Gain and Loss

Jean Drèze notes an important fact that’s worth keeping in mind:

Sen is praised as a “feminist economist” but it is not very clear what “feminist” actually stands for (except for a general concern with gender issues) and why Sen qualifies. A notable exception is Martha Nussbaum’s bold assessment. Taking issue with the notion that freedom is always a desirable social goal, she points out that “gender justice cannot be successfully pursued without limiting male freedom”.

Fer sher. And that’s one reason there is so much Faisal Bodiesque blather about keeping families intact and dealing with problems within the community, cluttering up the place – because improvement of the lot of women (whether you call it justice, or freedom, or capabilities, or all those and more) brings with it some disimprovement of the lot of men. Men have less ability to demand services of their female relatives, and to tell them what to do, and to shut them up. They also have less ability to control how women who are not their relatives dress, behave, think, write, and travel. There’s also some (considerable) gain, for men who can value it: they get to live around women who are more worth living around as opposed to women who are like angry sheep. But not all men want that; lots of men prefer the angry sheep. Who cares what the sheep thinks, after all? We don’t talk to our mutton or our sweaters, do we.

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