I was listening to NPR while driving past tent cities of homeless people on Sunset when I heard something so asinine as to make me pull over in anger and yell at my dashboard display, momentarily thinking my words would get through to the people in the studio who had recorded this days earlier.
The program is The Frame, and host John Horn was interviewing a Native American trans-woman film director named Sydney Freeland about a movie she is currently promoting. It was a short interview and it ended with the following exchange of patchwork talking point lazy liberal schmoozing:
Freeland: I come from multiple kinds of minorities and backgrounds myself, my girlfriend calls me a minority Turducken…”
Blood pressure rising. Any NPR listener immediately gets it, it’s not that clever, no need to explain it…
Freeland (Cont’d): Cause I’m like, a minority of a minority of a minority, and I think one thing that’s like interesting to me is I never see my experience portrayed on screen, so when I have the opportunity to do that it’s really important for me to focus on like the humanity of these characters, because that to me is what people ultimately relate to, focus on these human elements these characters because if people can connect to it they can relate to it…
Now talking to myself. Then why mention being a minority? You don’t need to have survived being stranded in a space station on Mars to relate to the character in The Martian. We all know that. It’s supremely obvious. There now appeared to be some incredibly necessary editing which cut off Freeland’s rambling, with Horn seeking to wrap it up by re-confirming that The Frame is incredibly open to interviewing minorities:
Horn: So you’re a Native American, you’re a woman, what is the third minority?
Freeland: Oh, Native American, transgender, and a woman.
Now loudly demanding of the ether are you fucking serious??? while missing my turn. Despite the fact that John Horn had just been issued a ludicrous and painstakingly illogical statement, he promptly ended the interview, no doubt checking off some mental demographic inventory, psyched he got a 3 for 1, convinced he’d done his good deed for the day.
First, the obvious: Women are not a minority in the United States because according to the Census Bureau there are 6.2 million more women than men, and the definition of minority is a group that is smaller than another group.
Interestingly, the United States is an outlier, as there are more men than women in the world, about 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent. This is due to a multitude of causes, but basically for every 100 female births there are around 105 to 107 male births. This is an evolutionary adaptation because men die sooner than women and nature needs an even balance. Also, many Chinese and other cultures kill female babies.
The male population declined faster throughout the millenia because male babies are more vulnerable to certain diseases, and because men were out fighting wars and killing game while women were more often in safer confines. Men also do a lot more stupid shit and die from it, as Jeff Foxworthy will tell you in one of his hilarious comedy specials.
Even though men are still much more likely to die in combat or wiring up a utility pole or falling off the roof or simply drinking themselves to death due to stress, the world is more air conditioned and safer than it used to be, so there’s now a slight tilt in mens’ favor, but we’re working it out.
The fact that women outnumber men in this country, as opposed to being outnumbered in the world at large, could be a sign they don’t have it that rough based purely on the statistics of life and death.
This leads to the other definition of minority, the one that Freeland was getting at and was not asked to explain; that a minority is a group that tends to have “less power and fewer privileges.”
Throughout history, minorities in general have typically held less power because people are inherently tribalistic and destructive and seek to fuck over any group that is not their group. This includes the men and the women in said group. If you can’t beat them, join them, that type of thing.
There are of course instances of minority rule in which a smaller group controls all the weapons and fucks over everyone else through brute intimidation. Examples of this are many and include all instances of slavery, apartheid, and the current situation in many of the budding Persian Gulf states in which minority Arabs exploit migrant workers from southeast Asia who now make up a majority of their country.
You could also say, if you wanted to, that the United States, Israel, China, Russia, and other nation states are engaged in this behavior on a world scale by leveraging the threat of nukes and military action. Of course, the US has a larger military than all of those countries combined, increasingly female in number, so they would probably be the most guilty.
There isn’t a lot of literature on the notion that women should be considered a minority outside of a few academic papers written by women who are getting paid quite well to sit in air conditioned offices at respected universities and expound upon their radical beliefs in papers nobody reads.
Certainly few would argue there has ever been a concerted effort by men to provide women with less power and privilege. If so, they did a poor job of it in this country, because they are now outnumbered. In this scenario women would be characterized as weak, incompetent, and inferior for allowing it to happen. Men, brooding, conspiratorial, destructive. Whichever team you’re on, you’d have to agree there’s no way it’s that simple.
It’s a basic numbers game, a paradox of sorts: With women being the numerical majority, they now have greater strength in numbers to pass off the notion that they’re a minority. If women were 90 percent of the population it might be written in text books that The Notebook is considered the greatest film ever made or that Lisa Leslie beats out Wilt Chamberlain as the game’s greatest center.
This is to assume that women, as a statistical majority, would become tribalistic and combative against people not exactly like them. That without actual tribes to enslave, they’d turn to the next logical minority, that being men. Certainly most women don’t think this way, just like most men don’t think about how to keep their wife at home cooking biscuits, but there is a growing percentage of women who do, and these women have the balls to call themselves a minority with a straight face on a nationally televised radio show. (Interestingly this woman was born as a man, meaning people can now theoretically choose to become a minority which, again, is statistically a majority.)
Regarding the “fewer privileges” enjoyed by women in the United States: The gender pay gap is a discussion for another time, but it has been thoroughly debunked. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the same source proponents of the gender pay gap cite, women make less money for the same job because they work less hours, less overtime, take more vacation time, change jobs more often, take easier jobs which consequently pay less, and retire earlier (1). They also more often work jobs that provide tips, which are often not reported as income. These numbers seem to confirm a privilege rather than a disadvantage.
The most recent unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show men at 7.0 percent and women at 6.5 percent. It should be noted that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 56.7 percent of women participate in the labor force as opposed to 69.1 percent of men (2). Many women do not have to work. So far less women are looking for work, and they are more often given it when they are looking. This, again, is evidence of a privileged class.
Among people between 25 and 34 years of age, 37.5 percent of women have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 29.5 percent of men (3). While this further explains the gender pay gap, in terms of pipe fitters make more money than art history majors, it should also be noted that attending college has historically been considered a privilege.
Women earn more money than their male counterpart in 40 percent of two-income households, yet represent 97 percent of cases in which alimony is provided following a divorce (4). Getting paid by your ex-husband does not factor into the gender pay gap, and is clearly an amazing gig which requires little to no self respect, and to file for it or expect it is nothing more than entitlement. You do however still get to hash out your gender identity politics over brunch with the girls.
Apart from that, we have the civil rights laws on the books making it illegal to discriminate against women in any fashion whatsoever. We also have affirmative action for women. They have it good. They live longer.
To state that women are a minority is idiotic, to do it without clarification is arrogant, and to do it on NPR is privilege.
If you want more proof, look no further than the fact I had to actually take the time to man-splain all of this while I could have joined the chicks at the pool for cocktails.
The full audio version of Lyndsey Freeland’s interview on The Frame can be heard here.