Dr. Victoria Bateman
Economics | Economic History | Feminism
Feminism & Protest
Freedom of the Body
Women should have freedom of their body - they should be able to use their body as they want without stigma, judgement or criticism. Whether a woman wishes to dress conservatively or revealingly, whether she wants to monetise her body or her brain, she should be free to do so.
Historically, women’s repressors in this regard were men, with a patriarchal society restricting women’s freedoms both with respect to their body as well as their minds. Whilst women have made great strides in liberating their minds, moving from the roles of mothers and daughters to having the potential for meaningful careers, their bodies remain more taboo. In part, this reflects society’s continued false morality: because a woman’s body can be sexual (and its exposure may please men), both men and more recently also some women have sought to repress this bodily freedom. Justifications for repression include the notion that women have been brain-washed by society and so do not know their own minds, and that women who sexualise themselves negatively impact other women by encouraging the objectification of all women. These are dangerous arguments - restricting freedom through either a “we know best” argument (ignoring the idea of diversity of thought within the female population) or through blaming women for the behaviour of men is wrong.
No woman should ever feel compelled to use her body in a way she does not want - and it is absolutely the responsibility of society to protect the vulnerable and avoid exploitation. But achieving this does not require restricting freedom. A hundred years ago, women struggled to be able to make money from their brains. But now freedoms have increased, to argue that it is somehow ‘superior’ to use your brain to make money rather than your body is elitist, unfair and unjust. Every woman should be free to make her own choice, unrestricted by what others think. To deny that is to deny the very idea of women’s freedom. When I use my body to make a point, I am doing so consciously and with a clear mantra - “My Body, My Choice”.
Freedom of Representation
Women should have the freedom to have equal representation at all levels and areas of life. This is far from the case - just look at female representation on FTSE 100 company boards, and the gender pay gap. It is seemingly still too easy to ignore and overlook women, and my focus is therefore on identifying areas close to my own work where I can use my influence to achieve a better even of balance. You will see this through my Women in Economics Days, my writings (including my upcoming book ‘Economics has a Sex Problem’), but also in my use of protest as a means of drawing attention to the gender gap and the under-representation of women in key areas of life.
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