On pornography and the persistence of patriarchy

Michael Laxer is a Canadian bookstore owner, a political activist and one of two spokespersons for the Socialist Party of Ontario. This post was originally published on Michael Laxer’s blog and was reprinted with permission from the author.

 

There is a debate that exists among leftists and feminists as to pornography. This, as a result of the imagery and social implications of the Internet, is an increasingly important debate

As a man, I cannot speak to the differences that exist within the feminist movement regarding pornography. It is not, by definition, my place.

But I can speak to the perceptions or misperceptions of pornography that seemingly exist within the broader left and among men.

I can also speak to the fact that, as uncomfortable as it may make us, the commercialization of depictions of sexuality, of whatever type, have become frequently an enemy of the same sexual “liberation” that they allegedly flowed out of.

There is little doubt that a double-standard of sorts exists in the left with regards to the sexual, and more importantly, in some respects, the commercial exploitation of people who “willingly” participate in pornography. While one would be hard pressed to find someone in left circles who would seek to justify the exploitation of minimum wage workers on the grounds that they “freely chose” to take these terrible dead-end jobs, there remains a legion of them who will, to one degree or another, do so for the desperate women (and men) who end up selling themselves for the sexual gratification of others.

Let us be clear. Like all capitalist transactions involving the primarily poor or desperate this is a profoundly unequal transaction. This is not art, and it is not erotica. The idea that one should view the transaction differently as a result of the fact that the commodity is sex is at best wishful thinking. In reality, in almost all cases the physical, emotional and personal exploitation of people in this “industry” is far worse than that of workers in standard industries. This is not a reflection on the individual morality of the people in question; it is a reflection of the morality of the producers and consumers of this material.

What has obfuscated the issue in the minds of many, understandably, is to not want to support a religious or moralistic form of anti-sex backwardness. This is often tied into a civil libertarian fear that the government should not involve itself in the policing of depictions of sex.

And it should not.

That is not the issue at all. Censorship is not a sensible solution to pornography for many reasons, not the least of which is that, as has happened in the past, the censors will largely concentrate on LGBT erotica and pornography. To that small minority of people on the left who advocate banning pornography (as if such a thing is possible), I would suggest that they think again. It will not turn out as you might suppose.

The “Sexual Revolution”, with its embrace of modernity, homosexuality and lesbianism, so-called “deviant” behaviour, and other forms of human sexual impulse, made important strides forward in the cause of personal liberation. But it left people in a seeming conundrum where, if they believed in “liberation” and “liberalism”, somehow they felt that they had to be uncritical of sexual depictions, whatever their broader social and political context might be.

And yet we must not abandon a critical viewpoint of the increasingly prevalent culture of pornography and the dangers it represents due to the essentially misogynist nature of much of these representations of human sexuality and due to their widespread embrace by men. This has been massively abetted and amplified by the ease of access presented by the Internet.

Even a cursory examination of pornographic websites on line, and we all know this, exposes profoundly misogynist language and depictions of women. Insulting terms like slut, bitch, whore, and much, much worse are commonplace. Revolting depictions of male dominance through acts like “facials’ etc.., are also the norm. There is no possible way to frame the use of the now popularized term “money shots” other than through the lens of patriarchy unless one is willfully blind. This “sexual” act is an explicit and clear act of physical domination and cannot be explained otherwise.

To excuse its vile symbolism on the grounds that the participants willingly degraded themselves is as absurd as saying that workers willingly buy into their own exploitation by working. It may heal the consciences of those who find sexual self-gratification in these depictions, but it does not change the reality of the social transaction.

Pornography is not the explicit depiction of people having sex, it is the transformation of this sex act into a commercial commodity for popular consumption. These are not morally the same the same at all. Further, in the continued context of a hierarchical and patriarchal society, pornography reflects back the fears and desires of the oppressors upon the oppressed.

In the online pornographic world any man can quickly find the reaffirmation of his own self-perception of being dominant over women. It is hard to understand its generally appalling terminology and imagery other than as a rear guard psychological defence against the idea of women’s personal and sexual equality.

No sexual transaction that is paid for and that involves submission in a context of having been paid for, is anything other than an exploitative transaction by definition. This applies also to men who get caught up in the web of pornography and its particularly dehumanizing form of using people. But that does not change the fact that the entire framework in which this occurs is as a direct result of social patriarchy in a capitalist context. The men, ironically, are also victims of patriarchy.

We do not act, most often, in the full understanding of our actions. If you want to understand the social function of patriarchy, in the same way that one understands the social function of hierarchy, one has to realize that it is pervasive and that we are all, to some degree or another, participants in it. That we may not want to be changes little. Even the most progressive men cannot completely escape it anymore than the most progressive leftist can escape capitalism. It is systemic, and therefore it is a part of our daily discourse and thinking.

Pornography, however, has undergone a revolution. It is now available, easily, 24 hours a day for everyone. It has become an industry that is vastly more profitable than Hollywood. The sites are usually free “fronts” for a network of corporate and sometimes illegal interests, who use young women in heinous and ugly ways to make money.

This is what online pornography is. It is a forum that takes women who need quick “solutions” to personal problems and are, very often, 18-25, (or made to look like they are), and it uses them as chattel. If for no other reason this alone makes it something that must be fought. It is a meat grinder and its form of oppression makes Wal-Mart look good.

Remarkable money is made off of these “actors”…and they see very little of it. They are paid FAR less than a minor actor in a mainstream film, despite the fact that the movies they are in will possibly make more profit than many, if not all “small-budget” mainstream movies, most of which lose money.

Enormous numbers of phony “amateur” sites exist to complete the fraud that this is all “good girls” gone “bad” or some other sexist narrative. But they are not amateur sites at all, of course, they are run by criminal or corporate interests as a front to draw in willing “dupes” who pretend they think they are participating in some kind of “authentic” experience.

The reason that this is significant is simple. Misogynist depictions and commentaries about women are now commonplace on the Internet. They have even, to a degree, become hard to avoid. They are exposing large numbers of young men to very hardcore and degrading depictions of sexual acts in ways that are profoundly demeaning to women. The views of these men towards women are inevitably effected.

They cannot not be.

As leftists and as leftist men, we must stand up and acknowledge that this commercial sexual use of fellow human beings in this way is not an expression of sexual freedom, but is a capitalist perversion of it.

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • profeminist

    Capitalism didn’t invent porn, male supremacy did.

  • Komal

    Pornography is not a capitalist phenomenon. Capitalism at most just makes the delivery of the goods (i.e. porn) more efficient when there’s a demand for it, but it doesn’t create the demand. And anyway, porn has been around since before capitalism.

