Sunday, June 27, 2010

Caitlin Ward on the Commodification of Sex

Blogger Caitlin Ward ( had some interesting things to say awhile back about consumerism as it pertains to sexual politics. Regarding the objectification of women in pop culture, she observes:
"... I think the problem with the objectification of women is largely the same: it is a symptom of a larger problem of the commodification of humanity and heartless consumerism: it's not that individual artists or evil; rather, they are buying into a system that promotes the visual prostitution of women. While that is wrong, certainly, they are not as culpable as we make them out to be. In a sense, none of us are to blame, and all of us are to blame at the same time.

However, this always gets lost in the microcosm of gender politics in the classroom, and it becomes a "girls against boys" discussion, as if we're playing hide and seek on an elementary school playground. I think the problem with discussions like that is when a woman says, "I disagree with that kind of objectification and I think we should work against it," a lot of men hear "it's all YOUR fault, you patriarchal pig!" In all fairness, some women are like that, but not so many as a lot of men I talk to think..."
"...I suppose that it's hard not to feel blamed when these discussions come up. I know, talking about race politics, I have this desire to yell, "it's not my fault you were sold into slavery and a bunch of people took your land!" and, you know, neither my ancestors nor my gender were the culpable ones in a systemic sense (we were peeling potatoes in Ireland) though I have benefited from the systemic advantages given to whites (and if you think they don't exist, you're a fool); I can't imagine how culpable I would feel if I were a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant man: priviliged and culpable simply by being born; thrown into a flawed world not your making, but being blamed for it regardless. The amount of guilt that I have seen white men take on themselves is just unreal. And what good does it really do? Next to none, I would say. We've just got a bunch of middle class men feeling really shitty.

...Just the 'middle class' ones, right?
So I think the answer (however obvious it sounds) is that we have to stop blaming people and start trying to fix the problem. Easy to say, not so easy to do. And I don't just mean the oppressed should stop blaming the so-called oppressors; the so-called oppressors should stop holding themselves responsible and feel that everyone else is holding them responsible, as well. When I talk about gender constructs, I don't mean, "men are sexist bastards and they should all just fuck off and die." Rather, I mean, "this is a problem we are all suffering from and we should deal with it."
True Dat!
Class bias not withstanding, Ward makes an excellent observation about gender politics. One that can be applied to Capitalism quite easily. The reason that we don't have a viable Green Party in this country (yet), stems from the fact that progressives by and large tend to be completely divisive and blame-based in their thinking. We need to find some common ground if we are ever going to have a positive impact. Pinko is certainly not the first to make this observation.
And While it's easy to label all capitalists as 'pigs'  and to state flatly that anyone participating in a capitalist economy is part of the problem... We all need to eat.
Capitalist conservatives (by and large) tend to be decent people with a strong work ethic and a belief in mertiocracy. Unfortunately, as a result they also tend to confuse slavery with wages, despotism with success and poverty with laziness. Flawed logic.
It's not really their fault though. They have been so thoroughly indoctrinated by the meme of so-called 'rational self interest' that they have essentially lost any ability they might have once had for independant thought. "Forgive them for they know not what they do."
Thus, when we here at Pinko talk about The Deep Green Socialist Revolution, capitalist myopsy, Resouce-Based Economies and Deep Democracy... What we're not saying is: "Capitalist are all a bunch of greedy pigs and as-such should be led off to slaughter." Rather, what we are saying is: "This is a serious problem that we are all suffering from and we need to deal with it immediately if our species intends to survive!"

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