. I wonder why Mrs. Pankhurst didn’t think of it.
Of course, I don’t know whether the toy company, Hasbro, really has a fancy office or whether it does indeed employ men with poor posture. However, I do know that they’ve just introduced “a new game celebrating women’s empowerment — Ms. Monopoly, making the first time in Monopoly history when a new mascot will be featured on the cover of the game,” per CNN.
“The twist? In Ms. Monopoly, female players will get more money.”
Now, I know what you are thinking. Yes, you. The man who tweets grumpy, sexist comments underneath all my articles — which you’re evidently still tracking, by the way — and who, I cannot help noticing, hasn’t published a darn thing ever. You’re thinking, Ms. Monopoly doesn’t merit an entire article, Madeleine. Why don’t you go back to Scotland?
Well “awa’ an bile yer heid!” (google it), as we say over there.
The way Ms. Monopoly works is that, as players pass Go, females are given 40 more Monopoly bucks than males. (It’s worth noting here that the games’ creators seem to assume only two genders.) The idea behind this, it would appear, is to plaster over an imaginary gender pay gap (in the real world) with an imaginary gender pay gap (in the game).
Of course, I must immediately qualify the above statement: The real-world gender pay gap is only imaginary insofar as it’s accounted for. One could correctly observe, for instance, that a gap of approximately 9 percent exists between men and women’s median earnings. But the point is, this is not accounted for solely by discrimination. When broken down by age, occupation, interest, personality, etc., the analyses paint a far more complex picture. The sort of picture that, inconvenient though it may be, suggests that men and women — left to their own devices in their proclivities, desires, and behaviors — are fundamentally distinct. This was, in fact, the precise point made by Jordan Peterson to Cathy Newman (who is the second sort of feminist) during the viral Channel 4 interview that helped both of them rise to Internet notoriety.
“There’s a personality trait known as agreeableness,” Peterson, a clinical psychologist, told Newman, a highly successful journalist, as the two sat in a fancy studio. “Agreeable people are compassionate and polite. And agreeable people get paid less than disagreeable people for the same job. Women are more agreeable than men . . .”
CN: Again, a vast generalization. Some women are not more agreeable than men.
JP: That’s true. And some women get paid more than men.
CN: So you’re saying by and large women are too agreeable to get the pay raises that they deserve.
JP: No, I’m saying that is one component of a multivariate equation that predicts salary. It accounts for maybe 5 percent of the variance. So you need another 18 factors, one of which is gender. And there is prejudice. There’s no doubt about that. But it accounts for a much smaller portion of the variance in the pay gap than the radical feminists claim.
Though Peterson insists later in the same interview that he is “very, very careful” with his words (and though this is generally true of him), if I were nitpicking, I would query his use of the term “radical feminist” here. Self-described radical feminists — again, in my experience — tend to be the first type, the type who roll up their sleeves and help real women with real problems. The type who are smeared as “TERFS” and bigots for the good work that they do. The type who are, sadly, as common in Hollywood as Saharan seaweed.
Again, to be clear, I do not deny that sexism is a problem. As a young female writer, how could I? Here, I invoke Lewis’s Law (named after the journalist who coined it, another Brit, Helen Lewis) that “comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.” Misogyny, too, is real — as my feminist friends (the giving sort) know only too well.
But this is precisely why there is such symbolic value in Ms. Monopoly’s patronizing pointlessness. Because, if nothing else, it’s representative of the vacuous nature of the second type of feminist. The type who is all for affirmative-action-themed boardgames, but who abandons the vulnerable teenager the moment she says, “Cut my breasts off and call me Larry.”
The type — dear reader — who eats all the cookies.