Feigning Outrage and winning the Feminist argument

George Osborne didn’t even seem particularly perturbed by the fact that he broke the law in failing to carry out a gender impact assessment of the spending budget.

No Shit! I don’t think it is a useful tactic to pretend to be outraged by the fact that George Osborne didn’t think to assess the gendered impact of his budget.

Most modern philosophy and statecraft is entirely gender blind. Or rather, it is as it has always been with “and we’ll treat women fairly too” added on. Justice, Gender, and the Family (H/T) outlines that much of the canon of western liberal thinking has developed in a world which was deeply unequal with respect to gender and that is inherent in much of it. Women have been excluded from centuries of thinking and discussion on what liberty and freedom mean, as Yglesias argues, adding “and we’ll treat women fairly” doesn’t really cut it.

So when George Osborne releases a budget and ignores whether one gender is to be worse hit than another feigning outrage is a stupid thing to do.

Public Sector workers tend to be female, single parents tend to be women, etc. that means that reducing the size of the Public Sector and reducing benefits and so on will impact women harder than men. However, that isn’t necessarily because George Osborne doesn’t like women.

These cuts are going to impact women more harshly not just because of the structure of the cuts because of the structure of society.

You are more likely to be a women if you are a teacher or working in many of the “caring” professions. You are more likely to be a women if you are a single parent. You are going to be stuck with the child rearing if you are a woman for a number of reasons, and that will lead, at work, to a less senior position and a more vulnerable labour market position (you’ll be more expendable if you’re on the eve of maternity leave or have spent 5 years raising kids rather than raising up the greasy pole).

Making sure that policy takes account of gender is a good idea. However it is not necessarily an obviously good idea, people remain to be convinced that each policy needs to be examined from the position of gender equality. While feminists may see the need to discuss public service cuts from the point of view of the gendered division of labour within the family, this doesn’t sound terribly relevant when discussing a budget.

Righteous indignation and high-faluting, self-felating comparisons with Suffragettes are not helpful when trying to convince people that feminism has relevance to most aspects of their lives or politics.

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