Georgie De Mattos/Mustang News

Brandon Bartlett is an English sophomore and Mustang News conservative columnist. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints or editorial coverage of Mustang News. 

I recently had a dream of a most unsettling nature. One where, upon waking, the final images were burned into my mind and seemed much more real than the soggy bowl of Cheerios before me. And while I do not often subscribe to dream analysis, I could not shake the feeling that the dream was inspired by the events of the previous day.

The first instance transpired the afternoon prior. I was out at lunch with a group just well-mannered enough to have an opinion on everything, but not so well-mannered as to know when to express, and more importantly, when not to express those opinions.

Somehow, in the mingling of topics, someone mentioned affirmative action, though whether they were for or against, I do not recall. Inevitably, given the array of opinions around the table, a sophisticated discussion began.

Which quickly became a debate.

Which, with even greater speed, became a civilized shouting match between two people who knew not where they disagreed.

As often is the case, the analogy of the track race was employed: in which the conservatives want the starting lines in same place, and the liberals desire to stagger them as to compensate for placement on the inside or outside of the track.

Luckily for the rest of us, our food finally came and the once heated conversation devolved into mere approbations of Woodstock’s fine pizzas.

Later that night, another political bombshell was released with another group — I realized upon reflection — who was eerily similar to the former. Only this time, I recall exactly who said it.

With blond hair bouncing atop his large forehead and a knowing smile which he was desperately attempting to repress, Jason was about to enlighten us.

“I recently learned something,” his smile was nearly a sneer. “The wage gap is a myth. With a few minor discrepancies, men are not paid more than women for the same work at all. The statistic was actually calculated by taking the median yearly income for all women and comparing it to the median yearly income for all men. After accounting for time spent working and what career the individual chose, the gap almost entirely disappears.”

Seeing how this was upsetting our feminist companions, he went on.

“And while there are a few careers in which there actually is a wage gap, it is incredibly small; just a few cents on the dollar. And, moreover, there are plenty of jobs in which women get paid far higher than men.”

Then Carol, needing to wipe the smug grin off of Jason’s face, corrected him.

“Well yes, factually that is true. However, per usual, you are utterly missing the point. Firstly, equal work coming from men and women is subconsciously valued differently, with women being seen as superior in maternal roles, such as an elementary school teacher, and men valued as superior in ‘important’ roles, such as the STEM fields. And since those jobs have higher pay, men still end up with an unfair advantage.”

“But more importantly, women have been socialized into such a patriarchal world that they now take a part in their own oppression. Yes, you’re right, Jason, they choose lower-paying jobs, but only because they have been told from birth that only in such jobs can they be happy!”

Jason, surprised by the response and requiring time to consider it, reminded us of our swiftly approaching morning classes.

So, saying goodnight, we departed. It was then that I stole up to bed to have my dream.

In this dream, I was spectating the high school national tournament for the 400-yard dash. As with many such fantasies, there was no finite number of teams nor runners — but I do recall that there was a good mix between urban public schools, charter schools, gender-specific boarding schools and even a few private schools.

We were all inside a big stadium, and at the front and back end there were giant score boards that recorded the times for each school in blazing red digits.

We could see the runner’s muscles tightening and flexing as they lined up shoulder to shoulder behind the white lines.

A gunshot echoed throughout the stadium (do they even do that anymore?). And they were off.

Around the first turn, around the second. I could hear their heavy breathing as the runners pumped their trim bodies through the air.

The finish line was broken. One of the private schools had won. Their time read a fiery 52 seconds on the huge screen.

But then there was a commotion, the referees were all huddled together in what appeared to be a raging debate.

Silence fell over the crowd as a short referee walked to the center to deliver his verdict.

“We have been made aware that having the inside track gives an unfair advantage to the runners. So in the interest of the game, we will repeat the race with staggered lines.”

After a short cheer from the crowd, another race began. This time a boy’s boarding school took the lead.

A second commotion, a second huddle, a second verdict.

“It has come to our attention that because of certain biological factors, the men’s teams have an unfair advantage. In the interest of the game, we will further stager the lines and repeat.”

A third race. A third winner, this time from a charter school. A third commotion. A third verdict.

“It has come to our attention that athletes from charter schools, having more money to invest in a coach, receive superior training, which gives them an unfair advantage. In the interest of the game, we will further stagger the lines and repeat.”

A fourth race. A fifth race. A sixth race. This time one team had superior equipment, another had more time to practice.

The sun was beginning to set, and the referees had another announcement.

“For too long the rich and the privileged have dominated their rivals through exploitation and oppression. But we are all equal.” He pointed to the scoreboard. “So in the interest of the game, we will not stop staggering these lines until every team scores the same!”

A thunderous applause rippled throughout the audience.

“No,” I thought to myself as another race began. “This can’t be right. I mean, at first it was good, at first it’s necessary. Where did we go wrong?”

Time passed and I had the distinct impression that I had been sitting there nearly all through the night. But as the first shaft of blue pierced the dark sky, I knew suddenly they had done it; equality had finally been reached. Joyously, I looked to the scoreboard.

And, in those blood red digits, I saw that I was right.

It read 00 seconds. For every team, 00 seconds.

The cheers and hollers shook the stadium. But it did no good: The runners had already gone home.

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