  • http://blamerbushfire.wordpress.com Bushfire

    I highly doubt that porn was around before capitalism. I’m sure that erotic images were around as soon as humans could draw, but the porn we’re dealing with today is specifically representations of male sexual dominance over women sold as entertainment, and it is inextricable from capitalism. Pornographers run enormous businesses and employ accountants, graphic designers, advertisers, etc. They do business with other common businesses such as hotel chains, television channels, etc.

    Surely porn was born out of male supremacy, but capitalism is a part of that same system of dominance and submission. The whole system’s got to go.

    By the way, great article, Michael.

    • Komal

      So what if pornographers do business? That just means that they can get the porn made on a larger scale, to accommodate a higher demand, and it means they’re more efficient in delivering it to the people who demand it. That efficiency is not the reason porn exists: male demand for porn is the reason it exists. And male demand comes from men’s misogyny and a patriarchally influenced sexuality (of both men and women).

      There may not have been any porn videos before capitalism, because I do not think the technology existed then. But there are descriptions of rape and sexual violence, and even many of the depiction of erotica in the Indian tantric tradition are patriarchal (they involve pornographic images).

      • Meghan Murphy

        Capitalism and capitalism as it relates to pornography isn’t just about “efficiency”. It’s about profit. They make pornography in order to make money….It’s not about what’s best for the customer, it’s about how they can make the most money….

        • Decius

          Agribusiness exists to make money, too. In fact, since money can be exchanged for virtually all goods and services, a significant fraction of people have ‘making money’ as their primary means of support.

          Is making money what makes the creators of pornography bad?

          • Meghan Murphy

            No Decius. It isn’t *only* that they profit from pornography that makes pornographers “bad”, as you say. No one has argued this. Please address the actual arguments people are making.

          • Decius

            I suppose I would have to agree. The ‘financial need’ factor involved is equally as bad in the case of pornographers as in the case of industrialists. I disagree in that I don’t believe that people placing a high value on the things that money is required to have constitutes coercion on the part of employers.

            I can’t speak as to why libido exists, or why pornography is. I just recognize that the economic arguments are wrong, and I can’t find any logical ethical arguments that don’t either start from a premise that amounts to circular reasoning, or assume a degree of paternalism that I find objectionable.

            There is little doubt that a double-standard of sorts exists in the left with regards to the sexual, and more importantly, in some respects, the commercial exploitation of people who “willingly” participate in pornography. While one would be hard pressed to find someone in left circles who would seek to justify the exploitation of minimum wage workers on the grounds that they “freely chose” to take these terrible dead-end jobs, there remains a legion of them who will, to one degree or another, do so for the desperate women (and men) who end up selling themselves for the sexual gratification of others.

            I might not be quite as liberal as everyone else, but I believe that employees should only work for a wage, and in a working condition, that they think is suitable for them. It is up to the potential employee to refuse to work at an unsuitable wage, or in unsuitable conditions. Companies which offer “dead-end jobs” are providing interim employment for people who have not found permanent employment, as well as permanent employment for people with a moderate standard of living.

            Those people aren’t being exploited: They are being offered value-for-value exchanges based on the fact that the value of their labor is low and that there is a need for a lot of labor at that level, and significantly less need for higher-quality labor in most “dead-end” industries. By the same token, pornography needs a lot of models, there are a lot of people willing to be models, and virtually no qualifications are needed. Pay and conditions will reflect this.

            Non-capitalist pornography would still have similar pay and conditions, just like non-capitalist fast food would be similar to the way it is now. The difference is that the people who created the infrastructure which allows it to happen would be rewarded differently; presumably, the cost to the consumer would be reduced because there would be no need for the investors to make a profit.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            “Non-capitalist pornography would still have similar pay and conditions, just like non-capitalist fast food would be similar to the way it is now.”

            No… no it wouldn’t. It already doesn’t (see, for example, the recuperated factories
            in Argentina).

        • Komal

          That’s irrelevant. The motive of the business-owners may be to make profit, but the profit is only possible because people are buying the pornography. Theoretically people could make profit out of a business selling feminist books and media, or running an animal shelter or something, as long as it is physically and legally possible… but whether or not people will buy it is another thing. Instead of blaming the economic system in which trade is possible, why don’t you blame the people who are actually making this an acceptable item of trade? Blaming capitalism for porn is like blaming roads for terrorism. Yeah, you need roads to drive a bomb-laden car, but that’s hardly a strong case against roads. I suppose you could just include the fact that a certain infrastructure exists in your analysis as a way of understanding the specific machinations of patriarchy in a particular cultural context, but that would then have to be devoid of any moral judgment of that economic system.

          • http://gravatar.com/hysperia Elizabeth

            Patriarchy and capitalism hold hands. You can’t understand pornography and its makers and consumers, its influence on society, without understanding both. We really can’t talk about “business-owners” when we’re looking at globalized finance capitalism. One 2006 estimate has the global porn industry valued at $97 billion in revenues. That doesn’t have much to do with anything that sounds so small as “business owners”. Besides reading some feminism Komal, you really do have to read some critiques of capitalism so I’d check out materialist/radical feminism. Capitalism creates the needs that we acquire in order to prompt us to buy the products it asserts will fill those needs. Capitalism reflects and reproduces the exploitation of women entailed by capitalism. If (when!) capitalism goes away, we do not guarantee the end of patriarchy. But nor do we guarantee the end of capitalism by focusing on the dismantling of patriarchy. Women in particular must have both. As must people affected by racism, classism and colonialism.

          • http://gravatar.com/hysperia Elizabeth

            I meant “Capitalism reflects and reproduces the exploitation of women entailed in patriarchy.”

          • Komal

            By ‘business owners’ I just meant the people who own the businesses in question. They could be multi-trillion dollar businesses… it’s not relevant to my point.

            Just pointing out that pornographers make profit, or how much the profit is, does not answer my point. I don’t know why people keep saying ‘they make profit’ as if that somehow negates anything I said.

            As for the various claim you’ve made: do you have any evidence for them? I am a radical feminist in most ways except the anti-capitalism stuff (and if that makes me not a radical feminist, I’m fine with that). I’ve already read critiques of capitalism, but have so far found mere assertions without proof, and often involving inaccurate claims about capitalism.

            “Capitalism reflects and reproduces the exploitation of women entailed by patriarchy.”

            I’m not even sure what this means, to be honest. Are you implying there is a different type of exploitation of women, that is capitalist but not patriarchal (and involves a reproduction of patriarchal dynamics)? Wouldn’t it by definition be patriarchal if it was the exploitation of women? The only way I can make any sense of that is you’re claiming that the exploitation is somehow worsened by a capitalist as opposed to, say, a socialist system. That may be true, I’m not sure. The evidence does not indicate that this is so, and even if it was it would be irrelevant to the question of whether porn has a capitalist origin. Further, it would not involve getting into the various moral issues that come up with a socialist system too.

