Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is economic independence the key to freedom?

The Amazon description of Simone De Beauvoirs The Second Sex explains :-

She shatters our perceptions of the social relationship between men and women and argues that women’s economic independence is the key to their freedom.

I agree freedom depends, at least partly, upon economics. Everyone has to eat and everyone needs shelter from the elements. Money is effectively an IOU for goods and services so a certain degree of wealth is necessary for human flourishing.  Economics largely determines your options: If a women is financially dependent upon her husband then her freedom is limited by practical considerations. If she leaves, how will she support herself? If she wants to purchase an object, she must request or beg money from her husband. But a women who is economically independent of her husband can make her own choices and has the freedom to act upon them.

But when will humans, both men and women, be liberated from economic dependence? Feminists focus on women advancing in the workplace, securing high paid jobs and thus being independent of men. The price they pay is servitude to capitalism. The chain tethered to the kitchen sink is exchanged for a chain to an office desk. A longer leash perhaps but still a leash.

Feminists adopting various post-modern analytic tools view certain social relations as power play between men and women. I think on average capitalists are rather gender neutral when it comes to exploitation. Newly economically liberated women entering the workforce simply resulted in a larger labor pool. Newly economically liberated women with their sexy newly liberated money demanded lifestyles the marketing departments were only too happy to serve and create. Double household incomes; double house prices.

Economic liberation for women converted them into office drones and factory slaves alongside billions of men. Progress of a sort but feminists are wrong to focus on workplace servitude as a vehicle for female emancipation. A stepping stone yes, but not the end goal.

Do humans really need to work 30 to 40 hours a week for in exchange for IOUs for goods and services we don't really need? Because if we allow it, the workplace will gladly suck every piece of creativity and zest from our lives, leaving us capable of nothing more than flopping on the couch or spending a weekend in the shopping center with another five working days looming ahead of us.

Of course, I'm told they are some people who actually *enjoy* their work and that's perfectly fine. They can do the tedious shit I don't want to do.

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