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The real sexism problem in the discipline of economics

lpetrich

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The real sexism problem in the discipline of economics | Aeon Essays
Sex and prosperity

Nothing we can do will make the world more free, fair and prosperous than giving women control over their own bodies

Women’s bodies are one of the biggest political battlegrounds of our time. What should in many ways be personal – a woman’s body – is instead political. The assault ranges from the recent clampdown on family planning in the United States (and its global gag rule prohibiting funding for international family-planning organisations that discuss or offer abortion), to new repressive restrictions on clothing, including ‘burqa bans’, or new laws in a growing number of European countries that aim to abolish women’s ability to monetise their bodies. Everyone, it seems, has a view on what women should or shouldn’t be doing with their own bodies.

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The redoubled attack on women’s bodily autonomy comes, paradoxically, at a time when feminism is increasingly popular. In part, the expanding appeal of feminism might be a response to the evident regression. But feminists are not entirely blameless. A vein of feminism lies at the heart of some of the growing restrictions on women’s bodily freedom. Some ‘feminists’, for example, like to argue that one cannot be feminist while showing off too much of your body; others argue that you cannot be feminist while covering too much of your body. Both see clothing restrictions as empowering to women. Women’s ability to choose seems not to feature; the claim that we are all ‘socially conditioned’ apparently makes it irrelevant.
Then about the "Nordic Model" of anti-prostitution laws, punishing the customers though not the prostitutes.
Despite the clear relationship between women’s bodies and economic prosperity and inequality, modern-day economists rarely consider it. That’s because economics operates on the basis of assumptions that render us genderless. According to its ascendant orthodoxy, we are all rational, calculating, independent agents. Love, sex, dependency and society fall outside the economists’ way of looking at the world. Furthermore, economists typically presume that we are all free to make our own choices. Potential restrictions on those freedoms (from access to birth control to the criminalisation of sex work and even types of clothing) are ignored. Economics instead focuses on what we do with our freedoms: the choices we make with them, why, and how those choices affect the behaviour of the economy.
 

lpetrich

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Author Victoria Bateman has a novel theory for Britain's

What made Britain so inventive that it became the hub of the Industrial Revolution?

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When it comes to explaining the rise of the West, women’s freedom is the elephant in the room.

On the eve of the Industrial Revolution, women in Britain and nearby parts of Europe lived a life that was markedly different to those elsewhere in the world. Though not in the upper echelons of the payscale, it was common for women to engage in paid work, and they were free to decide for themselves whether, whom and when to marry.

Then
If women have control over their bodies, they will make fertility choices to help keep the wolf from their door. They will lead lives that help to prevent population growth from undermining wage growth. Economic empowerment is prerequisite for a woman to have such control over her body. Opportunities to become educated, to join the workforce and to be represented in political decisions (including about birth control) are all necessary. Rather than being a pawn, to be ‘married off’ at a young age and produce child after child, women with the opportunity to support themselves financially are able to take control of their lives. They have the freedom that allows them to go out into the world and build an independent life, determining for themselves whether, whom and when to marry. Women’s wombs become their own. Simply by being able to act in their own self-interest, women will, without knowing it, make choices that not only help themselves but that add up to a more prosperous and equitable global economy. And one that’s better for the planet.

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In the longer view, equitable and environmentally sustainable growth is possible only if we give women freedom to take charge of their own fertility. While fertility rates have been falling in recent years, we still have a long way to go until women’s bodily autonomy becomes a reality for all women. At present, sadly, we risk moving backwards.

...
The Sex Factor: How Women Made The West Rich’ by Victoria Bateman is published via Polity Books.
 

lpetrich

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The Sex Factor - How Women Made the West Rich
Why did the West become so rich? Why is inequality rising? How ‘free’ should markets be? And what does sex have to do with it?

In this passionate and skilfully argued book, leading feminist Victoria Bateman shows how we can only understand the burning economic issues of our time if we put sex and gender – ‘the sex factor’ – at the heart of the picture. Spanning the globe and drawing on thousands of years of history, Bateman tells a bold story about how the status and freedom of women are central to our prosperity. Genuine female empowerment requires us not only to recognize the liberating potential of markets and smart government policies but also to challenge the double-standard of many modern feminists when they celebrate the brain while denigrating the body.

This iconoclastic book is a devastating exposé of what we have lost from ignoring ‘the sex factor’ and of how reversing this neglect can drive the smart economic policies we need today.
 
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