  • http://rmott62.wordpress Rebecca Mott

    I hot sure but I think it highly likely that porn is older than capitalism – for porn is the recording of having power and control over mainly females through sexual violence. The images of porn as just a recording of the rapes and sexual torturing, which were place on wall and stones as soon as man discover he could leave his mark.
    Of course, when many centuries capitalism became a power-force it became interconnected very quickly with the porn, and was part of making it into an industry, that turned mainly females into sub-humans. But then all male-led beliefs systems and political systems are benefiting by being hand in glove with the porn industry.

  • Decius

    Why do you assert that men are, by definition, unable to properly participate in feminism?

    Have you examined the consequences of considering that minimum wage workers are free agents, who willingly enter a flawed system even though they will be exploited by it?

  • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

    To those who answered that porn existed before capitalism: that’s not the point. The end of the article clearly states that “this commercial sexual use of fellow human beings in this way… is a capitalist perversion.” Laxer is NOT saying that porn only exists because of capitalism. He is talking about the relationship between capitalism, porn and patriarchy today, in our modern world, not more than 150 years ago (given that capitalism is around 150 years old). He’s saying that capitalism uses sexuality to produce porn which is a support for the patriarchy. This is an obvious point but it seems it needs to be repeated again, and again, and again, because there’s always people who DON’T GET IT.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Exactly, Francois. I think the point is that the way in which porn exists today (and the sex industry, generally), exists as it does as a result of capitalism / the collision of capitalism with patriarchy.

    • Komal

      All right, but he has not shown it is a ‘capitalist perversion’. He may be conflating capitalism with objectification.

      “He’s saying that capitalism uses sexuality to produce porn which is a support for the patriarchy.”

      Yeeahh, I’m not sure I buy this. It anthropomorphizes capitalism. Yes, men (and some women) consume porn in a capitalist system which delivers the goods to them. And the porn is misogynistic because the society is misogynistic. But I don’t see how this shows that ‘capitalism is “using” porn’ to support patriarchy, and not merely that men are using porn because they’re in a patriarchy.

      • Hari B.

        Komal–“He may be conflating capitalism with objectification.”

        Objectification of womyn and nature is at the base of patriarchy. This same objectification is at the base of capitalism. In a capitalist economy, all life forms and parts of the earth are viewed as separate objects available for production into goods, as labor or as consumers–rather than seeing all as interdependent, equally important living parts that make up a living whole. If we did not have the objectification inherent to patriarchy, we would not have capitalism.

        also, Komal: “Yeah, you need roads to drive a bomb-laden car, but that’s hardly a strong case against roads.” That’s a fairly feeble and facile analogy, and not at all persuasive of your assertion that Laxer/others are mistaken in linking objectification, capitalism, patriarchy.

        Meghan: “the way in which porn exists today (and the sex industry, generally), exists as it does as a result of capitalism / the collision of capitalism with patriarchy.”
        I really like that phrase–the collision of capitalism with patriarchy. Seems particularly apt somehow.

        • Komal

          It’s not enough to just link capitalism and patriarchy. The link could be any kind: it could be a mere analogy. But I thought the implication was that capitalism is the source of porn, so there is a causal relationship between the two. You are going to have to do better than just pointing out that they’re similar in order to show that there is that particular kind of link.

          Merely referring to my analogy as ‘feeble and facile’ is not a good argument. It’s ad hominem, and is not even followed up by an elaboration or explanation of why you find it facile. Please, if you want to argue, do a better job than merely insulting what I say, by actually presenting a rational case for your position.

        • Komal

          So now you’re claiming that capitalism is not the source of porn, but that it has the same cause as porn, namely objectification. I obviously disagree, and find these kinds of analyses reductive, but either way, this is a different claim than the one being made in the article.

          • Hari B.

            Komal: “but either way, this is a different claim than the one being made in the article. ”

            You are correct that my thoughts on capitalism/porn are not exactly the same as Laxer’s. I saw his thoughts on this as having merit, even if I don’t entirely agree. That’s because I value our endeavors of seeing and fully examining links between capitalism/porn/patriarchy–while not believing that we need arrive at a definitive conclusion to be on the right track.

            And you can say I’m being ‘reductive’, but I think there’s a great deal of value in seeing simple fundamentals of complex issues. I do believe that objectification–the fundamental mind-over-matter nature of patriarchal mind–necessarily underlies both capitalism and porn. We don’t have to agree on that, of course. But you haven’t persuaded me otherwise, yet.

            As for my use of ‘feeble and facile’–ok, point taken. I’m saying your analogy did not have sufficient points of linkage to be persuasive to me.

      • RR

        And the sick womsn-hating society created and normalized pornography in the first place,but it also is a big reason why our society is woman-hating because it increases men’s (and sadly women are influenced by all of this too) irrational hatred of women by sexualizing and normalizing it!

  • Eric M. Hodge

    Decius: Men are not able to fully and properly participate in feminism because we are tainted by our participation in the patriarchy and our male viewpoint. Even the most progressive thinking, leftist, feminist man is going to carry with him some vestiges of patriarchal thinking. That is the nature of our privilege. It is very difficult to unpack.

    As for examining “the consequences of considering that minimum wage workers are free agents, who willingly enter a flawed system even though they will be exploited by it”, I have an analogy for you to consider. How is saying, “Do this labor for 6 dollars an hour or starve to death…” any different than being forced to work at gunpoint? Both carry with them a coerced condition with an implicit threat.

    • Hari B.

      Eric, thanks for your response to Decius–nicely done on both points.

      Decius–I add it is not that men can’t learn from feminism, or shouldn’t speak at all in feminist settings. I’d guess that most feminsists wish more men would explore feminism and come to know how patriarchy influences their own development of ego and all relationships, as well as the way patriarchy so deeply and endlessly harms womyn. The point here is that men can’t speak for feminists, can’t lead feminists, and in this case as Laxer pointed out, men can’t speak of differences within feminism generally when it comes to porn. Those parts are our job–womyn who are feminists–by definition.

      Also want to emphasize Eric’s point about coercion. Patriarchy on the whole is about nothing so much as coercion–it’s an essentially dominance/submission, S&M mindset. Because it is the only culture we have, we must perforce live and choose within it in most important ways. Because it is a dominance/submission culture, our only choices are to dominate or submit. Within capitalism both political power and money are concentrated in the hands of the few–a pyramid scheme wherein the greatest number are coerced one way and another to comply with options created by the dominators, in order to survive.

