Economy as analysed from a feministic viewpoint

The journalist and writer, Katrine Marçal, visited Paris to talk about her book, Who cooked Adam Smith’s dinner (translated from Swedish), Brexit and in general about a feministic view on Western economy.

Katrine Marçal

Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?

Her prized book has been translated into 14 languages and created quite a stir in certain circles. It draws parallels between economy and patriarchy. One of the controversial questions it raises is why women’s unpaid work never counts when calculating the GNP (gross national product). Our modern society still struggles with the outmoded idea of the “man who earns money and the woman who serves the man” apparently; despite the fact that many women have joined the work force.

Katrine bases her theory on the economist Adam Smith’s idea of man as a “rational individual who tries to optimize his self-interest.” However, the economists haven’t spent enough time or energy investigating the “invisible hands and hearts” – i.e. the women who lovingly take care of the family, elderly, children, sick and handicapped in our individualized modern societies. Indeed what creates welfare if not these low esteemed jobs? What would be left of our societies without them? No big “bucks” are made by nursing or teaching though.

The model doesn’t fit:

According to Katrine, the “financial man” depicted as a “rational, dominant, selfish, cold and unattainable individual” doesn’t exist in real life. I would add that he or she would be called a manipulative narcissist. There are a few even in high positions around the world but thankfully they’re in minority.

“70 % of the world’s poor are women but if their unpaid work would be accounted for that situation could change,” Katrine explained to a predominantly women friendly audience. “One cannot either just add women to the economic stew and stir”, she added.

So what is the solution? That question remained unanswered this evening. Maybe we’re heading for a world where caring, ecology, creativity and nurturing will be highly valorised instead of banking, commercialism and spending our precious resources? We seem certainly to be at a crossroad and need to carefully reconsider what kind of world we want our children to grow up in. In which case Katrine’s theories can be of great help.

With Teresa May and Brexit in the UK and Donald Trump’s anti-feministic views in the USA, her ideas are far from becoming a reality in the near future though. However it was interesting to take part in her feministic views on Western economy. Now it’s up to us all to make it become a reality!

Anne Edelstam, Paris


About Anne

Swedish journalist, photographer, editor and writer. Based in Paris, France.