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July 08, 2012


Lisa Ansell

Hi, my blog is defytheeconomy.wordpress.com Can I reblog the post?


I have no problems with women participating in economic life so long as permission from their husband is obtained first.


OK Lisa, if you want.

Account Deleted

Re #2, mightn't this outcome simply reflect that women with feminist views in 1975 were disproportionately middle-class? (I've taken a cursory look at the study, but could see any control for class).

Re #3, this might also be because a growing economy requires more women to enter the workforce which, together with male MPs getting lucrative job offers elsewhere (i.e. churn), may open up more opportunities for women to advance in politics.

Re #4, I wonder if this margin disappears where women are represented in negotiation by a trades union? (regardless of the negotiator's sex).

Luis Enrique

This paper


Estimates the contribution to growth from decreasingly excluding women and blacks from skilled jobs, as racism and sexism have faded

I wonder what similar logic would imply for effectively excluding talented people because of class. An efficiency argument for social mobility I think.


This post was going great, until you got to the part where you belittle feminists for caring about the threats and harassment women receive online. Those things are real, terrifying and keep women like me from talking about these issues. Dismissing such people as "mentally ill" doesn't stop the death threats, promises of corrective rape, the people who call the police to send them to your door. While I have never had one follow through in person, a woman about a mile away from me got pictures of her kids leaving their house mailed to her by someone who was pissed off she's talked about rape prevention efforts.

When the cost to men and women of talking about sexism on the internet is the same, men and women will talk about sexism the same. Until then, it is incredibly rude to mock feminists for trying to address the violent backlash they are currently facing. Mental illness is no excuse, even if those people were mentally ill (and if you read their writings they certainly don't sound like it; they know exactly what they are doing.) We don't let people go around assaulting people on the street, we shouldn't let them do it online.

The research is great, just don't be a mansplainer. Women can make their own educated decisions about what to spend time on, just as you can. After all, economics rests on them making the decisions that have the largest marginal payoff for them.


"...feminists confine themselves..."

The fact that some members of a class engage in a behavior cannot logically be taken as evidence that the entire close "confine themselves" to that behavior. Very poor thinking behind that "confine themselves" bit.


@kharris - maybe I should have used the qualifier "some". But then again, I can think of very few prominent feminists in the UK mainstream media who rely upon social science to advance their (often well-founded) cause.
@ Susan - I'm sorry. I think we're at cross-purposes. For me (and I realize this might be an idiosyncratic view) the sole purpose of writing is to say something interesting. I just don't find "threatening behaviour is wrong" a terribly interesting statement. By all means, report it to the police, campaign against it and even fight back personally. But for my tastes, writing about it is boring.


@chris - writing about it is a part of campaigning and fighting back, yes? Until people know the extent of a problem, it's often viewed as no problem at all. There is room to write about everything, surely, and not just the things you find interesting? Sexism or gender discrimination - like any other kind of unfairness or inequality in society - doesn't display itself only through one particular mode. Highlighting every instance of it is the only way we can be sure we'll recognise it when we see it, and is helpful in showing just how pervasive it is.


@amoebae - yes, of course. There is room for us all to write about everything. My point is that there's (even?) more to be said for feminism than feminist campaigners say - precisely because their campaigns have left room to say other things.
I'm surprised at the stick I've got on twitter for what was intended to be a supportive statement.

Helen Lewis

Hi Chris,

As the author of that post you say is limiting the horizons of feminism, I thought I should respond.

I found your comment dismissive - because I'm experiencing in the context of the fact that anything I write about feminist issues attracts a certain subset of comments about how I am "whining" or "complaning"; this is often coupled with helpful advice about the things I *should* writing about, usually from people who show no apparent interest in those things, except as a metaphorical stick to me with.

One of the reasons I write regularly about online abuse/trolling/harassment (or, as I guess you'd have it, "confine myself to" writing about it) is because a staggering amount of people aren't aware that it exists, and are grateful to be made aware of it.

If I were to flip your comment round, I'm sure there are lots of people who think that YOU writing "economic inequality is bad" isn't particularly interesting. But that's not what I think - I think that you're outlining interesting phenomena and explaining them to your audience. Which is exactly what I'm trying to do.

I also query your use of the description "mentally ill". Have a look at the online presence of the man who created the "beat up Anita Sarkeesian" game. His Twitter account, for example, shows an apparently well adjusted young man. The same can be said of many of those arrested over cases of racist Twitter abuse.

Lastly, I really do believe that the type of abuse I'm writing about is an important subject for feminists. Look at Anita Sarkeesian - she wanted to talk about something related to feminism, and there was a concerted attempt to silence her. I get emails from other women who've given up writing because of this kind of stuff.

Hope that explains my reaction.



@ Helen - Sorry if I gave the impression of being dismissive; I didn't intend to. I fear I was insufficiently insensitive to context; I'm an autistic economist.
I was merely trying to point out (clumsily it seems), without sounding like one of the men against sexism types, that feminists have many good arguments to make - more than generally supposed. They/you should be demanding much more than basic decency; there are Overton window issues here.
For now - I'm prepared to be swayed by scientific evidence - I'll stick by the "mentally ill" point; men who fantasize about beating women up are, pretty much by definition, mentally ill.


#2 seems quite tied up in the problem of uncounted non-transaction work/utility.

(obvious but should be said)

Lisa Ansell

I did this as a twitlonger, I wanted to blog in response to this post. in order for political narratives to succeed, voices of professions whose entire work is underpinned by understanding society, inequality, relationship between services, have to be washed away. Evidence, and professional knowledge bases in pub sect need to be drowned out by anachronistic left wing culture, who live at top of unions, and the neo liberal approach of both parties, demands that we completely ignore social policy evidence when discussing policy, so the misogyny of the unions becomes useful This can happen because Unions are left wing misogynist cultures and they pretend it is a 'we might need to get more women into union leadership one day'issue. Blair perfected policy based evidence making, managerialism means that professional knowledge less likely to be heard at decision making level, and the spad culture sits firmly between govt as do PR representatives from charities/think tanks/etc. We deliberately ignore that our social policy and economic approach are linked in public discourse, because that professional knowledge and understanding is key to understanding where and why policies have failed. This has been key to marketising our public sector without opposition.

That same invisibility this year allowed deleveraging by stealth to exploit gender inequality, not just because women use more services, but it is professional knowledge in predominantly female services which shows just how hollow and ridiculous the narratives that justified this were and needed to be hidden. Labour left and political circles can be relied on to be misogynist enough to maintain this, but just in case the Labour party has key poppets to smear and lie. You are wrong when you say women bloggers know nothing of social sciences. That's political debate these days, and it is not defined by women even if women are occasionally allowed to play.

Helen Lewis and her so called articles about trolls, not only do what you say, but she is already aware of consequences from her last outing on this issue, consequences felt by several vulnerable people. Women do not define their roles in political debate and blogging it is a vile community for women, partly useful in keeping out the knowledge that I am talking about.

Lisa Ansell

As for feminism as a tribe within a political media culture, I am a feminist and share nothing with these people, who are largely wilfully indifferent to effect of media narratives in outside world. Dont confuse our leading media feminists with women who are interested in equality for women. Tokenism has defined a white male media for a long time and tokens are picked with care.

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