      As for the ideas about patriarchy-capitalism-porn, clearly there are different ways of looking at this but we all agree that there are important links. Laxer’s way of saying it is more than adequate. I would say–patriarchy is what makes both capitalism and porn inevitable–they are logical outgrowths of the patriarchal mind. This, both in terms of its essential dominance/submission mind, and with special respect to men’s oppression of womyn.

      Excellent work, Michael Laxer–thanks f-word for reposting here.

      • Decius

        If the point is that men can’t BE feminists, in every sense that is important, then why is that so?

        Capitalism isn’t what concentrates power; patriarchy concentrates power. Patriarchal capitalism concentrates power for the same reason that patriarchal communism concentrates power.

        Individuals don’t need to choose to attempt to dominate or to submit, even in the presence of a culture which makes those options the norm. Survival is often made easier by complying with those who already lead the society, but that only alters the decisions of people who place their survival ahead of ideological concerns and wish to accomplish their goals with less work and/or risk.

        • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

          A man can’t be a feminist any more than a member of the KKK can be anti-racist.

          • http://anarchopragmatisme.wordpress.com/ David Gendron

            And why you said that?

      • RR

        And pornography is a major teacher and sexualizer of this male dominance female submission!

    • Decius

      What is it about women that causes them to never have had a ‘male viewpoint’, nor to have participated in the patriarchy? Is having a ‘male viewpoint’ one of the necessary conditions for being a man?

      “I have this labor available, and will pay $wage.” is not a threat. It is an offer. “I will cause food to be withheld from you if you if you do not work for me.” is the threat you claim is being made. Without discussing the truth of the assertion “If you do not earn any money you will starve to death.”, I ask what is the difference between “Do this labor for 6 dollars an hour or starve to death…” and “Do this labor for one hundred billion dollars an hour or starve to death…”? The only difference is the amount of the wages or quality of working conditions, which doesn’t reduce the severity of the threat.

      Employers have the implicit threat “Hire enough workers of adequate skill or go out of business.” in a capitalist society, potential laborers and potential employees determine wages through the principles of the Walrasian auction. Low-paying jobs exist because there is a demand for jobs even at low wages, and there is a demand for the employees which can be hired at low wages.

      Capitalism-as-it-is-practiced is somewhat different from capitalism; laws and social mores push on both sides of the employer/employee line, perfect information is rarely present, and transaction costs are seldom negligible.

      • Meghan Murphy

        It’s not that women don’t participate in patriarchy, Decius, it’s that they don’t, for the most part, benefit directly from patriarchy in the way that men do.

        • Decius

          That’s… internally consistent, but I still don’t see why ‘having once been a patriarch’ has anything to do with the ability to be a feminist.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Patriarchy isn’t a thing of the past. Men CURRENTLY benefit from patriarchy. I don’t believe anyone said that a man can’t be a feminist, in any case, just that a man can’t speak for or lead feminists/feminism.

          • Decius

            Men who are feminists can speak for, and lead, themselves.
            Anyone may speak for, or lead, another who consents to be spoken for or led.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Dude. I don’t think you’re getting this. Men don’t get to decide what happens within the feminist movement. I don’t care how you want to rearrange words.

          • http://gravatar.com/hysperia Elizabeth

            Would it be rude to point out that this chat represents a serious hijacking of the point of the post?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Not at all, Elizabeth! It’s very, very true.

          • Eric M. Hodge

            That, in a nutshell, is why we can’t be full members or leaders of the feminist movement. THe Patriarchy and the male viewpoint constantly demands that we make it all about us. That’s why I prefer to call myself an “ally”, because I want so very badly to assist feminism in achieving its goal of equality, but I recognize the best way for me to do that is sometimes to just get the hell out of your way and work on unpacking my own baggage.

            Shit… I just did it, didn’t I? I made it all about me.

            Okay… Men should be tending to their own house, breaking down the barriers, unpacking the privilege, calling one another about our own BS and stop getting in the way with our “my very educated male opinion is blah blah blah, mansplain mansplain…” Sound about right?

          • http://gravatar.com/hysperia Elizabeth

            I don’t think you made it all about you. I think men get to tell men how they think men should support feminism and feminists. And I appreciate your comments.

  • http://gravatar.com/hysperia Elizabeth

    Re: pornography and capitalism, Germaine Greer had an interesting book review in The Guardian this weekend. In it, she points out that pornography has been around for as long as upper class, literate men have been around. Its dissemination under capitalist economic forms is unprecedented though. And, as Germaine notes: “Pornography was always available for those who sought it out; the difference is that in the 21st century pornography is as ubiquitous as religion once was.”

    These differences are not small; their consequences are huge. Here’s Greer’s book review if you’re interested:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/22/origins-of-sex-review

    • Komal

      Yes, it’s the dissemination that has become more widespread. That’s because in capitalist societies, which are also industrialized by necessity, you have mass production and a more efficient distribution of things. Hence, when there is a demand for something, there is more likely to be an appropriate level of supply. Everyday examples of this include: supermarkets with packed shelves, the widespread availability of electronics, cars, etc. If people also demand pornography, then you get the widespread availability of pornography.

      • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

        You’re not following this conversation. It’s not the dissemination of porn we question, but the NATURE of
        porn.

        • Komal

          Actually the only thing I’m not following is this particular comment. I’m anti-porn, and therefore anti its dissemination. I thought the question was a historical one about the origin of porn. I hold that porn exists because of patriarchy, though in capitalist patriarchal societies the dissemination of porn is more efficient and therefore more widespread than in societies where fewer people have access to products, more people are poor and therefore can’t afford certain products, more people are illiterate, etc. I guess if we live in a socialist society a lot of people would be too poor to buy porn. That would be the one good thing about a socialist society, I suppose.

      • Komal

        Unless of course you ban or restrict it. Which I’m all for.

  • Hari B.

    Meghan–you said something in your earlier exchange w/Decius which makes a point I wnat to enlarge upon in the context of the topic of Laxer’s post:

    “It’s not that women don’t participate in patriarchy, Decius, it’s that they don’t, for the most part, benefit directly from patriarchy in the way that men do. ”

    I agree, except for feeling that the point is understated. That is, it’s not enough to say “we don’t benefit…” Maybe the point can be more fully made from the syntactically positive POV, something like my lengthier comment below–thoughts generated by your simpler remark on the subject:

    It’s not that womyn don’t participate in patriarchy. It’s that our participation is essentially enforced on a cultural scale, to begin with; it can hardly be called ‘participation’, as if it were a free choice with truly alternative choices fully available to us. And, our participation is inevitably a source of our suffering, an endeavor in submitting to suffering, collectively and individually. That suffering is played out on all levels of our existence, personally and physically, in economics, politics, in mothering and health and all aspects of our lives. It is played out as overt suffering in terms of poverty and abuse (rape/stalking/dv-culture), objectification and minimization via social and workplace harassment, etc. It is played out more covertly in terms of such matters of ongoing wage inequities and the cultural expectation that womyn are responsible for the care of children as unpaid slaves–not to mention the expectation that we will perform our feminity via fashion/appearance in culturally acceptable ways or face stiff consequences in various forms.

