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Posted at 12:08 PM ET, 04/01/2011

The end of feminism: From Princeton girls to Wikipedia, is it over?

I don’t understand.

It’s been 90 years since we got our rights.

We’re more educated, more employed and, Gol Durn It, there are more of us.

Why are we still compelled to use separate bathrooms from men? Why don’t we shop in the same stores? Why aren’t we nominated for Best Actor?

It’s ridiculous!

Even after 90 years, men contumaciously persist in their refusal to breastfeed anyone. They still insist on peeing standing up. They refuse to carry babies, except outside their bodies.

Don’t they understand?

It’s not like we just got here. We’ve been here for hundreds of years — millennia, even. One of the first upright people whose skeleton has survived was named Lucy!

And yet, we’re not in charge. Sure, men have this notion that we are. “If you aren’t, there would be no explanation for the prevalence of celebrity fragrances,” they point out.

But that’s flawed logic. What’s happened? Or rather, what’s failed to happen?

Did we overreach? After all, we women are always going around saying that we can do everything men can do backward, in heels.

“Okay!” say men.

Now, twentysomething men are doing less than they ever have. We women are taking jobs, making bank, making babies, and they’re lounging around playing video games and — er, increasing their manual dexterity. The only things they seem to do anymore is run for public office, and then, when they get there, try to take away our reproductive rights.

And in spite of this, men still run most companies, hold most political offices and make more money!

Maybe we should quit.

After all, the next generation seems perfectly happy where they are. At Princeton, Evan Thomas recently noted that women aren’t taking top leadership roles in undergraduate organizations. Through the 1980s and 1990s, the percentage of women at the top climbed steadily. Now the percentage has plateaued — even dropped.

Women make up half the class at this elite institution — but the leaders are, overwhelmingly, male. Sure, there’s the theory that men who view freshman girls as potential conquests on Friday nights have difficulty listening to them as equals in class on Monday mornings. But by and large, there’s no overt intimidation. It’s simply that we womenfolks are choosing not to “put ourselves out there.”

Is it because we prefer making a difference to making a splash? Does it have something to with the fact that women underestimate their IQs and men overestimate theirs? Is it height? Because those sound like nature-based things that we aren’t going to be able to fix any time soon. We tried heels, and we all know how that worked out.

As an undergrad, I never thought about running for a leadership position — not because I was a girl, but because my skill was in areas other than leadershipping. I was going to say that my skill was writing, but I just used “leadershipping” as a verb, so I’m not sure about that.

Still, if women aren’t ruling the, er, roost at an elite institution like Princeton, then where? If not in college, when? Has the moving walkway ended?

After all, some barriers are insurmountable. For instance, nothing a man ever does will result in his getting pregnant, certain subgenres of online fiction aside. And men and women seem to be yearning for bygone eras where there was more overt sexism — witness the popularity of “Mad Men”!

So maybe if we aren’t in charge now, it’s because we’re allowing this to happen. It’s like that weekend you dedicate to cleaning your house and finally stop when you can see most surfaces. “Well, it’s not perfect,” you say, “but I have more important things to do, like ‘fat-talk’ or file a class-action suit against Wal-Mart.”

People still point to inequalities: Fewer women edit Wikipedia, which is why the entry for Why It Seems Compulsory To Have A Candy Buffet at Your Wedding is not particularly in depth compared to, say, the entry for Level 8 of Bioshock. We don’t run for as much office.

But it’s certainly not because there are any visible barriers to our doing this. Unless they’re barriers erected in the mind, barriers that make us feel, somehow, that celebrity fragrances are feminine and working in leadershipping is probably masculine. And that sounds complicated. There might be a ceiling above which we can’t rise, but it’s certainly not an opaque kind of ceiling! Is it nature or nurture, culture or compulsion? Are we ever going to be able to extricate the two? Probably not — at least based on what I hear about women and science and innate differences of ability.

So we’re there, I guess. This is the end of feminism.

Happy April Fool’s Day.

By  |  12:08 PM ET, 04/01/2011

Tags:  ladies

 
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