Considering competition as a form of woman-hating.

In a previous entry, I discussed the connections in what I called the Axis of Woman-Hating: natalism (women as a means to the end of procreation), anti-feminism (women are sex objects) and genderism (nature made women inferior).

Obviously there are some connections missing there, and I was only getting at the major ones. Capitalism would be another good example. The difference is that there is nothing that leads us logically from the private ownership of the means of production to woman-hating, but historically there is a strong connection between forms of capitalism (including fascism and State communism) and forms of woman-hating, usually connected to procreation and the family.

Sexism aids the capitalist system. The family provides a base for the reproduction and bringing up of future workers and the servicing and care of current (and unemployed) workers and retired workers.

This work which, in the home, is usually carried out unpaid by women (who may also work outside the home) saves capitalism millions of pounds, increasing the profits of a few.

The capitalist system could exist perfectly well without woman-hating, but it depends on it in various ways. Racism is a good analogy: slavery was economically beneficial to the elites of pre-industrial societies, therefore it was allowed to remain, while industrialization made slavery undesirable to the elites and therefore became illegal. Nowadays racism manifests itself economically in the exploitation of immigrants for cheap labor and the use of poc as an expendable working class.

As the quote points out, capitalism needs to exploit women’s free labor in order to maintain a strict separation between work and family and, in a wider view, to maintain the population of the worker base.

So the connection to the other forms of woman-hating is pretty obvious. In all these ideologies, women are seen not as full persons but as means to an end: the end of mindless procreation, the end of sustaining the factitious family structure, the end of the widespread exploitation of women by men and the intellectual justification of that exploitation.

One of the core ideas of capitalism is competition. The idea sounds good in the abstract, if you don’t really think about the social context, but in practice competition leads to lower creativity and higher conformity, lower efficiency, lower motivation (especially when coupled with monetary rewards), and is least conducive to learning in schools. These results have been confirmed by so many studies that they are some of the most solid conclusions of the social sciences (see No Contest by Alfie Kohn for a review of these studies).

Already we run into a problem, because the kind of conformity that competing individuals follow has for the most part been established by men. Women stick out in male-dominated professions and are trapped in a lose-lose situation: either assimilate and be judged as a bitch and a ball-buster, or resist and be passed for promotions and recognition.

The old “having it all” bromide really means: that a woman should first and foremost fulfill her gendered function as an unpaid homemaker (and therefore to be unproductive according to capitalist standards), and second pursue a career and be a productive worker who is able to compete in the job market. Not only are women expected to shoulder a double burden, but they’re supposed to relish doing so in order to be a “modern” woman. In fact neither ideology has anything “modern” about it.

Competition leads to winners and losers, which leads to Social Darwinism, the application of a misreading of “survival of the fittest” to human societies. Basically, as applied to today’s societies, that means “you deserve what you get for being a success or a failure, and you shouldn’t be helped because that would mean rewarding failures.”

In capitalist theory, there is an ideal state of affairs (call it free market or voluntaryism or unfettered capitalism or what have you) where a person receives only exactly as much as they can contract for, and no more. Inconvenient things like social programs and safety nets, workers’ rights and unions, accessible education and health care, free access to air and water, and all the other pesky things neo-liberalists are constantly trying to eradicate, are a deviation from this ideal state.

So for instance, women make 82% of what men make on average in developed countries (the United States average is currently 81%, making gender income disparity one rare area where the United States is not dead last). Women were banned from entire industries (and still are, in some places). This is the “ideal” state of affairs and any attempt to correct it would be a “distortion.”

In practice, this belief serves the status quo. Men’s privilege over women is part of the backgrounds facts of capitalism, therefore it becomes part of the “ideal” state of affairs. “Survival of the fittest” is inherently unfair when some people are trained from childhood to be fitter than others.

So I think the issue with capitalism is not that it is woman-hating as such, but that it treat human beings as tools of production (human resources). It should not be too surprising that a system which objectifies all human beings is also unconcerned about objectifying women.

There is an ever-present danger that, because a given ideology is not explicitly woman-hating and preaches some form of equality (like equality of opportunities), we accept it as a “lesser evil.” But anything that keeps people from thinking about the way society is run is equally poisonous in the long run.

Nowhere do we see this more than in the pretense that feminism stands for “gender equality,” even though such equality is a logical impossibility because we live in a Patriarchy. Getting equal wages for men and women, or giving men and women the same opportunities or education, are laudable goals but they are not the objective of feminism, neither can they ensure “gender equality.”

Ten myths about prostitution and the Swedish model.

Meghan Murphy analyzes ten myths that people propagate about prostitution.

4. The Nordic Model denies sex workers’ agency

One of the things that critics seem to find so difficult to comprehend about the Nordic Model is that it is actually about restricting buyers, not about restricting those in prostitution. That is why it decriminalizes prostituted persons. The Model doesn’t discount the possibility of prostitution by “choice” but rather establishes that the buying of women in systems of prostitution is something that the state should actively discourage.

It’s pretty simple really. The Nordic Model acknowledges that less demand for prostitution and less demand for trafficking = less prostitution and less trafficking ∴ reducing the number of women exposed to these particular types of abuse and creating a better chance of achieving gender equality.

Pushing the Envelope

Why Women’s History?

Only in our time have historians begun to look at the historical experience of men and women separately, and to acknowledge that for most of our human past, women’s interests have been opposed to those of men. Women’s interests have been opposed by them, too: men have not willingly extended to women the rights and freedoms they have claimed for themselves. As a result, historical advances have tended to be “men only” affairs. When history concentrates solely on one half of the human race, any alternative truth or reality is lost.

From Your social constructs are showing.

My position on immigration.

From Barry Deutsch.

I pointed out previously that other political debates were straw men used to deflect attention from the real issues. The abortion debate hides the PIV issue. The gun control debate hides the issues of American violence specifically, and more generally, State violence against its citizens. These issues have been so marginalized in political discourse that to bring them up is tantamount to being a crazy person; therefore political debates on these subjects must necessarily remain superficial, because the underlying problems are now taboos.

The issue of immigration is no different. Why is there such a worldwide immigration pressure towards the Western world? Why don’t people want to stay where they were born? Well, the main reasons are lack of jobs, low living standards, political repression, and corollaries of these such as families following one of their members in another country.

What has been the main factor in lowering the standard of living, jobs, and fostering political repression around the globe? Neo-liberalism, of course. Don’t you think it’s a little suspicious that we don’t talk about that at all when we talk about immigration? That we assume people immigrate because they basically have ill will?

So first we destroy entire economies under the guise of “austerity measures” in order to destroy their self-sufficiency and get them to produce cheap exports for Western powers, which destroys social safety nets, drives poverty up, and dries up the food and consumer products available in that country, creating famines, drives prices up, and further undermines the standard of living.

Now people start to protest, which increases violent repression by the State and, supported by Western governments, torture and killings. Some people then start to migrate in order to find a better life, only to be turned down by the same Western countries who ruined their life in the first place, and from our privileged vantage place we call them thieves, drains on society, unpatriotic, and so on, using these labels as excuses to keep them in poverty. Well, isn’t that convenient?

Few world economies have not been wrecked by colonialism, imperialism or neo-liberalism. These are the countries that are part of the G7: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. All of these countries were colonial powers except for Canada, and all of them are now beneficiaries of the neo-liberalist system. They have always enriched themselves, and continue to enrich themselves, on the back of the world’s poor. Apart from xenophobic Japan, all these countries unsurprisingly have migration surpluses.

Just as the abortion debate takes PIV as a given, and the gun control debate takes gun violence, and State violence especially, as a given, the immigration debate takes neo-liberalism as a given. By this I mean that the premise that neo-liberalism is an inexorable fact (let alone that it’s a good thing) is one of the background assumptions behind any immigration debate, and that no one would question it, simply because doing so means losing all credibility (unless one is talking to a sympathetic audience which also stands outside the margins of discourse, i.e. fellow crackpots)

But it is not just neo-liberalism that lies in the background; it seems to me that one could be a neo-liberalist and still not be as profoundly racist or bigoted as both sides are on the current immigration debate. I think you need to add at least one more element, and that’s victim-blaming.

Immigration, even legal immigration, is discussed as an issue of individual worth and of individual crime. There is never any discussion of the actual reasons why anyone would move from their home country. All that liberals and conservatives talk about is how worthy a person is, and how much of a crime it is for one to immigrate.

But for this conversation to be meaningful, we must exercise doublethink: we must first believe that neo-liberalism is inexorable (because one cannot think otherwise) and also believe that neo-liberalism does not really exist; to acknowledge that neo-liberalism is in effect would mean looking at the actual reasons why people migrate, and that’s equally unacceptable.

I see similarities there between immigration and other issues. For example, genderism equally relies on doublethink: it requires us to both believe that gender roles are innate and necessary, and that we’re all equal now and that therefore any problem is the individual’s fault (this is a contradiction because gender roles are a hierarchy, and therefore anyone operating under them cannot be equal).

In general, willful acceptance of systemic oppression requires us both to believe the oppression is not really oppressive and to believe that the oppression does not exist, so we can blame the individual for eir situation without realizing how absurd that is.

This necessity of doublethink does not exist by accident. As I often remind readers, it all comes down to agency and voluntaryism. We believe that individuals “choose” whatever they do, and that they are responsible for their own victimhood. If we assume that this is true, then no systemic influence on individual actions can be acknowledged. I don’t think this is necessarily a fully conscious argument, but it is there.

One of the problems with the doublethink is that it erases the underlying racism which guides the immigration debate. Racism helps dehumanize the individuals involved and make discussion of their worth possible. If we started from the premise that each “immigrant” is a full person with their own values, needs, and so on, it would be impossible to talk of them as needing to be evaluated as worthy or unworthy, only slightly criminal or heavily criminal, and so on.

I mentioned that political oppression is another motive for immigration. Well, obviously again neo-liberalism and imperialism are of primary importance. How many dictators have been supported into power by American military operations or the IMF? How many people’s basic human rights have been crushed by “austerity measures”?

It seems to me that if a person was seriously committed to keeping immigration in check, their number one priority should be to end the neo-liberalist system and try to build up foreign economies. But the people who are most against immigration are also the people who have the most to lose from ending neo-liberalism as well as the most patriotic, therefore they cannot ever propose either solution.

Another fact to consider is that policies against immigration make travel between countries harder for everyone else, too. Not only that, but it leads to citizens being treated like criminals as well. Although I grant that this is relatively small potatoes compared to the main issue here.

Finally, I did want to address why I usually put the word immigration in quotes. I did not do so this time simply because analyzing the concept of immigration in any detail entails some suspension of disbelief. Immigration is a fictional concept; so are the stories of novels and movies, but we don’t put Harry Potter in quotes when we discuss the story because he doesn’t really exist.

Wishwashington Post on moral relativism

A funny and thoughtful article from satire blog Wishwashington Post: Self-Proclaimed “Intellectual” Takes Moral Relativism Seriously

During a discussion online regarding systematic oppression against minorities, Matheson said, “But tell me, can we ever truly say for sure that “oppression”, as you so dramatically put it, is in fact an objectively bad thing? The world is not merely black and white, and I think perhaps you should consider good things may come from “oppression”. You claim it harms people, yet harm, as with morality, is such a subjective matter, and no self-respecting intellectual would take your arguments seriously.”

Ms. Male Character – Tropes vs Women in Video Games

Chomsky on the class war in the US

Noam Chomsky always has something insightful to say on what’s going on, and this interview with Counterpunch is no exception.

Maybe you can become rich, but you don’t care whether other people’s kids can go to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the United States, that’s called “libertarian” for some wild reason. I mean, it’s actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and undermining the public.

That’s why unions had the slogan, “solidarity,” even though they may not have lived up to it. And that’s what really counts: solidarity, mutual aid, care for one another and so on. And it’s really important for power systems to undermine that ideologically, so huge efforts go into it. Even trying to stimulate consumerism is an effort to undermine it. Having a market society automatically carries with it an undermining of solidarity. For example, in the market system you have a choice: You can buy a Toyota or you can buy a Ford, but you can’t buy a subway because that’s not offered. Market systems don’t offer common goods; they offer private consumption. If you want a subway, you’re going to have to get together with other people and make a collective decision. Otherwise, it’s simply not an option within the market system, and as democracy is increasingly undermined, it’s less and less of an option within the public system. All of these things converge, and they’re all part of general class war.


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