    All of this is in play expressly and solely because we are womyn living in patriarchy; womyn collectively under collective male domination. Almost nowhere else is this quite as sharply seen as in the business of porn, where mainly men dominate the economic end of production, and so control a huge share of its profits. Where it is mainly womyn do the shitwork for low wages (low compared to actual profits) that phsycially and psychically violates womyn, individually and collectively, on behalf of male-dominated sex fantasies that are more and ever-more intimately linked not just with mere ‘objectification’, but with violence and violation of womyn.

    Meghan is right–womyn *don’t* benefit directly from patriarchy the way men do. Much more than that, womyn (and our children, especially our daughters), collectively, suffer directly from patriarchy in ways that men, collectively, do not. That is because the core of patriarchy is an S&M model wherein, institutionally speaking, womyn are the bottom existing for men’s exploitation and sadistic pleasure. Porn is a place where this general trend can be seen so very clearly, for those willing to take a clear look at it.

    Decius, do more feminist reading. That, and conduct a survey of all the womyn you know, and ask them about their experience of life in patriarchy. I would not recommend that you ‘lead yourself’ in any way at this point beyond leading yourself to those kinds of waters to drink from, on your way to becoming a feminist man and ally.

    • Eric M. Hodge

      That was amazing, Hari! Thank you.

      • Hari B.

        Thanks, Eric, I had fun writing it–glad to know someone else appreciated it too.

  • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

    By the way Meghan, you wrote an entry about douches recently, so I thought you might want to write about this video by Stephan Molyneux:

    Basically, his “thesis” is that radical feminism is a conspiracy by the government to break the bond between mothers and their daughters.
    Molyneux is basically the New Age equivalent of Anarchists… he is a horrific embarrassment to us all, and has been written about in mainstream media as a possible cult leader. Please criticize his absolute bullshit about radical feminism, if you find the subject suiting…

    • http://anarchopragmatisme.wordpress.com/ David Gendron

      Molyneux is confused between “femi-favorist statism”, a fun fem concept, and “radical feminism”.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Ugh. This dude is tiresome.

      • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

        You’re telling me. I actually used to be part of his little clique/”cult” when it was still small, and he
        banned me “from his life” for disagreeing with him.

  • ema nekaf

    But what do you suggest we do about it? Their are obviously many horrible things about the porn industry and with porn itself. But how do we fix it? Making porn illegal or censoring porn won’t work for the same reason outlawing alcohol or drugs wont work, the Law of Unintended Consequences.

    I have always believed in a persons inherit right to do stupid things to themselves. And I cant think of a way to fix this problem without infringing on that right to be stupid.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Pornography isn’t just something “stupid” people do. It has deeper consequences. In my opinion, I don’t think we can even talk about censoring it – we aren’t even having conversations around porn that are honest. Society at large treats porn as though it is freedom of speech, or freedom of expression. I find it troubling that people understand “freedom” as something that should / must come at the expense of women…

    • http://rmott62.wordpress Rebecca Mott

      Pornography is not a “stupid thing” that most of the women choose to do. It is a highly organised industry that manipulate and uses vulnerable women, who have often had years of abuse, or been embedded in other aspects of the sex trade.
      The porn industry is need, and because most of the mainstream porn industry is built on violence to mainly the women performers, and has very little regard to their mental and physical welfare – for they are viewed as throwaways goods that are replace by more vulnerable women.
      I think if the safety of porn performers was taken as the most important issue – the vast majority of the porn industry would close for health reasons.

  • ned

    Re: the whole debate about capitalism, I think it would be helpful if opponents of capitalism would define what they mean by the term. Given that every supposedly “socialist” country has also opened up its markets, I think there is a need to come up with clear statements about what capitalism and socialism mean today. Most countries that we consider “left” aren’t socialist, they’re capitalist welfare states/social democracies.

    I would say that porn has become more extreme under liberal capitalist societies due to the combination of cultural liberalism/individualism (reduced social regulation) and widespread dissemination and access which has the effect of de-sensitizing people to sexual violence and making them demand progressively more extreme material, though it has obviously pre-existed capitalism.

    • ned

      I suppose the other big problem is alienation of labor when people don’t own the means of production. So porn actors and sex workers are often compelled by employers to do things they didn’t originally sign up to do. I’m not sure though alienation of labor necessarily has to be part and parcel of capitalism as you could have free markets and either set up organizations based on non-hierarchical principles or be self-employed.

      • Hari B.

        ned: “I think it would be helpful if opponents of capitalism would define what they mean by the term. ”

        A good question that I won’t try to answer as if well-schooled in economics–I’m not.

        I like the phrase used by some Occupiers to describe US capitalism: corporate/consumer capitalism (my only experience or dialogue is around US practices). Whatever capitalism is in pure theory, what we have is a system in which corporations control the wealth (the money and natural resources) and the means of production/distribution in a consumer-oriented market. This system depends upon constant growth, or it fails. Never mind that ‘constant growth’ is an inherently impossible and lethal idea, because there is a limit to resources needed to produce goods. There’s also a limit to the amount of pollution and climate change that any life form can endure, arising from industry). This system relies upon people’s acceptance that money and resources are necessarily owned/controlled by a few, who create industries/jobs in which the people are identified as laborers and consumers. It rests upon our agreement to trade our time working for money, to buy what we need to survive. This enforces our estrangement from the sources of our survival needs (food, water, etc) via idealization of both private property and individualism; that estrangement continuously reinforces our participation in the system if we want to eat, have shelter, etc.

        Capitalism, practiced today as corporate/consumer capitalism, is to me just a form of feudalism–plutocracy–enforcing and reinforcing the slavery/disenfranchisement of the many on behalf of the greed and power-lust of the few. Like I said before, it rests fully upon the objectification foundation of patriarchy. Natural resources, laborers and consumers all are only objects to manipulate for private gain and without regard for the consequences.

        As for links to porn–a few points, in no particular order:

        1. in capitalism it’s ok to do nearly anything to make a buck, because profit is the accepted ‘ultimate goal’. In porn, even most workplace safety issues can be waved off via ‘consent of adults’.

        2. since capitalism must see constant growth or fail, it necessarily entails creating bigger ‘interest’, since people happy with the old product won’t buy new products! In porn this translates to ever-more shocking sex.

