Joris Luyendijk: ‘Seven tick men don’t know what discrimination is’

Power in the Netherlands lies with the so-called seven ticks. A group of men of the same skin color, sexual identity, culture, social class and education, who ultimately make up only 3 percent of our population. In his latest book, journalist and writer Joris Luyendijk, who also has seven ticks himself, researched why this group has been in charge for so long in our country.

The seven vinkjes-men lack a certain life experience, says journalist and writer Joris Luyendijk in his book ‘The seven vinkjes. How men like me boss.

‘We don’t know what it’s like to be discriminated against, to adapt to another culture or another social class. Because of our training, we can also get the idea that we are the smartest in the class. All of that together is very personality-deforming.’


You can be aware of it, but not draw on your own experience, continues Luyendijk. ‘You come across this kind of innocence on many levels. That term comes from Gloria Bekker. She mainly applies it to skin color and gender, but you can also find it in social class and cultural adjustment. Just like everyone else, boys like me are told: Follow your heart, be yourself, do your best and you’ll be fine. All other people discover that this is not true, but we do not. With us, it beats for the rest of our lives.’

When Luyendijk was working on his book, he thought for a year that it was about a ‘subject’. Until his friends confronted him and said: don’t you see? For you this may be a topic, but for many it is the reality. ‘I found that shocking. You can find out as a kind of thought, but what matters is whether you feel it.’

Joris Luyendijk: ‘Seven tick men don’t know what discrimination is’ANP / Jan Boeve

‘We don’t know what discrimination is’

Seven finches-men are born and die together in the same ‘reserve’. You can’t blame them for that, says Luyendijk. ‘The problem is that we are in charge, while we do not know what discrimination is. We prioritize discrimination, but 8 out of 10 justice ministers are men like me with seven ticks. In recent decades, the Netherlands has hardly given any priority to combating discrimination. I cannot separate that from the fact that the minister who was responsible for it could not have personally experienced what discrimination is.’

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read back † Luyendijk’s It’s like people made into a movie

Benefits scandal

Looking for like-minded people is not a bad thing and unavoidable, says Luyendijk. According to him, it can also be very beneficial to associate with like-minded people. But he thinks it is harmful if leaders have had the same kind of youth, experiences and perspectives on the future.’

An example of this is the allowance scandal. ‘How many seven ticks were there on the victims? And how many seven ticks were there in the process that turned the benefits scandal into a benefits affair? Affair is a very innocent word.’

Luyendijk does not know who should do something about this. ‘That is beyond my expertise. I’m not a diversity expert. You have to study for years for that.’ He calls himself experiential privileges. “It makes sense to have some sort of manual for guys like me because we’re in charge in so many places. If you read that manual, you will discover that we have a kind of innocence that makes it very difficult to get through to us. We are not aware of any harm. Angry people make us very nervous. That’s why we like to hire people who aren’t angry. We hire people like us. We call that quality, because we can only deal with people like ourselves.’ Luyendijk: ‘I hope people will say more often: have you hired a seven tick man again? That is quite different from saying: have you hired a white man again?’