“Gender equality is a myth” — that’s the title of a new essay penned by singer Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (that’s her own byline, by the way) for The Shriver Report, an annual report by journalist Maria Shriver that concerns itself with the status of women.
The status this year is not so good. According to the report, one in three women are living in poverty. Unequal pay for women is one of the reasons why there are so many women and children barely scraping by if at all. The “. . . average woman continues to be paid 77 cents for every dollar the average man earns,” declares the report. The gap widens when the woman in question is African American or Latina.
“The average African American woman earns only 64 cents and the average Latina only 55 cents compared to white men.”
In her short essay for the report, the “Single Ladies” singer focuses mainly on the lack of wage parity between the sexes. “Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect,” writes Knowles-Carter.
This achievement hinges on consensus among the sexes.
“But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change. Men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters earn more — commensurate with their qualifications and not their gender.”
While the path to erasing inequality is clear — pay men and women equally — the attitudes that perpetuate the injustice seem harder to fix.
The pop star makes change sound so easy, however: “We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.”
The advice sounds so simple. And while teaching kids the importance of equality and respect is a no-brainer, it might be even more beneficial to consider the means of communicating these same lessons to adults. Until that feat is revealed I have a feeling we will continue to be befuddled by how difficult we make the simplest things.