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Stumbling and Mumbling

Author: chris dillow   |   Latest post: Thu, 16 Aug 2018, 01:44 PM

 

Brexiter feminists

Author:   |    Publish date:   |  >> Read article in Blog website


There's a nice but under-appreciated irony about the ending of grid girls and walk-on girls at the darts; those who support the move are thinking like Brexiters.

They are following a longish tradition of posh people wanting to destroy others jobs. I'm not thinking here only of feminists who want to end porn and prostitution. I'm thinking also of Sam Brittan who wanted an end to the arms trade and Thatcherites who wanted to close the coal mines.

In all these cases there was a belief that the jobs lost will be matched by new ones created elsewhere. Sam Brittan, for example, claimed that the dislocation caused by a loss of jobs in the arms trade would be "minuscule", and Patrick Minford argued that miners who lost jobs would find new ones. On ITV's This Morning, Sally Howard echoed these patriarchs when she said "there are other modelling routes" for walk-on girls*. Darts-1517328061

Sadly, however, this is by no means assured. We know that displaced miners did not, mostly, find good new jobs. I suspect the same might be true for walk-on and grid girls. If attractive women lose opportunities to use their "erotic capital" (pdf), they'll not easily find as good jobs elsewhere. Rewarding work is scarce even for those with good qualifications, let alone those without. There's a reason why attractive women disproportionately work in promotions, PR, TV or acting; good work elsewhere is hard to get.

What's all this got to do with Brexit?

Plenty. (Some) Brexiters think jobs lost to the UK leaving the single market will be replaced by people exporting jam to New Zealand: Patrick Minford has at least been perfectly consistent in supporting both pit closures and Brexit. They are over-estimating labour market flexibility and under-estimating the difficulty people have in switching jobs. Likewise, those wanting walk-on girls to lose their jobs are, at best, being careless about the girls' other options.

In fact, there's another parallel. Both Brexiters and the banners want to impose a material loss upon some people in exchange for something immaterial - national sovereignty in the one case and a conception of modernity and what's not generally demeaning to women on the other. And in both cases the losses are borne by working class people so that posh people can feel better.

* In these other jobs, of course, models are never harassed, oppressed or demeaned. Not at all, never.

A clarification: I'm not saying this to oppose feminism generally. I wholly support policies to empower women such as better education and training, and end to socialization into submissive roles, a high citizens' income and full employment. I'd like women to be given as much real freedom as possible, and if they then choose to become walk-on girls or not we should respect their free choice.

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