        3. in capitalist patriarchy, all people, life forms and the planet itself are merely objects necessarily manipulated to gain profit and power. Raising humans to understand themselves and life as objects necessarily entails a gigantic degree of violence and violation, both intrinsic and extrinsic, continuously applied. Everything our culture has and is, came about via overt violence and continuous boundary violations of people, ecosystems, etc..it’s the norm. Thus you end up with people who are greatly desensitized–and must have bigger and bigger stimulus to feel anything. You also end up with people who are deeply unhappy and even extremely angry, leading to their own attachment to violence and violation as a form of both venting and escape: porn.

        4. in patriarchy, womyn are the ultimate object of both contempt and exploitation; porn grows from this and profits greatly from it via capitalism. Via womyn’s Stockholm Syndrome and/or their limited choices for ‘success’ (vis a vis education, class, race issues, for instance), womyn participate in porn because it’s a way to pay the rent when other ways are either literally closed off (education, class, etc issues), appear to be impossible to attain or are simply not as profitable. Womyn raised not just as objects, but as the most ordinarily despised and exploited of human objects, usually have a somewhat impaired sense of their choices. Self-perception matters greatly in the making of choices; to believe that one could never succeed in college, or that one’s only value is in one’s sexuality, are often such deeply imbedded (and continuously reinforced) beliefs as to limit choices psychologically if not literally.

        I have *never* known a womyn including me, btw, who did not have difficulties–sometimes even great difficulty leading to compromised choices w/awful consequences–over these deeply embedded beliefs in our lack of value, our disposability, the importance of being fuckable, etc etc. I’m not talking about just the most ‘obviously disadvantaged womyn’ wrt to education, race, class, history of overt sexual victimization, or anything else. All womyn deal with this in patriarchy–and some to far more critical and debilitating degrees than others.

        But anyway, in capitalism, we *all* have to put our bodies/minds/lives on the line for the machine in various odious ways to pay the bills. In porn, it’s just the most literally, obviously, physically and psychically damaging to the womyn who act in porn productions. And that’s only ok because in capitalism, profit is the accepted goal, almost no matter what it costs to profit–everyone and everything is accepted as an object of manipulation toward profit. And in patriarchy, it’s ok to use up womyn in any way one likes.

        • Komal

          This is so wrong, I don’t even know where to begin. I’d do a point-by-point rebuttal, but I have a baglog of readings and I think it may be a waste of time. My short response: capitalism is not the same thing as ‘the current system’ in the U.S.

      • Komal

        TBH I’m not convinced that the alienation of labour is an inevitable consequence of the labourers not owning or at least controlling the means of production. I’m of the view that work should be made as authentic and fulfilling as possible, and greater spontaneity and autonomy are part of that (so I agree somewhat with ‘anarcho-socialism’ on this issue). The nature of the work is also a big part of that: more creative work tends to be more fulfilling and less stressful, as well as work which is felt to have a wider significance (e.g. helping humanity, serving God). One way to do so is by the workers owning the means of production, but that’s not necessary. I don’t own the means of production where I work, but I have plenty of freedom and feel fulfilled by my work. So I take a pluralistic approach to this issue: co-operatives are helpful in many ways, but depending on the culture of a particular organization, depending on the kind of people there are the kind of work, even hierarchical organization can be fulfilling and non-oppressive.

        I hope I’m not going off on too much of a tangent…

    • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

      Capitalism is an economic system where the means of production are privately owned.

      • Hari B.

        Now that is putting it in a nutshell, Francois. I need some lessons in concise!

      • ned

        But that could be implemented in a number of ways. For instance, an organization of self-employed workers set up on anarcho-syndicalist principles (like a co-op) is perfectly compatible with the private ownership of the means of production. I don’t see how the private ownership of the means of production, in and of itself, is inherently a bad thing. It looks to me like you guys are critiquing more of what are the “cultural values” of liberal capitalist societies rather than capitalism itself.

        If capitalism is merely an economic system where the means of production are privately owned, are you saying that the alternative you’re proposing involves centralized state planning of economies and regulation of markets?

        • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

          “I don’t see how the private ownership of the means of production, in and of itself, is inherently a
          bad thing.”

          I am sorry that you don’t see how capitalism is a bad thing, given the damage it’s done to our
          society, societies around the world, and now our planet. I’m guessing you haven’t read much
          history of the industrial revolution?

          “It looks to me like you guys are critiquing more of what are the “cultural values” of liberal
          capitalist societies rather than capitalism itself.”

          What are these values, apart from the relentless pursuit of profit and a naive belief in
          voluntaryism as the answer to all problems?

          “If capitalism is merely an economic system where the means of production are privately owned, are
          you saying that the alternative you’re proposing involves centralized state planning of economies
          and regulation of markets?”

          No. Look up “libertarian socialism.”

          By the way, capitalism is also a form of central planning, but the units are smaller than governments (although in the case of some corporations, they are even bigger than a lot of governments).

          • Komal

            So are you against industrialization, then? Capitalism != industry, though it does require it.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            “So are you against industrialization, then?”

            Nope. Libsoc is perfectly workable in mass production.

          • ned

            I think you’re missing the point of what I’m trying to get the discussion to do: explicate exactly what is it about whatever you’re calling capitalism that causes so much harm and why. I wasn’t being antagonistic (nor am I unaware of the abuses of the industrial revolution or corporatism — and libertarians are anti-corporatist) — I think people need to pin things down precisely for the sake of better communication, and also clearly specify what the alternatives are and how they might be realized, particularly in a world where we are immersed in markets and where markets are so powerful that even the most Communist countries have been forced to change their policies.

            I personally think markets are morally neutral, but what we buy and sell on markets, and how our production takes place, is determined by the wider moral culture.

            Re: what you say about libertarian socialism, a quick glance at some definitions indicates that left-libertarians have no problems with free markets and private property, but they want organizations to be set up on cooperative/syndicalist principles (http://www.progress.org/2003/libsoc01.htm), so I’m left wondering, again, how this is any different from a kinder, gentler, more moral and less profit-driven capitalism.

            I’ll also freely admit that I’m pretty ignorant on economics and am undecided on what I think about the big questions of economics.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            “I think you’re missing the point of what I’m trying to get the discussion to do: explicate
            exactly what is it about whatever you’re calling capitalism that causes so much harm and
            why.”

            What is it about capitalism that causes so much harm? Very simple. There are two aspects
            to this. One is the profit motive, which by definition trumps all human values, and
            must trample of all human values and ultimately on human lives in some way or another. The
            second, derived from the first, is the objectification of the worker and the consumer,
            as exemplified by the work contract, the murder of workers and consumers when it’s
            profitable, the laws that make this possible, etc.

