First thing when you go on field-work is to find a decent place to stay. Last time in Paris I was living in Saint-Germain de Prés area: almost perfect had it not been for all those cockroaches in my flat.
This time I am in London (yes, I try to avoid places that are not glamorous and posh). Before going further, a short introduction about myself.
I am positivist, a libertarian and a neorealist (in IR theory). In other words, the worst of the scum according to European enlightened (?), tolerant (??) and pluralist (???) social scientists.
Why am I saying this? This has to do with my room-search in London town.
While room-hunting this time, I found it interesting that most people discriminate against men: women are generally preferred for flatsharing. I think there are good reasons, by the way. Women are more tidy and clean (my experience: I know, the sample is truncated, limited and biased). They are more precise and — just to say all truth — are also less likely to rape you middle of the room (you never know: analytical logic). If you are a woman, I think you may consider also this detail.
Feminists would say all this has to do with the social construction of genders in post-modernity (???). To me, the fact that women are more tidy and clean across countries, cultures, classes and professions suggest that there is something more (eventually, they are just better in this, exactly like I am better in cooking than my brother…?).
In fact, if I were a girl, I would probably also prefer sharing my flat with women. Actually, already now I prefer women as flatmates: first, they can introduce me to other girls (so far, never happened: but it’s worth trying). Second, the house is likely to have a higher level of hygiene (I don’t really like tuberculosis). Finally, if I don’t do the cleaning, I know somebody else will do it (free-riding).
Anyway, if we take the feminist/critical stand point, what I witnessed is discrimination — period. Men are discriminated. Discrimination is bad and should be banned: right? As a libertarian, I think most of the times, market forces solve everything on their own. I know, you have injustice, but you have efficiency. In fact, I think this is what happens: men will pay higher prices (don’t they have higher salaries?) or will end up in the worst places. In contrast, women will find an accommodations at faster rates, cheaper prices and, probably, in better shapes. During my search, this is precisely what I witnessed.
In any case, I don’t think there is anything inherently bad in all this. It’s life. Like it’s life that some people are better-looking than me and some others are not, or that some people are more intelligent. However, I would like to hear what feminists have to say about this: should we have regulations that ban these discriminatory practices? Should we educate women (and men) that men are not different in flat-sharing? Who monitors? Who enforces? Who pays for the economic and social costs (think how fun is to be compelled to take a man as flatmate and then your place turns into a disaster). How moral/legitimate is it to compel people to do of their own things that they don’t want? Finally, are we really sure to get a better outcome?
If you remained serious till this point, let me know… I am really curious to listen to compelling (?) arguments supporting feminist theories (??).
P.S. I really felt discriminated when this 5 Australian girls-house did not want me in just because I was a man. I felt so powerless against this overarching structure of discriminatory practices and norms.
Andrea Gilli is a PhD student in the Department of Political and Social Sciences, EUI. He holds an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a BA in Politics and Economics from the University of Turin. At the EUI Andrea works on armaments procurement and coöperation in Europe.