Feminism is Great for the Free Market

Here’s a thought I’ve explored lately, but haven’t seen expressed anywhere: Feminism is great for the free market.

Voluntary exchange forms the basis of the free market.  Advocates of markets quickly disagree with legislation that reduces the ability of two parties to voluntarily transact, but I have not seen market advocates challenging other encroachments on autonomy. Fortunately, the feminist movement has brought to public awareness concepts such as “rape culture” and microagressions – and is helping to marginalize these ways to violate consent.

Men have developed many techniques to persuade, cajole, wheedle, and intimidate women into sleeping with them, spending time with them, or just giving them more attention than they otherwise would voluntarily give. These same techniques are used in transactional situations to extract a price different from that which would have been reached through entirely consensual interaction.  Coercion doesn’t just come from the law; when an employee asks for a raise, and a manager raises an eyebrow, tilts a head to the side, and says “Do you really think you deserve more?” – this is not a consensual interaction.  The community of amateurs who refer to themselves as “pick up artists” would refer to this as negging. Feminism has made everyone aware how stupid this is – and yet it’s totally acceptable in transaction situations that aren’t quite markets – such as one off negotiations, or price discovery for non-fungible goods without a meaningful bid-ask spread. In true markets – commodities, forex, and the financial markets – this type of nonsense doesn’t happen because it accomplishes nothing. You just put in an order, and you get filled if someone wants to fill it. There’s no eyebrow-raising involved.

Harassing or committing a microagression need not be something a person does consciously – it could be a merely be an unconscious habit that a person has learned works for them.  By highlighting these techniques and repeatedly stressing that they are unacceptable, we push them from the stable of acceptable behavior. Giving everyone the confidence to say “I deserve to be treated with respect, and I don’t feel respected right now”  – because this is something that any person, anywhere, should have the right to say without moral opprobrium from the other party –  we will change the game of capitalism to make it operate based more upon truly free exchange.

If a Man wants to get attention from a woman, he can continually send her messages, pester her, and ask her to explain or justify her lack of desire to interact with him.  Sales people do the exact same thing when they encounter “difficult” customers whose pesky desire not to be pushed around gets in the way of the sales agent’s commission.  Those who advocate for free markets – such as myself – ought to be equally disgusted by both. By highlighting the ways people deny each other agency, and making these techniques culturally verboten, we give some “argumentatory ammunition” to the kind of people who just want to treat others well, and expect to be treated well in return.

In a true market, the bid-ask spread is public knowledge, and these guilt-tripping games don’t get played. They’d be seen for what they are – a stupid waste of time for everyone except for the few people who enjoy them because feel justified in taking from other people. “Well you agreed to the price (after I spent hours wearing you down)” is, from a “consent” perspective, effectively the same thing as “she didn’t say no!”

Many advocates of free markets like to mock the idea that there are “good people” who just want to treat others well.    They advocate for markets because they think “good people” don’t exist to run a command economy, rather than for anothe , probably more correct reason – that a command economy is computationally intractable. These advocates of agression seem to think having people spend their time trying to persuade each other that a price for an illiquid good is “correct” is a reasonable form of economic activity, rather than seeing it for what it is – a tax on the kind, exacted by assholes.  That’s not the free market – that’s just you being a dick.  If feminism makes “being a dick” in any context politically untenable, women can expect straight answers when they ask for a raise, instead of anticipating a guy saying something like “well, you don’t want to be greedy!”

That’s great news for markets. Bad news for assholes, I guess – but they’ll be extinct soon enough.

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