An email from a feminist sociology professor at Ryerson University in Canada recently ignited a firestorm of controversy on Twitter. Here it is:
First off, your premise is wrong. The wage gap is very real. So the reason why you are having this problem is because you will not find any sources that state this.
The way the wage gap works largely today is through the glass ceiling.
Perhaps you want to write your paper on the glass ceiling. You need to look at feminist sources on this issue….
Do not use business sources. They blame women. The reality is patriarchy.
Conservatives have been dog-piling on the professor, claiming the email is evidence that an entrenched radical left is indoctrinating our youth.
But what if she’s right?
Dear readers, I have an MBA from an Ivy League school, which is the bare minimum for joining the staff here at Break. This email got me thinking. Was my business education anti-women? The left claims our culture is so infused with cispatriarchal systemic privilege we’re not even aware of it. I forced myself to think back on my education. Had I gone through it unaware of a steady, pervasive culture of misogyny?
My business professors were Larry Flynt, James Deen, OJ Simpson, and Donald J. Trump. My teachers’ assistants were Chris Brown, Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Mel Gibson, and Eminem. Our dean was Ted Bundy and our university’s president was Dennis Rader, better known as the Bind, Torture, Kill serial murderer. Class was taught at Hooters.
Our business textbooks were Business For Dummies And Women, The Seven Habits Of Highly Successful Guys Who Want To Exclusively Bang Out 10s, How to Win Friends and Influence Chicks to Blow You Without Reciprocating, the June 1987 issue of Barely Legal magazine, and Ditch the Bitch And Make the Switch: How Replacing Your Female CEO With A Male Toddler Is Guaranteed To Double Revenue.
Our visiting lecturers included Steve Case, the former CEO of America Online, who taught us the importance of easy graphic user interfaces in website development and to never marry a woman who didn’t wear make-up every day; Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, who taught us that you must be prepared to upend your own business model in a rapidly changing market and that the best way to hit on the prettiest girl at a party is to interrupt her when she’s having a conversation with an ugly friend, then ignore her while talking to the uggo; and Meg Whitman, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard but I can’t remember what she taught us because I didn’t listen because she’s a woman.
Our mock business ventures included pitching investors for an underage sex tourism resort in Thailand, designing a gangbang porn site that could survive in an industry decimated by piracy, and putting together a ten year, regional-to-national expansion plan for an over-the-counter pill you could slip into a woman’s drink AFTER non-consensual sex that would make her forget the entire previous week.
I racked my brains trying to think of a single instance of anything that could be considered denigrating toward women.
Then, in a flash, it came back to me.
Our visiting professor that day was Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. Elon is famous for giving away patents, and his lecture that day was about why it made perfect business sense, and it took the form of steadily spraying Champagne from shaken-up bottles onto the tight white t-shirts of big-breasted strippers. It was a brilliant lecture, and by the time we’d doused all the strippers with several cases of Cristal I was convinced that sometimes giving away technological patents is the best way to expand a market that you already dominate.
But after it was all over, I witnessed something truly offensive.
On my way out, I saw Elon paying off the strippers. Now, one of the first things you learn at an Ivy League business school is how much it costs to spray Champagne on a stripper: $350 an hour. We had sprayed the five strippers for two hours. And what I saw shocked me to my core: Elon Musk counting out seven one-hundred dollar bills for each of our five strippers.
That’s right, the CEO of Tesla didn’t tip our strippers.
It was, by far, the most egregious (and only) instance of objectifying women I ever came across in business school.
And until I’d read the feminist sociology professor’s email, I’d forgotten all about it.
Is she right? Is reality patriarchy? I don’t know. Maybe it’s not fair to judge all men’s treatment of strippers by one billionaire CEO. Maybe not tipping strippers is why Elon Musk is a billionaire to begin with. But the fact is, until I was forced to reflect, I had forgotten all about it regardless.
Check your privilege, Break.