Degrowth and equality of the sexes? An interview with Vincent Liegey by Sarah Nemno

egaliteVincent Liegey, a qualified engineer and a PHD student in economics is a member of the Parti Pour La Décroissance (Degrowth Party). He co-authore : Un Projet de Décroissance: Manifeste pour une Dotation Inconditionnelle d’Autonom. He is answering questions from Sarah Nemno about his perceptions about gender.

Sarah Nemno: Do you feel any specific responsibility towards the promotion of subjects relating to gender discrepancies?

Vincent Liegey: I am a Growth objector and, as we often say, the first degrowth must be degrowth in inequalities. Thus, I feel responsible for all forms of injustice and inequality; this automatically implies that I must have a position on the fight for gender equality… In a society where money is paramount, it is essential: as example loaded with a strong symbolism, I can mention wage discrepancies between men and women.

S.N.: What you are promoting, this degrowth in equalities, does it have to go through a deconstruction of gender stereotypes?

V.L.: From a holistic standpoint, is a process inherent Degrowth entails a decolonisation of our imaginaries; particularly our western developmentist, economistic and utilitarian imaginaries… but also macho and patriarchal!

For us, it is essential to distance ourselves from every form of habitus affecting us as individuals, stemming either from education, traditions and/or culture…. But also from media and advertising: the real actors in the commoditization of the world; they have no qualms in instrumentalizing sexism to feed the megamachine. Since gendered stereotypes are an integral part of these conditionings, we do have to work hard to deconstruct them! This means realizing we are complex individuals, a must if we want to make sense of and give meaning to our lives.

This must be achieved outside preconceived ideas imposed by society…. The point is not that men and women should adjust to Growth society, even less to its patriarchal, differentialist and divisive forms. Quite the opposite, we must transform growth society by advocating for non-violence so that each and everyone can blossom, respectful of each other

S.N.: Practically, has the Degrowth movement implemented any tool or processes to achieve equality?

V.L.: We are lucky to be part of a movement, particularly a small structure (PPLD: Parti Pour la Décroissance – Degrowth Party), where most members have been engaged in the reflection for quite a while. So, this equality happens naturally. Nevertheless, we have explored at length an equity system for the spoke-persons during our work-sessions for the AdOC (Association des Objecteurs de Croissance- Growth Objectors Association) by-laws and charter.

But non-violent communication is the most important tool to achieve this equality: active listening, round tables, conflict resolution through dialogue, respect of discordances, consensual decision-making, transparency, etc. It is the fairest tool to overcome and deconstruct gender inequalities and all inequalities for that matter!

S.N.: With regard to equity, only one woman co-authored the book, was it by design?

VL: To tell you the truth, I never thought about it. I should add that I write, cooperate with people on the same wavelength as myself with non-violence, respect of differences and sensibilities. It goes beyond gender inequalities that we still take into account. For sure, our collective is mixed, open to all, and particularly to the most disadvantaged and the victims of the system, it is primordial for the coherence of our reflections! Even more so, with regard to our desire to build a democratic, serene and convivial transition, towards new just and ecologically sustainable societal models.

S.N.: Do you think the actual political realm has sufficiently grasped these issues: gender deconstruction stereotypes and equality of the sexes?

V.L.: Absolutely not. Equity is often highlighted and is admittedly necessary, even if it is problematic. The behaviour of some women in power leaves to be desired in terms of violence, authoritarianism and dishonesty or contempt for colleagues; each more macho than the other! This equity is superficial; it integrates women in a system based on patriarchy and sexism, instead of changing the system to make it more inclusive. We need to argue for a bottom-up deconstruction by involving all the persons society want to render invisible.

S.N.: Our government has started to implement a pilot programme of deconstruction of gender stereotypes. Do you think it is sufficient?

V.L.: This programme goes in the right direction but it is far from being sufficient. We must free people from the alienation inflicted by the society of consumption, competition and domination. It must involve getting rid of advertising: the worst tool that colonises our imaginaries. It is not the only one to transmit, reinforce, exploit and play with gender stereotypes…

Secondly, equity can only be achieved through an egalitarian policy we call: Dotation Inconditionnelle d’ Autonomie (Unconditional Autonomy Allowance). With it, each of us can re-appropriate the meaning we want to give our lives. It does not target women specifically, but this measure contributes to it and it facilitates an exit from the alienation from the symbolic and systemic violences inherent to our society.

Degrowth is an approach based on otherness and diversity to achieve a better wellbeing for all. Therefore it is essential that all sensibilities, regardless of gender considerations and sexual orientations are an integral part of it.

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Sarah Nemno: Manager Media relations and community development for “Façon de Penser”, a communication agency based in Paris

Vincent Liegey, Stéphane Madelaine, Christophe Ondet Anne-Isabelle Veillot.
A Degrowth Project – Manifesto for an Unconditional Autonomy Allowance, Utopia.

“ […] the prerequisite for the transfromation of the economy is “ a strong adhesion from all and a participation to this desire for change”. That is the least … But we have to start somewhere and this stimulating book contributes to it undoubtedly”. Hervé Kempf in Le Monde.

“ And the success of the book may suggest that “transition is well underway”. Emmanuel Daniel in Slate.fr.

And also:

 

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