Fresh off of attempting to rip off her former employer with a frivolous sexual discrimination lawsuit, Reddit CEO Ellen Pao has done it again. Pao made waves last week when she announced that Reddit would no longer allow potential hires to negotiate their salaries, because salary negotiations unfairly privilege men over women:
‘If you want more equity, we’ll let you swap a little bit of your cash salary for equity, but we aren’t going to reward people who are better negotiators with more compensation,’ Pao said. ‘We ask people what they think about diversity, and we did weed people out because of that.’
You read that correctly: Pao is deliberately handicapping men in order to give women a boost. Because men are better at negotiating their salaries than women—and because studies purportedly show that women who attempt to haggle over their salaries are perceived more negatively—she’s taken the option off the table entirely. If one side can’t play the game as well, no one gets to play at all.
Ellen Pao’s lunatic policy will not only hurt Reddit in the long run by driving away highly-skilled job applicants, but it also shows how corrosive egalitarianism is to American society. A culture that denies basic differences in ability and skill will inevitably fall to the lowest common denominator. In particular, a society that forces men and women to deny their own inherent differences is one that will punish masculine creativity and success.
Life Imitates Art
Reddit’s new hiring policy is so cuckoo that it reads like something out of a dystopian novel. Indeed, there is a work of fiction that takes the thinking of people like Ellen Pao to its logical conclusion: Kurt Vonnegut’s 1961 short story “Harrison Bergeron.”
Vonnegut’s story is set in a 1984-esque future in which the Constitution has been amended to ensure that Americans are equal in every way possible. To enforce this, the Handicapper General metes out punishments to those who stand above the pack in some fashion. For example, intelligent people are forced to wear radios inside their ears to keep them from being able to think properly, while beautiful people are required to wear masks:
The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
The story concerns its titular protagonist, an exceptionally strong, intelligent, and handsome young man who is snatched away from his parents and forced to undergo extreme handicapping. Bergeron escapes from prison and attempts to overthrow the government, but is stopped when the Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers, kills him with a shotgun.
While not Vonnegut’s original intention, “Harrison Bergeron” serves as a cautionary tale about the endpoint of feminist and leftist thinking. Human beings are inherently unequal: some of us are better-looking, some smarter, some stronger. No amount of legislation or social engineering can overcome the basic differences that are part of our genetic makeup.
May The Better He, She, Or It Win
For years, feminists have attempted to swat down opposition to their ideas by claiming that “gender equality” (read: special privileges for women) is not a zero-sum game. In other words, implementing policies designed to level the playing field between men and women will benefit everyone. But as Reddit’s new policy shows, modern feminism is explicitly about kneecapping men so that women can take a larger share of the pie.
The same patterns can be seen in every other sphere that is embracing radical gender equality. For example, in the military, women have to be held to less rigorous physical fitness standards than men just to even qualify. The only way to get two inherently unequal groups on the same footing is to either cripple the superior group (as Reddit is doing) or to enforce a separate, laxer set of standards on the inferior group (as the military is doing).
Enforcing equality to this extreme will lead to dropping standards across the board. As mentioned above, Reddit’s insane hiring policy will result in qualified job applicants avoiding the company because they know that they won’t be able to get paid what they’re worth. While banning salary negotiation may make Reddit’s women employees feel better about themselves, it will encourage mediocre hires and hurt the company’s performance in the long haul.
Ultimately, the only fair way for a society to function—contra the claims of the left—is to oppose egalitarianism. While all people should have equality of opportunity, enforcing perfect equality will simply lead to decay and mediocrity.
For all the praise she’s getting from the left, Ellen Pao’s idiocy could very well drive Reddit into the ground.