Friday, September 11, 2020
Lesley Wexner, Law and Non-Legal Entitlements: Kate Manne's Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women, Verdict
Philosopher Kate Manne’s first book Down Girl exploded into the popular consciousness just a few years ago. She rejected a simplistic view of misogyny as simply men who hate women and instead developed a broader view that misogyny serves “primarily a property of social environments in which women are liable to encounter hostility due to the enforcement and policing of patriarchal norms and expectations. . . . Misogyny functions to enforce and police women’s subordination and to uphold male dominance.” Given Manne’s sharp analytic approach, I eagerly awaited her follow-up, Entitled, just now published. This new work focuses on how “privileged men’s sense of entitlement. . . is a pervasive social problem with often devastating consequences.”
Coming to Manne’s new work as a law professor, I thought about how Entitled might fit within the property literature. It reminded me, in a good way, of Robert Ellickson’s infamous article on Shasta County and the role of informal norms in managing property rights. Ellickson’s investigation of ranchers and farmers was seminal in challenging the Coasean intuition that in the absence of transaction costs, initial property entitlements are irrelevant since parties will simply bargain their way to the efficient outcome. He urged law and economics to think about and account for the development and the enforcement of informal norms and what those might tell us about the recourse to the law to enforce legal entitlements. Manne makes a similar move, but one step earlier. She suggests that to successfully challenge both the law and the informal norms, more of society needs to first clearly see and understand the original underlying entitlements. Her book identifies, names, and explores a whole universe of entitlements that often benefit men at the expense of women. While many of the entitlements Manne identifies are not legal entitlements provided for by the state, they are pervasive, they shape a great deal of human interaction, their use as the social default disfavors women, and society is having a difficult time bartering to what I see as the appropriate socially optimal egalitarian outcome. I found her entitlement framework illuminating and will spend the rest of this post explaining how the framework exposes different entitlements in American society.