            “I wasn’t being antagonistic (nor am I unaware of the abuses of the industrial
            revolution or corporatism — and libertarians are anti-corporatist)”

            Depends what definition of libertarian you’re using. If you mean the big L partyist
            Libertarians, then no, they are not anti-corporatist. If you mean libertarian as I use it,
            in the sense it’s been used ever since the word has existed, then yes.

            “I think people need to pin things down precisely for the sake of better communication,
            and also clearly specify what the alternatives are and how they might be realized,
            particularly in a world where we are immersed in markets and where markets are so powerful
            that even the most Communist countries have been forced to change their policies.”

            Wow. I, and most historians, do not agree with you in saying that communism was defeated by
            the great power of the markets, I mean come on. Even if you mean now, it’s obvious
            self-interest that is motivating the current communist regimes to open up, not some kind of
            economic defeat.

            “I personally think markets are morally neutral”

            There is no such thing as anything that’s morally neutral or politically neutral. Sorry, but
            value-neutrality is a fairy tale we lull ourselves to sleep (the sleep of reason) with.

            “but what we buy and sell on markets, and how our production takes place, is determined by
            the wider moral culture.”

            More relevantly, our concepts of property and rights are determined by the wider culture.

            “Re: what you say about libertarian socialism, a quick glance at some definitions indicates
            that left-libertarians have no problems with free markets and private property”

            I said libsoc, not left-libertarianism. These are two different terms designating two
            different things. Don’t confuse the two.

            “how this is any different from a kinder, gentler, more moral and less profit-driven
            capitalism.”

            Neup. Capitalism is bad. There’s no question of making it kinder, more “compassionate”
            (as some conservatives are fond of saying) or less profit-driven. The very concept of a
            less profit-driven capitalism is contradictory.

          • ned

            Truth be told, you’re really not being very helpful in terms of giving actual answers about what you believe or why so I think I’ll take my leave of this discussion now and talk to someone who can be more specific and less condescending (just asserting your opinions doesn’t make them true). You could have also just given me a definition of what you mean by libertarian socialism (I assume you mean anarcho-socialism). I was not trying to debate you or anyone; merely to learn, but it’s fine, I can go to a library and read some books on this stuff too.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            I am being as straightforward as I can in answering your questions. If you
            don’t think I am being helpful, then I’m sorry, but I can’t really be any more
            open than I am right now.

          • http://gravatar.com/hysperia Elizabeth

            There is a whole literature on the critique of capitalism and then literature on the feminist materialist debate. I certainly don’t intend to be patronizing but you really can’t participate on equal ground in this discussion if you don’t know at least some of this background. Spending the time to do that is worthwhile. As a feminist and a materialist I find myself quite frustrated by this whole conversation and I do wonder what everyone thinks about the way it has become dominated by … you guessed it … men. Some of the comments seem to expect women to do the educating while at the same time defending a position that’s being attacked. That’s very difficult to do. It might be helpful if we took the article on its own terms and discussed it from there. Sometimes it makes sense to do that in order to fully explore the points made without disrespect to the position, especially if you aren’t well versed in the terms of the debate. You don’t have to agree or disagree in the end but I think the article deserves to be taken seriously. The position doesn’t spring out of nowhere and even though we can’t all be experts on materialism and feminism, there is merit in knowing the ground on which you stand in the debate.

          • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

            Um, I think you replied to the wrong person. I agree entirely with the
            article, and I have commented as much. And I very well know what
            ground I stand on. I think I know enough of the background at least
            for this discussion, but if I am missing something, please tell me
            what it is so I can read more about it and correct my misconception
            or lack of knowledge.

          • http://gravatar.com/hysperia Elizabeth

            Quite right – I meant to be replying to ned. I’ll move this comment. With apologies.

          • Komal

            “As a feminist and a materialist I find myself quite frustrated by this whole conversation and I do wonder what everyone thinks about the way it has become dominated by … you guessed it … men.”

            If ‘ned’ is supposed to fall into this category, you should know she’s a woman.

          • Meghan Murphy

            It seems this is an ongoing issue here – people assuming you (Komal) and ned are men…I’m not sure how to resolve this but apologies that you both need to keep correcting…

          • http://gravatar.com/hysperia Elizabeth

            There is a whole literature on the critique of capitalism and then literature on the feminist materialist debate. I certainly don’t intend to be patronizing but you really can’t participate on equal ground in this discussion if you don’t know at least some of this background. Spending the time to do that is worthwhile. As a feminist and a materialist I find myself quite frustrated by this whole conversation and I do wonder what everyone thinks about the way it has become dominated by … you guessed it … men. Some of the comments seem to expect women to do the educating while at the same time defending a position that’s being attacked. That’s very difficult to do. It might be helpful if we took the article on its own terms and discussed it from there. Sometimes it makes sense to do that in order to fully explore the points made without disrespect to the position, especially if you aren’t well versed in the terms of the debate. You don’t have to agree or disagree in the end but I think the article deserves to be taken seriously. The position doesn’t spring out of nowhere and even though we can’t all be experts on materialism and feminism, there is merit in knowing the ground on which you stand in the debate.

        • Hari B.

          ned: “are you saying that the alternative you’re proposing involves centralized state planning of economies and regulation of markets? ”

          NO! Not me, anyway. I do not subscribe to any plan that involves greater state-centralization of anything.

          To the contrary, small is not only beautiful, it is the only thing that works, IMO. For this statement I’m looking at the evidence of the thousands of years that tribal societies thrived, before the empire building patriarchs overran the planet. Not saying we should all live in a stone-age fashion. I’m saying that the model of small communities, networking for cultural, social and trade purposes within a shared cultural framework to other small communities, as well as having some communication and trade with other cultures on a limited basis–that worked for humans sustainably for far longer than industrial civ/capitalism has. It also worked sustainably for the rest of life, because all of those cultures understood themselves to ‘belong to the world’, rather than believing the ‘world belongs to us’.

          In one way, it can be said that collective/co-op ownership of production is just a variation of ‘private ownership’. However, I think it has fundamental differences that would make it operate far differently in practice. For one thing, people who are ‘owners’ tend to invest much more deeply and personally into an enterprise–will seek to nurture it with more of their creativity and passion than someone who is just a hired slave with no power in the business. For another, collective owners are asked to think much more in terms of ‘us’, than just ‘me’–and anything that decreases individualism, and promotes collective understanding and action, will be good for us and the planet.

          Leaving it at that, for now–don’t want to write another major essay here.

    • Komal

      Exactly. Could not agree more.

  • Hari B.

