Cheerful submission to one’s enemies.

Above: Cheerful submission to one’s enemies.

People who have an attitude, not of humiliated submission, but of cheerful, willing submission, represent a strange puzzle which doesn’t seem to fit human behavior. But we know it does happen. Black slaves took sides with their master against other masters, and had lively arguments about it. Kidnapping victims can experience Stockholm’s Syndrome. So it’s not entirely unknown, but these situations are rather extreme.

But in the past decades it seems that we are seeing a surge in cheerful submission from people who are not in extreme situations at all, but rather in every day life. Two examples which come to my mind are the Tea Party and funfeminism. Despite being politically distant, these two movements have a lot in common.

1. Complete and utter failure to identify the enemy.

The Tea Party and funfeminists are absolutely unable to identify their real enemies, the people who do them harm or wish to do them harm. Instead, they point to straw men opponents: the Tea Party rails against poor people and “immigrants,” who have little to no power in our society, instead of the CEOs and other economic agents who seek to exploit them; funfeminism rails against radfem and other ideologies that are against female exploitation, instead of attacking the men who seek to objectify them. In short, my enemies are my friends.

[Pornography icon Jenna] Jameson comes to a very different conclusion than Farley. She writes, “Though watching porn may seem degrading to some women, the fact is that it’s one of the few jobs for women where you can get to a certain level, look around, and feel so powerful, not just in the work environment but as a sexual being. So, fuck Gloria Steinem.” One has to wonder how she puts it together this way. If she feels so powerful as a sexual being, why can’t she watch her own sex scenes? If her work environment is so satisfying, why does she say that if she had a daughter, she would lock her in the house before she’d let her get involved in the sex industry? Why does she refer to her vagina as a “ding-ding”? I’m not sure any of this is Gloria Steinem’s fault.
Female Chauvinist Pigs, p183

In some cases, the very concept of exploitation and objectification is so outlandish or passé to them that they could not recognize any oppression anyway; in general I find that this incapacity of connecting actions with ethics is true of any status quo ideology, not just those two (indeed they must disconnect the two if they are to rationalize their beliefs at all).

Both cases of ignorance can be explained by games conditions. Tea Partiers are mostly working class stiffs competing for jobs and promotions, and it’s not in their interest to fight against the source of their meager power. Funfeminists, like most non-feminist women, compete for male attention and credibility to the male gaze, and fighting against the need for male attention would go counter to their objective.

2. Misdirected jealousy/admiration.

Misidentification of the enemy entails a misdirection of our emotions. Lying to ourselves is a full time job, and in order to prevent relapse, we necessarily have to reverse the flow of our emotions: our praise must stop going to the praiseworthy and instead go to that which helps us cover up the truth.

Funfems admire women who are amongst the most dispossessed people in our societies (strippers, porn actresses, prostitutes, trafficked children), and refuse to help them on the grounds that helping people is arrogant, while they are jealous of the made-up power of radfem to dictate policy. Tea Partiers are jealous of poor people and “immigrants” for attacking the economy, despite the fact that these people have no power to change the economy.

Even though they seem absurd and irrational on the face of it, these emotional connections serve the main purpose of helping them hide the truth from themselves. Tea Partiers could not hold the party line (no pun intended) if they sympathized with poor people, and funfems could not keep being funfems if they wanted to help “sex workers” instead of admiring them for their “power.” So they have to keep looking away in order to maintain their lie.

3. The enthusiastic pursuit of their own exploitation.

This is mostly a corollary of the previous two points: if they are unable to identify exploitation or objectification done against them, and ally with those who exploit or objectify them, then they will enthusiastically pursue their own exploitation or objectification in the name of their own “freedom.” In short, slavery is freedom.

The word “freedom” is always interesting to analyze. In this case, it means that one can support the dominant paradigm. But this is trivial, since supporting the dominant paradigm will never be opposed by one’s rulers; it is always heterodoxy which needs to be protected and which must be granted the freedom to exist.

One does not need the “freedom” to kowtow to the male gaze, since such “freedom” is by and large accepted (except when it comes to prostitution). One does not need the “freedom” to enter in capitalist work contracts or manufacture profits for one’s bosses, because doing this is expected and encouraged. This is why the “freedom” that these people preach is a pointless dead-end.

4. They want to work the system to effect change.

Because they think and operate within the status quo, funfems and Tea Partiers cannot imagine working outside the system. This would require them to reject their own exploitation which, as I’ve already pointed out, they cannot do because that would expose their lie.

