Stop Discrimination Against Men

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.


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