    Komal–earlier, you said: “It’s not enough to just link capitalism and patriarchy. The link could be any kind…You are going to have to do better than just pointing out that they’re similar in order to show that there is that particular kind of link.”

    I agree, it’s not persuasive to make any ol’ kind of link–that was the nature of my complaint about your analogy using roads. First, like I said–I value the endeavor, in itself, to examine the links between porn/capitalism/patriarchy, even if I don’t completely agree with somebody’s assessment of those links.

    More importantly though, my linking of capitalism and patriarchy via the common thread of objectification, is not ‘any kind’ of link. It’s a link at the root of things. One might disagree, might not see ‘objectification’ as a common root of patriarchy and capitalism making porn so likely in its present form. Ok–but even so, I didn’t just ‘point out similarities’ or make ‘any kind of link’. It’s a link at the root of things. For me, objectification is at the root of patriarchy and so, is a common root everything that springs from it–few things as clearly so as capitalism and porn.

    • Hari B.

      So, will you address objectifaction as possible root of patriarchy? Or argue it… Just wondering.

      • Komal

        I don’t believe that objectification is the root of patriarchy. I also do not believe objectification is the root of capitalism.

        • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

          Then I think you would be wrong, on both points…

  • marv wheale

    Eqality for Every(body)

    Our bodies are not meant for sexual, racial, economic or animal servitude but for equality, freedom and community. Our bodies under present conditions are unequal members of a collective of bodies – human and nonhuman. Those who actively seek the equality of our bodies are in a real sense united in mind and spirit, forming one body of resistance and rebellion.

    The conquest emanating from male, capitalist and human dominance is against bodies themselves. These powers deny that you are your own. Your body should belong to you not to any other owner or renter. To buy beings or their labour for a price (or for free) whether in pornstitution, in capitalism or in carnism is to degrade them and steal their bodies.

    Colonialism is a crime against indigenous bodies because it confiscates their land and self-determination which are inseparably linked to their bodies. The prostitution of aboriginal women is a full direct assault on their bodies.

    I do not intend to conflate and collapse pornstitution, classism, racism and speciesism into one another, only to say they co-exist, intersect, interact and violate living bodies. The overarching structure of patriarchy then, has its signature inscribed on all bodies in different and unequal ways. Reform will never overthrow the tyranny. All its representations must face abolition not regulation.

    • Komal

      Is it wrong to hire people for any service, such as giving guitar lessons, or teaching someone philosophy? I don’t think so. Perhaps the Kingdom of God would not have people bothering about making money, but the world is such that people need an economy, and trade is part of it. This includes trading services, as well as goods of course.

      The F Word is doing the same. Are the members of The F Word having their bodies violated because they’re offering a service and making money from it?

      • Hari B.

        Komal–earlier, you accused me of being ‘reductive’ in my reasoning. I have to now give that back to you, for this example of guitar lessons, when what we are talking about goes far beyond this.

        Also, it seems to me the problem here is that you are looking only at capitalism inside modern patriarchy, and seeing no other alternatives. It seems the best you can come up with is ‘kinder gentler forms’ of our present culture/ecomony/etc. One of the ways I’ve explored large complex matters such as patriarchy, objectification and capitalism is by reading about other ways that real cultures over time have conducted their societies, economies, lives. Through the contrasts posed, have I come to see my own culture (economy, values, mindset, etc) more clearly.

        You don’t see objectification as being at the root of patriarchy and capitalism. From this I get the idea you are not really clear what ‘objectification’ is. Well, much the same as male privilege or white privilege– if male/white, it’s invisible unless you are among the ‘not privileged’. By looking into cultures that don’t objectify womyn and nature, don’t privilege some over others, have a holistic understanding of life, can objectification and privilege become more clear. And more clearly understood as fundamentally, inherently destructive to us, and all of life.

        So, perhaps you can avail yourself of readings on Indigenous Cultures and their lifeways. Step outside the box that dominant culture imposes, in order to see that culture more clearly by comparison–and give yourself ideas about how else societies and economies can be done.

      • marv wheale

        No, Komal, that is a misunderstanding. Goods and services exchanged outside of capitalism are not necessarily exploitive if the parties are equal in power and wealth and the environment is not being degraded. Labouring within capitalist relations (inside feudalism too) is a form of wage slavery. Workers are allotted only a portion of the full value of their labour and employers define the work. Many types of paid work are further devalued because mainly women perform them – elder care and cleaning houses – often by women of colour. In comparison, other kinds of work are overvalued – physicians, lawyers, bankers and corporate executives (oil companies). The contrast is not simply due to differences in skills but on how men allocate value in society. In fact child care and housework receive no real renumeration at all because they have been constructed by men as women’s work in the private sphere of the home. The whole economic system would collapse without women’s reproductive and productive labour (low paid and unpaid). It cannot be credibly disproven that mostly white men have framed this inequitable way of organizing the economy. They have done this within their own class created heirarchies with race and abilities demarcations as well.
        Having to sell your labour inside this pyramid economy is the exploitation of workers. The principal solution of the male left (occupy movement) is to redistribute wealth so that class dinstictions are less apparent while ignoring the sex division of labour in the home and the workforce, sexual harassment, pornography and prostitution as equally serious injustices. Nor does the white left give equal attention to Aboriginal sovereignty, racial divisions of power and how gender, race and abilities inequities relate to ecological harm. The left’s mantra is: the dispersion of wealth is the social determinant of fairness and health. A feminist economy and state is radically more profound and inclusive. It regards the equalization of power and wealth among all the aforementioned social groups as the determinants of social justice and personal and ecosystem well-being.

        • Hari B.

          Thanks for that, Marv–really well said on all counts.

  • Hari B.

    Well said, Marv, thanks for this.

  • Hazel Stone

    You left out the loathsome racist stereotypes in porn as well as the disproportionate effects of the sex industry and trafficking on racial minorities.

    • Hari B.

      Hazel–not sure where that is missing in marv’s statement, which referenced race twice–and was a broad/general statement as I saw it. Can you elaborate?

    • marv wheale

      Irrefutably so!! This is inexcusable on my part. Apologies to you and to all racialized/sexualized women. I also neglected to include disabled women (men) and women of size. I have a long way to travel on the learning curve. Humble thanks for correcting me.

  • marv wheale

    I appreciate your understanding support Hari B. and I consciously did include these “other(ed)” women in my generalizations but they deserve special mention. Sorry for contradicting you and myself. I have great respect for your wisdom and knowledge nonetheless.

  • Hari B.

    marv–“but they deserve special mention.” Yeah, I agree. After I commented, and you did again, I got that more clearly. And thank you for the kudos!

  • RR

    I meant woman hating I made a typing mistake.

  • Komal

    This is a great article, thanks for it.

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