About thirty-years ago some girl (although I I thought of her as a woman then – the bee’s knees in fact) was lecturing me about the evils of gender inequality, but I was more interested in the evils of her breasts. In other words I was an arsehole. I’m still an arsehole, but perhaps less fixated and more ready to listen to coherent argument.
The first question I would ask is who is Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche? I’d say she is one of the best writers in the world. Her words have weight. You don’t have to believe. Go and look for yourself.
Adiche tells us that 52% of the world’s population are women, 48% are men. The argument that men were better than women was based on their superior size and strength. And it may have had some validity. This no longer holds true. Whenever anyone makes that kind of argument, in its various forms, I’m now going to plant a meme in your head and you’ll become Carter in South Park and you’ll find yourself repeating in his voice. ‘It’s bad. It’s very bad. It’s very, very bad’. Practice saying it now.
See it works. Adichie tells us, ‘If we do something over and over again it becomes normal’.
This is called conditioning. She argues it is ‘one thing to know something intellectually, quite another to feel it emotionally.’
I found myself translating what she said and applying it to class inequality. When Adichie, for example asks ‘Why the word feminist?’ I ask Why the word feminist class?
She answers ‘that to use vague expressions would be dishonest’. ‘It is a way of pretending’.
I’m thrown back to Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Black Rock and his 2011 statement cited in Plutocrats that ‘the bifurcation of the world into the rich and the rest has become conventional wisdom’. The rich, of course, don’t like the term rich, because it sounds divisive. Neither do they like the term ‘inequality’ for the same reason. Such terms question the legitimacy of their income. And not only that, it questions the morality of so few having so much and so many having so little. As Adichie says ‘it’s a way of pretending’.
Adichie finishes her polemic with ‘My own definition of a feminist class is a man or woman who says “Yes there is a problem with gender inequality as it is today, and we must fix it, we must do better.” All of us, women and men, must do better’.
These are the words of a wise woman, but if you hear politicians, bankers or friends of the super-rich spouting the usual verbiage and bile, cover your ears and remember the lesson of Carter from South Park.