Saturday, March 03, 2007

Gender and economics

From Jacob Levy, re: a Figaro piece on a new economics school in Paris:

« Si on ne fait rien, dans cinq ou dix ans, les seuls chercheurs qui viendront à Paris sont ceux qui auront une petite copine en France », plaisante Thomas Piketty.

"If we do nothing, in five or ten years, the only researchers who will come to Paris will be those who have a girlfriend in France," warned Thomas Picketty.

Apparently no economists have French boyfriends.

The implicit sexism--economists are assumed to be straight men--is probably what Picketty is expressing, but it's not the whole story. For whatever reason, among heterosexual Americans, not to generalize or anything, but different countries are alleged to have attractive men than are alleged to have attractive women. A French girlfriend has more cache than does a French boyfriend. Meanwhile, an Israeli boyfriend probably has a bit more than does an Israeli girlfriend, and same goes for an English boyfriend versus girlfriend. Meanwhile, a Swedish girlfriend elicits oohs and ahhs, whereas a Swedish boyfriend is just a boyfriend who happens to come from Sweden. This is leaving out the classic Asian girlfriend-not-boyfriend and black boyfriend-not-girlfriend biases in America itself.

My question: why? How do some countries and races come to be seen as masculine and some as feminine? Presumably this is what's behind the way things fall.


Petey said...

While I agree with the validity of most of the stereotypes you list, I will make two corrections:

- You drastically underrate the charms of Israeli women. They're almost as hot as French women.

- No one of either gender wants an English paramour. Seriously, that's just a sick idea.

Becca said...

Actually, a French boyfriend has lots of cachet. When I had one all my friends went crazy with jealousy. Their image was feminine, however: a guy in touch with his feelings, romantic, sexy, speaking the language of love, etc. And I admit, my boyfriend was all these things.

However, France is indeed seen by Americans as feminine because of what we associate it with: love, food, art, and military weakness; all things commonly thought of as being the domain of women.

Ling said...

I think basically that asian guys have the most cachet, hands down, and are really the hot thing right now.

Chaim said...

Hi Phoebe,

I'm going to have to go ahead and call bullsh!t on the Israeli thing. Having personally ogled the fit, tanned, dark-eyed, self-possessed female IDF-trained killers holding M-16s at the ready, I am here to testify in the most chauvinist terms possible that they are hott.

Seriously, they're beautiful in a way that simply does not exist in America. I fell into a couple minutes of reverie just remembering them.