So you get the strange spectacle of self-professed rebels, who take the name of a group which today would be seen as anarchists or worse, trying to elect people to office. You get the strange spectacle of self-styled feminists who promote “feminist” objectification (including so-called “feminist porn”) and promote male violence against women to be the result of a woman’s “choice.”

Obviously there are big differences between funfems and Tea Partiers in other areas; for instance, the former are usually liberals and the latter are usually conservatives (although in both cases they tend to be less authoritarian than their respective political ideologies). But they share the attributes of other people who have right intentions but are unable to identify what is in their interests.

22 thoughts on “Cheerful submission to one’s enemies.

  1. Miep December 8, 2013 at 23:03

    Good post.

  2. pantypopo December 9, 2013 at 10:33

    Very good analogy. I wish both groups could lift their heads out of the fog. Reality is frightening, once you have awakened, when you see just how deeply oppressed you are, and have been. It is difficult sometimes to take solace in the knowledge that this oppression will not end itself. Only the awake can end it, and only with tremendous effort. But it can end, if we hold strong.

  3. Cammy January 6, 2014 at 01:03
  4. cyanidecupcake April 28, 2014 at 02:59

    “Why does she refer to her vagina as a “ding-ding”? I’m not sure any of this is Gloria Steinem’s fault. Female Chauvinist Pigs, p183”
    Um, maybe because society teaches us we can’t say “vagina” or “vulva” and porn just appears to be taboo-breaking? Because even government officials can’t say “vagina” or “vulva” even though members of Congress get a free copy of Hustler every month? (I’m not kidding, cf. Death & Taxes). It’s the same when men pay to see women’s boobs but whine about mothers publicly breastfeeding (’cause they didn’t pay to see THEIR boobs, or they think breasts must always be sexualized, etc). It isn’t just traumatized people who refer to genitalia with weird or baby words. Sorry but a female pornstar saying it doesn’t have the same impact.

    • Francois Tremblay April 28, 2014 at 03:03

      To me it has a lot more impact. Porn stars should be the second-to-last people unable to use proper words for genitalia (the last being doctors, of course).

  5. cyanidecupcake April 28, 2014 at 03:02

    Re: slavery, I thought this was relevant: “If historical slavery was wrong because it was involuntary, then the current system of voluntarily renting other people would be on a different moral footing—but then so would a system of voluntary contractual ownership of other people. If, on the other hand, slavery was wrong—regardless of it being voluntary or involuntary—because it treated persons as things, then the whole current system of renting other people in the employment contract is called into question.”

    • Francois Tremblay April 28, 2014 at 03:04

      Yes, that site is on my blogroll also. :)

  6. cyanidecupcake April 28, 2014 at 03:15

    This is a little tricky. One could argue that women are engaging in self-objectification and I think that is as contradictory as self-ownership (you need someone else to do the objectifying); radfems would argue that women internalize the male gaze so we can’t be expected to “respect ourselves” (whatever that means) before demanding that men respect women. I do agree, however, that they are allying with those who have the power/money (men) and proclaim power for themselves by virtue of association.

    • Francois Tremblay April 28, 2014 at 03:19

      Hmm. Okay, that’s an interesting question, is self-objectification the same as self-ownership? I would think not, since self-objectification can actually be observed. I mean, a woman can treat herself as a sexual object, can’t she? Or would you say that’s always impossible to determine and a sort of slut-shaming in itself?

  7. cyanidecupcake April 28, 2014 at 03:39

    It’s possible for women to refer to themselves in degrading ways, be masochistic, etc.yes, but I don’t know if this should be called “self-objectification,” since it tends to end up as victim-blaming. I’d call it masochism, i.e. women are conditioned to love their oppression and suffering. Now on the street, around strangers? Definitely not; men aren’t just hapless depraved beasts going along with what women are already doing to themselves.

    What do you think?

    On the other hand, “slut-shaming” assumes women are sluts,”dirty servant women who do dirty work” (low on the hierarchy) and the term slut (like whore and bitch) is meant to be shameful and degrading by default. The media is so in love with using it that in one article a teenage girl who was raped and then harassed at school was stated as being “slut-shamed.” “Sex-shaming” or “victim-blaming” describes the same meaning without all the baggage, similar with “misogyny” and/or “sex-shaming” for “whorephobia.” If reclamation involves taking back what was lost then reclaiming gendered slurs, like reclaiming makeup, can’t be done because those things have never been lost to women. It’s possible to redefine words but only on a widespread scale.

