Gender, class and the politics of ‘privacy’

A wonderful article by Lisa Mckenzie reflecting on the exposures of the Panama Papers in terms of the broader gendered and classed politics of privacy:

Working-class single mums claiming benefits will be asked very personal questions about what for anyone else would be private matters. They have to disclose the name of the child’s father, his address, where he works, so that the Child Support Agency can chase him up. If you cannot answer these questions (without good reason) your benefits are stopped. Benefit officials may look into your garden and check your washing line doesn’t have any men’s clothes on it, or use credit checks to see who may or may not be living at your address.

The moral argument for this treatment is that if you are taking public money you have to be open and accountable, so there can be no privacy if you are a poor woman. But taking public money or depriving the rest of us of public money by creating shell companies in faraway sunny places like the Bahamas or Panama? That’s different – it means you have good “tax management”, aspiration, and you are clearly a high achiever.

Categories: Rethinking The World

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