The Value of a Person

When Jacques, a close friend, called her obtuse, Lynn kept her peace.

When Tory, her partner, said she was being purposely difficult and needed to just calm down a little bit, Lynn kept her peace.

When Monte informed her she wouldn’t be getting the promotion, that it was going instead to Rich, who was more qualified – though she knew for a fact that he was less educated, less experienced, but better at buddying up with the boys – she kept her peace.

And then one day, while riding on the bus, she overheard a stranger say, “It’s because women have babies. That’s why they earn less than men. They shouldn’t complain about it. If you want to be equal, do an equal job, and forgo kids.”

Lynn could no longer hold her peace.

“Excuse me,” Lynn said, “but what kind of fatuous, bull-shit thinking is that? You say women should earn less because they’re the ones biologically, and evolutionarily, designed for carrying children? Why should we be penalized for carrying on the human race? You don’t want kids, fine, but what about all those people who do? They shouldn’t have them so a woman can get ahead in her career? Let the human race die because we’re unwilling to modify our concept of what constitutes good action in the world of economics, despite the fact that we should have many, many years ago?

“What’s more, women DO do an equal job, even when they have kids. They’re just as skilled and competent as the men they work with – in some cases, more so. Yet it’s the men who get the promotions, the raises, and all of that, because it’s men in the top positions, and only men can join the old boys’ club. You think it doesn’t exist still? Think again, boy-o. Look at the two of you standing here, yakking and agreeing with each other about how women are less valuable than men because they want to have babies, and – ”

“I never said women were less valuable!” the man said.

“You in fact did, saying they shouldn’t be paid as much. What’s more, you seem to have no qualms interrupting me, another issue in the workplace. Do I think this diatribe will change anything? Of course not. You all are old boys, and you’ll keep being old boys. But at the very least, please don’t diminish our work on the basis of childbirth. You want to think equally, think of the person, not their quarterly utility.”

Lynn pulled the cord to signal a stop and got off the bus. As she did, she heard the men whispering about, “those militant mysandrous feminists.” She spat on the ground as the bus pulled away.

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