    • Francois Tremblay April 28, 2014 at 03:46

      Masochism I think is a good term to use here, you’re right.

      The difference I think is that, while self-ownership is just semantic nonsense, self-objectification is the wrong word for a process by which objectification is processed, integrated, and expressed by the individual woman. It’s not the same sort of relation. A man looking at a picture of a half-naked woman on a billboard sees her like an object, not like a human being. The woman does not see herself as an object, but she integrates the male gaze. Is that what you’re driving at?

      Yea, I used the wrong term. I shouldn’t have said “slut-shaming” but rather “the shaming of someone for being put in the socially constructed category of slut.” Because the point being, women who express objectification are usually called sluts, right?

      But yea, I totally am against the use of that term “slut-shaming” as well. I don’t know why I wrote that.

  8. cyanidecupcake April 28, 2014 at 04:05

    It’s okay! And yes. The irony is that many women in the sex industry are self-described as “submissive” and even “masochists” (often going hand-in-hand with self-harming, ED and drug addiction). Many people understand “slut” nowadays to refer to any woman who engages in sex (this can be any arbitrary number of times as defined by men to be “promiscuous” enough); libfems have attempted to redefine it to mean,”a woman who enjoys sex.” But the thing is, she’s the one being enjoyed. It’s a leftover from Puritan days. Re: women in ads — If women in magazines (for example) express objectification, then is it because they are actually engaging in it themselves or the photographer has intentionally done editing with the product(s) to make it look that way? (i.e. women are interchangeable and disposable) It’s not clear with consumerism, and I prefer to focus on how to stop the demand for women’s sexual commodification.

    • Francois Tremblay April 28, 2014 at 04:09

      Okay well then let’s change the example from an ad, which can be edited, to a woman who goes around with heavy quantities of makeup, a miniskirt and high heels…

      But yea, stopping the demand or the aggression (as in the case of rape) should always be the first step, which needs to be crossed before we even talk about anything else (like whether we should blame the victims, which is demeaning and abusive), not an afterthought.

  9. cyanidecupcake April 28, 2014 at 04:26

    I think a woman doing that will definitely get attention, both good and bad, but mostly bad (sexual harassment), and men will harass and persist whether a woman “enjoys’ it or not since they’ve interpreted these cues of femininity/submission to equal sexual availability. There’s more to this, but I can’t write about it except by giving a real-life example, so here goes: When I was in Morocco, I was advised that I could wear Western clothing, no hijab, but it couldn’t be too revealing – no cleavage, no short skirts or short pants or spaghetti-strap tops. That was a huge culture shock for me, because it made me hypervigilant. Not because following this “rule” implied it was MY fault, but because I was informed of the consequences. Men were going to harass/ogle me with impunity anyway (for being female) and I didn’t want attention more drawn to me and my bf (2 infidels, and me being white) or have to beat up anyone.

    • Francois Tremblay April 28, 2014 at 04:31

      I totally get that, but I meant it as an example of objectification being integrated and expressed by the individual woman, i.e. that the experience of the man looking at her and objectifying her is not the same kind of process as her expressing her understanding of that objectification by dressing like a “slut” (i.e. what she thinks men want to have sex with).

  10. cyanidecupcake April 28, 2014 at 04:44

    No, I don’t think they are the same, either. Men who objectify women think of them in degrading terms or as body parts, while women dressing up super-feminine or “looking like hookers” are conforming to the existing conventions of beauty and attractiveness, usually in an exaggerated way. It says nothing about their sexual promiscuity or lack thereof, and they probably worry a lot about their appearance if they don’t outright hate their bodies (thanks to the beauty and fashion industries for capitulating on this for profit).

    • Francois Tremblay April 28, 2014 at 04:52

      Yea, exactly. That’s what I was referring to.

    • Francois Tremblay April 29, 2014 at 22:16

      I think I’d like to write an entry about that at some point.

  11. cyanidecupcake April 29, 2014 at 22:29

    That kind of talk will put your fans in a tizzy :-D

    • Francois Tremblay April 29, 2014 at 23:00

      Nowadays most of my fans are radfem or radfem-sympathetic, so… I doubt it. :)

  12. […] enemy, but it is genderism that they defend by attacking radfems. In this they share the problem of being unable to identify the enemy with other subservient […]

  13. […] the rulers are much better off if you refuse to accept that you’re being oppressed, or if you completely misidentify who’s oppressing you. They love it if they can get you to fight, well, pretty much anyone but […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: