Defense of 'the selfie' confirms that this era will forever be known as the stupidest of all eras

Clearly the world is engaged in an elaborate plot to make me LOSE MY MIND. You win, world! You are the dumbest and the worst at everything. I concede.

This morning’s episode of CBC Radio’s The Current featured a debate about ‘the selfie’. Listening was a little agonizing at times, but it provided an excellent portrayal of our culture’s mass confusion about what it means to do something ‘for ourselves’ vs. performing for the (male) gaze.

Self-centered as we are, we like to believe that everything we do is ‘for ourselves’, even it’s it’s clearly for others. It’s comforting, yes. But it’s also bullshit. It’s simply not possible that, if we put images of ourselves, or really, if we put anything at all online, that it’s ‘for ourselves’. If it were just ‘for ourselves’ we wouldn’t put it on the Internet.

Now, doing things for others is not terrible. We live in a world with other people, naturally we are going to care what they think of us, which makes it all the more ridiculous that people are so very committed to this imbecilic idea that everything they do ever is all about them.

Writer, Sarah Nicole Prickett, is given the task of defending the selfie in the debate, along with two others: Andrew Keen and Hal Niedzviecki. I imagine she felt the need to exaggerate her points because debates are often intended to be combative and inflammatory, the fear being that, without going a little over the top, the debate becomes boring. But yeesh. I’m not sure how one could put forth the idea that the selfie is just something women and girls do ‘for themselves’ or that it somehow subverts the objectification we are subjected to throughout their lives with a straight face.

Keen makes the most practical and accurate points in the debate, calling the selfie trend “an extreme form of narcissism” that will contribute to a thoroughly embarrassing legacy. Historians will surely regard our culture as one made up of a bunch of spoiled, disgusting ninnies who have an inexplicable obsession with reconstructing our faces and bodies to look like cartoonish parodies of ourselves and who are so thoroughly engrossed with our own lives that we document every single thing we think/do/put in our mouths (Henceforth to be known as #saladtweets, be sure to follow every one of these posts with ‘LOL’ so everyone knows your engrossing tale of WAITING IN A LINEUP or witnessing your baby acting like a baby is entertaining).

Keen is right that we’re living in a narcissistic time, but Prickett points to the ways in which this ‘narcissism’, if you want to call it that, impacts women and girls in a particular way, pointing out that more ‘girls’ participate in this activity than ‘guys’.  Disappointingly, she is unwilling to follow through on her own analysis.

Prickett responds to Keen’s critque by saying “a man has not lived inside the experience of a teenage girl” and therefore, how could he possibly critique this clearly gendered phenomenon? Her response to Keen’s argument that the selfie is pure narcissism is particularly revealing: “You have not spent your life as a girl who is looked at, who is judged by how she is looked at, [and] who might have some interest in showing the world how she thinks she looks because that is preferable to how they think she looks.”

Yes! You might be thinking. But no. No because now is when we pull out all our hair.

While, yes, women and girls are constantly looked at and no, men don’t understand what that’s like and what kind of impact that has on our lives and how it shapes our view of ourselves, Prickett completely misses an opportunity to point to some of the implications of moving through life as an object of the male gaze. Instead of looking at the selfie through this lens she veers off into the well-trod ground of ‘it is what it is’, leading into the self-fulfilling ‘male gaze as opportunity for empowerment’ line.

It’s both disappointing, but also a little telling that a man (Keen) seems to understand the meaning of the selfie in a cultural context as well as in a gendered context much better than Prickett does, pointing out that it isn’t actually ’empowering’ to perform for the male gaze, simply because this is what our society teaches us to do.

Here’s what I think (you were wondering, weren’t you?): Women are brainwashed! It’s a trick, you guys! If we think we’re being empowered, then we can forget about challenging sexist norms and trends. If we convince ourselves that we’re REALLY just objectifying ourselves and that REALLY these stilettos are for MYPLEASURE (oooooh, rolling my ankle makes me feel sexy and free!) then we don’t really need any feminist movement now, do we? Also, believing we aren’t victims of an unfair and oppressive system it helps us to feel non-shitty.

Photographer, Elena, comments that the selfie is simply about self-expression or self-love, going on to argue that we can’t judge a person or assume they are simply ‘vain’ because we have no idea what the selfie-taker’s motive is. Well OK. So it’s perhaps true that not every person who takes a selfie is being ‘vain’. I mean, at this point the selfie is a pretty common and unremarkable part of our culture. I’ve done it, we’ve all done it. THAT SAID, just because we DO THINGS doesn’t make those things universally ‘OK’ or neutral.

Can we create some kind of mantra? Like, “Just because you like something doesn’t make it ‘good’!” “Just because you ‘feel good’ doesn’t make something ‘right’!” “Just because you have a feeling doesn’t make your feeling an unexaminable truth!” Didn’t our parents drill this into our heads when we were kids? “If everyone else jumped off a bridge… blah blah blah.” Just because people do things doesn’t mean you have to do them or that those things are ‘OK’.

Prickett understands that women and girls are treated as commodities and learn to navigate their lives as commodified objects BUT STILL she is unwilling to use her powers of critical analysis to move past the ‘this-is-happening-so-it’s-happening’ analysis.

She even goes so far as to compare critique of the gendered popularity of selfies to some kind of hysterical “Victorian bullshit where we don’t want girls to get pleasure from themselves alone because it upsets the whole order” (like masturbation!). UUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGH. Do people even KNOW WHAT WORDS MEAN ANYMORE???

Clearly if we are taking photos of our faces and bodies and sharing them on the Internet, we are not doing this ‘for ourselves’. Just as boob jobs and wearing makeup and making porn isn’t ‘for ourselves’. While other panelists seem to understand this concept, Prickett continues along her merry way, trying to convince us that the selfie is about TAKING BACK OUR POWER AS WOMEN, or something. See, by learning to love and perform for the male gaze, we are empowered! It’s classic burlesque-brain logic. I’m doing this, therefore it’s for ME.

Just because you grow up in a culture that turns you into an object against your will, it does not mean that, somehow, if you ‘choose’ to further objectify yourself it is somehow subverting the enforced objectification.

Prickett says she “doesn’t want to revert to [the] first year university, ‘it’s the male gaze’ [thing]” but feels she has no other choice. And OH how I wish she’d paid attention during male gaze class (Quick plug: Learning about the male gaze is great incentive for taking Women’s Studies in college and university!).

When we internalize the male gaze, we see ourselves through that lens. So we turn the camera on ourselves, or we objectify other women, or we objectify ourselves — because that’s how we have learned to see women and to see ourselves. Simply because a man is not literally looking at us at the very moment we ‘choose’ to objectify ourselves or simply because our audience may be comprised of some women, does not erase the male gaze from our psyche.

Keen says, near the end of the debate: “If we can’t judge our culture, what can we judge.” And I wish feminists would take that into consideration before repeating the horrid and useless (yet, ever-popular) “don’t judge me!!!” mantra that pops up when anyone tries to critique any social phenomenon or behaviour.

As Keen notes, in response to Prickett’s attempt to compare critique of the selfie to ‘Victorian’ hysteria around masturbation, public masturbation is different than private masturbation. Posting photos of ourselves on the internet makes those photos public, therefore not ‘for ourselves’ (i.e. private).

The selfie is narcissistic, yes. And of course I’m not saying that people who take selfies are terrible people. It’s just kind of how things are these days. It’s a thing we all do. THAT SAID. Many girls do the selfie because they see themselves as objects of the male gaze and their selfies reflect his. PARTICULARLY (yes, I’m going to say it), when we’re posting photos of ourselves posing in porny ways, in underwear and/or bikinis, focusing on sexualized body parts, etc. It isn’t ‘taking anything back’, it’s just part of the game.

 

 

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

  • http://brazenlee.blogspot.com Brazen Lee

    Perhaps historians will wonder why the fuck everyone is so concerned with everyone else’s private business, and their motives?

    • Meghan Murphy

      1) People have always been concerned with one another’s ‘private business and their motives’
      2) Is a selfie ‘private business?

    • MLM

      “Perhaps historians will wonder why the fuck everyone is so concerned with everyone else’s private business, and their motives?”

      I doubt it. Historians do generally tend to understand that the culturally created belief systems tend to time shape people’s actions and behaviour, which is part of why they study historical cultures. It’s only oblivious, narcissistic individuals with lazy thought processes who seem to believe that their behaviour is genuinely “all about me”, and doesn’t have any cultural basis to it.

      The way a lot of people process information in the digital age probably doesn’t help matters. Too many people inform themselves by skimming information or just settling for headlines and soundbites, and making a knee-jerk assessment/response, instead of digesting the information and making a considered reasoned one.

      • Grackle

        Very well said, MLM. As a history nerd I really appreciated your comment.

        • MLM

          Thanks, Grackle :-)

  • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca BK

    “Just because you grow up in a culture that turns you into an object against your will, it does not mean that, somehow, if you ‘choose’ to further objectify yourself it is somehow subverting the enforced objectification.”

    TESTIFY! *claps hands*

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks BK!

  • MJ

    Nice post. Prickett also brought up a bizarre “tough economic times for twentysomethings” as a branding/economic defence of… the selfie. Nothing she said really made sense, and the gender identity angle seemed lazy and warmed over. Privilege and “lived experience” are valid concepts, but sometimes it seems like they’re abused in debates to dismiss valid critique.

    And literally if all things are to be equal, a self-indulgent photo is sometimes just a self-indulgent photo. Not the outrage that Keen makes it out to be, but worth a raised eyebrow.

    • Meghan Murphy

      It was absolutely incredible how badly she embarrassed herself on the show. She was completely out of her league. I mean, it’s too bad Keen had to be the one to make intelligible feminist arguments, as a dude, but thank god somebody did it. Crazy-making I tell ya.

      • riv

        There are “sexologists” who talk the way she did, who write columns for feminist magazines, author teen sex manuals and women’s studies textbooks, are funded by the government to do “women’s health” research and get stipends to hire someone to woman listserves where they invite other sexologists to discuss for example, how freeing it is for women to be given permission (by the sexologist) to enjoy anal sex.

        This is first-hand testimony.

        • MLM

          “…how freeing it is for women to be given permission (by the sexologist) to enjoy anal sex”.

          Meanwhile studies like this one, which reported that “a substantial proportion of women reported pain at first and subsequent anoreceptive intercourse” barely seemed to make a blip. Interesting.

          http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0092623X.2011.607039

          Something tells me that “women’s health research” would be a damn sight more useful if it wasn’t always trying to conveniently tie into existing porn narratives.

          The only thing more ridiculous than the “sexologist” is the “sexpert” (Even autocorrect knows that’s a bullshit word – I tried 4 times before it let me leave it here!)

          • riv

            Gastroenterologists give 50 to 75 cc of a narcotic and a hefty dose of the rape drug to block the patient’s memory of a colonoscopy, which employs a flexible scope that is no thicker than your third finger. The rape drug was added to the drug regimen quite recently. They’ve found patients who don’t get it in addition to the narcotic will refuse to have the exam again. Since colonoscoopies are given for serious reason such as high risk and some evidence of the likelihood of colon cancer, they don’t want people to refuse because of the nightmare of the pain they experience, from the exam only, not any disease related pain. Maybe we should require women’s health researchers to have one of these exams without the memory loss drug.

          • Grackle

            I don’t think that we should suggest that no women enjoy anal, for the record. I mean, obviously there’s a lot of societal influence that goes into our enjoyment of something, and naturally there are plenty (even most?) women who either dislike it or hate it outright, but still.

          • MLM

            “I don’t think that we should suggest that no women enjoy anal, for the record”. Yeah, I didn’t mean to give that impression. No problem at all with idea that some enjoy it, just concerned that for many there could be a level of societal coercion to “enjoy anal”, even if they actually don’t.

      • Luke

        I disagree that it’s “too bad” the “intelligible feminist arguments”came from a man. Feminism need not be so divisive – it’s important that more people understand this stuff – men and women alike.

        • Meghan Murphy

          That’s true (that men and women alike need to ‘understand this stuff’, not that feminism is ‘too divisive’). Though the fact that a man had to make the feminist arguments in a debate with a woman who believes herself to be/presents herself as some kind of feminist is “too bad”. Unfortunately, this kind of thing is common within the third wave. I find that sometimes women (and people, in general) want everything to be about themselves, I assume because the alternative is overwhelming or unappealing. When we focus on individual empowerment, or making ourselves feel good over the political, we end up with this fear of discussing, understanding, or addressing systemic oppression and inequity.

          • MLM

            There has been a real death of social consciousness, and to some degree it’s been beaten to death. It’s apparently “victim-y” or “patronising” to even try and point out that there is no such thing as a level playing field in life. This “individual empowerment” idea has quite a lot to answer for, it is SO dishonest. “Live and let live” simply does not work if it ends up being “live and let some people live at the expense of others” in practice.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Exactly. The fear of being the ‘victim’ has led us to find empowerment or agency in everything. Having agency or feeling empowered is great, but that doesn’t mean that everything is, necessarily empowering, or that people are not victimized.

          • Luke

            That’s just classic denial.

  • MM

    Church!

  • MM

    P.S. is that Rhianna or Jocelyn Hernandez?

  • vouchsafer

    More and more lately I keep seeing selfies of young girls that look like they’re putting themselves ‘on offer’.
    commodificatiin of self? Either est, creeeeepy!

  • jess

    “Historians will surely regard our culture as one made up of a bunch of spoiled, disgusting ninnies who have an inexplicable obsession with reconstructing our faces and bodies to look like cartoonish parodies of ourselves”

    Hmmm but haven’t people been doing this for hundreds of years? There’s a whole tradition in art especially… I don’t think we’re more narcissistic than before, and I think you have a bad case of misanthropy. People are more educated than they have ever been in the past, so I’m really tired of this whole “everyone is so stupid, people used to be smarter” game.

    • Meghan Murphy

      It’s not a game. I genuinely believe people should stop being so stupid.

      And luckily it’s not ‘everyone’ (as we heard this morning, Keen managed to make very articulate and intelligent arguments). So we know it’s possible for people to be less stupid. Surely The Current could have found an intelligent woman who understands feminism and is capable of critical thinking and rational thought processes to make these arguments? There are oh so many of them, yet they choose this clueless woman who makes destructive and nonsensical arguments that work against feminism and women. Why?

  • Marc Chimes

    I enjoyed your post and thought your analysis clean and clear, if a bit over-capitalized. It is great that you can make plain the dominant paradigm in a way that points towards a beneficial change in thinking and behaving. This concept of ‘for ourselves’ was also covered in a related blogpost about why women use makeup by Jenna Sauers in Jezebel. To me there is a line that runs from your elegant analysis to a recent post by Alyssa Royce, unfortunately entitled “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too” at The Good Men Project. And even on to to future like that envisioned by Candice Holdorf in her ElephantJournal piece called “Imagine A Society Where Sexuality Is An Acceptable Part of Everyday Culture.” It is thrilling to see feminist thought evolving so quickly and the issues becoming articulated so clearly, as you have so admirably contributed. It gives some actual hope that a more genuinely feminist, sex-positive culture is possible. You and others are putting the lie to the notion that we are living in the stupidest of all eras…

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks Marc! And, yes, I have a bit of a problem with caps lock. I’m working on it.

    • RS

      Jezebel is a fake ‘feminist” site! It’s actually *anti-feminist* and actually promotes pornography and the written version of it,the horrendous sexualized,eroticized,romanticized violent,sadistic,sick woman-hating Fifty Shades of Grey!

  • copleycat

    Awesome post Meghan and this part in particular,

    “Keen says, near the end of the debate: “If we can’t judge our culture, what can we judge.” And I wish feminists would take that into consideration before repeating the horrid and useless (yet, ever-popular) “don’t judge me!!!” mantra that pops up when anyone tries to critique any social phenomenon or behaviour.”

    makes me want to shout Amen. I am so sick of the “don’t judge me” crapola. How dare anyone tell anybody else to not engage in a fundamentally human endeavor of establishing within their own mind what they value as right and what they value as wrong. They might as well say, “don’t decide what’s right and wrong” which is impossible. You have to make judgement calls in every waking moment. If you insist that you’re not doing so then that’s just an attempt to not be conscious of the process, which usually results in you not thinking critically about what you’re doing and just making decisions based on what feels “natural” which is actually adhering to your conditioning.

    • MLM

      LOVE this comment. Especially this part

      “They might as well say, “don’t decide what’s right and wrong” which is impossible. You have to make judgement calls in every waking moment. If you insist that you’re not doing so then that’s just an attempt to not be conscious…”

      So true.

      • Me

        Well, who would they sell all the crap to if people were conscious?

        • Me

          I mean, why aren’t you grateful when they make those judgments for us? It’s much more convenient that way. And just start your own business if you don’t like the offerings. It’s supply and demand, baby! Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to complain?

          • Me

            Seriously though. Everything hinges on enough people staying not really conscious.

          • MLM

            Maybe that’s why “judging people” is such a crime? Because what they’re really saying when they say “don’t judge me” is “don’t try and draw attention to the meaning and impact of my choice”. “Don’t judge me” is actually the declaration that “I don’t want to be conscious about this, so shut up”.

          • Me

            That’s exactly it. It works to both stop you from doing the uncomfortable, which is saying an obvious truth, as well as to stop them from being conscious about their act of shutting you up for a reason, because that in itself would be a way of acknowledging something important was said.

          • MLM

            Which is probably all the more reason is needs to be exposed/called for what it really is – an easy silencing tactic.

          • Me

            Oh, absolutely! I love reading people here do just that. It helps maintain my sense of direction and purpose.

    • Meghan Murphy

      It’s so silly, isn’t it? I’m not sure how we ended up in this culture wherein ‘judging’ is the worst thing one can do. As you say, it’s total b.s. anyway, we’re all making judgments constantly in life — it’s how we function. It’s like a recommendation to become a thoughtless, vapid person. And how is that a GOOD thing??

      • MLM

        Plus there’s the blatant irony that “judging someone is a bad thing” is actually a judgement itself! What are you doing if not judging somebody if you deem them to be “judgemental”??

        • vouchsafer

          Going back a few catchphrases, don’t judge is just like don’t be a hater. Both designed to convey the same thing: the rest of us sheep are all baaaaaa-Ing the same tune. Why can’t you?

          Have no idea why all this fear of original thinking is out there but am especially sick of hearing don’t hate when it’s some dick talking shit about (his woman)(all women)(some scene from a porno) and I point out the obvious flaws in his reasoning and get told don’t judge or don’t hate.

          Reminds me of one of Meghan’s earlier posts. Wasn’t there one about how challenging the status quo, in this case of the patriarchy can get you bullied right out of the conversation?

          • MLM

            That’s very true. “Don’t judge me” or “don’t hate on me” are essentially silencing tactics which shut down critique of a situation, and ought to be exposed as such.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “‘Don’t judge me’ or ‘don’t hate on me’ are essentially silencing tactics which shut down critique of a situation, and ought to be exposed as such.” Exactly.

      • riv

        I would say the ability to make judgements (discriminate) is the key to evolution and survival. Apparently, only women aren’t supposed to do it, but we do ne plus ultra, on behalf of our so successful species.

        • MLM

          “I would say the ability to make judgements (discriminate) is the key to evolution and survival”.

          Absolutely! Nobody was “judging” the crocodile when they decided not to let their tribe members swim with it. They just knew it was a potentially harmful to do so. It’s counterintuitive, if not completely dishonest, to disallow people to call out situations they perceive to be harmful for whatever reason. Our species would not even be here today if we had not – each of us – learned to judge situations, including behaviours exhibited by other members of our own species, that can create harm. It’s part of our humanity to evaluate them honestly. It’s one thing to say, in response, “you’re not giving my situation enough thought/consideration/understanding” and then use your own critical thinking to defend that position. It is another thing altogether to try and that suggest that critical thinking should not be applied to the situation at all.

    • Lela

      Too true. There is a difference between “being judgmental” and, you know, actually making judgements based on extensive evidence and sound analysis. Funny that this always seems to come up when *feminists* are making conclusions…..

    • Sabrina L.

      Even though Keen made the best points with a cultural critique, it really did come off as insensitive coming from his mouth, for the reasons Pickett stated. It’s more than “don’t judge me,” it’s “you calling me a disgusting ninny embodying everything that is wrong in our culture is an attack that hurts.” I think Niedzviecki had more useful insight with his ability to point out the addictive quality of external validation. That could have been a better entry point for engaging disparate views, combined with the concepts Pickett brought up about the male gaze. This phenomenon is accompanied by very real pressures and very real gratification for conforming, and that should be acknowledged. Is it problematic? Absolutely! But “it is what it is” for a reason, and the reasons shouldn’t be ignored while tackling the problem.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Prickett didn’t bring up any concepts with regard to the male gaze because she doesn’t understand the concept of the male gaze. She mentioned it, feigning irritation at ‘having to’, but then made it clear that she actually had no idea what the words meant or what the implications of the male gaze are for girls and women. No individual was called a ‘disgusting ninny embodying everything that is wrong in our culture’ — that was my prediction as to what future societies will see when they look back at ours. I don’t think Keen was insensitive at all. Prickett was the one who took the 12-year-old road, as those who are in over their heads often do, calling Keen ‘ugly’ and accusing the other debaters of being ‘old’, as if that’s relevant. She came off as a spoiled, unintelligent, brat.

