Why facts speak louder than tired gender stereotypes video

Laura McQuillan, living the millennial dream on her OE, during a visit to Brazil's Iguazu Falls.
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Laura McQuillan, living the millennial dream on her OE, during a visit to Brazil's Iguazu Falls.

OPINION: Shut up and listen, a millennial feminist is talking.

My esteemed colleague Martin van Beynen yesterday wrote that "identity politics is getting us nowhere".

In his "there is no depression in New Zealand"-style opinion piece, he soothed the latest flare of boomer v millennial tensions, built a bridge over the gender pay gap, and decried rape culture as a myth.

If only it were that easy.

I've got nothing against boomers. Some of my favourite people are boomers. I suspect, like myself, my peers hold no grudges - just a bit of envy.

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Sure, older generations had free tertiary education, could afford to buy property cheaply, and will get their Super at 65 while we wait two more years. But we have student loans and feng shui consultants, and we'll happily swap you if you truly believe we have a better deal.

Hiking the Super age is a necessity, and John Key was foolish to rule it out for so long. Just as I should be happy to ever afford a house, I'll be grateful I'm able to retire at all, especially on women's wages.

Earlier this week, the Ministry for Women released empirical evidence of the gender pay gap in New Zealand. It's 2017, and women are earning 87c to the man's dollar.

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Van Beynen suggests it's due to "a quirk of the biological urge to breed rather than the patriarchy keeping women down", but that pairing off with a rich man should solve the issue.

In reality, the report says, "around 80 per cent of the gender pay gap is now due to 'unexplained' factors, which the ministry views primarily as behaviour, attitudes, and assumptions about women in work, including unconscious bias".

In an age where women can do any job - and do it better than men -  the only "quirks" are that bosses are thinking about their employees' uteruses during pay negotiations, and the suggestion that instead of seeking equality, women should find a wealthy man.

That right there is the patriarchy in action.

To contend, as well, that there's no rape culture in New Zealand, in a week when teen schoolboys were caught posting online about raping girls, is absurd.

Some men feel personally affronted by the term "rape culture" - as though it suggests all men are rapists or their sympathisers. Please, don't make this about you, fellas.

Rape culture is the suggestion - in courtrooms, in the media, and in everyday chit chat - that women are somehow to blame if sexually assaulted.

Rape culture is suggesting that a woman's clothing, or her friendly demeanour, or her drinking are an excuse for rape. Instead of saying "do not rape", it's telling women "don't walk alone at night".

After a New Zealand university advised female students to carry a whistle and wear running shoes to avoid being raped, provoking a backlash, Martin van Beynen said the outrage from "young feminists" sounded "shrill, unreasonable and even a little ungrateful".

He suggested areas where women could best focus their activist energies, writing: "If the young feminists think they can create a society where everyone is equal and everyone acts contrary to their gender instincts, then they are living on another planet."

Perhaps not another planet, but certainly there's a whopping gulf that we need to bridge: between boomers and millennials, female workers and their male colleagues, and feminists and those who tell them to pipe down.

* Laura McQuillan is a Stuff journalist who's on her OE instead of saving for a house. She has no plans to have children and hopes that means she'll get a pay rise.

 - Stuff

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