Good morning and hello to more complaints about the hot season on the old continent.
The other day, during my regular scroll on Insta, I stumbled upon one of SuperSnake’s post. The comedian satirises what he calls high society, to be read wealthy individuals with questionable values. His usual victims are rich men and the women who sell their company and time for a seat at the table at Shellona in Saint Tropez, Nammos in Mykonos and god knows what is en vogue in Ibiza this year. The spiel is always the same. Mediocre food for dinner, big bottles with some sparkling bougies and later on, everybody can dance on the tables as seen in A-list celebrities in respectable establishments. Everyone has fun. You can barely hear each other during dinner and after it does not matter anymore. The Insta stories look great. FOMO for followers secured.
The account is highly entertaining and from a feminist pov I have nothing to criticise. SuperSnake does treat females and males equally. He ridiculises the tiny willy compensation through unnecessarily high bills in bars, as well as the shallow entertainment and cheap dopamine these women choose to trade their time and presence for. However, coincidence makes that in Greece I learnt how access to own funds does not guarantee all the fun a girl might want to buy.
A couple of summers ago, escaping the heat of Athens, two girlfriends and I spontaneously jumped on a boat and sailed around 2h south-west of Piraeus. Arriving there, we headed to a rental place to get a scooter. Our bikinis packed, ready to drive off to some pretty beaches along the coast. Even though we all had a driving license, the dudes at the renting office refused to give us any type of machinery. They told us about the roads on the island and how lack of experience in the area makes it too dangerous for us to drive. We might as well have flashed a stack of cash or a Centurion at them. No scooter, nor quad bike for us. On an island where dumb tourists regularly drive drunk, it seems that three young ladies cannot possibly drive a machine with a ridiculous 150cc motor, which in other parts of the world is operated by children.
We were stuck in the proximity of the port and dependent on poor public transportation, guys with horsepower or our own two legs. Choose your poison. We worked around that and had our fun, but not without compromises. All the beautiful beaches we probably missed.. Once again, sexism penetrated even the privileged life of three happy students on holidays. Just as a reminder, women are the safer drivers, cause less accidents and more importantly, less fatal accidents. Insurance providers, by law, can’t discriminate based on gender.
In the past, car insurance quotes for women were indeed cheaper than men. Female drivers generally have fewer major accidents on the road and make fewer high value claims, so they were automatically rewarded with lower premiums. That was until 2012, when a European Court of Justice ruling made it illegal for insurance companies to use gender to calculate premiums. So now we pay up for male lack of skills on the road. Funny how there is no such regulation prohibiting pharma companies to add an higher mark up on pink painkillers or banning Procter & Gamble from doing the same with all their products marketed towards females. I wrote with more pathos about the pink tax here.
This ruling came out over 11 years ago. We are quick to correct male disadvantage, even when it is justified by data. Similarly, in health care men cost more later in life, because they simply go less or too late to the doctor’s, have unhealthier habits and potentially weaker bodies, when it comes to the test of time. We always seem to have been oblivious of these factors, when calculating insurance premiums.
A picture is worth a thousands words. The graph above tells us something else, too. Namely that women spend more money on health during their reproductive years, when they are faced with the many under-researched and under-funded gender specific diseases. Once their bodies are ridden of the pesky and mysterious female hormones, the balance swifts. It might be a bold assumption to make, but given we would actually provide proper health care to females, they would cost less across all age groups. More on the return on investment of research in diseases with female subjects here. Quite impressive numbers. And here more on why medical care is not gender neutral.
Policy and regulation, incentives to invest and nudges are all very well working mechanisms. And we know how to use them. It just seems we choose to delay their deployment when it comes to female problems.
To come back to SuperSnakes’s exhibits - both sides might be criticised, but it is the male camp in power. The side that provides the funds and makes the rules. Sadly, this applies to all sorts of situations, from empty nights in clubs, the built of our AI algos and the data we feed them, all the way to drug discovery and medical research. As wealthy men drop the cash in clubs and pick the content of the ice buckets, from positions of power, they also steer the way we invest and use our tax money, the directions and industries in which private funds go and which equality problems we solve. And obviously they think of their own taste buds, when ordering.
Being represented is paramount. Nobody will think of problems they do not have. Getting a seat at the table and having your concerns listened to and acted upon is cardinal. And make no mistake, not all seats are the same. We need to get to the beaches we want, with the scooters of our choice. Everything else is just an illusion of liberation.