        • Sabrina L.

          Oh, I’m not much in disagreement with you! Maybe it just hit a little close to home from when I was much closer to 12, living in the midst of the cognitive dissonance of feeling alienated from the superficial mainstream culture while also needing to prove to myself that I could be an object worthy of the male gaze. Didn’t call it that, but I knew what it was, both its poison and its allure. (And didn’t make the best decisions, going instead with the “it is what it is” philosophy.) It’s unfortunate that Prickett had the lingo but wasn’t able to push past the brainwashing and reflect on her complicity and perpetuation of it all. It’s embarrassing that her defensiveness turned into snide, immature comments.
          …But, I still feel weird about Keen’s unsympathetic, superior tone.

  • kate

    Great article! But don’t let Sarah-Nicole Prickett speak for an entire era. People have asked her to speak on feminist issues before and she also failed miserably. It’s embarrassing, and I feel sorry for the people who have to debate with her.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I also feel sorry for those people. I’m completely baffled as to why the CBC (or anyone, for that matter) would ask her to speak on issues she knows nothing about and hope folks/producers will do better research in the future!

      • Sam

        Agreed. Also, I absolutely cannot stand her voice.

  • Sophia

    Well there’s already a lot of good comments, and I thought this article was fantastic and if only more people understood these points, so I’m only commenting to say before this article I did not know what a selfie was. Going back under my rock now :)

  • Luke

    This was a very good read, thank you.

    A big obstacle for feminism is romance in our culture. Too many people (even self proclaimed feminists) wish to keep traditional gender roles where courtship is concerned. There is still a feeling that men should be chasing women and women should be playing hard to get. This (I think) encourages men to think of women as prizes, trophies, or commodities. (Also if women are seen as naturally taking a more passive roll in pair-bonding, how can they be seen as action takers or decision makers in the worlds of business and politics)?

    When society treats gender roles (in courtship) as purely natural, it sees the “male gaze” as simply a product of natural instinct and not social phenomenon. Indeed both of these play an active roll, and it’s hard to separate the two. Even men who are conscience of the objectification of women and wish to be respectful have to fight the urge to lure and “check out” women they are attracted to.

    Our society simultaneously glamorises and taboos sexuality, and this is problematic I think. I wonder what a society would be like where men don’t feel a compulsion to gaze at women? There are a (very) few cultures (so called primitive) which have total gender equality; made apparent by the lack of any distinction between language used by men and by women. I wonder how such societies treat sexuality?

    I’m no expert on society or human psychology – just a guy with some thoughts. Thanks again for a stimulating read.

    • MLM

      Acknowledging that this is a culturally informed phenomenon and not a “natural” one is, indeed, a very important first step. Many people won’t even go that far (and all kind of bullshit evo-psych theories are even developed to support it).

      “I wonder what a society would be like where men don’t feel a compulsion to gaze at women?”

      Me, too. Let’s work towards it and find out! My hunch is that it would be a far more enjoyable place for most men and women to live in, but thats just me. :-)

  • marv

    Apart from being haughty and egotistical, I find individualistic fundamentalism to be quite vulgar. I sometimes feel it is useful to employ the image of the human body as a metaphor for how homo sapiens need to function. The body is one but has many parts. If the parts decided to pursue their own separate interests irrespective of the whole organism what a calamity that would be. Damaged, traumatized or diseased bodies frequently unintentionally behave in this manner. The body of humanity however is heavily class stratified by sex, sexual orientation, race, income, ability, species…… Socially favoured members thoughtlessly seek their own well being at the expense of the common good. Many beings of the collective body are treated as inferior dispensable objects by those with the power to do so, resulting in enormous dissension in the group body. It is a hard lesson to learn that we are meant to be equal members of the body of humanity like the parts of the human body are organized. In the meantime we groan in labour – subjection and social struggle – as we await the rebirthing of a new humanity: the “end of manhood” as a political category.

    I thought this trope might be helpful to those who are more visually than analytically inclined even if it is somewhat quaint.

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  • Sex Neutral Feminist

    “Perhaps historians will wonder why the fuck everyone is so concerned with everyone else’s private business”

    Alyssa Royce, who I assume is a sex positive feminist, dribbled this ridiculous speech for TED. She starts out implying its our business to encourage strangers in their sex lives (what?) and then quickly switches the script to “its not your business”. Uh, ok.

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