The Sex Factor
The Sex Factor: How Women Made the West Rich, Victoria Bateman, 2019, Polity Press, 226pp. Pb, reviewed by ED DUTTON
Cambridge University Fellow of Economics Dr Victoria Bateman (born 1979) is notorious for her nude protests. The diminutive yet busty economist (she is just under 5 feet tall) got her kit off at academic conferences to protest about the neglect of gender in economics. More recently, she made headlines by stripping off, live on air, to draw attention to what an economic disaster Brexit is supposedly going to be.
She justifies this behaviour because feminist performance art ‘would be a creative addition for a meeting of economists’ (p.2). Indeed, she tellingly admits that even though an economist the thing that has most powerfully affected her thinking is ‘art . . . a power that goes beyond words’ (p.1). She cannot understand why ‘feminism’ has has such a huge influence over every other social sciences – sociology, cultural anthropology, certain forms of psychology – but not over her own discipline of economics. Why does economics overlook ‘the vital importance of women’s freedom over their bodies’ ? (p.2), wonders Dr Bateman. Don’t they understand that ‘Economics needs to embrace the sex factor if it wants to answer such questions as ‘Why is the West rich?’ Why can’t economists, like other social scientists, accept the importance of learning from other disciplines, such as Feminist Studies?’ (p.3). Continue reading