In celebration of female greed
... because that's what we need on Mother's Day!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Instead of celebrating female GIVING (which we tend to do on a day like this…).
I thought I’d celebrate female WANTING.
Let’s just say that’s the mood I’m in…
Last month I wrote a (Swedish) magazine story that stirred up some STUFF in me.
It was a politics story and one of the things it features heavily is men striving for POWER and GLORY (in both healthy and unhealthy ways).
One of the things it made me think of was how taboo these things still are for women.
Women are often DEMONIZED for wanting to get ahead.
Men are celebrated.
And there has been A LOT said on this topic…
Hollywood actresses giving speeches on how “ambition is still a dirty word for women”…
Studies showing how female professionals tend to play down their ambitions around men if they’re not in serious relationships…
Some of you might have seen the new TV Series Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.
It’s based on the book by Mike Isaac which chronicles Travis Kalanick’s controversial reign at Uber. It’s all about MALE AMBITION at the expense of almost everything else.
I read the book when it came out and I remember being shocked at the extent to which breaking the law was part of Uber’s early business model.
Fuelling a whole economy on male greed is NOT a good idea… Let’s be very clear about that.
But what about female greed?
How to regulate people’s GREED or “self-interest” is a HUGE topic in economic thought.
The idea is normally that people WANTING MORE is a good thing. It makes them STRIVE and WORK and CREATE BUSINESSES.
This creates economic growth which economists tend to like.
But you can get too much of a good thing… Unregulated GREED is often said to have led to the great financial crisis of 2008-2009, not to mention a lot of the problems in Silicon Valley.
But again: what about women?
Economist Nancy Folbre wrote a book a few years back called Greed, Lust and Gender.
Her main point is that the story of GREED and WANTING MORE and AMBITION is very different for women than it is for men.
We regulate the self-interest of men through the behaviour of women.
What does this mean?
Nancy Folbre argues that it’s similar to how we regulate LUST.
Most societies have regulated the sexuality of men through the behaviour of women.
Men are assumed to have an UNCONTROLLABLE LUST FOR MORE which means that women have to keep it in check by:
NOT having an UNCONTROLLABLE LUST FOR MORE.
Dress a certain way
Behave a certain way
When it comes to the economy it’s not that different. We regulate the self-interest of men by assigning women to the role of SELFLESS CARETAKER.
(Happy Mother’s Day to you too…)
Men don’t need to balance their own greed and ambition.
That’s what women are for!
If male greed causes a HUGE global financial crisis? Who ya gonna call?
This is what patriarchy does all the time. It tells women their value comes from being “what men are not”.
Yes, you have a place at the table where decisions are made, but only if you can prove that what you bring is something that will “balance” or complement whatever men have placed there already. The identity that women are asked to take on is always based on the male one.
And therefore she is never free….
When I say I want to celebrate FEMALE GREED (particularly on Mother’s Day!) I don’t mean that women should go out and behave like immature and irresponsible Silicon Valley founders/greedy male bankers.
I think I just want more women WANTING.
Women striving for power and glory because it’s EXCITING and CREATIVE and FUN.
Not just because they are “on a mission” to clean up some mess made by some man…
Ester Perel has a good definition of desire. She is obviously talking about it in sexual terms (being a world famous Belgian sex therapist…) but it’s a useful definition in a wider sense:
For me, desire is to own the wanting. To desire something is to say, “I want.” For that, there needs to be an “I” that has the right to want, is entitled to want, is deserving to want, has the self-worth to give permission for “I want.” Desire is really a fundamental expression of freedom and sovereignty—as in identity.
Now THAT’S something women are still denied isn’t it?!
It is also something that goes A LOT deeper than all the debates on why “ambition is still a dirty word for women”.
“To own the wanting”.
Let’s do THAT!
Happy Mother’s Day!